Saturday, March 31, 2007
Locke wrote in the previous post: I didn't hear your question on the show. I think they might have edited it out.
It's possible they could've edited it out because it was so close to the news. They have never edited anything else of mine out before. I don't know. It is kind of wierd though.
# # #
Scout posted a really good power-point presentation over at Rewild.info about how Cuba handled their Peak Oil crisis. It's really to bad more people in the United States are not talking about solutions like the ones in the presentation. I don't think the crash would be so messy if they were.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
This morning I called into another show on WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) about global warming. This time the guest was Joel Rogers from the Apollo Alliance. What he basically was saying is that we can have a sustainable civilization, system of capitalism, and so on. He has an article in this months issue of The Nation Magazine talking about that.
I think it was in his book Welcome to the Machine where Derrick Jensen talks about how no government is capable of taming and controling the megamachine. Anyway, I called in and said that basically what the guest is proposing is impossible. Because any system that takes more from the landbase than it gives back is inherently unsustainable, therefore civilization has always been and always will be unsustainable. And I also said that since civilization has always been based on slavery, and the wage slavery that is a part of capitalism can never be fair or just.
Well, he started off his response saying he didn't agree with my premises. The rest of the response is what most of us have probably heard hundreds of times already, " there are many benefits to civilization. With the right restraints and management we can have our cake and eat it too, and so on. Of course, the response was more indepth. I just can't remember all of it right now.
I often wonder when guests are asked questions similar to the one I asked that after show they actually let them percolate into their conscious?
"In order for us to maintain our way of living, we must, in a broad sense, tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves. It is not necessary that the lies be particularly believable. The lies act as barriers to truth. These barriers to truth are necessary because without them many deplorable acts would become impossibilities. Truth must at all costs be avoided. When we do allow self-evident truths to percolate past our defenses and into our consciousness, they are treated like so many hand grenades rolling across the dance floor of an improbably macabre party. We try to stay out of harm’s way, afraid they will go off, shatter our delusions, and leave us exposed to what we have done to the world and to ourselves, exposed as the hollow people we have become. And so we avoid these truths, these self-evident truths, and continue the dance of world destruction". D. Jensen
You can listen to my question if you click HERE. The program is fairly easy to find on the archive list. It would be Joy Cardin's March 28th show at 6:00 AM. My question is about 35 minutes into the program, just after WPR's middle of the show newsbreak.
Monday, March 26, 2007
What I meant was to picture when people worked so many hours they didn't have much time with their children. Those children go through school and think it's what their parents worked for, to give them that. Actually it isn't, their parents' taxes paid for the school, but those who had time to take a civic advisory interest and choose what kind of schools to build and what school laws to have were these industrialists and their social set, as in the citation. Then the children of one generation pass it on to the next, adding some extracurricular activities, trying to build "the American dream" school experience for them. Some of them are forgetting the horrors of school or think they can paper them over with a little more activities. The reason that in a way almost all of us "don't know better" is a cultural rift: industrialization, urbanization, immigration, mass schooling, all acting together, that separated culture that might have been from culture of the television-consumer-driver age.
I think in a way this just another aspect of the Great Forgetting. It's terrible. No wonder we feel alienated.
Here is my response to what the teacher had to say about my first letter:
This letter is a follow up to Zachary Tranmer’s response to my letter titled: “Limited Choices”.
He mentions that his perspective is that of a teacher for the past nine years and as a parent with two children in the Spooner School System (one a recent graduate).
I first of all want to point out that I’m not attacking teachers here; I’m criticizing the effects of the coercive educational system they teach in. I’ve had some really great teachers and some really horrible teachers in the past. Mr. Tranmer may be one of those great ones, I don’t know.
But his perspective may be clouded because he has a lot invested in that coercive system I’m criticizing. If what I sad is true in my last letter (That 12 years of
compulsory schooling breaks the will of many children, it stifles their sense of curiosity and wonder, and teaches them to wish away their time) for the vast majority of students, than Mr. Tranmer is forced to face the fact that he teaches, and his children participate, in that system. By his defensive letter he is obviously not going to allow any criticism of it.
Mr. Tranmer also pointed out that I portrayed a bleak picture of life in my last letter. Well, he missed a very clear distinction that needs to be pointed out here: the educational systems and wage slave systems that I’ve criticized are NOT life. I’m sorry he’s lumped them together as one, but I have not. One can enjoy life immensely and hate their job or school. We are complex beings capable of different emotions.
He than goes on to say “It seems our lot is to have our creativity and wonder stifled at an early age by being placed in an institution where our choices are few and all decisions are made for us. We spend years watching the clock, wishing we were elsewhere only to end up in a dead-end job living a meaningless life. We than die afraid after spending time on life support.”
Mr. Tranmer has just described what most of us experience living in the Modern Era. And fortunately, I’m not alone in saying this. Philosophers like: Lewis Mumford, R.D Laing, Sigmund Freud, Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, and so many others have said basically the same thing. A trip to the local library would reveal all of this. Wasn’t it Henry David Thoreau that said, “ Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”?
The coercive educational and wage slave systems of this culture are actually something quite new in the history of humankind. That gives me good feelings. Because it illustrates that there are other ways to educate and labor, and that is a very important realization when it comes to facing the problems we face.
I will still be voting no to both school referendum options on April 3rd. It’s a statement against the coercive educational system that most of us dreaded waking up for on our school days when we were kids.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
This is so true. Here is a small section from an essay titled: Against School, that John Taylor Gatto wrote for Harper's Magazine in September of 2003.
It was from James Bryant Conant-president of Harvard for twenty years, WWI poison-gas specialist, WWII executive on the atomic-bomb project, high commissioner of the American zone in Germany after WWII, and truly one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century-that I first got wind of the real purposes of American schooling. Without Conant, we would probably not have the same style and degree of standardized testing that we enjoy today, nor would we be blessed with gargantuan high schools that warehouse 2,000 to 4,000 students at a time, like the famous Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado. Shortly after I retired from teaching I picked up Conant's 1959 book-length essay, The Child the Parent and the State, and was more than a little intrigued to see him mention in passing that the modem schools we attend were the result of a "revolution" engineered between 1905 and 1930. A revolution? He declines to elaborate, but he does direct the curious and the uninformed to Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, in which "one saw this revolution through the eyes of a revolutionary."
Inglis, for whom a lecture in education at Harvard is named, makes it perfectly clear that compulsory schooling on this continent was intended to be just what it had been for Prussia in the 1820s: a fifth column into the burgeoning democratic movement that threatened to give the peasants and the proletarians a voice at the bargaining table. Modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses. Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole.
Inglis breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.
2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.
4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.
5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.
6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.
That, unfortunately, is the purpose of mandatory public education in this country. And lest you take Inglis for an isolated crank with a rather too cynical take on the educational enterprise, you should know that he was hardly alone in championing these ideas. Conant himself, building on the ideas of Horace Mann and others, campaigned tirelessly for an American school system designed along the same lines. Men like George Peabody, who funded the cause of mandatory schooling throughout the South, surely understood that the Prussian system was useful in creating not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers. In time a great number of industrial titans came to recognize the enormous profits to be had by cultivating and tending just such a herd via public education, among them Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.
Thank you for your comment, Sonny.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Can do better
I am writing in response to last week’s letter from Curt Hubatch entitled “Limited choices.” My perspective is that of a teacher for the past nine years in the public education system in Webster and as a parent with two children in the Spooner school system (one a recent graduate).
Hubatch certainly portrays a bleak picture of life. It seems our lot is to have our creativity and wonder stifled at an early age by being placed in an institution where our choices are few and all decisions are made for us. We spend years watching the clock, wishing we were elsewhere only to end up in a dead-end job living a meaningless life. We then die afraid after spending time on life support.
And the culprit responsible for this dismal succession of events is our public educational system. So he will be voting “no” on the upcoming referendum as a way to strike back at this sorry state of affairs and to redress his 15-year-old grudge. How sad for him.
Contrary to Hubatch’s belief that our education system was designed to teach us to wish away our precious time, it actually was implemented as a means for society to formally pass on its culture, beliefs, and knowledge to our children.
The role of education in our country has evolved over the years, until now universal mandatory education is considered the norm and a foundation of our democracy.
At all times though, it has been influenced by and has reflected the prevailing attitudes and problems of the larger society rather than being a source of those problems. It is certainly an imperfect system and its outcomes arise directly from the quality of the teachers, students, parents, and resources the local community put into it.
The current building situation in Spooner reflects what occurred in the Webster school district about six years ago. The high school building was old, dilapidated, and increasingly inadequate to meet the current building and education standards. Several failed referendums were finally overturned after an open house brought many members of the community into the building to see what the conditions were. Voters realized that as a community they could do much better, and the referendum passed by an almost two-to-one majority vote. The results have been dramatic.
Morale among the students, staff, and community has increased. Community pride is very evident and really came out when their basketball team made a run in the playoffs that paralleled Spooner’s.
People use the facility for adult education classes, including a licensed practical nurse course and a University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener class using the ITV [interactive television] facilities.
Community members use the weight-lifting room, and in the winter some walk the halls for exercise. There is an annual community talent show that packs the combination cafeteria/auditorium because of the enhanced seating, lighting, and sound facilities.
The drama department has produced several full-scale musicals, including West Side Story and Grease, that provided numerous students an opportunity to succeed in areas outside of the classroom. The new facility has allowed community members to choose to exercise their creativity and wonder in a variety of ways.
My children had and are receiving what my wife and I consider a first-rate high school education in Spooner. The school district offers students a wide variety of opportunities that include academics, athletics, music, drama, technical courses, driver’s ed, and community involvement. And all of this in spite of and not because of the present facilities.
The teachers, board, and the administration have done a marvelous job keeping the district viable in the face of increased state and federal education mandates and a concurrent decrease in revenue.
The present limited financial situation and the need to maintain an increasingly outdated structure is going to force some very hard choices. Future cutbacks are going to have a very negative impact on the ability of the district to carry out its goal of providing a quality education to as many students as possible.
In the April election, my wife and I are going to check “yes” in both boxes [new high school and additional program funds]. We are choosing to pay more money in property taxes and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to do this. We consider it money well-spent and an investment in the future of our children and community.
If the referendum fails again, the school district will somehow manage to muddle through and do what we as a society require it to do.
But we can and should do better.
For 117 months out of my childhood I had to sit in a classroom for close to eight hours a day. I didn’t have a choice about this; it was the law of the State of Wisconsin. And my parents couldn’t home school me because they were wage slaves.
I’m 32 years old now. And now that I’m in my thirties I’m really starting to realize and wake up to the effects of that 13 year process of schooling. Ran Prieur puts this well here:
I think the answer is that power isn't actually being taken but being blocked, in nonhumans by simply killing them and in humans by socialization that begins in infancy, punishing people for having a will of their own, for being aware, for channeling any bottom-up power, until by age 30 most of us are barely alive, almost as Philip K. Dick wrote: "Not a person but a sort of walking, hiding symptom of their way of life."
I’m reading A Language Older Than Words probably for about the fourth time. The book just keeps getting better the more times I read it. These two small sections jumped out at me this time around.
In order for us to maintain our way of living, we must, in a broad sense, tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves. It is not necessary that the lies be particularly believable. The lies act as barriers to truth. These barriers to truth are necessary because without them many deplorable acts would become impossibilities. Truth must at all costs be avoided. When we do allow self-evident truths to percolate past our defenses and into our consciousness, they are treated like so many hand grenades rolling across the dance floor of an improbably macabre party. We try to stay out of harm’s way, afraid they will go off, shatter our delusions, and leave us exposed to what we have done to the world and to ourselves, exposed as the hollow people we have become. And so we avoid these truths, these self-evident truths, and continue the dance of world destruction. pg.2
He had a point. Newspapers lying to serve their own interests go back as far as newspapers themselves. The turn-of-the-century historian Henry Adams put it as clearly as possible” The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where the interests are involved.”
Newspapers manifest the culture as a whole. Just as it is true that any father who would crush a child’s will would not be able to speak of it honestly, so, too, a culture that is snuffing out life on the planet would necessarily lie and dissemble to protect itself from the truth. Environmentalists lie, industrialists lie, newspapers lie. Parent’s lie, children lie. We all lie, and we are all afraid. Afraid to not know what is going on, and even more afraid of finding out. The opposite is true as well. Honest discourse is the first and most important step in stopping destruction. Pg.68
This is one of the main reasons I had to sit through all those hours in a classroom being cut off from beautifual and dynamic community of life. It was to perpetuate the lies!
Now I’m going to go sit quietly in the woods and listen to birdsong. Something I should have been doing over twenty years ago, or at least playing out there.
Why oh why wasn’t there someone around in my community to offer something like an Invisible school?
I hate this culture.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I hate spending money on things that don’t work, simply because I work to hard for money to just throw it away.
You see, now that I’ve had approximately fifteen years to start to shake off the effects of schooling, I’m starting to see why I was forced to go to school. And it wasn’t to foster wonder and curiosity, which is the real meaning of education.
I’ve learned the system of schooling was unintentionally (according to some thinkers it was intentionally), designed to teach us how to wish away the most precious gift we’ve been given: our time. That is why the clock is the most important piece of technology in the classroom. How many times did you, or do you, look at the clock wishing for that bell to ring?
We only have so much time here before we die. And time spent doing one thing is time lost that could’ve been spent on another. That’s the way the economy of time works. You can spend time doing something you love or on something you hate, it’s up to you.
When the tragedy arises is when you don’t get to choose how you spend your time. This is what the system of schooling does so well, it chooses how your SUPPOSE to spend your time. Eventually we become so accustomed to this that we forget we actually have a choice in the matter. Before we know it most of us are then spending our time at jobs we hate to pay the bills. And more sooner than later were looking back on a life that could’ve been lived another way. This is one of the reasons why I think some people are so afraid to die; they haven’t truly lived life to its fullest, so they end up in hospitals being kept alive by machines. It’s a sad story for many.
When any system denies an individual their basic freedom of choice they don’t last long. And I’m not talking about “false choices” here. As philosopher Derrick Jensen writes, “There is an important difference between making a choice and selecting an option from artificially limited alternatives. In order to make a choice, that person must be free not to choose.” In an extreme example, lets say you’re given a choice to choose as to which one of your two best friends should live and which one should die, if you pick neither you die yourself. That’s an example of limited alternatives. The alternative of not participating in some type of schooling doesn’t exist for children.
Why spend money on a system that limits how children spend their time? I will be checking both “NO” boxes on the April, 3rd school referendum vote.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I especially like Slide 24: "There are some things that I would like the government to take care of in preparation for collapse. I am particularly concerned about all the radioactive and toxic installations, stockpiles, and dumps. Future generations are unlikely to able to control them, especially if global warming puts them underwater. There is enough of this muck sitting around to kill off most of us. I am also worried about soldiers getting stranded overseas – abandoning one's soldiers is among the most shameful things a country can do. Overseas military bases should be dismantled, and the troops repatriated. I'd like to see the huge prison population whittled away in a controlled manner, ahead of time, instead of in a chaotic general amnesty. Lastly, I think that this farce with debts that will never be repaid, has gone on long enough. Wiping the slate clean will give society time to readjust. So, you see, I am not asking for any miracles. Although, if any of these things do get done, I would consider it a miracle.
It really would be a miracle!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Program Description:Ecologist, activist, and prolific author Derrick Jensen asserts that the human species is not by nature a plague species. Indigenous people lived for tens of thousands of years in harmony with the planet that sustained them. The difference between those cultures and what westerners think of as civilization is, in essence, our perception of the world. Jensen notes, "The principle difference between Western and indigenous ways of being is that even the most open-minded Westerner generally views listening to the natural world as a metaphor." Further, the predominant culture is not characterized by open-mindedness, since to that world-view; nature is a commodity. Jensen argues that the key to change and life sustaining action is rooted in seeing nature as sentient-a being worthy and deserving of personal relationship. In this dialogue he compares and contrasts both world-views as he has encountered them in his life. The good news, he asserts, is that because so much is messed up there's a way for everyone to get involved.
Derrick Jensen is an environmental activist, lecturer, teacher and author of Listening to the Land (Context Books 2000); A Language Older than Words (Context Books 2000); The Culture of Make Believe (Context Books 2002), and Endgame, Volumes I and II (Seven Stories Press, 2006)
Topics explored in this dialogue:
Who knows what to do to live
What is a penopticon
What is really good about everything
being so messed up
What are the three rules of a dysfunctional culture
What is a writer's job
Friday, March 09, 2007
Here is the description of it:
REWILDinfo: study, teach and converse. This brand new site has two parts, the first part contains a forum for rewilders to talk about rewilding, the second part contains a wiki serving as a free online field guide to rewilding. Come start a conversation at the forum and add your knowledge to the field guide today! Please tell all your friends to check it out too.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
1.Question: Dropping out is elitist because not everyone can do it.
Ran Prieur: People who make this criticism are failing to grasp the basic situation. This society is a prison. If we're all in prison, and you have a chance to escape, do you refuse on the grounds that not everyone can escape? If you find yourself in an unusually thin-walled cell with good digging tools, you have a moral obligation to escape -- and then to come back and help others escape. That's the key, and the difference between what I call "dropouts" and the elite. The elite don't want us to be free because they depend on our enslavement. I never stop fighting to get people free even when it goes against my shallowest interests. I want my friends to quit their jobs, even though they'll have to move out of their places where I now sleep free on the couch. Life will get more challenging but I'll have closer allies.
2. Question: Isn't it hypocritical, or contradictory, to use the resources of a society you despise?
Ran Prieur: No. What's wrong with taking advantage of something you despise? If you were in a prison camp, would it be hypocritical or contradictory to steal food from the guards? To find ways to avoid forced labor but still eat? If you're Frodo in Mordor, do you refuse to disguise yourself in an orc's uniform because orcs are bad?We are in Mordor. We are in a big prison camp[*] that's very subtle. As I said in the essay: it's not about being pure or avoiding guilt -- it's about getting free. If you're a swallow, living in the woods, and they cut down your beloved woods and put up a bunch of barns, what do you do? You live in a barn! Scavenging is a temporary tactic, an adaptation to this wasteful society. When we can't scavenge, we'll adapt in other ways, surf whatever wave keeps us free.
3. Question: Hey, you preach about separating from the system, but you're on the internet!
Ran Prieur:See the swallow metaphor above. The reason to avoid connections to the system is to maintain autonomy, not to avoid guilt. So I'll use any by-product or resource I can, as long as there few or no strings attached. I'll especially use a resource like the internet, a powerful tool to find allies and to transform human consciousness. As William Kötke says, not only is it OK to use the resources of the present system to build the next one, ideally all its resources would be used that way.For me, the point of dropping out is not just to selfishly escape while others are still suffering. The point is to get myself in a position from which I can fight better and build the foundation for a society where everyone's free. This world is full of people with the skills and knowledge to build paradise, but they can't even begin, because they would lose their jobs. The less money you need, the more powerful you become.
*Daniel Quinn talks a lot about our cultural prison in his trilogy of: Ishmael, My Ishmael and The Story of B.
*To learn more about why Ran is calling our society a prison camp, I would recommend reading The Culture of Make Believe, by Derrick Jensen. This book will forever change the way you see this system that we are a part of.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
An arch-conservative cardinal chosen by the Pope to deliver this year’s Lenten meditations to the Vatican hierarchy has caused consternation by giving warning of an Antichrist who is “a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist”.
Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, 78, who retired as Archbishop of Bologna three years ago, quoted Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900), the Russian philosopher and mystic, as predicting that the Antichrist “will convoke an ecumenical council and seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions”.
The “masses” would follow the Antichrist, “with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants” who would fight to prevent the watering down and ultimate destruction of the faith, he said.
The only problem with this is that there will be no central authority figure, that is the point of becoming "B".
I think it is to late for their religion, it is going to die a slow death.
Friday, March 02, 2007
So I've been thumbing through Walking on Water, by Derrick Jensen looking for quotes to include in my letter to our local newspaper about the vote. I ran across a quote by Jensen himself that has stuck with me since I read it years ago.
As I've written elsewhere, grades are a problem. On the most general level, they're an explicit acknowledgement that what you're doing is insufficiently interesting or rewarding for you to do it on your own. Nobody ever gave you a grade for learning how to play, how to ride a bicycle, or how to kiss. One of the best ways to destroy love for any of these activities would be through the use of grades and the coercion and judgement they represent. Grades are a cudgel to bludgeon the unwilling into doing what they don't want to do, an important instrument in inculcating children into a lifelong pattern of subservience to whatever authority happens to be thrust over them. Pg.71