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Traditions of the future, by Astra Taylor (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, May 2019)
"If the dead do not exactly have power or rights, per se, they do still have a seat at the table—Thomas Jefferson among them. In ways obvious and subtle, constructive and destructive, the present is constrained and shaped by the decisions of past generations. A vivid example is the American Constitution, in which a small group of men ratified special kinds of promises intended to be perpetual. Sometimes I imagine the Electoral College, which was devised to increase the influence of the southern states in the new union, as the cold grip of plantation owners strangling the current day. Even Jefferson’s beloved Bill of Rights, intended as protections from government overreach, has had corrosive effects. The Second Amendment’s right to bear arms allows those who plundered native land and patrolled for runaway slaves, who saw themselves in the phrase “a well regulated Militia,” to haunt us. Yet plenty of our ancestors also bequeathed us remarkable gifts, the right to free speech, privacy, and public assembly among them.

Some theorists have framed the problematic sway of the deceased over the affairs of the living as an opposition between tradition and progress. The acerbic Christian critic G. K. Chesterton put it this way: “Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.” Social progress, in Chesterton’s account, can thus be seen as a form of disenfranchisement, the deceased being stripped of their suffrage. Over half a century before Chesterton, Karl Marx expressed sublime horror at the persistent presence of political zombies: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

The most eloquent partisans in this trans-temporal power struggle said their piece at the end of the 18th century. Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine had a furious debate that articulated the dichotomy between past and future, dead and living, tradition and progress. A consummate conservative shaken by the post-revolutionary violence in France, Burke defended the inherited privilege and stability of aristocratic government that radical democrats sought to overthrow: “But one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society.” Any revolution, Burke warned, hazards leaving those who come after “a ruin instead of an habitation” in which men, disconnected from their forerunners, “would become little better than the flies of summer.”

The left-leaning Paine would have none of it. Better to be a buzzing fly than a feudal serf. “Whenever we are planning for posterity we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary,” he quipped. His critique, forcefully expressed in Common Sense and The Rights of Man, was not just an attack on monarchy. Rather, it was addressed to revolutionaries who might exercise undue influence over time by establishing new systems of government. “There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time,’” he protested.

In his pithy style, Paine popularized a commitment both to revolution and to novelty. “A nation, though continually existing, is continually in the state of renewal and succession. It is never stationary. Every day produces new births, carries minors forward to maturity, and old persons from the stage. In this ever-running flood of generations there is no part superior in authority to another.” Given the onslaught of change, a constitution “must be a novelty, and that which is not a novelty must be defective.” Never one for moderation, Paine advocated a decisive break with tradition, rejecting lessons from the past, castigating those who scoured records of ancient Greece and Rome for models or insights. What could the dead teach the living that could possibly be worth knowing?

Every person, whether or not they have children, exists as both a successor and an ancestor. We are all born into a world we did not make, subject to customs and conditions established by prior generations, and then we leave a legacy for others to inherit. Nothing illustrates this duality more profoundly than the problem of climate change, which calls into question the very future of a habitable planet.

Today, I’d guess that most of us are more able to imagine an environmental apocalypse than a green utopia. Nuclear holocaust, cyber warfare, mass extinction, superbugs, fascism’s return, and artificial intelligence turned against its makers—these conclusions we can see, but our minds struggle to conjure an image of a desirable, credible alternative to such bleak finales, to envision habitation rather than ruin.

This incapacity to see the future takes a variety of forms: young people no longer believe their lives will be better than those of their parents and financial forecasts give credence to their gloomy view; political scientists warn that we are becoming squatters in the wreckage of the not-so-distant liberal-democratic past, coining terms such as dedemocratization and postdemocracy to describe the erosion of democratic institutions and norms alongside an ongoing concentration of economic power. Meanwhile, conservative leaders cheer on democratic regression under the cover of nostalgia—“Make America Great Again,” “Take Our Country Back”—and seek to rewind the clock to an imaginary and exclusive past that never really existed."



"Questions of labor and leisure—of free time—have been central to debates about self-government since peasant citizens flooded the Athenian Pnyx. Plato and Aristotle, unapologetic elitists, were aghast that smiths and shoemakers were permitted to rub shoulders with the Assembly’s wellborn. This offense to hierarchical sensibilities was possible only because commoners were compensated for their attendance. Payments sustained the participation of the poor—that’s what held them up—so they could miss a day’s work over hot flames or at the cobbler’s bench to exercise power on equal footing with would-be oligarchs.

For all their disdain, Plato’s and Aristotle’s conviction that leisure facilitates political participation isn’t wrong. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, radical workers agreed. They organized and fought their bosses for more free time, making substantial inroads until a range of factors, including the cult of consumption and a corporate counterattack, overpowered their efforts. A more sustainable, substantive democracy means resuscitating their campaign. Free time is not just a reprieve from the grindstone; it’s an expansion of freedom and a prerequisite of self-rule.

A reduction of work hours would have salutary ecological effects as well, as environmentalists have noted. A fundamental reevaluation of labor would mean assessing which work is superfluous and which essential; which processes can be automated and which should be done by hand; what activities contribute to our alienation and subjugation and which integrate and nourish us. “The kind of work that we’ll need more of in a climate-stable future is work that’s oriented toward sustaining and improving human life as well as the lives of other species who share our world,” environmental journalist and political theorist Alyssa Battistoni has written. “That means teaching, gardening, cooking, and nursing: work that makes people’s lives better without consuming vast amounts of resources, generating significant carbon emissions, or producing huge amounts of stuff.” The time to experiment with more ecologically conscious, personally fulfilling, and democracy-enhancing modes of valuing labor and leisure is upon us, at precisely the moment that time is running out.

With climate calamity on the near horizon, liberal democracies are in a bind. The dominant economic system constrains our relationship to the future, sacrificing humanity’s well-being and the planet’s resources on the altar of endless growth while enriching and empowering the global 1 percent. Meanwhile, in America, the Constitution exacerbates this dynamic, preserving and even intensifying a system of minority rule and lashing the country’s citizens to an aristocratic past.

The fossil fuel and finance industries, alongside the officials they’ve bought off, will fight to the death to maintain the status quo, but our economic arrangements and political agreements don’t have to function the way they do. Should democratic movements manage to mount a successful challenge to the existing order, indigenous precolonial treaty-making processes provide an example of the sort of wisdom a new, sustainable consensus might contain. The Gdoonaaganinaa, or “Dish with One Spoon” treaty, outlines a relationship between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Nishnaabeg people. The dish symbolizes the shared land on which both groups depend and to which all are responsible; in keeping with the Haudenosaunee Great Law of peace, … [more]
astrataylor  ancesors  climatechange  history  2019  democracy  capitalism  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  borders  power  time  future  change  hannaharendt  ecology  sustainability  globalwarming  interconnected  interconnectedness  indigeneity  indigenous  leannebetasamosakesimpson  leisure  plato  aristotle  philosophy  participation  participatory  organizing  labor  work  marxism  karlmarx  socialism  freetime  longnow  bighere  longhere  bignow  annpettifor  economics  growth  degrowth  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  debt  tradition  gkchesterson  thomaspaine  thomasjefferson  us  governance  government  edmundburke  commonsense  postdemocracy  dedemocratization  institutions  artleisure  leisurearts  self-rule  collectivism  alyssanattistoni  legacy  emissions  carbonemissions  ethics  inheritance  technology  technosolutionism  canon  srg  peterthiel  elonmusk  liberalism  feminism  unions  democraticsocialism  pericles  speed  novelty  consumerism  consumption  obsolescence  capital  inequality 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence agains
"I am more and more convinced that our thinking in education should move away from improving learning to an imperative to respect the rights of children and young people, combat all forms of discrimination and violence against them, and rethink how we organize life and work. 1/

Not that improving learning is not important, but regardless of how we define and measure it, it is secondary to the well-being and status of children and young people in our societies. 2/

As matter of justice, educational results should not be used to justify, normalize and maintain inequality in income and status. Regardless of our education, all human beings are entitled to a life with dignity and to be regarded as equals. 3/

As a matter of justice, educational results should not be used as an excuse to deny a voice to those deemed as uneducated in the matters affecting their lives. 4/

As a matter of justice, education should not be used to normalize the practice of denying consent to those deemed as uneducated and to all marginalized populations in the matters affecting their lives. 5/

As a matter of justice, we must acknowledge that poverty has not much to do with education and much to do with power imbalances and structures of protection and access to land and other resources. 6/

And we must acknowledge that in order to maintain all forms of inequality and violence, they must first be learnt and normalized through the treatment of children at home and at schools.

If you want to learn more about this, you can follow @TobyRollo. 7/

Learning is important, no doubt about it, but it is not everything. At the end of the day, what we need more is about being more humane. Our priorities should be clear. 8/
https://www.holocaustandhumanity.org/about-us/educational-philosophy/

Can we do both? Absolutely, but ultimately, we should be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of those choosing not to learn what we deem as important they should learn. 9/

We should also be willing to respect the full equality, dignity and consent of what kids choose to learn according to their own purposes, interests, rhythms and talents. 10/

And this may seem too far out, but let's think about what this means in terms of how neurodiversity, linguistic diversity, cultural diversity, and disabilities are crushed and disrespected on a routine basis. 11/

Let's think about how interests, needs, rhythms and expressions falling outside of what school requires are punished routinely. 12/

Some people argue that by respecting the consent of children, we risk having them not learn what they need. But this is a slippery slope.... 13/

Once we accept that we can violate the right of children to consent and a differential treatment on an arbitrary basis, we normalize and facilitate the violation of their rights in other scenarios and with the use of arbitrary norms. 14/

Finally, if we are serious about moving away from the abuse of standardized tests and about decoupling education from the needs of markets.... 15/

We must be willing to stop defining accountability in terms of learning measurements and instead define it in terms of how students are treated and the resources and opportunities that are made available to them in order to learn according to their own purposes and needs. 16/

Currently, schools are not accountable to students, families and communities. Students are accountable to teachers and administrators, and teachers and administrators are accountable to authorities and big power brokers who don't have the best interests of students in mind. 17/

In order to transform the world outside school, we must rethink education. Alternatively, in order to rethink education, we must think about how we want to transform the world outside school. Both visions should match. Both visions should be adequate. 18/

And because in the world outside school, poverty is more a result of rights denied, power imbalances, structures of protection and access to land and other resources, and how we organize life and work... 19/

The treatment of children should prioritize the respect of their rights, granting them power, their access to resources, their access to learning according to alternative ways of organizing life and work, etc... 20/

And of course, this is especially important in the case of marginalized population whose oppression is based on the denial of power and resources. Teaching them that poverty is defined by lack of education is abusing and gaslighting them. 21/

A few more things, I almost missed... 22/

If we are serious about decoupling education from the needs of markets, learning should be about no other reason than for our own fun and pleasure as much as it should be about what we need to survive. 23/

And in this sense, the right to an education should be defined in terms of access to resources and opportunities to learn what individuals want and/or deem important according to their own purposes, and not in terms of forcing them to learn according to someone else's agenda. 24/

The erasure of what is not quantifiable and what is deemed as not important by conventional schools serves to maintain the lower status attached to activities performed by those considered as less educated. 25/

Such activities are performed disproportionately by women and marginalized populations. In many cases, within the domestic realm, these activities are not remunerated. 26/

But if we were all regarded as equals, all truly useful activities would be held in a similar status and acknowledged as what makes possible everyone else's jobs. So then again, there's no reason income differences should be so dramatic and justified by education. 27/

And it is the exploitation, discrimination and exclusion of many, that we should be centering in our thinking about education in connection to how we organize life and work. 28/

Enjoying being able to work with our hands and bodies, and enjoying being able to take care of others, should be regarded as a right, not as a sacrifice or as a punishment for losing in the game of school. 29/

Likewise, enjoying working in a science, technology, or in the arts, should also be regarded as a right, as perhaps a lifelong learning opportunity, and not as a reward for eliminating others in the game of school. 30/

Rights within communities where people collaborate and take care of each other, knowledge thought as a public good, not something privatized and individualized... 31/

Individual failures and accomplishments as belonging to the entire community, not rewards and punishments according to a competition where many are excluded, diversity, not standardization.

The end. 32/"
isabelrodríguez  2019  unschooling  education  learning  children  rights  discrimination  violence  children'srights  society  community  dignity  inequality  sorting  standardization  poverty  power  hierarchy  humanism  humanity  equality  consent  purpose  interests  deschooling  economics  schools  schooling  schooliness  communities  accountability  imbalance  diversity  rewards  punishment  competition  collaboration  collectivism  opportunity 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub
"Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like."



"William James said of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, “Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their character of loneliness.” That is, if I lose my home, I’m cast out among those who remain comfortable, but if we all lose our homes in the earthquake, we’re in this together. One of my favorite sentences from a 1906 survivor is this: “Then when the dynamite explosions were making the night noisy and keeping everybody awake and anxious, the girls or some of the refugees would start playing the piano, and Billy Delaney and other folks would start singing; so that the place became quite homey and sociable, considering it was on the sidewalk, outside the high school, and the town all around it was on fire.”

I don’t know what Billy Delaney or the girls sang, or what stories the oat gatherers Le Guin writes about might have told. But I do have a metaphor, which is itself a kind of carrier bag and metaphor literally means to carry something beyond, carrying being the basic thing language does, language being great nets we weave to hold meaning. Jonathan Jones, an indigenous Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi Australian artist, has an installation—a great infinity-loop figure eight of feathered objects on a curving wall in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane that mimics a murmuration, one of those great flocks of birds in flight that seems to swell and contract and shift as the myriad individual creatures climb and bank and turn together, not crashing into each other, not drifting apart.

From a distance Jones’s objects look like birds; up close they are traditional tools of stick and stone with feathers attached, tools of making taking flight. The feathers were given to him by hundreds who responded to the call he put out, a murmuration of gatherers. “I’m interested in this idea of collective thinking,” he told a journalist. “How the formation of really beautiful patterns and arrangements in the sky can help us potentially start to understand how we exist in this country, how we operate together, how we can all call ourselves Australians. That we all have our own little ideas which can somehow come together to make something bigger.”

What are human murmurations, I wondered? They are, speaking of choruses, in Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos of Whoville, who find that if every last one of them raises their voice, they become loud enough to save their home. They are a million and a half young people across the globe on March 15 protesting climate change, coalitions led by Native people holding back fossil fuel pipelines across Canada, the lawyers and others who converged on airports all over the US on January 29, 2017, to protest the Muslim ban.

They are the hundreds who turned out in Victoria, BC, to protect a mosque there during Friday prayers the week after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. My cousin Jessica was one of them, and she wrote about how deeply moving it was for her, “At the end, when prayers were over, and the mosque was emptying onto the street, if felt like a wedding, a celebration of love and joy. We all shook hands and hugged and spoke kindly to each other—Muslim, Jew, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist…” We don’t have enough art to make us see and prize these human murmurations even when they are all around us, even when they are doing the most important work on earth."
rebeccasolnit  heroes  change  democracy  collectivism  multitudes  2019  robertmueller  gretathunberg  society  movements  murmurations 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - YouTube
"What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”"

[See also:
https://theintercept.com/2019/04/17/green-new-deal-short-film-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/

"The question was: How do we tell the story of something that hasn’t happened yet?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This skepticism is understandable. The idea that societies could collectively decide to embrace rapid foundational changes to transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, forestry, and more — precisely what is needed to avert climate breakdown — is not something for which most of us have any living reference. We have grown up bombarded with the message that there is no alternative to the crappy system that is destabilizing the planet and hoarding vast wealth at the top. From most economists, we hear that we are fundamentally selfish, gratification-seeking units. From historians, we learn that social change has always been the work of singular great men.

Science fiction hasn’t been much help either. Almost every vision of the future that we get from best-selling novels and big-budget Hollywood films takes some kind of ecological and social apocalypse for granted. It’s almost as if we have collectively stopped believing that the future is going to happen, let alone that it could be better, in many ways, than the present.

The media debates that paint the Green New Deal as either impossibly impractical or a recipe for tyranny just reinforce the sense of futility. But here’s the good news: The old New Deal faced almost precisely the same kinds of opposition — and it didn’t stop it for a minute."]
alexandriaocasio-cortez  2019  mollycrabapple  greennewdeal  speculativefiction  politics  policy  future  climatechange  globalwarming  1988  us  oil  petroleum  fossilfuels  environment  sustainability  puertorico  crisis  change  food  transportation  economics  capitalism  inequality  medicareforall  livingwages  labor  work  infrastructure  trains  masstransit  publictransit  americorps  unions  indigenous  indigeneity  childcare  care  caring  teaching  domesticwork  universalrights  healthcare  humanism  humanity  avilewis  naomiklein  skepticism  imagination  newdeal  fdr  wpa  greatdepression  moonshots  art  artists  collectivism  society 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Pascal’s Climate – Popula
"For a decade or more there has been a cottage industry in telling people that individual action is meaningless in the face of the overwhelming force of climate change. Plane rides don’t matter, eating meat doesn’t matter; 100 companies are causing 71% of the emissions and it is they who are the problem; only governments acting in concert have the remotest chance of arresting the disaster. And so on.

One of the most influential of these arguments, with 328,677 shares at the time of writing, is a much-quoted 2017 Guardian piece by Martin Lukacs, who wrote, “Stop obsessing with how personally green you live–and start collectively taking on corporate power.”

“While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives,” he added, “fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71%. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.”

While I sympathize with Lukacs’s desire to rein in the energy oligarchs, he and other anti-individualists, like Eric Levitz in last week’s Intelligencer, are dead wrong that individual action doesn’t count.

The 71% of emissions that 100 companies are responsible for are producing?? They are mainly the result of extracting and refining fossil fuels that individuals are using for flying and driving and importing bottled water from glaciers and plastic bird feeders from China. Economic questions of supply and demand are far more salient to the matter of emissions than is any aspect of political will.

Human activity is interconnected. When the breakneck demand for these things ends–as indeed it must and will, either in time, or too late–there will no longer be a market for what the energy oligarchs are selling. From a purely logical economic perspective, it’s the only real way to stop them.

Let’s have a look at this remark of Lukacs’s again.

“Collectively taking on corporate power” is just exactly what will happen when millions of individuals stop flying on airplanes, which, again, is a thing that has to happen in order for the planet to survive. Whether through a global individual cap and trade program or simply because individual people collectively realize, together, that they are dooming the Earth and had better drive to their next holiday, is entirely immaterial. Though even a casual witness to the abject stupidity of the world’s politicians must surely suspect that the latter course has better chances.

In any case, the bigger problem with the anti-individualist stance to taking collective action is an even simpler one. There is no way to achieve collective action without individual action. Collective action doesn’t fall off a tree, it is made up of countless individual acts that turn into conversations, writings, meetings, plans. Individual actions are the only material from which collective action can be made, and to suggest that individuals are helpless and somehow just don’t matter now, in the current emergency, at a time of rising confusion, anger, hopelessness and dread, is nothing short of enraging.

[image: The most effective individual steps to tackle climate change
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html ]

In the Intelligencer, Levitz writes: “With climate change, the pointlessness of individual action is especially acute. If you accept the scientific consensus on warming, then you know your personal carbon footprint is a drop in the rising sea. So, why on earth would you feel compelled to lower your quality of life for the sake of cutting carbon emissions by a wholly negligible amount?”

What even?

Why would you even consider dialing back your own special role in destroying the planet? Why not go vacation in Tulum, while you’re at it, why not go befoul The Beach, you saw it in a movie?

It is high time for an end to the nihilist bullshit that is telling the public it doesn’t matter whether or not they eat meat or fly in airplanes. It does. Not least because even a small chance to contribute to a better possible future gives life and work meaning and value—conceivably, maybe, even more value than just obediently swallowing down your consumerist “quality of life,” spoon-fed to you by the loving algorithms of the surveillance state.

A less lemming-like, suicidal, self-loathing, murderous society would just plain say the obvious: every decision matters, in a time of crisis. Individual, collective, political, business: human life is a single gigantic machine of endless complexity, working every second on innumerable levels, and every iota of the machine involves a responsibility to society and to the future.

So if the planet is to survive the effects of human stupidity and shortsightedness—which question, admittedly, does incline the rational mind to pessimism, but still—and if every single decision counts: Why not take the Pascal’s Wager position? Why not act as if success, as if a good surprise, were possible?

In the Oxford philosophical journal The Monist of July 2011 (Vol. 94, No. 3, “Morality and Climate Change”) Avram Hiller’s (really excellent) article “Climate Change and Individual Responsibility” [JSTOR] applied a philosophical and moral lens to these questions. Hiller gives five conjectures “as to why people erroneously do not believe that individual actions have much or any effects” on climate change. They include the “Nero’s Fiddle” effect, which is like “it’s too late, fuck it, it doesn’t matter what I do”; psychic numbing, or failing to reason properly because too freaked out; limited capacity for valuing, or, “I’m too small to matter at all,” and fallacy of double-division, which is kind of like, “I can get away with putting just one straw on the camel’s back; if anything goes wrong it’s not because of me.” But really the first conjecture he gives is the best one.
Selfishness and denial. “In fact, we do in some way understand that individual actions are significant, but are also aware that if we countenance this fact and wish to remain moral, our whole lives must change. So we subconsciously let ourselves believe that small individual actions in fact make no significant difference.”
"
mariabustillos  martinlukacs  sustainability  individuals  collectivism  ericlevitz  nihilism  economics  politics  collectiveaction  individualaction  carbonfootprint  globalwarming  responsibility  society  selfishness  small  local  hyperlocal  energy  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Gnamma #7 - The Teacher's Imposition
"The world is full of bad teaching. And somehow we all get on with it, of course.

Still, I have found it typical that people perk up when they think of their favorite, electrifying teachers. These are people we think about for the rest of our lives, largely because they inform our interests and ways of looking at the world (ontology, value systems, networked ideas, etc) at early ages. Let's talk about teachers, and I want to be clear: everyone directs teachable moments in life (especially guardians and managers). I'm referring to people in explicitly assigned roles to teach. (This thus puts these thoughts largely outside of the realm of unschooling [https://www.are.na/roberto-greco/unschooling ], I think, but I do not know enough to say—would love to understand more in this realm.)

"Why Education is so Difficult And Contentious" [https://www.sfu.ca/~egan/Difficult-article.html ]: TL;DR because when we say education we mean indoctrination, and everybody—teacher, parent, politician, etc—has different opinions on how people should be. It's touchy to talk about forced indoctrination because it both engenders fascism and is the founding idea behind of public education. There are obviously gradients of imposition on the student. Illich supports the need for the pedagogue to connect student to resources, but not much more—a fairly "hands-off" view of the teacher by today's standards. Still, the connective moments are going to reflect the ideology of the pedagogue.

Are teachers necessary for learning? No. Learning is between the student and the world. A quippish phrase I heard a couple times working at RenArts [https://www.renarts.org/ ] was "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think." But education (structured learning with others) requires teachers, basically by definition. Teachers "lead to water" and apply social pressure to encourage partaking.

What makes for a good teacher? Well, I maintain the chief goals of structured learning are to build agency and cultivate awareness in the student (and maybe share specific skillsets). So, what kind of teacher builds agency in the student and cultivates awareness to the extent possible? Some modes of teaching quickly follow: I believe the teacher needs to support open-ended, coherent, and honest activities.

Without open-ended-ness, we lose exploratory and self-actualizing potential. Without coherence, students can get mired in lack of knowing where to start or end (but a little ambiguity isn't bad). Without honesty we lose touch with the world and how to work with our lived realities. By "honesty" here, I mean to be honest about application of material, about history of thought, and about context of the activity itself; as such, the best teaching acknowledges and works with its own context (/media) and the needs of the people in the room.

I am trying to recall where I heard the phrase that "teaching is making space." The teachers frames the room, the activities, the needs, the expectations, the discussions. In doing so, they embed indoctrination into the teaching. In the effort of honesty in the classroom, these framing decisions needs to be made explicit for the students. The effective teacher must constantly wrestle with their internalized epistemologies and ego in seeking to constantly be aware of and share their own framings of the world. (When I ran a workshop for the Free School of Architecture in Summer 2018 on alternative learning communities, I mostly brought with me a long list of questions to answer [https://www.are.na/block/2440950 ] in seeking to understand how one is framing a learning space.)

This need for constant "pariefracture" (a breaking of the frame, expanding the conceptual realm, or meta-level "zooming out"—my friend D.V.'s term) in teaching gave me quite a bit of anxiety, as a teacher, until reading Parker J. Palmer's book "The Courage to Teach," in which he outlines six paradoxes of teaching. [https://www.are.na/block/1685043 and OCRed below ] I like these paradoxes in themselves, but the larger concept that resonated with me was the ability to treat a paradox not as a dead end (as one does in mathematics, generally) but rather as a challenge that can be pulled out and embraced as the dynamo of an ongoing practice. Teaching never resolves: you just wake up tomorrow and give it another shot.

I think what I'm circling around, here, is how much of learning from a teacher involves inheriting their ways of looking, concurrent with the teacher's ways of looking being in constant, self-aware flux. We inherit snapshots of our teachers' worldviews, blend them together over our own substrate of grokking the world, and call it education."

[From Parker J Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach”:

“When I design a classroom session, I am aware of six paradoxical tensions that I want to build into the teaching and learning space. These six are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They are simply mine, offered to illustrate how the principle of paradox might contribute to pedagogical design:

1. The space should be bounded and open.
2. The space should be hospitable and "charged."
3. The space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group.
4. The space should honor the "little" stories of the students and the "big" stories of the disciplines and tradition.
5. The space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of community.
6. The space should welcome both silence and speech.

I want to say a few words about what each of these paradoxes means. Then, to rescue the paradoxes and the reader from death by abstraction, I want to explore some practical ways for classroom teachers to bring these idea to life.“
lukaswinklerprins  teaching  howweteach  parkerpalmer  education  paradox  2019  indoctrination  ivanillich  exploration  boundaries  openness  hospitality  individualism  collectivism  community  silence  speech  support  solitude  disciplines  tradition  personalization  unschooling  deschooling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
SVS/Unschooling Controversy - YouTube
"This is a commentary on the currently controversial article by Daniel Greenberg https://sudburyvalley.org/article/lets-be-clear-sudbury-valley-school-and-un-schooling-have-nothing-common . The article is not summarised during the commentary so it will be necessary to read it before listening. Further discussion is available to join on the forums at www.self-directed.org.

"Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education" can be read here https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/comment/924407 . This commentary is offered by Jeanna L Clements in her private capacity and does not represent any other individual or collective. Please feel free to share. Thank you."
education  schools  schooling  sudburyschools  self-directed  self-directedlearning  progessive  petergray  je'annaclements  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  unschooling  homeschool  deschooling  montessori  northstar  agillearningcenters  agilelearning  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  jeannaclements  individualism  collective  collectivism  parenting  danielgreenberg  children  2018  johnholt  patfarenga  sudburyvalleyschool  agilelearningcenters 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Bauhaus bus embarks on world tour to explore the school's global legacy
"A bus that looks like the Bauhaus school in Dessau will travel around the world this year, aiming to "unlearn" the influential school's Eurocentric attitudes.

Called Wohnmaschine, which means "living house", the small-scale Bauhaus bus will travel between four cities in 2019, the school's centenary year.

Designed by Berlin-based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel, the 15-square-metre mobile building is created in the image of the iconic workshop wing of the Bauhaus school building in Dessau – a building conceived by founding director Walter Gropius and built in 1919, to embody the school's core principles and values.

It features the same gridded glass walls that wrap around the building, as well as the famous lettering down one side.

Inside is an apartment-like space, containing an area to host exhibitions and workshops, plus a reading room filled with books charting the Bauhaus' history and legacy.

The project, called Spinning Triangles, begins in Dessau. From there the bus will travel to Berlin, where the Bauhaus-Archiv is located, before travelling overseas to Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Hong Kong.

Over the 10-month tour, design collective Savvy Contemporary will host a series of symposiums and workshops that attempt to challenge and "unlearn" colonial attitudes towards modernity, to develop a more global interpretation of the school's teachings.

"This school will not be developed by the geopolitical west, but through the accelerated movement between deeply interwoven places," said Savvy Contemporary.

"Design has power. It creates our environments, our interactions, our being in the world," added the organisation. "For too long, practices and narratives from the global south have been kept at the periphery of the design discourse, been ignored altogether, or appropriated."

Open to the public, the installation is beginning with four workshops in Dessau between 4 and 22 January, exploring the relationship between colonialism and modernity.

"We will face the relations of coloniality and design as well as its various visibilities and invisibilities," explained Savvy Contemporary.

The Wohnmaschine will travel to Berlin between 24 and 27 January to coincide with the opening festival 100 Years Bauhaus, before making its way to Kinshasa for workshops between 4 and 12 April.

Here, hired actors will play out the roles of various colonies, to discuss how everyday environments can be used to create a "collective future". The intention is to develop an inclusive modernist manifesto, devoid of Eurocentric views.

Five representatives from the workshops in Kinshasa will travel back to Berlin to share their research with 40 students at Savvy Contemporary's headquarters between 22 July and 18 August. The aim is to show that "it may not be the south that needs development but the north".

"Words and actions aim to challenge and transform Bauhaus traditions and narratives of modernity and modernism," said the organisers.

Finally, the school will move to Hong Kong's Para Site art space, where it will discuss its research further.

The Bauhaus school in Dessau was only in operation from 1919 until 1923, when it was forced to close by the rising Nazi Party. It later moved to Berlin under the steer of third and final director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, where it occupied a converted factory building.

Today the school operates as a centre for design, research and education, and part of it functions as a hotel. A museum is set open on the campus this year, as the building becomes the centre for the 100 Years Bauhaus festival.

The Bauhaus is the most influential art and design school in history. To mark the centenary of the school's founding, we've created a series of articles exploring the school's key figures and projects."
bauhaus  unlearning  mobile  mobility  nomads  nomadism  learning  education  buses  2019  art  design  vanbole-mentzel  wohnmaschine  berlin  kinshasa  drc  democraticrepublicofthecongo  collective  collectivism  schools  research  architecture  miesvanderrohe 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Ubiquitous Collectivism that Enables America’s Fierce Individualism
"Forbes recently released their 2019 “30 Under 30” list of “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” who are also under 30 years old. A persistent criticism of the list is that many of the people on it are there because of family or other social advantages. As Helen Rosner tweeted of last year’s list:
My take is: all 30 Under 30 lists should include disclosure of parental assets

In a piece for Vox, Aditi Juneja, creator of the Resistance Manual and who was on the 30 Under 30 list last year, writes that Forbes does ask finalists a few questions about their background and finances but also notes they don’t publish those results. Juneja goes on to assert that no one in America is entirely self-made:
Most of us receive government support, for one thing. When asked, 71 percent of Americans say that they are part of a household that has used one of the six most commonly known government benefits — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or unemployment benefits.

And many people who benefit from government largesse fail to realize it: Sixty percent of Americans who claim the mortgage-interest deduction, which applies to homeowners, say they have never used a government program. If you’ve driven on public roads, gone to public school, or used the postal service as part of your business — well, we all rely on collective infrastructure to get ahead.

And then she lists some of the ways in which she has specifically benefitted from things like government programs, having what sounds like a stable home environment, and her parents having sufficient income to save money for her higher education.
I went to public schools through eighth grade. My parents were able to save for some of my college costs through a plan that provides tax relief for those savings. I stayed on my parent’s health insurance until I was 26 under the Affordable Care Act. I have received the earned income tax credit, targeted at those with low or moderate income. I took out federal student loans to go to law school.

Juneja’s piece reminds me of this old post about how conservatives often gloss over all of the things that the government does for its citizens:
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

And also of mayor Pete Buttigieg’s idea of a more progressive definition of freedom:
Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.

Lists like 30 Under 30 reinforce the idea of American individualism at the expense of the deep spirit & practice of collectivism that pervades daily American life. America’s fierce individuals need each other. Let’s celebrate and enable that."
kottke  us  individualism  collectivism  aditijuneja  resistance  culture  government  publicgood  helenrosner  petebuttigieg  politics  30under30  class  society  delusions  myths  entrepreneurship  privilege  infrastructure 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Audrey Watters on Twitter: "I'm sorry. But I have a rant about "personalized learning" https://t.co/lgVgCZBae7"
"I'm sorry. But I have a rant about "personalized learning" https://www.npr.org/2018/11/16/657895964/the-future-of-learning-well-it-s-personal

"Personalized learning" is not new. Know your history. It predates "Silicon Valley" and it pre-dates educational computing and it most certainly pre-dates Khan Academy and it pre-dates Sal Khan.

Even the way in which Sal Khan describes "personalized learning" -- "students move at their own pace" until they've mastered a question or topic -- is very, very old.

Educational psychologists have been building machines to do this -- supposedly to function like a tutor -- for almost 100 years.

The push to "personalize" education *with machines* has been happening for over a century thanks to educational psychology AND of course educational testing. This push is also deeply intertwined with ideas about efficiency and individualism. (& as such it is profoundly American)

Stop acting like "personalized learning" is this brand new thing just because the ed-tech salespeople and ed reformers want you to buy it. Maybe start asking why all these efforts have failed in the past -- with and without machines. Ever heard of the Dalton Plan, for example?

And good god, don't say past efforts failed because computers are so amazing today. School software sucks. People who tell you otherwise are liars.

Also: as democracy seems to be collapsing all around us, perhaps it's not such a fine time to abandoned shared intellectual spaces and shared intellectual understanding, eh? Perhaps we should be talking about more communal, democratic practices and less personalized learning?

Also: stop taking people seriously who talk about the history of school and the only book they seem to have read on the topic is one by John Taylor Gatto. Thanks in advance.

(On the other hand, keep it up. This all makes a perfect Introduction for my book)"
personalization  personalizedlearning  2018  audreywatters  history  education  edtech  siliconvalley  memory  salkhan  khanacademy  psychology  testing  individualism  efficiency  democracy  daltonplan  johntaylorgatto  communalism  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  collectivism  us 
november 2018 by robertogreco
David Adams on Twitter: "The more power the left gains, the more vociferously will entrenched interests fight back. We better have a lot more in our arsenal than sarcasm and call-outs. Twitter is exactly the wrong place to prepare."
"The more power the left gains, the more vociferously will entrenched interests fight back. We better have a lot more in our arsenal than sarcasm and call-outs. Twitter is exactly the wrong place to prepare.

A few accounts miraculously navigate this poisoned discursive terrain adroitly. @BlackSocialists comes immediately to mind. They do Twitter "wrong" and it's wonderful to see.

That sort of patient, clear, drama- and hyperbole-free presentation is something to learn from. Stick to the principles, stick to the material analysis, dodge around the feints and discursive traps of the opposition.

These are skills we have to put real effort into learning, but then, they don't call it a fight or a struggle because it comes automatically, right? These rhetorical skills are part of our basic training.

Going for the sick own, the oh-snap fireworks, is about your own personal brand, your lil ego, & that, folks, is commodification in action. Socialism isn't about you-as-atomized-individual. It's about us, building understanding, seeing above the spectacle, gaining power together."
davidadams  twitter  socialism  activism  education  ego  personalbranding  solidarity  collectivism  bsa  blacksocialistsofamerica  socialmedia  individualism  howto  organizing  resistance  struggle  sarcasm  callouts  training  opposition 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
LIVING LABOR: “COLLECTIVE HEAD” on Vimeo
[See also: https://www.artandeducation.net/classroom/video/66316/fred-moten-collective-head

"Critical theorist, educator, and poet Fred Moten delivers a keynote at the 2014 conference “Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies” at the Performance Studies department at New York University. The talk is within the closing plenary at the conference that is dedicated to the late José Esteban Muñoz—a colleague and comrade of many of the conference participants. Accordingly, the last third of Moten’s reflections address Muñoz’s thought on queer futurity and its immanence in the present. In line with the title, taken from Lygia Clark’s 1975 performance Cabeza colectiva, the talk is constructed in the form of a prismatic dialogue. Moten quotes extensively from the writings of Masao Miyoshi and Karl Marx to establish his main lines of inquiry: what would be a materialization of social wealth that was not circumscribed by forms of property and the drive to accumulate? Here, Moten calls on Marx’s description in the Grundrisse of how the contemporary mode of production elaborates human potentiality by, paradoxically, emptying it out: “the complete working-out of the human content appears as a complete emptying-out, this universal objectification as total alienation, and the tearing-down of all limited, one-sided aims as sacrifice of the human end-in-itself to an entirely external end.” How can we imagine the common as that which is “before”—in time and in space, that is, behind as well as in front—and which surrounds us even as our social structures cast it out, as an externality or as a periphery? How could architecture find itself “re-materialized” through the encounter with the “space outside” and all those who inhabit it? As Craig Buckley has written, “the surfaces of daily life [come] to appear as traces of largely unseen apparatuses whose implications architecture still struggles to grasp.” Moten asks what comes after a modernism that strove to accommodate the city’s outside—the poor—however imperfectly, in an era when social housing is seen not “as an object of planning but an object of demolition”?

The aesthetic dimension of anti-coloniality as an ongoing mode of resistance in contemporary life, its “sentimentality,” is developed as counter to critical fascination with power and its bleak anatomies, a thread that could be considered definitive to Moten’s work. The necessity of getting lost, of unmooring from the property-form of subjectivity, is seen as central to queer futurity, which exists by displacement. Loss is the instantiation of another condition of possibility, notes Moten in an affecting tribute to both the work of José Esteban Muñoz and his living absence.

Fred Moten has developed a singular body of work in the terrain of black studies, focusing mainly on African-American literature, music and performance, and weaving that with critical (race) theory and Marxism in the “black radical tradition” (Cedric Robinson). He teaches at University of California, Riverside and Duke University and is the author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, with Stefano Harney (Minor Compositions, 2013), and numerous books of poetry."]
fredmoten  2014  lygiaclark  comunes  karlmarx  personhood  citizenship  masaomiyoshi  class  barbarabrowning  underground  collectivism  universality  wealth  poverty  cities 
june 2018 by robertogreco
School is Literally a Hellhole – Medium
"By continually privileging and training our eyes on a horizon “beyond the walls of the school” — whether that be achievement, authentic audiences, the real world, the future, even buzz or fame — have we inadvertently impoverished school of its value and meaning, turning it into a wind-swept platform where we do nothing but gaze into another world or brace ourselves for the inevitable? Here we have less and less patience for the platform itself, for learning to live with others who will be nothing more than competitors in that future marketplace."



"What would be possible if we instead were to wall ourselves up with one another, fostering community and care among this unlikely confluence of souls? Does privileging the proximate, present world render any critique of or contribution to the larger world impossible?

I don’t think so. Learning to protect, foster, and value the humans in our care will often automatically put us in direct conflict with the many forces that disrupt or diminish those values. More than reflecting the real world or the future or some outside standard or imperative, kids need to see themselves reflected and recognized in these rooms. This is true even in the most privileged of environments. Providing recognition means valuing students' perspectives and experiences, but also helping them gain critical consciousness of themselves and their world, which they often intuit.

These tasks aren’t disconnected from the outside world, but often need a smaller, more human-sized community in which to flourish. The impulse to test and measure continually intrudes upon this process. But so do other prying eyes, ones that cast our students as entrepreneurial, capitalistic, future-ready, self-motivated, passionate individuals — and that often shame those who can’t or won’t conform to this ideal.

We should ask ourselves to what extent those outside standards and ideals are antithetical to the values of education — civic discourse, collectivity, cooperation, care. I realize this post is short on specifics, but let’s be more cautious about always forcing one another out into unforgiving gaze of others, commending the merits of a world beyond this one."
arthurchiaravalli  schools  schooling  schooliness  presence  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  highschool  competition  coexistence  community  benjamindoxtdator  engagement  blogging  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  personalbranding  innovation  johndewey  work  labor  nietzsche  collectivism  collectivity  cooperation  care  caring  merit  entrepreneurship  passion  2018  foucault  michelfoucault 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Transit Agencies Must Sell Freedom – Remix
"Some of you may have watched the recent Winter Olympic Games, during which, Toyota ran several ads highlighting individual mobility. The core message: celebrate the notion of freedom. Yet, absent from these commercials were actual vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers have long sold themselves as purveyors of freedom. For decades in America, the purchase of a vehicle was not just a financial transaction, but the key to personal freedom. Through their commercial, Toyota was similarly connecting the notion of athletic freedoms to the personal freedoms granted by their vehicles.

[image]

On the other hand, public transportation is often portrayed as an alternative to driving, or the option you use when driving is too expensive or unavailable to you. But at its core, there is no difference between the function of a private vehicle and a public transportation vehicle. Both are used to get you from wherever you are to where you want to be.

The Freedom Frame

Willful motion is a basic characteristic of life. Being able to move when you want and go where you want is a core element of personal freedom. In my work as a transit planner, I’ve found that when I am able to describe my work in the context of personal freedom, people engage. I believe that more transit agencies should use this “Freedom Frame” to plan, promote, and communicate their services to showcase the benefit they bring to their communities.

Using such a ‘Freedom Frame’ to talk about our work has several advantages.

1. It keeps the focus on what matters most to people — their ability to access destinations quickly and affordably.[1]

2. It allows you to transform beyond the individual experience and plan for a type of collective freedom.

3. It allows you to tap into the broader transportation market.

Fortunately, there are more and more tools becoming available to transit planners to measure transit freedom. These tools are known as transit accessibility analysis, isochrone analysis, or in the Remix world, Jane. Using Jane to estimate the accessibility for different demographics, such as low-income, minority, youth or seniors, has allowed me to make the transit Freedom Frame relevant to diverse audiences, and gain broad-based support for potential service changes.

[images]

Freedom is Greater Than Efficiency

Too often, our conversations about transportation and transit are focused on operational details or efficiency metrics — roadway capacity, vehicle delay, passengers per hour, vehicle loads, etc. But it turns out, that no one really cares about efficiency for efficiency’s sake. In my experience, people care about efficiency only to the extent that it allows them to do something they otherwise would not be able to do. In other words, if we cannot explain our efficiency enhancements in terms of expanded freedom, they will continue to be undervalued or actively resisted.

This reality has implications for both transit planning and marketing. As an example, transfers are essential for an efficient network. However, it’s very difficult for a rider to accept this trade-off and they often resist adding new transfers to a network. You can reduce some of this resistance by illustrating and quantifying the number of new places riders can get to with the new transfer. Mapping one’s transit freedom immediately encourages the public to to imagine new trips they could make rather than focusing on the inconvenience of the transfer.

Freedom as a Business Bottom Line

When marketing to local employers, quantifying the size of the workforce that is accessible to them because of transit speaks to them in terms of their bottom lines. If they can move their workforce on transit, they can rethink their parking strategies and needs. If employers have commute trip reduction goals or targets, for example, marketing transit to their employees starts to be in their own self-interest. In the case of a small business owner, illustrating the number of people who could potentially arrive at their doorstep because of the bus stop could change their perspective. They come to see the bus stop as a virtual on-street parking space that turns over much more frequently than an actual parking spot. Through this lens, they too, have an interest in supporting people using transit.

[images]

Collective Freedoms Enhance Individual Freedoms

Another significant challenge in transportation planning is that we tend to think about travel from our personal experience, which leads to individually optimized solutions. In transit we experience this, when certain customer groups approach us to ask what special service, or route, we can provide for them. Invariably the request stems from the desire to get a certain group or type of person to a specific type of destination to do a specific type of activity. Common examples include seniors getting to the grocery store, youth to a recreational center after school, a certain employer’s employees to their office building, or even concertgoers to a venue.

Approaching transportation from the perspective of the individual requires agencies to know a lot about each individual — where they live, where they’re they going, and when they’re going. Developing highly tailored services around individual trip patterns results in networks that are brittle (fragile to changes in the community) and less efficient. Further, optimizing for an individual will make the network less attractive to everyone but that individual.

To counter this trend, transit agencies need to pivot toward a collective approach. Begin by refocusing on freedom. At the core of each of those individual trips is the same desire, to get from where one is to where one wants to be. Connecting more people to more places more often will result in more seniors, more youth, and more employees reaching their destinations.

If we optimize a network for collective mobility, rather than individual trips, we will have a network that will enhance the individual freedoms for the greatest number of people. Not to mention, the network itself will be more resilient to change, more efficient, and require less specific knowledge about individual trips.

A Willingness to Pay for Freedom

The promise of freedom in transit is primarily sabotaged by its operating budget. The Freedom Frame however, has encouraged me to dramatically expand my vision beyond the limitations of an existing operating budget. We typically think about our current operating budget as the starting point for people’s willingness to pay for transit. For most small and even middle-sized transit agencies, this funding level is insufficient to provide freedom to the general population let alone our current passengers. This lens artificially limits transit’s potential.

I would challenge transit agencies to consider a “Freedom Frame” approach to funding. This changes the question from “How much should we spend on transit?” to “How much should we pay for the freedom to move?” As the automobile industry and Toyota have confirmed, people are willing to pay a lot of money for their personal freedom. Much more, in fact, than any transit agency’s operating budget.

For example, the two-county area surrounding Boise, Idaho, known as the Treasure Valley, is home to over 600,000 people. Residents of the Treasure Valley pay an estimated $1.5 billion per year on operating their own vehicles. By comparison, the transit operating budget for the Treasure Valley (including paratransit and demand response options) is $15 million — or one percent.

[images]

This single statistic explains:

1. Why transit currently provides little freedom in the Treasure Valley

2. The remaining market share of what transit could provide

Today, asking people to take transit in the Treasure Valley is like asking them to step out of a world of $1.5 billion of freedom and into a world of only $15 million of freedom. Our residents experience this loss of freedom in terms of the bus not coming often enough, not coming on the days they need, or not taking them to their needed destinations. Understandably, few people, compared to the entire population, choose transit[1].

Catch the Freedom Train

If people are willing to spend $1.5 billion on their own freedom, why are we limiting ourselves to incremental transit expansion programs? Could transit provide more freedom to more people with less money than the current arrangement?

Of course it can! So, why isn’t that our target? Why aren’t we telling this story in terms of freedom rather than in terms of transportation needs assessments, alternatives, efficiencies, or environmental impacts?

Transit is about providing more freedom to more people at a lower cost. And those costs are not only out-of-pocket financial costs but also lower social costs, lower land requirements, and lower environmental costs. These concepts of transit freedom are not new, but have been elevated through new technology that transit planners now have at their fingertips.

There is truth in Toyota’s advertising: when people are free to move, anything is possible. Whether looking at the past and the tunnels cut by hand through the Rocky Mountains, or the ribbons of asphalt and concrete that crisscross our country, or looking to the future with investments in automated vehicles, Hyperloops, etc., it is clear that anything is possible when you provide people the freedom to move. Transit agencies will be much more likely to realize the investments they need to remain relevant if they are able to tap into people’s desire to move freely."
transmobility  2018  transportation  transit  publictransit  freedom  efficiency  mobility  collectivism  fundign  government  trains  buses  stephenhunt 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — However problematically the notion of...
"However problematically the notion of “responsibility” has been reappropriated for neoliberal purposes, the concept remains a crucial feature of the critique of accelerating inequality. In the neoliberal morality, each of us is only responsible for ourselves, and not for others, and that responsibility is first and foremost a responsibility to become economically self-sufficient under conditions when self-sufficiency is structurally undermined. Those who cannot afford to pay for health care constitute but one version of a population deemed disposable. And all those who see the increasing gap between rich and poor, who understand themselves to have lost several forms of security and promise, they also understand themselves as abandoned by a government and a political economy that clearly augments wealth for the very few at the expense of the general population. So when people amass on the street, one implication seems clear: they are still here and still there; they persist; they assemble, and so manifest the understanding that their situation is shared, or the beginning of such an understanding. And even when they are not speaking or do not present a set of negotiable demands, the call for justice is being enacted: the bodies assembled “say” “we are not disposable,” whether or not they are using words at the moment; what they say, as it were, is “we are still here, persisting, demanding greater justice, a release from precarity, a possibility of a livable life."
Judith Butler, Notes Toward a Peformative Theory of Assembly (p. 25)

"The Human Spring is coming, I predict 2023. The time when we, the people, actually understand our situation is shared.

Because of the nature of things in the post-everything, postnormal era, we will have to rely on fluidarity – cooperative action around a small set of core issues – rather than the historical solidarity – collective action around a comprehensive platform – but if it is the right 4 or five things, that will be enough."
judithbutler  stoweboyd  neoliberalism  economics  democracy  inequality  justice  socialjustice  precarity  healthcare  health  change  evolution  solidarity  collectivism  care  caring  morality  persistence  assembly 
april 2018 by robertogreco
“The Moral Crisis of the University” | Gardner Writes
"Michael B. Katz is a new discovery for me (h/t Roving Librarian). His scholarship on the history of public education in the U.S.is fascinating, troubling, and revelatory. I’m sure his conclusions are contested–whose aren’t?–but at times the clarity and forcefulness of his insights take my breath away.

“The Moral Crisis of the University,” reprinted in Katz’s last book, Reconstructing American Education (1987), is full of such insights. The essay doesn’t make for happy reading, but every time I read it I come away with a renewed understanding of what will be lost if higher education centered on the life of the mind and nurtured by a strong sense of civic obligation disappears. In many cases, this has already happened. The change Katz describes in 1987 has accelerated in ways that may go beyond his worst nightmare. Along with that acceleration, of course, is a great deal of business as usual, as there always is. We look here when the real erosion is happening there. It’s hard to know where to look, even when there are no distractions–and there are always distractions.

There’s an old joke about going broke, credited to Hemingway: Q: “How did you go bankrupt?” A: “Little by little, then all at once.” During the little by little stage, people who sound various alarms risk being called cranks, or worse. And it’s true: a premature or mischievous cultivation of outrage may damage or destroy what little semblance of community may be left.

And yet, the little by little becomes greater every year. Michael Katz gives me a way to see that. With that clarity also comes hope, the hope that recognizing problems really is the first step toward addressing them, managing them, perhaps even solving them.

Here, then, for Week 7 of Open Learning ’18, my last week as hub director, is some Michael Katz for us to consider together.
[W]hat is it exactly that makes a university distinct from other social institutions? [Robert Paul] Wolff offered a compelling definition based on a conception of the ideal university as a “community of learning.” The ideal university, he argued, should be “a community of persons united by collective understandings, by common and communal goals, by bonds of reciprocal obligation, and by a flow of sentiment which makes the preservation of the community an object of desire, not merely a matter of prudence or a command of duty.” Community implies a form of social obligation governed by principles different from those operative in the marketplace and state. Laws of of supply and demand lose priority; wage-labor is not the template for all human relations; the translation of individuals into commodities is resisted. The difficult task of defining common goals or acceptable activity is neither avoided nor deflected onto bureaucracy….

For all their problems, universities and their faculties remain immensely privileged. They retain a freedom of activity and expression not permitted in any other major social institution. There are two justifications for this privilege. One is that it is an essential condition of teaching and learning. The other is that universities have become the major source of moral and social criticism in modern life. They are the major site of whatever social conscience we have left…. If the legitimacy of universities rested only on their service to the marketplace and state, internal freedom would not be an issue. But their legitimacy rests, in fact, on something else: their integrity. Like all privileges, the freedom enjoyed by universities carries correlative responsibilities. In their case it is intellectual honesty and moral courage. Modern universities are the greatest centers of intellectual power in history. Without integrity, they can become little more than supermarkets with raw power for sale. This is the tendency in the modern history of the higher learning. It is what I call the moral crisis of the university.


I firmly believe that these large questions are essential foundations for any effective change or conservation in higher education. For always some new things must be invented, some things will benefit from change, and some things must be conserved. Some core principles must remain non-negotiable. I agree with Katz: tenured faculty in higher education are the last, best hope for addressing these large questions of common goals and acceptable activities.

It may not yet be too late."
gardnercampbell  via:lukeneff  2018  lifeofthemind  liberalarts  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  community  learning  civics  robertpaulwolff  michaelkatz  1987  howwelearn  purpose  meaning  bureaucracy  interdependence  collectivism  understanding  responsibility  integrity  morality  ethics  neoliberalism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
How to Build Castles in the Air – Teachers Going Gradeless
"One of the more profound ironies of “going gradeless” is realizing just how fundamental grades are to the architecture of schools.

Grades undergird nearly everything we do in education. By threatening late penalties and administering one-shot assessments, we focus our famously distracted students on the task at hand. By regularly updating our online gradebooks, we provide an ongoing snapshot of student performance so precise it can be calculated to the hundredths place.

Grades inform our curriculum and instruction too. Because so much rides on them, it’s essential we build upon the rock of “objective” data, not the shifting sands of human judgment. Thus, we limit ourselves to those kinds of learning that can be easily measured and quantified. A multiple choice quiz testing students’ knowledge of literary devices can be reliably scored by your 10-year-old daughter (not saying I’ve ever done that). A stack of bubble sheets can be scanned on your way out of the building for the summer. Check your results online in the driveway, then go inside and make yourself a margarita.

If you want to evaluate something more complex, like writing, you had better develop an iron-clad rubric and engage in some serious range-finding sessions with your colleagues. Don’t put anything subjective like creativity or risk taking on that rubric — you’re already on shaky ground as it is. Make sure to provide an especially strict template so that the essay is fully prepared to “meet its maker.” Word choice, punctuation, sentence variety, quote incorporation — these are the nuts and bolts of writing. If the Hemingway Editor can’t see it, isn’t it just your opinion?

Hopefully, you see the irony here. Grades don’t communicate achievement; most contain a vast idiosyncratic array of weights, curves, point values, and penalties. Nor do they motivate students much beyond what it takes to maintain a respectable GPA. And by forcing us to focus on so-called objective measures, grades have us trade that which is most meaningful for that which is merely demonstrable: recall, algorithm use, anything that can be reified into a rubric. Grading reforms have sometimes succeeded in making these numbers, levels, and letters more meaningful, but more often than not it is the learning that suffers, as we continually herd our rich, interconnected disciplines into the gradebook’s endless succession of separate cells.

So, as I’ve said before, grades are not great. Nor are the ancillary tools, tests, structures, and strategies that support them. But as anyone who has gone gradeless can tell you, grades don’t just magically go away, leaving us free to fan the flames of intrinsic motivation and student passion. Grades remain the very foundation on which we build. Most gradeless teachers must enter a grade at the end of each marking period and, even if we didn’t, our whole educational enterprise is overshadowed by the specter of college admissions and scholarships. And since grades and tests rank so high in those determinations, we kid ourselves in thinking we’ve escaped their influence.

Even in a hypothetical environment without these extrinsic stresses, students are still subject to a myriad of influences, not the least of which being the tech industry with its constant bombardment of notifications and nudges. This industry, which spends billions engineering apps for maximum engagement, has already rendered the comparatively modest inducements of traditional schooling laughable. Still, the rhetoric of autonomy, passion, and engagement always seems to take this in stride, as if the Buddha — not billionaires — is behind this ever-expanding universe.

Let’s go one more step further, though, and imagine a world without the tech industry. Surely that would be a world in which the “inner mounting flame” of student passion could flourish.

But complete freedom, autonomy, and agency is not a neutral or even acceptable foundation for education. The notion of a blank slate on which to continuously project one’s passion, innovation, or genius is seriously flawed. Sherri Spelic, examining the related rhetoric of design thinking, points out how “neoliberal enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and start-up culture” does little to address “social dilemmas fueled by historic inequality and stratification.” In other words, blank spaces — including the supposed blank space of going gradeless — are usually little more than blind spots. And often these blind spots are where our more marginalized students fall through the cracks.

Even if we were able provide widespread, equitable access to springboards of self-expression, autonomy, and innovation, what then? To what extent are we all unwittingly falling into a larger neoliberal trap that, in the words of Byung-Chul Han, turns each of us into an “auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise”?
Today, we do not deem ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects: always refashioning and reinventing ourselves. A sense of freedom attends passing from the state of subject to that of project. All the same, this projection amounts to a form of compulsion and constraint — indeed, to a more efficient kind of subjectification and subjugation. As a project deeming itself free of external and alien limitations, the I is now subjugating itself to internal limitations and self-constraints, which are taking the form of compulsive achievement and optimization.


One doesn’t have to look too far to find the rhetoric of “harnessing student passion” and “self-regulated learners” to understand the paradoxical truth of this statement. This vision of education, in addition to constituting a new strategy of control, also undermines any sense of classrooms as communities of care and locations of resistance.
@hhschiaravalli:

A5. Watch out for our tendency to lionize those who peddle extreme personalization, individual passion, entrepreneurial mindsets. So many of these undermine any sense of collective identity, responsibility, solidarity #tg2chat


Clearly, not all intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is created equal. Perhaps instead of framing the issue in these terms, we should see it as a question of commitment or capitulation.

Commitment entails a robust willingness to construct change around what Gert Biesta describes as fundamental questions of “content, purpose, and relationship.” It requires that we find ways to better communicate and support student learning, produce more equitable results, and, yes, sometimes shield students from outside influences. Contrary to the soaring rhetoric of intrinsic motivation, none of this will happen by itself.

Capitulation means shirking this responsibility, submerging it in the reductive comfort of numbers or in neoliberal notions of autonomy.

Framing going gradeless through the lens of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, then, is not only misleading and limited, it’s harmful. No teacher — gradeless or otherwise — can avoid the task of finding humane ways to leverage each of these in the service of greater goals. Even if we could, there are other interests, much more powerful, much more entrenched, and much better funded than us always ready to rush into that vacuum.

To resist these forces, we will need to use everything in our power to find and imagine new structures and strategies, building our castles in air on firm foundations."
grades  grading  equity  morivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  measurement  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  socialjustice  neoliberalism  arthurchiaravalli  subjectivity  objectivity  systemsthinking  education  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  accountability  subjectification  subjugation  achievement  optimization  efficiency  tests  testing  standardization  control  teaching  howweteach  2018  resistance  gertbiesta  capitulation  responsibility  structure  strategy  pedagogy  gpa  ranking  sherrispelic  byung-chulhan  compulsion  constraint  self-regulation  passion  identity  solidarity  personalization  collectivism  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
No one’s coming. It’s up to us. – Dan Hon – Medium
"Getting from here to there

This is all very well and good. But what can we do? And more precisely, what “we”? There’s increasing acceptance of the reality that the world we live in is intersectional and we all play different and simultaneous roles in our lives. The society of “we” includes technologists who have a chance of affecting the products and services, it includes customers and users, it includes residents and citizens.

I’ve made this case above, but I feel it’s important enough to make again: at a high level, I believe that we need to:

1. Clearly decide what kind of society we want; and then

2. Design and deliver the technologies that forever get us closer to achieving that desired society.

This work is hard and, arguably, will never be completed. It necessarily involves compromise. Attitudes, beliefs and what’s considered just changes over time.

That said, the above are two high level goals, but what can people do right now? What can we do tactically?

What we can do now

I have two questions that I think can be helpful in guiding our present actions, in whatever capacity we might find ourselves.

For all of us: What would it look like, and how might our societies be different, if technology were better aligned to society’s interests?

At the most general level, we are all members of a society, embedded in existing governing structures. It certainly feels like in the recent past, those governing structures are coming under increasing strain, and part of the blame is being laid at the feet of technology.

One of the most important things we can do collectively is to produce clarity and prioritization where we can. Only by being clearer and more intentional about the kind of society we want and accepting what that means, can our societies and their institutions provide guidance and leadership to technology.

These are questions that cannot and should not be left to technologists alone. Advances in technology mean that encryption is a societal issue. Content moderation and censorship are a societal issue. Ultimately, it should be for governments (of the people, by the people) to set expectations and standards at the societal level, not organizations accountable only to a board of directors and shareholders.

But to do this, our governing institutions will need to evolve and improve. It is easier, and faster, for platforms now to react to changing social mores. For example, platforms are responding in reaction to society’s reaction to “AI-generated fake porn” faster than governing and enforcing institutions.

Prioritizations may necessarily involve compromise, too: the world is not so simple, and we are not so lucky, that it can be easily and always divided into A or B, or good or not-good.

Some of my perspective in this area is reflective of the schism American politics is currently experiencing. In a very real way, America, my adoptive country of residence, is having to grapple with revisiting the idea of what America is for. The same is happening in my country of birth with the decision to leave the European Union.

These are fundamental issues. Technologists, as members of society, have a point of view on them. But in the way that post-enlightenment governing institutions were set up to protect against asymmetric distribution of power, technology leaders must recognize that their platforms are now an undeniable, powerful influence on society.

As a society, we must do the work to have a point of view. What does responsible technology look like?

For technologists: How can we be humane and advance the goals of our society?

As technologists, we can be excited about re-inventing approaches from first principles. We must resist that impulse here, because there are things that we can do now, that we can learn now, from other professions, industries and areas to apply to our own. For example:

* We are better and stronger when we are together than when we are apart. If you’re a technologist, consider this question: what are the pros and cons of unionizing? As the product of a linked network, consider the question: what is gained and who gains from preventing humans from linking up in this way?

* Just as we create design patterns that are best practices, there are also those that represent undesired patterns from our society’s point of view known as dark patterns. We should familiarise ourselves with them and each work to understand why and when they’re used and why their usage is contrary to the ideals of our society.

* We can do a better job of advocating for and doing research to better understand the problems we seek to solve, the context in which those problems exist and the impact of those problems. Only through disciplines like research can we discover in the design phase — instead of in production, when our work can affect millions — negative externalities or unintended consequences that we genuinely and unintentionally may have missed.

* We must compassionately accept the reality that our work has real effects, good and bad. We can wish that bad outcomes don’t happen, but bad outcomes will always happen because life is unpredictable. The question is what we do when bad things happen, and whether and how we take responsibility for those results. For example, Twitter’s leadership must make clear what behaviour it considers acceptable, and do the work to be clear and consistent without dodging the issue.

* In America especially, technologists must face the issue of free speech head-on without avoiding its necessary implications. I suggest that one of the problems culturally American technology companies (i.e., companies that seek to emulate American culture) face can be explained in software terms. To use agile user story terminology, the problem may be due to focusing on a specific requirement (“free speech”) rather than the full user story (“As a user, I need freedom of speech, so that I can pursue life, liberty and happiness”). Free speech is a means to an end, not an end, and accepting that free speech is a means involves the hard work of considering and taking a clear, understandable position as to what ends.

* We have been warned. Academics — in particular, sociologists, philosophers, historians, psychologists and anthropologists — have been warning of issues such as large-scale societal effects for years. Those warnings have, bluntly, been ignored. In the worst cases, those same academics have been accused of not helping to solve the problem. Moving on from the past, is there not something that we technologists can learn? My intuition is that post the 2016 American election, middle-class technologists are now afraid. We’re all in this together. Academics are reaching out, have been reaching out. We have nothing to lose but our own shame.

* Repeat to ourselves: some problems don’t have fully technological solutions. Some problems can’t just be solved by changing infrastructure. Who else might help with a problem? What other approaches might be needed as well?

There’s no one coming. It’s up to us.

My final point is this: no one will tell us or give us permission to do these things. There is no higher organizing power working to put systemic changes in place. There is no top-down way of nudging the arc of technology toward one better aligned with humanity.

It starts with all of us.

Afterword

I’ve been working on the bigger themes behind this talk since …, and an invitation to 2017’s Foo Camp was a good opportunity to try to clarify and improve my thinking so that it could fit into a five minute lightning talk. It also helped that Foo Camp has the kind of (small, hand-picked — again, for good and ill) influential audience who would be a good litmus test for the quality of my argument, and would be instrumental in taking on and spreading the ideas.

In the end, though, I nearly didn’t do this talk at all.

Around 6:15pm on Saturday night, just over an hour before the lightning talks were due to start, after the unconference’s sessions had finished and just before dinner, I burst into tears talking to a friend.

While I won’t break the societal convention of confidentiality that helps an event like Foo Camp be productive, I’ll share this: the world felt too broken.

Specifically, the world felt broken like this: I had the benefit of growing up as a middle-class educated individual (albeit, not white) who believed he could trust that institutions were a) capable and b) would do the right thing. I now live in a country where a) the capability of those institutions has consistently eroded over time, and b) those institutions are now being systematically dismantled, to add insult to injury.

In other words, I was left with the feeling that there’s nothing left but ourselves.

Do you want the poisonous lead removed from your water supply? Your best bet is to try to do it yourself.

Do you want a better school for your children? Your best bet is to start it.

Do you want a policing policy that genuinely rehabilitates rather than punishes? Your best bet is to…

And it’s just. Too. Much.

Over the course of the next few days, I managed to turn my outlook around.

The answer, of course, is that it is too much for one person.

But it isn’t too much for all of us."
danhon  technology  2018  2017  johnperrybarlow  ethics  society  calltoaction  politics  policy  purpose  economics  inequality  internet  web  online  computers  computing  future  design  debchachra  ingridburrington  fredscharmen  maciejceglowski  timcarmody  rachelcoldicutt  stacy-marieishmael  sarahjeong  alexismadrigal  ericmeyer  timmaughan  mimionuoha  jayowens  jayspringett  stacktivism  georginavoss  damienwilliams  rickwebb  sarawachter-boettcher  jamebridle  adamgreenfield  foocamp  timoreilly  kaitlyntiffany  fredturner  tomcarden  blainecook  warrenellis  danhill  cydharrell  jenpahljka  robinray  noraryan  mattwebb  mattjones  danachisnell  heathercamp  farrahbostic  negativeexternalities  collectivism  zeyneptufekci  maciejcegłowski 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Antropoceno | dpr-barcelona
"Cuando Las Patronas lanzan comida en bolsas a las entrañas de La Bestia quizás no son conscientes de la relevancia de su gesto a escala geológica. Movidas por empatía activan colectivamente un mecanismo ancestral de cooperación recurrente en todos los seres vivos una vez superada la etapa de recelo y competencia. Al instinto competitivo que levanta muros, intercalan una estrategia inteligente que inventa protocolos, revienta límites y difumina fronteras.

Existen otros gestos que generan flujos con impacto a escala geológica. Quizás nos somos conscientes de que en nuestros bolsillos llevamos pequeños trozos de África procesados en China y del gasto energético y material de la infraestructura que nos permite estar continuamente conectados.[1] La necesidad de actualización y los ciclos cortos de renovación se traducen en teléfonos obsoletos apilándose en los cajones de nuestras casas.

Las anteriores narrativas ilustran dos formas de relación de la especie humana con el entorno y la presión que constantemente ejercemos sobre el. Un proceso de consumo y desposesión continuos, acelerados especialmente a raíz de la Revolución Industrial y puesto en evidencia por el cambio climático, es el que ha llevado a plantear conceptos como el Antropoceno, que sugiere que hemos entrado en una era geológica marcada por la influencia de la actividad humana en el planeta.

No existe consenso respecto al inicio del Antropoceno[2], algunos proponen buscarlo en los albores de la agricultura, ya que es donde se pueden encontrar las primeras evidencias de sedimentación que delatan esta actividad humana que permitió a los humanos asentarse en comunidades con densidades nunca antes vistas, mientras que otros autores señalan la Revolución Industrial o el inicio de la carrera nuclear.

Y qué papel tiene la arquitectura dentro de este panorama? Hasta ahora entendíamos que todas las realizaciones arquitectónicas han ocurrido durante el Holoceno. Es bajo las condiciones ambientales de este período geológico en las que nuestra disciplina ha ido especializándose. Sin embargo, estas condiciones no son inmutables y tenemos certeza científica de que han ido cambiando aceleradamente desde finales del siglo XIX.[3] Actualmente existe cierto consenso sobre el impacto que la práctica arquitectónica tiene sobre el medio ambiente. La mayor parte de este impacto no se debe tanto a la construcción sino al consumo de energía derivado del transporte, técnicas y materiales constructivos. Además los análisis de ciclo de vida de los edificios coinciden en que es mayor el impacto energético por su mantenimiento que por su construcción. Las buenas prácticas apuntan que el reciclaje, la minimización del transporte y el uso de recursos locales son las mejores estrategias de mitigación.

Sin embargo un repaso crítico nos muestra que las premisas ambientales están lejos de ser las que regulen la producción arquitectónica, y que en la profesión siguen importando más las valoraciones estéticas o económicas. Por otro lado, las estrategias de adaptación y cobijo que hemos refinando responden a condiciones ambientales que previsiblemente no sigan siendo las mismas. Así que al parecer practicamos una disciplina todavía muy coqueta y poco previsora.

Y es que en realidad, los arquitectos disponemos de pocas herramientas e incluso de lenguaje para lidiar con fenómenos complejos o con cambios evolutivos. Y el panorama incierto que tenemos por delante desborda las habilidades técnicas, estáticas y formales que presuntamente definen la excelencia arquitectónica. Lo sostenible no es más que una etiqueta bucólica o un slogan de marca para adaptarse a condiciones ambientales que en realidad son difícilmente reversibles, mientras que la incertidumbre y el cambio son las verdaderas constantes que tenemos por delante.[4] Los defensores del aceleracionismo lo han comprendido al anticipar un hipotético fin del capitalismo y su ethos productivo, de los que al parecer no seremos capaces de renunciar. Porque seamos absolutamente sinceros: no hemos logrado mucho con buenas intenciones, apelaciones morales o previsiones desalentadoras. Mientras tanto la arquitectura sigue siendo en realidad una práctica subordinada a los intereses, posibilidades y consecuencias del sistema financiero.

Es posible reorientar nuestra profesión frente a este panorama? Tal vez el reto esté en una paulatina reconversión, que incorpore protocolos que permitan responder a la incertidumbre en lugar de generar soluciones cerradas. Una estrategia de acciones capaces de incorporar accidentes y generar respuestas emergentes a problemas que no han aparecido todavía, que es como funciona la evolución.

Es posible que en el gesto de Las Patronas encontremos alguna pista. Este grupo trabaja colectivamente con la incertidumbre; sus acciones afectan y se ven afectadas por una infraestructura de movilidad. Sin planificarlo a largo plazo, inciden sobre un flujo de vidas y memorias, ayudan a modificar la ecología de las poblaciones, de los sistemas urbanos y las regiones en los que interactuará la población que emigra. Y de forma análoga, quizás el coltán, cobre y demás minerales de nuestros teléfonos móviles estén a la espera de nuevas formas de minería que los rescaten de nuestros cajones.

Porque no solo moldeamos el mundo con nuestra actividad; el medio ambiente también nos moldea a nosotros y los cambios que introducimos modifican entornos y organismos que al final tienen consecuencias sobre nosotros mismos. La arquitectura del Antropoceno será menos anthropos y más colectivo. Un sistema de gestión de incertidumbres que genere soluciones dinámicas y evolutivas útiles para diferentes formas de vida, sean humanas o no."
anthropocene  2017  architecture  capitalism  laspatronas  mexico  migration  borders  competition  cooperation  markets  sustainability  uncertainty  collectivism  accelerationism  groth  ecology  environment  ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  dpr-barcelona 
november 2017 by robertogreco
New Sentences: From ‘Lower Ed,’ by Tressie McMillan Cottom - The New York Times
"We are a nation obsessed, from our founding documents on, with radical individualism. Our revolutionary forefathers, we are taught, heroically untethered us from the weight of collective history, and so we imagine ourselves as exceptions — totally unlike, say, Italians or Brazilians or Indians, who are pushed and pulled by historical tides from which we are magically exempt."
tressiemcmillancottom  samanderson  2017  exceptionalism  individualism  collectivism  history 
september 2017 by robertogreco
9 tools to navigate an 'uncertain future,' from new book, Whiplash - TechRepublic
[See also:

"Joi Ito’s 9 Principles of the Media Lab"
https://vimeo.com/99160925

"Joi Ito Co-Author of Whiplash: How To Survive Our Faster Future"
https://archive.org/details/Joi_Ito_Co-Author_of_Whiplash_-_How_To_Survive_Our_Faster_Future ]

""Humans are perpetually failing to grasp the significance of their own creations," write Joi Ito and Jeff Howe in Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. In the new title, released today, Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Howe, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and Wired contributor, make the case that technology moves faster than our ability to understand it.

As technology quickly advances, it's important to separate inventions from use: Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, but it was Eldridge Reeves Johnson who brought it into homes and laid the groundwork for the modern recording industry. In the same way, we often don't know how modern technology—from the iPhone to the Oculus Rift—will truly be used after it is created. "What technology actually does, the real impact it will have on society, is often that which we least expect," write the authors.

Drawing from a series of case studies and research, the authors offer nine guidelines for living in our new, fast-paced world. The principles, writes Joi Ito, are often displayed on a screen at the MIT Media Lab's main meeting room.

1. Emergence over authority
According to the authors, the Internet is transforming our "basic attitude toward information," moving away from the opinions of the few and instead giving voice to the many. Emergence, they argue, is a principle that captures the power of a collective intelligence. Another piece here, the authors say, is reflected in the availability of free online education, with platforms such as edX, and communities like hackerspace that pave the way for skill-building and innovation.

2. Pull over push
Safecast, an open environmental data platform which emerged from Kickstarter funding, a strong network of donors, and citizen scientists, was an important public project that helped residents of Fukushima learn how radiation was spreading. The collaborative effort here, known as a "pull strategy," the authors argue, shows a new way of compiling resources for real-time events. "'Pull' draws resources from participants' networks as they need them, rather than stockpiling materials and information," write the authors. In terms of management, it can be a way to reduce spending and increase flexibility, they write. For the entrepreneur, it is "the difference between success and failure. As with emergence over authority, pull strategies exploit the reduced cost of innovation that new methods of communication, prototyping, fundraising and learning have made available."

3. Compasses over maps
This principle has "the greatest potential for misunderstanding," the authors write. But here's the idea: "A map implies detailed knowledge of the terrain, and the existence of an optimum route; the compass is a far more flexible tool and requires the user to employ creativity and autonomy in discovering his or her own path." This approach, the authors say, can offer a mental framework that allows for new discoveries. It's a bit like the "accidental invention" method Pagan Kennedy noticed when researching for her New York Times magazine column, "Who Made This?"

4. Risk over safety
As traditional means of manufacturing and communicating have slowed due to tech like 3D printing and the internet, "enabling more people to take risks on creating new products and businesses, the center of innovation shifts to the edges," write the authors. They spent time trying to find the reasons for the success of the Chinese city Shenzhen, one of the world's major manufacturing hubs for electronics. Its power, they found, lies in its "ecosystem," the authors write, which includes "experimentation, and a willingness to fail and start again from scratch."

5. Disobedience over compliance
Disobedience is, in part, woven into the DNA of the MIT Media Lab. Great inventions, the authors write, don't often happen when people are following the rules. Instead of thinking about breaking laws, the authors challenge us to think about "whether we should question them." Last July, to put this principle to the test, the MIT Media Lab hosted a conference called "Forbidden Research," which explored everything from robot sex to genetically modified organisms. It was a chance to move past the "acceptable" parameters of academic dialogue and bring rigorous dialogue to issues that will surely have an impact on humanity.

6. Practice over theory
"In a faster future, in which change has become a new constant, there is often a higher cost to waiting and planning than there is to doing and improvising," write the authors. We live in a world in which failure is an important, and sometimes essential, part of growth—but that can only happen when we get out there and start putting our ideas into action. The approach, the authors write, can apply to anything from software to manufacturing to synthetic biology.

7. Diversity over ability
Research shows that diverse groups, working together, are more successful than homogenous ones. And diversity has become a central piece in the philosophy of many schools, workplaces, and other institutions. "In an era in which your challenges are likely to feature maximum complexity...it's simply good management, which marks a striking departure from an age when diversity was presumed to come at the expense of ability," write the authors.

8. Resilience over strength
Large companies, the authors write, have, in the past, "hardened themselves against failure." But this approach is misguided. "Organizations resilient enough to successfully recover from failures also benefit from an immune-system effect," they write. The mistakes actually help systems build a way to prevent future damage. "There is no Fort Knox in a digital age," the authors write. "Everything that can be hacked will, at some point, be hacked."

9. Systems over objects
How can we build accurate weather forecasts in an age of climate change? Or trustworthy financial predictions amid political changes? These types of issues illustrate why it may be worth "reconstructing the sciences entirely," according to neuroscientist Ed Boyden, quoted in the book, who proposes we move from "interdisciplinary" to "omnidisciplinary" in solving complex problems. Boyden went on to win the Breakthrough Prize, awarded by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech giants, for his novel development of optogenetics, in which neurons can be controlled by shining a light."
joiito  future  emergence  authority  safecast  systems  systemsthinking  small  agility  agile  donellameadows  jayforrester  influence  risk  safety  disobedience  compliance  autonomy  reslilience  decentralization  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  self-organization  practice  theory  arabspring  ruleoflaw  jeffhowe  networks  mitmedialab  collectivism  collectiveintelligence  compasses  institutions  invention  innovation  failure  scale  diversity  ability  heterogeneity  homogeneity  management  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  omnidisciplinary  complexity  internet  web  attention  edboyden  climatechange  medialab 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A Book About Colab (and Related Activities) - A new publication and fundraising edition - Printed Matter
"Printed Matter is pleased to announce the publication of A Book About Colab (and Related Activities). Edited by Max Schumann, Director of Printed Matter, and with a Foreword and Afterword by art writer and Colab member Walter Robinson, the book traces the output of Collaborative Projects Inc. (aka Colab), the highly energetic gathering of young New York downtown artists active from the late 1970’s through the mid 1980’s.

A Book About Colab serves as an exhaustive homage to the group’s work and a testimonial about their particular practice of collaboration, collectivity, and social engagement, while reflecting an iconic period of NYC cultural history. Advocating a form of cultural activism that was purely artist driven, the group created artworks, negotiated venues, curated shows, crafted their own PR, and engaged in discourse that responded to the political themes and predicaments of their time, among them the recessions of the 1970’s, the Reagan era of budget cuts and nuclear armament, the housing crisis and gentrification in New York City, and other pressing social issues.

In form, A Book About Colab captures the busy energy of the group as it focused on a battery of overlapping projects staged in artists’ lofts, vacant storefronts and abandoned buildings, as well as on the airwaves and in print. With extensive documentation of the printed material and media (posters, books, ephemera, films, broadcasts) steadily produced in the course of their collaborative undertakings, A Book About Colab offers a vivid account of the diverse aesthetics and concerns of the group as they embarked on X-Magazine, The Real Estate Show, The Times Square Show, the A. More Store, the cable access TV show Potato Wolf, and a myriad of other projects.

To illustrate the broader reach of the group, the book also explores a number of Colab-related efforts which took place in addition to their communal activity. Artists’ initiatives such as Fashion Moda, the New Cinema, Spanner Magazine, and ABC No Rio, while not purely Colab projects, derived their vitality from its members and reflected the spirit of that community.

In keeping with the democratic “by and for artists” ethos of Colab, the publication places this material alongside newly solicited texts from many of the group’s members – a mix of reflections and anecdotes, statements, manifestos, and excerpts from the ‘Colab Annual Report’, which provide a close perspective on the meaning of Colab for those who came into its orbit.

A Book About Colab (and Related Activities) is published by Printed Matter, printed full color, paperback, 256 pages, in an edition of 1000 copies. The book features a two-sided color wraparound cover, with the interior showing a selection of Fingerpaint Portraits of Colab group members by Cara Perlman.

The publication is a companion piece to the exhibition A Show About Colab (and Related Activities), organized by Schumann at Printed Matter, October 15-November 30, 2011.

Printed in Canada by The Prolific Group.
Edited by Max Schumann
Design Direction by Garrick Gott,
Design by Yoshié Hozumi"

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BUg334xgPhf/ via ??]
books  art  collaboration  collectivism  collectivity  glvo  altgdp  lcproject  openstudioproject  printedmatter  walterrobinson  colab  collaborativeprojectsinc  1970s  1980s  socialengagement  posters  ephemera  film  broadcasts  community 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Literary Hub
"This year Hannah Arendt is alarmingly relevant, and her books are selling well, particularly On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She’s been the subject an extraordinary essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books and a conversation between scholar Lyndsey Stonebridge and Krista Tippet on the radio show “On Being.” Stonebridge notes that Arendt advocated for the importance of an inner dialogue with oneself, for a critical splitting in which you interrogate yourself—for a real conversation between the fisherman and his wife you could say: “People who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what she called ‘the banality of evil’ was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.”

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation."
politics  donaldtrump  rebeccasolnit  2017  equality  inequality  delusion  power  corruption  kistatippet  lyndseystonebridge  hannaharendt  occupywallstreet  ows  fscottfitzgerald  tyrants  loneliness  resistance  russia  parables  privilege  vldimirputin  pushkin  greed  overreach  democracy  society  collectivism  evil  morality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Why do we Talk about Cities as Laboratories? – Andrew R. Schrock – Medium
"In many ways, cities are quite unlike laboratories. Scientific laboratories are carefully controlled environments. Cities are unruly spaces that resist measurement and management. Where did this vision of come from, and what are the implications of its rise?"




"Latour and Woolgar were interested in the idea of border crossing, but were even more concerned about how laboratories held a particular power in society."



"The prevailing wisdom of the day was that cities were harmful and dehumanizing. Park, by contrast, situated cities as beneficial ecosystems. Cities could be mapped and studied much an oceanographer would research a coral reef or a forester would approach a forest. The empirical “bottom-up” approach to social research Park and his collaborator Eve Burgess suggested was enormously influential on urban sociology."



"Approaching cities as laboratories provided insight into human collectivity and made social problems visible, but also controllable."



"Latour would warn us that scientific authority is the true power structures that undergirds more formalized Politics. Vague but persuasive combinations of mobile media, “civic tech,” and urban design are starting to be taken seriously by academia, political institutions and funding agencies.

It is not yet clear how these new players will achieve their most audacious hope. This hope is often not about a new mobile app, or even technology itself. City-lab hybrids don’t want to just work around cities and city government. They want to change how they function. They are never just tinkering."
cities  laboratories  2017  andrewschrock  brunolatour  stevewoolgar  collectivism  collectivity  ecosystems  sociology  politics  scientism  academia  policy  government  governance  robertpark 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Leopold Kohr - Breakdown of Nations
"As the physicists of our time have tried to elaborate an integrated single theory, capable of explaining not only some but all phenomena of the physical universe, so I have tried on a different plane to develop a single theory through which not only some but all phenomena of the social universe can be reduced to a common denominator. The result is a new and unified political philosophy centering on the theory of size. It suggests that there seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness...

There seems to be only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness. Oversimplified as this may seem, we shall find the idea more easily acceptable if we consider that bigness, or oversize, is really much more than just a social problem. It appears to be the one and only problem permeating all creation. Whenever something is wrong, something is too big.  And if the body of a people becomes diseased with the fever of aggression, brutality, collectivism, or massive idiocy, it is not because it has fallen victim to bad leadership or mental derangement. It is because human beings, so charming as individuals or in small aggregations have been welded onto overconcentrated social units. That is when they begin to slide into uncontrollable catastrophe. For social problems, to paraphrase the population doctrine of Thomas Malthus, have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of the organism of which they are part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio. Which means that, if a society grows beyond its optimum size, its problems must eventually outrun the growth of those human faculties which are necessary for dealing with them.

Hence it is always bigness, and only bigness, which is the problem of existence. The problem is not to grow but to stop growing; the answer: not union but division. 

"A small-state world would not only solve the problems of social brutality and war; it would solve the problems of oppression and tyranny. It would solve all problems arising from power.""
small  smallness  growth  bigness  leopoldkohr  division  union  breakdonofnations  thomsmalthus  society  leadership  power  aggression  brutality  collectivism  humanism  humanity  economics  bioregionalism 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Download PDFs & Order Booklets of To Change Everything / CrimethInc. Ex-Workers' Collective
"The open secret is that we do all have complete self-determination: not because it’s given to us, but because
not even the most totalitarian dictatorship could take it away. Yet as soon as we begin to act for ourselves, we come into conflict with the very institutions that are supposed to secure our freedom.

Managers and tax collectors love to talk about personal responsibility. But if we took complete responsibility for all our actions, would we be following their instructions in the first place?

More harm has been done throughout history by obedience than by malice. The arsenals of all the world’s militaries are the physical manifestation of our willingness to defer to others. If you want to be sure you never contribute to war, genocide, or oppression, the first step is to stop following orders.

That goes for your values, too. Countless rulers and rulebooks demand your unquestioning submission. But even if you want to cede responsibility for your decisions to some god or dogma, how do you decide which one it will be? Like it or not, you are the one who has to choose between them. Usually, people simply make this choice according to what is most familiar or convenient.

We are inescapably responsible for our beliefs and decisions. Answering to ourselves rather than to commanders or commandments, we might still come into conflict with each other, but at least we would do so on our own terms, not needlessly heaping up tragedy in service of others’ agendas.

The workers who perform the labor have power; the bosses who tell them what to do have authority. The tenants who maintain the building have power; the landlord whose name is on the deed has authority. A river has power; a permit to build a dam grants authority.

There’s nothing oppressive about power per se. Many kinds of power can be liberating: the power to care for those you love, to defend yourself and resolve disputes, to perform acupuncture and steer a sailboat and swing on a trapeze. There are ways to develop your capabilities that increase others’ freedom as well. Every person who acts to achieve her full potential offers a gift to all.

Authority over others, on the other hand, usurps their power. And what you take from them, others will take from you. Authority is always derived from above:

The soldier obeys the general, who answers to the president,
who derives his authority from the Constitution—

The priest answers to the bishop, the bishop to the pope, the
pope to scripture, which derives its authority from God—

The employee answers to the owner, who serves the customer,
whose authority is derived from the dollar—

The police officer executes the warrant signed by the magistrate,
who derives authority from the law—

Manhood, whiteness, property—at the tops of all these pyramids, we don’t even find despots, just social constructs: ghosts hypnotizing humanity.

In this society, power and authority are so interlinked that we can barely distinguish them: we can only obtain power in return for obedience. And yet without freedom, power is worthless.

In contrast to authority, trust centers power in the hands of those who confer it, not those who receive it. A person who has earned trust doesn’t need authority. If someone doesn’t deserve trust, he certainly shouldn’t be invested with authority! And yet whom do we trust less than politicians and CEOs?

Without imposed power imbalances, people have an incentive to work out conflicts to their mutual satisfaction—to earn each other’s trust. Hierarchy removes this incentive, enabling those who hold authority to suppress conflicts.

At its best, friendship is a bond between equals who support and challenge each other while respecting each other’s autonomy. That’s a pretty good standard by which to evaluate all our relationships. Without the constraints that are imposed upon us today—citizenship and illegality, property and debt, corporate and military chains of command—we could reconstruct our relations on the basis of free association and mutual aid."
power  authority  anarchism  anarchy  society  mutualaid  hierarchy  imbalance  horizontality  crimethinc  humanism  manhood  whiteness  obedience  freedom  authoritarianism  relationships  trust  domination  self-determination  individualism  collectivism  community  revolt  revolution  liberty  liberation  borders  leaders  leadership  profit  property  ownership 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Pleasures of Community - YouTube
"There’s a lot of pressure on us to make our individual lives interesting. But sometimes, the best experiences aren’t those connected up with our personal triumphs; they’re moments of joy at belonging with others."
community  individualism  media  presentation  life  social  people  interdependence  schooloflife  competition  narcissism  normalcy  kindness  trust  sports  sharing  communitycenters  collectivism  belonging  society  collectivepride 
july 2016 by robertogreco
ROAR Magazine: Defeating fear: lessons from Mexico’s housing movement
"Los Panchos has taken back land and collectively built thousands of homes since the late-1980s. What could Global North movements learn from its successes?"



"As with the housing movements in London, New York, Berlin and beyond, the emergence of Los Panchos was a response to rising property prices in the twenty-million-dense Mexican capital. “You can buy or sell everything in Mexico,” Enrique told the small gathering in South London, “but the poor couldn’t afford the basics after housing became a commodity. In the cities, land had been given to developers to build housing that people who live and work there couldn’t afford. As the price of land increased, we realized the only way we could survive was to organize together.”

So that’s what they did. Following on the heels of a failed attempt by party-political forces to provide basic housing for 500 families on disused land in the suburb of Iztapalapa in 1984, many families stayed behind and fought for the land without institutional support. They formed the Allepetlalli cooperative and negotiated the space for 384 homes to be built in 1987.

With the wind of this landmark victory in their sails, Los Panchos was formed in 1988 with the explicit aim of taking back land. With the Mexican state having so recently demonstrated its inability to provide for peoples’ needs, Los Panchos began to occupy another tract of land in the Iztapalapa neighborhood, establishing the El Molino settlement and building homes with whatever materials they could get their hands on.

Initially things were basic; a mix of wood and cardboard structures dotted the settlement. But the humble resources available were no impediment to construction. “The dignity of housing comes from the people who live in it,” Enrique reminded the London crowd. “Even if materials were at first basic or precarious, the houses were dignified.”

Of course, property owners were not immediately ingratiated by this demonstration of collective dignity. Mexican police were dispatched – as they had been in the early days of the Allepetlalli coop – and innumerable battles ensued as the occupiers defended their new homes from regular violent eviction attempts.

The battles made clear that more than housing was required, as injuries required greater healthcare provision than was typically available in one of Mexico City’s poorest suburbs. Thus, as the community fortified their living spaces, day-by-day, they also began to train one another in First Aid and other essential medical skills to maintain the community’s wellbeing, while living under sporadic states of siege.

As the number and quality of homes increased between police raids, the movement began to negotiate with the land owners for a selling price that they could afford to pay. Their steadfast presence on the land offered a strong incentive for the landlords to make a deal and cut their losses.

Alongside the financial negotiations, Los Panchos established a security commission, coordinating voluntary community patrols and establishing borders to keep the police out (unless their guns were left outside and they were accompanied by members of the community). Once established, (as has been the case in other such experiments in Mexico where police have been barred from a community), Enrique told us that “the crime rate dropped to almost zero.” Even some of the movement’s early critics came around to supporting them as the community solidified its presence in the area: “When we first took over the land, the neighbors viewed us as criminals,” Enrique remembers. “Now the neighbors join us on community patrols.”

Los Panchos were and are reclaiming the autonomy needed to live their lives beyond the dual tyrannies of the state and the market. It began with housing, but it couldn’t stop there. Today, 28 years on, El Molino, is one of ten occupied neighborhoods in Mexico City. The most recent, in the neighborhood of Tlahuac, was only established in 2012 and continues to grow.

The Acapatzingo settlement houses over 600 families and 2,400 residents. Between them, the ten communities are home to over 9,000 people who have managed to build alternative ways of living and working together, beyond government initiative or private property ownership.

Acapatzingo boasts education, health, sport and leisure facilities, all built and maintained by members of the community. Families take part in local assemblies in order to make collective decisions, and rotate representative roles for any decisions that require the input of other communities, beyond the immediate neighborhood.

“We don’t want to grow individual neighborhoods,” Enrique emphasizes, “we want our neighborhoods to inspire others to take action where they are. Rather than grow the scale of our assemblies, we want these assemblies to multiply in other places, in whatever ways are appropriate.”"
housing  mexico  protest  alternatives  mexicocity  mexicodf  lospanchos  community  collectivism  autonomy  development  acapatzingo  df 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A Teacher’s Letter to His Future Baby
"What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and if left unchecked, destroys our democracy.
— John Dewey

Dear Baby,

The app on my phone tells me that you are, physically speaking, entirely you. A butternut squash with all your organs accounted for and operational, only in miniature. You have all of the usual marvels—tiny toes and fingers, button nose and belly—but that’s not exactly what I mean. The parts of your personality that you’ve inherited from your mom and me, you already have. So much is finished about you, and you’re not even born.

And yet, with all of this already arrived, I write to you today feeling how open your future is. I know almost nothing about you, which means so much is possible for you. Only the sonogram tech knows if you are female or male, and even she can’t tell us anything about who you will feel you are as you grow into a fuller person. You are simultaneously almost anything. Because you are white in the United States, and your parents are white, you will be afforded more control over how the world sees you, more grace for your mistakes. With these and other privileges, you will have the freedom to slide into many ways of being a person.

This, baby, is not a thing to be proud of. The time and the space to choose your own way, and be loved for it, is a gift that everyone deserves and that is denied to so many who sit, like you, waiting to be born. As I imagine the constellation of your possibilities, I know better than to wish too vehemently for any one thing for you—I’ve read too many memoirs by indoor sons about their sports-hero dads’ disappointment, to lay down the burden of concrete expectations upon you. But this one point I need you to understand: I wish that your happiness will not stand on the backs of others. I wish that when you feel limitless, it does not require limitation elsewhere for some other father’s child. I wish for your happiness to be pure. I wish for your happiness to be dependent on others, not propped up by their sacrifice. Stand tall. Be you, but don’t throw your shadow so far as to not make room for others.

I have been told—usually by neighbors and strangers, but by friends as well—that once I meet you, “Everything will change.” They assure me that I will switch from the measured logic of my political beliefs to an animal dad. Animal dad is fierce and protective. He will stop at nothing until he has pulled the best from the world and brought it home to you.

Love, they assure me, is a fist when it meets the world.

My white baby, this message is part of your cultural DNA. You will be told that to live well is to compete and protect what you claim for yourself. You will be told that the world sits at a table with too few desserts. If you want any, you’ve got to take it. That’s what getting the best is, they say.

Don’t believe them.

Of course I want you to have what you need. But I wish to my core that you will be free of the rippling violence of seeking the best. I want you to seek the deepest. The most varied. The fullest. The roundest. The calmest. The truest. The best? The best is an expression of power that fundamentally depends on someone getting the worst. The best leads to paranoia. To jealous anxiety. The best is a desert.

Will your mom and I be able to teach you this? What will you see when you’re old enough to imagine yourself as one of us? What sort of models will we make? Will you see two teachers with too much to grade? Up too early and up too late? The ones in the room who didn’t get the dark joke that school isn’t for learning, it’s for sorting? Will you only notice the days when sustaining this work has ground your parents a bit too fine, leaving us heart-tired and worried for our students? Will you choose a job in money management instead?

Or, will you see that I chose, and choose, to stay with my students because I like it here in the heat of the classroom? My child, the threads of my work, my love for your mom, the connections I feel with the families of strangers, the creativity of being an educator, and the rhythms of the years as they pass—they all twist together, inseparable. And all I feel is gratitude. I feel it even as I’m confronted by how imperfect the world can be. How will your mom and I ground you in this message?

You will go to public school, where I wish for your joy above all, with friends who can teach you things that I can’t. I will not martyr you there, but in school I hope you will learn to be curious and scrappy. I hope you have feisty, subversive teachers who like kids and don’t yell too much. I hope you understand success as a collective goal and that complacency at the sight of others’ sadness makes you poor. It makes you lonely.

But you won’t be lonely, baby. The adults you will meet—your uncles and aunts, your grandparents and great-grandparent, our friends—work in the world and serve it, not the other way around. How can I not be excited for the future you? You’ll sit with us at the end of meatball night, ringed by post-dinner debris, as we adults surround you with our earnest talk of a better way. Then you’ll speak up and join with something you learned from one of your teachers or something you learned by yourself. Will you hold your tongue until you make the cutting observation, like your mom? Will you speak circles until you land, like me? I can hardly wait."
greghuntington  children  parenting  2016  privilege  competition  gratitude  socialjustice  personhood  individualism  collectivism  community 
june 2016 by robertogreco
An American Utopia: Fredric Jameson in Conversation with Stanley Aronowitz - YouTube
"Eminent literary and political theorist Fredric Jameson, of Duke University, gives a new address, followed by a conversation with noted cultural critic Stanely Aronowitz, of the Graduate Center. Jameson, author of Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism and The Political Unconscious, will consider the practicality of the Utopian tradition and its broader implications for cultural production and political institutions. Co-sponsored by the Writers' Institute and the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Literature."

[via: "@timmaughan saw a semi-serious proposal talk from Frederic Jameson a few years ago about just that; the army as social utopia."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/687321982157860864

"@timmaughan this looks to be a version of it here, in fact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNVKoX40ZAo …"
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/687323080088285184 ]
fredricjameson  utopia  change  constitution  2014  us  military  education  capitalism  history  culture  society  politics  policy  ecology  williamjames  war  collectivism  crisis  dictators  dictatorship  publicworks  manufacturing  labor  work  unions  postmodernism  revolution  occupywallstreet  ows  systemschange  modernity  cynicism  will  antoniogramsci  revolutionaries  radicals  socialism  imagination  desire  stanelyaronowitz  army  armycorpsofengineers  deleuze&guattari  theory  politicaltheory  gillesdeleuze  anti-intellectualism  radicalism  utopianism  félixguattari  collectivereality  individuals  latecapitalism  collectivity  rousseau  otherness  thestate  population  plurality  multiplicity  anarchism  anarchy  tribes  clans  culturewars  class  inequality  solidarity  economics  karlmarx  marxism  deleuze 
january 2016 by robertogreco
How the Myth of the Meritocracy Ruins Students
"The inequitable outcome of the meritocracy is hiding in plain sight in every facet of society - in schools, workplaces, prisons and neighborhoods. We don't like inequality and we're alarmed by how fast the underclass is growing, but we believe that it's a fact of life because, let's face it, some people are just better than others. Most of us, liberals included, are to varying degrees beholden to the Myth of the Meritocracy.

Liberals are all for trying to level the playing field. We support basic civil rights measures that prohibit blatant discrimination and affirmative action programs that groom the cream of the crop for middle-class membership. But for all the leveling that has supposedly occurred since Martin Luther King Jr.'s time, things are still very lopsided. King's dream of economic equality was sidelined, because most Americans believe that once the shackles of overt discrimination are removed, the next logical step is for everyone to compete for as big a share of the spoils as possible.

We raise our kids to aspire to the "American Dream," which is understood to extend the promise of upward mobility only to the winners of the rat race. Theoretically, every individual has the opportunity to win the competition and live the dream. But so long as there are winners and losers (with outcomes largely predetermined at birth), the "American Dream" is a Trump-like zero-sum game, and our misplaced allegiance to it has led to nightmarish levels of inequality and social breakdown. As the late George Carlin said, "It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Meritocracy is taken for granted as part of the natural order but, in reality, it's a political choice. The alternative to meritocracy is the organized, formal redistribution of wealth on the basis of need, not achievement, but this notion is not (yet) given air time because it upsets the Myth of the Meritocracy. What if some loser gets something he doesn't deserve? What if I have taken away something I deserve to keep?

There's a "me" and there's a "them," and they're in competition and conflict. We'd rather they be homeless, imprisoned, deported or fired than take what we believe is rightfully ours. There is, it seems, a little bit of The Donald in all of us.

We've been conditioned to prefer a society in which everyone has at least some chance of climbing to the top to one in which everyone's basic needs are met. And so it is. And so our society unravels because we'd rather fight each other and fetishize individual success than share.

This reflex to compete rather than cooperate stems from the modern delusion that humans are separate from one another and from nature. When we pause to reflect, we can readily sense and observe that all beings are interconnected and our fates intertwined. But we don't pause to reflect, because we're too busy reacting defensively to perceived threats to our well-being, threats that are amplified 24-7 by the media.

The biggest actual threat to our well-being is the hyper-individualist ethic that frightens us into participating in the war of all against all, the endgame of which is social collapse and, at the rate we're plundering a natural world we feel disconnected from, human extinction.

Dr. King said:
We must see that whatever diminishes the poor diminishes everybody else. And the salvation of the poor will mean the salvation of the whole nation. For we're all tied together in an inescapable network of mutuality. We are tied in a single garment of destiny.

Our culture conditions us to believe the opposite - that each of us can and must strive to rise above the fray. Schools do their part, training children to put a premium on personal excellence or be condemned to a lifetime of drudgery, poverty and, most horrifying of all, low status.

We can abolish homework and testing. We can turn classrooms into innovative hands-on laboratories of learning. We can tell our kids that their lives will be just as happy with a degree from a community college as from Princeton. We can run programs for at-risk youth and, with enough progressive elected officials in office, we can even wrangle some extra money for public schools.

And we should do all of those things. But so long as we focus on each individual child's success rather than the collective well-being of all children and families, we will not be able to extricate our children from the corrosive zero-sum game of "race to the top or get left behind" they are forced to play. So long as we remain trapped in the meritocratic arena, we ensure a mean and uncertain future for our children, a future in which most will be consigned to the underclass and even those closer to the top will unhappily strive to surpass thy neighbor.

Politics and culture keep the Myth of the Meritocracy alive. Market fundamentalism ensures high levels of economic inequality that have people worried enough to want to elbow their fellow citizens (and non-citizens) out of the race. Culturally, we're conditioned from such an early age to enter the race to the top and to believe that those at the top belong there, that we never consider what it would look like to cooperate instead of compete.

It doesn't have to be this way. The United States is blessed with more than enough to go around, enough food, enough medicine, enough housing, enough money to create space for every child to graduate from a university or vocational college and earn a decent living doing something they enjoy. We just need to get better at sharing and cooperating.

That, in the end, is our choice: Redistribute wealth equitably and invest in schools that honor and inspire students or force our children to run the gauntlet, knowing that only a fraction of them will succeed and the rest eliminated like Celebrity Apprentice contestants. Either Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream will be realized, or Trump's will."
meritocracy  society  ericaetelson  competition  capitalism  2015  inequality  wealthredistribution  wealth  politics  culture  us  learning  children  poverty  privilege  georgecarlin  mutuality  martinlutherkingjr  individualism  japan  collectivism  socialism  communism  americandream  socialsafetynet  economics  injustice  unfairness  race  racism  classism  class  libertarianism  success  virtue  work  labor  motivation  education  schools  racetonowhere  mlk 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Learn By Painting - The New Yorker
"What made Black Mountain different from other colleges was that the center of the curriculum was art-making. Students studied pretty much whatever they wanted, but everyone was supposed to take a class in some kind of artistic practice—painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, architecture, design, dance, music, photography. The goal was not to produce painters, poets, and architects. It was to produce citizens.

Black Mountain was founded by a renegade classics professor named John Andrew Rice, who had been kicked out of Rollins College, in Florida. Rice believed that making something is a different learning experience from remembering something. A lot of education is reception. You listen to an expert explain a subject to you, and then you repeat back what you heard to show that you learned it. Teachers push students to engage actively with the material, but it’s easy to be passive, to absorb the information and check off the box.

Rice thought that this made for bad social habits. Democracy is about making choices, and people need to take ownership of their choices. We don’t want to vote the way someone else tells us to. We want to vote based on beliefs we have chosen for ourselves. Making art is making choices. Art-making is practice democracy.

Rice did not think of art-making as therapy or self-expression. He thought of it as mental training. As anyone who has tried to write a poem knows, the discipline in art-making is exercised from within rather than without. You quickly realize that it’s your own laziness, ignorance, and sloppiness, not somebody else’s bad advice, that are getting in your way. No one can write your poem for you. You have to figure out a way to write it yourself. You have to make a something where there was a nothing.

A lot of Rice’s ideas came from the educational philosophy of John Dewey (although the idea that true learning has to come from within goes back to Plato), and Rice was lucky to find an art teacher who had read Dewey and who thought the same way. This was Josef Albers. Albers had not been so lucky. He was an original member of the Bauhaus school, but when Hitler came to power, in 1933, the Bauhaus closed down rather than accept Nazi professors. Albers’s wife, Anni, was from a prominent Jewish family, and they were understandably anxious to get out of Germany. Rice heard about them from the architect Philip Johnson, and he sent a telegram to Albers inviting him and his wife to come teach at Black Mountain. The reply read: “I speak not one word English.” (Albers had read his Dewey in translation.) Rice told him to come anyway. Albers eventually did learn English, and he and Anni, an accomplished and creative weaver, established the mode of art instruction at Black Mountain. Everything would be hands-on, collaborative, materials-based, and experimental.

Bauhaus was all about abolishing distinctions between craft, or design, and fine art, and Black Mountain was one of the places where this aesthetic entered the world of American art. (Another was the Carnegie Institute of Technology, in Pittsburgh, where Andy Warhol went to college.) Albers’s most famous (although probably not his favorite) student at Black Mountain was Robert Rauschenberg, and Rauschenberg is the presiding spirit at the I.C.A. exhibition. Although goofier than most Black Mountain art—there is an earnestness about a lot of the work; this was schoolwork, after all—putting an automobile tire around a stuffed goat is the essence of Black Mountain practice.

Black Mountain College was a holistic learning environment. Teachers and students worked together; people who came to teach (and who stayed—not everyone found the work conditions to their liking) sat in on one another’s classes and ended up learning as much as the students. When a new building needed to be constructed, students and teachers built it themselves, just as, at the old Dewey School, at the University of Chicago, the children grew their own food and cooked their own meals.

It seems as though half the midcentury American avant-garde came through Black Mountain in one capacity or the other. The I.C.A. exhibition includes works by (besides Rauschenberg and the Alberses) Ruth Asawa, John Cage, John Chamberlain, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Shoji Hamada, Lou Harrison, Ray Johnson, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Charles Olson, Ben Shahn, David Tudor, and Cy Twombly. Black Mountain produced art of almost every kind.

Did it also produce good citizens? That’s an educational outcome everyone embraces but that’s hard to measure. In the case of Black Mountain, the sample size is miniscule, and most students left before graduating. There is also the self-selection issue. People who choose to attend progressive colleges are already progressive-minded, just as people who want a liberal education are usually already liberal (meaning interested in knowledge for its own sake), and people who prefer vocational or pre-professional education are already headed down those roads. College choice tends to confirm prior effects of socialization. But why keep those things separate? Knowing and doing are two sides of the same activity, which is adapting to our environment. That was Dewey’s point.

People who teach in the traditional liberal-arts fields today are sometimes aghast at the avidity with which undergraduates flock to courses in tech fields, like computer science. Maybe those students see dollar signs in coding. Why shouldn’t they? Right now, tech is where value is being created, as they say. But maybe students are also excited to take courses in which knowing and making are part of the same learning process. Those tech courses are hands-on, collaborative, materials-based (well, virtual materials), and experimental—a digital Black Mountain curriculum. The other liberal-arts fields might take notice. Arts practice should be part of everyone’s education, not just in preschool."
blackmountaincollege  bmc  2015  louismenand  johndewey  democracy  practice  experience  education  tcsnmy  progressive  progressivism  art  arts  highered  highereducation  collectivism  learning  unschooling  deschooling  bauhaus  johnandrewrice  making  creativity  josefalbers  annialbers  craft  design  robertrauschenberg  collaboration  ruthasawa  johncage  mercecunningham  buckminsterfuller  willemdekooning  robertduncan  johnchamberlain  robertcreeley  shojihamada  louharrison  rayjohnson  franzkline  jacoblawrence  robertmotherwell  charlesolson  benshahn  davidtudor  cytwombly  kennethnoland  elainedekooning  liberalarts  technology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden | A Cup of Jo
"On the Law of Jante: There’s an interesting cultural principal here and in a few other Scandinavian countries called the Law of Jante. It essentially means that one individual is not more special than any other, and you’re not to behave as if you are. When I was teaching ballet in Stockholm years ago, I noticed that my students were, indeed, reluctant to stand out. For example, they were quite timid when I asked them to demonstrate steps or propose new ideas to the class."



"On food: One of the funniest food customs I’ve observed here is the national tradition of having split pea soup and pancakes for lunch on Thursdays. The first time a Swede told me that, I thought he was joking, but the opera house where I work serves that meal every Thursday. I think all Swedish schools do it, too, and you’ll see it in restaurants. When Americans think of split pea soup it’s green, but here it’s more yellow, with white and yellow beans, and the meat is a pork sausage that’s sliced into the soup."



"On candy: Swedes eat more candy than anybody else in the world, something like 35 pounds of candy per person per year! Huge candy shops with impressive sections are everywhere. What intrigues me most about the Swedish sweet tooth is lördagsgodis or “Saturday candy.” Every Saturday, kids and often their parents fill bags with their favorite candy. Gummies and licorice are big favorites. Before I became a parent, I thought this was a great idea, but now I’ve seen what sugar does to my daughter!



On coziness: The Swedish word mysig is hard to translate, but technically means “to smile with comfort,” or be cozy. It’s an important concept here, where the winters are long and cold. You see candles everywhere, year round. When I first moved here, it struck me as a major fire hazard! But they’re everywhere and so beautiful. Sometimes we go to IKEA on weekends (“It’s cold and rainy, so let’s go to IKEA!”), and everyone buys their candles there! Everyone has candles in their carts at checkout.

Swedes even have a special word to describe curling up indoors on a Friday night: fredagsmys. You light candles, cuddle under a blanket on the sofa, eat candy and watch a movie. I love that there’s a verb for it."
sweden  coziness  parenting  families  children  astridlindgren  candy  food  pippilongstocking  alfonsaberg  alfieatkins  mysig  napping  fredagsmys  play  cold  climate  outdoors  motherhood  childcare  daycare  parentalleave  lawofjante  collectivism  community  summer  winter  scandinavia  via:jenlowe 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Senongo Akpem - Responsiveness, being a chameleon - Video Archive - The Conference by Media Evolution
""In an increasingly global world we need design that is culturally responsive."

Senongo Akpem, Senior Designer at Cambridge University Press, talks about culturally responsive design. Senongo discuss how cultural variables can affect our perception, and how to build visual and cultural diversity into design in a thoughtful (and occasionally subversive) way."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0f1362374ca1 ]
senongoakpem  2015  culturalresponsiveness  highcontext  lowcontext  culture  design  webdev  webdesign  2013  ambiguity  directness  collectivism  individuality  power  relationships  powerrelationships  authority  slow  fast  messaging  speed  communication  difference  adapting  adaptation  universality  context  inequality  fastmessaging  slowmessaging  fastmessages  slowmessages  gov.uk  individualism  appropriation  punchingup  truthtopower  yinkashonibare 
september 2015 by robertogreco
A “No to” Poem — The Message — Medium
"This self-contradiction happens many times, presumably the result of the poem being written collectively. It’s also possible a given pair of such lines represents the mental state of an individual who holds two opposing views at once. In any case, many times the work asks you, the reader, to hold two opposing views, which is unusual in a manifesto (less unusual in a poem).

The poem is angry and it is exhausted. It is angry at many things, some of them related to sexual assault, some of them related to how people enact their activism. It is exhausted by the same things. The poem is 3,712 words of free verse, an average of 14 words per line. 243 of those lines are tweetable and 28 are too long to tweet."



"The manifesto is author-less; it was written collectively. Its authors are identified only by geography:



So it’s impossible to know how many people were involved. At least 11, and since there are 271 lines to the poem and each line seems to represent an individual thought, then 271 is probably the upper potential limit of the collective. So: I’d estimate somewhere between 11 and 271 people wrote the poem. They all identify as feminists but that doesn’t specify anything about gender or anything else. I made a little chart of the number of people involved by country:"



"I think this poem is fascinating today but I think it will also be fascinating 85 years from now, to one or more people, after many of the things to which it refers— the reading series, the people and places — cease to exist. It will define something specific about this moment in history. I doubt that 85 years will eradicate the cultural need for feminism, activism, or poetry. So this poem will help people understand how things have changed, or not, in the year 2100. They will be able to compare it to things that came before and to things that followed and know something about how things change in general."



"There are some things about this poem.

First, that it was written collectively and internationally via the Internet. Before this poem when you told me about collectively generated digital creative activist work my first thoughts were of 4Chan and Gamergate — of memes, not poems. So this poem changed that for me, it broadened the scope of what anonymous collectives can do online.

The idea of unidentified individuals collaborating and creating things has been understood by many people as a dangerous, bad thing connected to harassment. But this poem is the product of people working collaboratively and anonymously to create art that they hope will have a positive social impact. It is also a public policy statement, from a group without a name (even Anonymous has a name). Maybe this “No Collective” has already ceased to exist."

********

I don’t know how to read this thing. I mean, I could read it from beginning to end. But I burned out on that. Instead I’ve been coming back to it over a couple of weeks, digging out the PDF, and thinking it through.

It’s pretty much without imagery and metaphor. It’s incantatory. It acknowledges a diversity of opinion on some things (Melville House) and refuses a diversity of opinion on others (the reality of sexual assault).

The fact that it was written collectively makes it unclear to me, at any point of the poem, whether I am reading something that was written by an individual and then glued together, or if each line was collaboratively edited. How was it edited by the Chicago Review? I wish I knew which tools were used to compose it, because that matters. Google docs? An email list with a single editor? Facebook chat? How could you find out? Who could you ask? The things that are stable (“No to rape”) are very stable; other things are completely unstable. This poem raises a million questions about what it means to read things and how the Internet is changing writing. There are many poetic manifestos in the world and I’m sure some of them were anonymously written but the thing I keep thinking about is how there are now a set of technologies — in the broadest sense, not just the Internet but technologies of self-organizing and collaboratively working — that enable the rapid creation of new things in reaction to events."



"I’ve half-followed the Alt-Lit scene for a while and have probably spent 20 years reading about “digital poetics,” and this is the very first time I went, well, there you go.

It seems that a lot of worlds are starting to collide. It also feels that anonymous international collectives of varying sizes and shapes, with radically different ideologies, will claim their voice in culture moving forward, ranging from 4Chan and Gamergate, which are very masculine entities, to this no collective, which is avowedly, fundamentally feminist. I expect people sharing other kinds of belief systems will start operating and creating as collectives, too."
feminism  language  paulford  poetry  rape  2015  authorship  googledocs  cocreation  collaboration  writing  howwerite  activism  collectivism  poems 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Abandon hope (summer is coming) | k-punk
"So it was to be a re-run of 1992, after all. It seems that even elections are subject to retromania, now. Except, this time, it is 1992 without Jungle. It’s Ed Sheeran and Rudimental rather than Rufige Kru. Always ignore the polls, wrote Jeremy Gilbert late on election night. “You get a better sense of what’s going on in the electorate by sniffing the wind, sensing the affective shifts, the molecular currents, the alterations in the structures of feeling. Listen to the music, watch the TV, go to the the pubs and ride the tube. Cultural Studies trumps psephology every time.”

Contemporary English popular culture, with its superannuated PoMo laddishness, its smirking blokishness (anyone fancy a pint with Nigel?), its poverty porn, its craven cult of big business, has become like some gigantic Poundbury Village simulation, in which nothing new happens, forever … while ubiquitous “Keep Calm” messages, ostensibly quirky-ironic, actually function as They Live commands, containing the panic and the desperation …

England is a country in which every last space where conviviality might flourish has been colonised by a commercial imperative …. supermarket check-out operatives replaced by crap robots… unexpected item in bagging area… every surface plastered with corporate graffiti and haranguing hashtags … no trick missed to screw every last penny out of people… exorbitant parking charges in NHS hospitals (exact amount only, no change given), all the profits going to private providers …

Everything seen through a downer haze… “Mostly you self-medicate” … comfort eating and bitter drinking …. What’s your poison?"



"Blogs and social media have allowed us to talk to ourselves (but not to reach out beyond the left bubbles); they have also generated pathological behaviours and forms of subjectivity which not only generate misery and anger – they waste time and energy, our most crucial resources. Email and handhelds, meanwhile, have produced new forms of isolation and loneliness: the fact that we can receive communications from work anywhere and anytime means we are exposed to work’s order-words when we are alone, without the possibility of support from fellow workers.

In sum, the obsession with the web, its monopolisation of any idea of the new, has served capitalist realism rather than undermined it. Which does not mean, naturally, that we should abandon the web, only that we should find out how to develop a more instrumental relationship with it. Put simply, we should use it – as a means of dissemination, communication and distribution – but not live inside it. The problem is that this goes against the tendencies of handhelds. We all recognise the by now cliched image of a train carriage full of people pecking at their tiny screens, but have we really registered how miserable this really is, and how much it suits capital for these pockets of socialisation to be closed down?"



"The problem is that, in order to struggle against time poverty, the main resource we require is time – a nasty vicious circle that capital, with its malevolent genius, now has … This problem is absolutely immanent – writing this and the other posts I have completed this week has meant that I have fallen enormously behind on my work, which is storing up stress for the next week or so.

The first thing we must do in response to all this is to put into practice what I outlined above: try not to blame ourselves. #it’snotyourfault We must try to do everything we can to politicise time poverty rather than accept blame as individuals for failing to complete our work on time. The reason we feel overwhelmed is that we are overwhelmed – it isn’t an individual failing of ours; it isn’t because we haven’t “managed our time” properly. However, we can use the scarce resources we already have more effectively if we work together to codify practices of collective re-habituation (setting new rules for our engagement with social media and capitalist cyberspace in general for example).

Any way, here goes:

1. Talk to fellow workers about how we feel This will re-introduce care and affection into spaces where we are supposed to be competitive and isolated. It will also start to break down the difference between (paid) work and social reproduction on which capitalism depends.

2. Talk to opponents Most people who vote Tory and UKIP are not monsters, much as we might like to think they are. It’s important that we understand why they voted as they did. Also, they may not have been exposed to an alternative view. Remember that people are more likely to be persuaded if defensive character armour is not triggered.

3. Create knowledge exchange labs This follows from what I argued a few days ago. Lack of knowledge about economics seems to me an especially pressing problem to address, but we could also do with more of us knowing about law, I suspect.

4. Create social spaces Create times and spaces specifically dedicated to attending to one another: not (yet more) conferences, but sessions where people can share their feelings and ideas. I would suggest restricting use of handhelds in these spaces: not everything has to be live tweeted or archived! Those with access to educational or art spaces could open these up for this purpose.

5. Use social media pro-actively, not reactively Use social media to publicise, to spread memes, and to constitute a counter-media. Social media can provide emotional support during miserable events like Thursday. But we should try to use social media as resource rather than living inside it at all times. Facebook can be useful for discussions and trying out new ideas, but attempting to debate on Twitter is absurd and makes us feel more stressed. (He says, thinking of the time when, sitting on a National Express coach, perched over his handheld, he tried to intervene in an intricate discussion about Spinoza’s philosophy – all conducted in 140 characters.)

6. Generate new figures of loathing in our propaganda Again, this follows up from what I argued in the Communist Realism post. Capitalist realism was established by constituting the figure of the lazy, feckless scrounger as a populist scapegoat. We must float a new figure of the parasite: landlords milking the state through housing benefit, “entrepreneurs” exploring cheap labour, etc.

7. Engage in forms of activism aimed at logistical disruption Capital has to be seriously inconvenienced and to fear before it yields any territory or resources. It can just wait out most protests,but it will take notice when its logistical operations are threatened. We must be prepared for them cutting up very rough once we start doing this – using anti-terrorist legislation to justify practically any form of repression. They won’t play fair, but it’s not a game of cricket – they know it’s class war, and we should never forget it either.

8. Develop Hub struggles Some struggles will be more strategically and symbolically significant than others – for instance, the Miners’ Strike was a hub struggle for capitalist realism. We might not be able to identify in advance what these struggles are, but we must be ready to swarm in and intensify them when they do occur.

Summer is coming

The Lannisters won on Thursday, but their gold has already run out, and summer is coming. What we saw in the debates dominated by Nicola Sturgeon was not a mirage – it is a rising tide, an international movement, a movement of history, which has not yet reached an England sandbagged in misery and mediocrity. Comrades, I hope (ha!) for the sake of your mental health and your blood pressures that you didn’t see the right wing tabloids over the weekend (tw for class hatred): middle England crowing over its “humiliation” of “Red” Ed. Well if they think Ed was Red, wait until they see the coming Red Swarm. Outer England has been sedated, but it is waking from its long slumber, carrying new weapons …."

[via: http://stml.tumblr.com/post/118858720560/contemporary-english-popular-culture-with-its ]
uk  politics  2015  1992  care  activism  labor  government  money  capitalism  communism  resistance  conviviality  affection  time  timepoverty  work  neoliberalism  collectivism  popculture  media  power  humanity  humanism  socialization  social  society  k-punk  commercialism  automation  malaise  blogs  socialmedia  behavior  behavio  subjectivity  filterbibbles  markfisher 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/115896934920/on-secret-keeping-and-forgetting ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."



"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."



"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."



"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."



"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
s p a c i n g : : : whose space is public space?
"Sometimes I feel an urgent need to get out of Toronto, and this is one of those times. The strain does not come from difficult friendships or celebrity magazines or the noise, so much as my relationship to my fellow pedestrian. The crisis is almost always a crisis about strangers; it’s a crisis of eye contact. Someone approaches and the problem of whether to look away or look at them — and if to look, how long to keep looking for — does not resolve itself easily, quietly, in the background. It becomes a loud problem, and as people pass by, the anxiety of how to act and this question about responsibility to my fellow humans, paid out in a momentary acknowledgement of our mutual humanity, prohibits me from thinking about anything else.

In such a state it is difficult to accept that we really are free on the streets of Toronto; free to look or not look as we choose, without consequence and without affecting anyone for the better or worse. In times like these, it feels as though what it means to look at someone and what it means to decide to not look is as central an ethical dilemma as any; that the question of our responsibility to each other really comes down to how we interact with people we do not know. What degree of regard are the hundreds of strangers we pass in a single day worth?

That walking among others should present itself as a dilemma is pathetic. Perhaps it is because we are primarily a culture of drivers, not pedestrians. Even if we do not drive, still we share the streets with many who do, who do not occupy the sidewalks with pleasure but rather are wishing there was less space to travel between the restaurant and their parked car. “Urbanity and automobiles are antithetical in many ways,” writes Rebecca Solnit in Wanderlust, a history of walking. “A city of drivers is only a dysfunctional suburb of people shuttling from private interior to private interior.” This is also true in a city of transit users — we rush to the streetcar stop, take a seat, look through whatever newspaper is lying closest. Walking is no longer, as Solnit points out, “a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned.” As a result, we are jarred by our encounters. Eye contact is an irritation. It disrupts the work of getting somewhere.

Most of us accept as inevitable the sort of eye contact that is most pervasive, that rushed and fearful glance. You might argue that this way of looking is respectful; that since privacy is so scarce in a city, it is gracious to look away. But I have experienced such gentle looks away — giving them, getting them — and they’re not what I am talking about and not the norm. There still remains that quick glance away, which often leaves me with a feeling of shame or a sense of the diminishment of my humanity. And as I sweep my eyes rapidly from someone’s face onto the mailbox, I recognize that, in my wake, I may leave that person with this same anxiety.

For some people, it seems clear, if someone looks quickly and uncomfortably away as soon as eye contact is made, no matter. This crisis doesn’t exist for them; the interaction barely registers. I wonder if such people are suffering from what George Simmel calls “the blasé attitude.” He defines it as the result of the over-stimulation of nerves that accompanies life in a metropolis, which results in a “blunting of discrimination, [so] that the meaning and differing values of things, and thereby the things themselves, are experienced as insubstantial. They appear to the blasé person in an evenly flat and gray tone; no one object deserves preference over any other.” The lamppost, that boy, same difference.

But for those of us who are not suffering from the blasé attitude, who are very conscious of the reality of the people we encounter, why do we look away embarrassed or scared, rather than gently, politely, in good conscience? Perhaps in every glance there is desire expressed. I don’t mean sexual desire — though sometimes there’s that — as much as the sort Constant Nieuwenheuys described when he wrote, in 1949, “When we say desire in the twentieth century, we mean the unknown, for all we know of the realm of our desires is that it continuously reverts to one immeasurable desire for freedom.”

Perhaps the desire expressed in every glance, that we see in another person’s face and they see in ours, is a desire for freedom — which on the street comes down to the freedom to look at each other. We are naturally curious about other people. From the start, as babies, we are drawn to the eyes of our parents. Imagine a cat, neurotically trying not to look directly at a passing cat. We need eye-to-eye contact. We want to see each others’ faces. It is why we take and keep photographs, watch television, hang portraits in our homes. There is something terrible about looking at each other, only to have reflected back our own (and the other person’s) thwarted, repressed desire to look. Somewhere we have failed magnificently.

Our culture is such that a greater value even than freedom is productivity, utility. I was having a conversation with a friend about leisure, and she was saying how much she enjoys doing nothing, just wandering aimlessly around her house, thinking. “I find it so productive,” she decided. Even an activity we enjoy precisely because it is not about production we must ultimately justify by way of its productivity. This being the situation we find ourselves in, how can we ever justify to ourselves or to each other the value of those most fleeting relationships, lasting at most two seconds long, with a stream of people we will never see again? What is the utility of the quarter-of-a-second-long relationship?

When we look and look away, we reveal what we want — communion, citizenry — and what we lack — communion, citizenry. It is not unreasonable to think the health of a culture can be judged by how many seemingly inconsequential encounters and experiences are shared among its citizens. Take the option of making real eye contact with strangers — frank, fully conscious, unafraid, respectful, not obtrusive. This level of engagement would be satisfying, but so exhausting to sustain; possibly too relentless and demanding for a city-dweller, since to look at someone in this way is to acknowledge and recognize how they’re like you, how they are like everyone you know and love, and so to become responsible for them, just as you are responsible for those you love. But while your duty to your friend is directed only at your friend, as needed, your duty to a stranger can be paid only to the collective, constantly.

We need to learn how to look away well, but we cannot fake it. We cannot look from someone’s face comfortably until we find what we are looking for in it."

[quoted here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/02/27/look-and-look-away/ ]
sheilaheti  communition  citizenship  civics  productivity  community  privacy  unknown  constantnieuwenheuys  strangers  attention  consciousness  culture  society  collectivism  utility  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure  nothing  wandering  idleness  relationships  togetherness 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The future of loneliness | Olivia Laing | Society | The Guardian
"Loneliness centres on the act of being seen. When a person is lonely, they long to be witnessed, accepted, desired, at the same time as becoming intensely wary of exposure. According to research carried out over the past decade at the University of Chicago, the feeling of loneliness triggers what psychologists call hypervigilance for social threat. In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual becomes hyperalert to rejection, growing increasingly inclined to perceive social interactions as tinged with hostility or scorn. The result is a vicious circle of withdrawal, in which the lonely person becomes increasingly suspicious, intensifying their sense of isolation.

This is where online engagement seems to exercise its special charm. Hidden behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control. They can search for company without the danger of being revealed or found wanting. They can reach out or they can hide; they can lurk and they can show themselves, safe from the humiliation of face-to-face rejection. The screen acts as a kind of protective membrane, a scrim that allows invisibility and transformation. You can filter your image, concealing unattractive elements, and you can emerge enhanced: an online avatar designed to attract likes. But now a problem arises, for the contact this produces is not the same thing as intimacy. Curating a perfected self might win followers or Facebook friends, but it will not necessarily cure loneliness, since the cure for loneliness is not being looked at, but being seen and accepted as a whole person – ugly, unhappy and awkward, as well as radiant and selfie-ready.

This aspect of digital existence is among the concerns of Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has been writing about human-technology interactions for the past three decades. She has become increasingly wary of the capacity of online spaces to fulfil us in the ways we seem to want them to. According to Turkle, part of the problem with the internet is that it encourages self-invention. “At the screen,” she writes in Alone Together (2011), “you have a chance to write yourself into the person you want to be and to imagine others as you wish them to be, constructing them for your purposes. It’s a seductive but dangerous habit of mind.”

But there are other dangers. My own peak use of social media arose during a period of painful isolation. It was the autumn of 2011, and I was living in New York, recently heartbroken and thousands of miles from my family and friends. In many ways, the internet made me feel safe. I liked the contact I got from it: the conversations, the jokes, the accumulation of positive regard, the favouriting on Twitter and the Facebook likes, the little devices designed for boosting egos. Most of the time, it seemed that the exchange, the gifting back and forth of information and attention, was working well, especially on Twitter, with its knack for prompting conversation between strangers. It felt like a community, a joyful place; a lifeline, in fact, considering how cut off I otherwise was. But as the years went by – 1,000 tweets, 2,000 tweets, 17,400 tweets – I had the growing sense that the rules were changing, that it was becoming harder to achieve real connection, though as a source of information it remained unparalleled.

This period coincided with what felt like a profound shift in internet mores. In the past few years, two things have happened: a dramatic rise in online hostility, and a growing awareness that the lovely sense of privacy engendered by communicating via a computer is a catastrophic illusion. The pressure to appear perfect is greater than ever, while the once‑protective screen no longer reliably separates the domains of the real and the virtual. Increasingly, participants in online spaces have become aware that the unknown audience might at any moment turn on them in a frenzy of shaming and scapegoating.

The atmosphere of surveillance and punishment destroys intimacy by making it unsafe to reveal mistakes and imperfections. My own sense of ease on Twitter diminished rapidly when people began posting photos of strangers they had snapped on public transport, sleeping with their mouths open. Knowing that the internet was becoming a site of shaming eroded the feeling of safety that had once made it seem such a haven for the lonely.

The dissolution of the barrier between the public and the private, the sense of being surveilled and judged, extends far beyond human observers. We are also being watched by the very devices on which we make our broadcasts. As the artist and geographer Trevor Paglen recently said in the art magazine Frieze: “We are at the point (actually, probably long past) where the majority of the world’s images are made by machines for machines.” In this environment of enforced transparency, the equivalent of the Nighthawks diner, almost everything we do, from shopping in a supermarket to posting a photograph on Facebook, is mapped, and the gathered data used to predict, monetise, encourage or inhibit our future actions.

This growing entanglement of the corporate and social, this creeping sense of being tracked by invisible eyes, demands an increasing sophistication about what is said and where. The possibility of virulent judgment and rejection induces precisely the kind of hypervigilance and withdrawal that increases loneliness. With this has come the slowly dawning realisation that our digital traces will long outlive us."



"This space, the future now, is characterised, he believes, by a blurring between individuals and networks. “Your existence is shared and maintained and you don’t have control over all of it.”

But Trecartin feels broadly positive about where our embrace of technology might take us. “It’s obvious,” he said, “that none of this stuff can be controlled, so all we can do is steer and help encourage compassionate usage and hope things accumulate in ways that are good for people and not awful … Maybe I’m being naive about this, but all of these things feel natural. It’s like the way we already work. We’re making things that are already in us.”

The key word here is compassion, but I was also struck by his use of the word natural. Critiques of the technological society often seem possessed by a fear that what is happening is profoundly unnatural, that we are becoming post-human, entering what Turkle has called “the robotic moment”. But Surround Audience felt deeply human; an intensely life-affirming combination of curiosity, hopefulness and fear, full of richly creative strategies for engagement and subversion."



"Somehow, the vulnerability expressed by Laric’s film gave me a sense of hope. Talking to Trecartin, who is only three years younger than me, had felt like encountering someone from a different generation. My own understanding of loneliness relied on a belief in solid, separate selves that he saw as hopelessly outmoded. In his worldview, everyone was perpetually slipping into each other, passing through ceaseless cycles of transformation; no longer separate, but interspersed. Perhaps he was right. We aren’t as solid as we once thought. We are embodied but we are also networks, living on inside machines and in other people’s heads; memories and data streams. We are being watched and we do not have control. We long for contact and it makes us afraid. But as long as we are still capable of feeling and expressing vulnerability, intimacy stands a chance."
2015  olivialaing  loneliness  internet  isolation  urbanism  edwardhopper  online  presentationofself  sherryturkle  behavior  shaming  scapegoating  vulnerability  honesty  conversation  connection  web  socialmedia  facebook  twitter  surveillance  sousveillance  trevorpaglen  brucebenderson  aloneness  technology  future  anxiety  jeancocteau  ryantrecartin  peterschjeldahl  laurencornell  joshkline  frankbenson  art  film  jenniferegan  aurroundaudience  compassion  oliverlaric  intimacy  networks  collectivism  individualism  transformation 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Winter, Ursula Franklin - Home | The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers | CBC Radio
"The news anchor Tom Brokaw coined the term "the greatest generation" to describe the Americans who grew up during the Depression and sustained the ravages of the Second World War. Shelagh thought of that description after she read a book of speeches by the acclaimed scientist, pacifist, and feminist Ursula Franklin.

Ursula Franklin isn't an American but she is a member of that great generation of people shaped personally by the War - very personally in her case.  

She was born in Germany and spent the war in a forced labour camp. Her parents were both in concentration camps.. Miraculously, all three survived and came to Canada. 

Ursula Franklin has spent her life in this country devoted, as she says, to "being useful". She's put her intelligence, discernment, and humanity to many uses. She's a physicist who has made important discoveries and advancements in science, a Quaker who has advocated tirelessly in the service of peace, and a ground breaking feminist.
 
Ursula Franklin Speaks is a collection of speeches and interviews from 1986 to 2012. She collaborated on it with her friend and University of Toronto colleague Sarah Jane Freeman. 

We hope you enjoy this extended version of Shelagh's conversation with Dr. Ursula Franklin."
ursulafranklin  2015  interviews  feminism  quakers  shelaghrogers  canada  collectivism  citizenship  humanism  pacifism  clarity  patriarchy  capitalism  privatization  socialism  scrupling  scruples  hope  hopelessness  optimism  change  civics  activism  discourse  problemsolving  townmeetings  commongood  conversation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Animales/Animals : Dolores Dorantes And Jen Hofer : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation
"Animales
El Paso, Texas. Enero 9, 2014.1

No entiendo mi vida. No sé quién soy. Se, más o menos quién no quise ser. Como estudiante no quise alimentar el sometimiento de la academia en México. Como escritora no quise contribuir al sistema cultural machista y corrupto que predomina en mi país. Como periodista decidí hablarle a un presente. Y aquí estoy. Perdida. Esa es una buena señal, supongo. Estar perdida y hablar sola.2 Aunque en este país creo que no es bien visto. En California tampoco es mal visto. En Texas es el infierno: eso de estar perdida y hablar sola. Es increíble cómo es que han cambiado los tabúes en nuestros tiempos ¿no te parece? No es que no existan los tabúes, sólo cambian de forma. Por ejemplo, cruzar el semáforo del peatón cuando está en rojo, aquí, ya es un tabú. Me encuentro a las personas paraditas en la esquina esperando a que el semáforo cambie, con la calle desierta. Es increíble cómo lo urbano cambia nuestro transcurso ¿verdad? Pareciera que las señales son los ojos del amo. El amo. El maestro.3 ¿Quién es? ¿Dónde está? Creo que el amo está donde está la víctima. El amo reina dentro del dolor. Se ha infiltrado hasta las estructuras que quisieran cambiar el mundo uniéndose a las luchas. El amo está en la producción. Esa palabra: producir un proyecto, producir una idea, producir sociedades libres, producir comunidades que luchan por su identidad.

El amo depende de nuestra identidad. No puede hacer nada ante un mismo y repetido rostro. Por eso yo soy de color y tú eres judía, y otros más son indígenas.4 Yo no voy a dar eso. Estoy perdida. El amo depende de nuestra identidad. No puede hacer nada ante un mismo y repetido rostro. Por eso yo soy de color y tú eres judía, y otros más son indígenas. Yo no voy a dar eso. Estoy perdida. Sin dirección, no voy a ninguna parte. No quiero tener un rostro. Ya no tengo país. Pero sí, me identifico como un animal, sí. Como una mujer animal. Porque ¿acaso no soy también una contradicción? Amo, maestro, lo que no se nos dice es también una contradicción. ¿Acaso tengo que ser una sola, de color determinado, de escolaridad definida porque si no estoy muerta? Somos muchas y no, no estamos muertas. Avanzamos, sin identidad, hacia ninguna parte.

* * *

Animals
El Paso, Texas. January 9, 2014.5

I don’t understand my life. I don’t know who I am. I know, more or less, who I didn’t want to be. As a student I didn’t want to feed into the subjugation of the academy in Mexico. As a writer I didn’t want to contribute to the corrupt machista cultural system so predominant in my country. As a journalist I decided to speak directly toward a present. And here I am. Lost. That’s a good sign, I guess. To be lost and talk to myself.6 Though in this country I don’t think that goes over so well. Yet in California it’s not especially looked down on. In Texas it’s hell: to be lost and talk to oneself. It’s incredible how the taboos in our times have changed, don’t you think? It’s not that taboos don’t exist, it’s just that they’ve changed form. For example, crossing the street against the light is now taboo here. I come upon people stopped at the corner waiting for the light to change, with the street totally deserted. It’s incredible how urban space shifts our trajectory, right? It would seem as if the streetlights were the eyes of our owner. Our owner. Our master.7 Who is the master? Where is the master?8 I think the owner is where the victim is. The owner rules within pain, has infiltrated even the structures that would seek to change the world by uniting together in struggle. The owner is in production. That word: to produce a project, to produce an idea, to produce free societies, to produce communities that struggle for their identity.

The owner depends on our identity. The owner can’t do anything in the face of a face that’s always the same and repeating. That’s why I’m a person of color and you’re Jewish, and others are indigenous.9 I’m not going to to give that. I’m lost. Without direction, I go nowhere. I don’t want to have a face. I no longer have a country. But yes, I do identify as an animal, yes. As an animal woman. Because aren’t I also a contradiction? Owner, master, what is said to us is also a contradiction. Do I really have to be one single entity, of a particular color and a specific level of education because if not I’m dead? We are many and no, we’re not dead. We’re moving forward, without identity, toward nowhere."

[See also the footnotes. For example:]

"2. La escritura, me parece, es el hablar sola y el hablar en/hacia una colectividad. O varias colectividades. Es hablar al yo fuera del yo que somos (que también es el yo que somos) y es participar en una conversación a través del tiempo, la geografía, la corporalidad, extendernos hacia más allá de lo que podemos saber o entender. Creo que el estar perdida es el estar abierta. ¿Encontrarte es una manera de cerrarte? Definición."

"6. Writing, it seems to me, is talking to ourselves and talking in/toward a collectivity. Or various collectivities. It’s talking to the I outside the I we are (which is also the I we are) and it’s participating in a conversation across time, geography, corporeality, extending ourselves beyond what we can know or understand. I think that being lost is being open. To find yourself is a way of closing yourself? Definition."

[via: https://twitter.com/felipsiswoof/status/571340666707378177 ]
via:felipemartinez  2014  poetry  doloresdorantes  jenhofer  identity  animals  taboos  ownership  california  texas  culture  patriarchy  journalism  subjugation  lost  self-knowledge  collectivism  openness 
february 2015 by robertogreco
No Panaceas! Elinor Ostrom Talks with Fran Korten - Shareable
"Fran: Many people associate “the commons” with Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons.” He says that if, for example, you have a pasture that everyone in a village has access to, then each person will put as many cows on that land as he can to maximize his own benefit, and pretty soon the pasture will be overgrazed and become worthless. What’s the difference between your perspective and Hardin’s?

Elinor: Well, I don’t see the human as hopeless. There’s a general tendency to presume people just act for short-term profit. But anyone who knows about small-town businesses and how people in a community relate to one another realizes that many of those decisions are not just for profit and that humans do try to organize and solve problems.

If you are in a fishery or have a pasture and you know your family’s long-term benefit is that you don’t destroy it, and if you can talk with the other people who use that resource, then you may well figure out rules that fit that local setting and organize to enforce them. But if the community doesn’t have a good way of communicating with each other or the costs of self-organization are too high, then they won’t organize, and there will be failures.

Fran: So, are you saying that Hardin is sometimes right?

Elinor: Yes. People say I disproved him, and I come back and say “No, that’s not right. I’ve not disproved him. I’ve shown that his assertion that common property will always be degraded is wrong.” But he was addressing a problem of considerable significance that we need to take seriously. It’s just that he went too far. He said people could never manage the commons well.

At the Workshop we’ve done experiments where we create an artificial form of common property such as an imaginary fishery or pasture, and we bring people into a lab and have them make decisions about that property. When we don’t allow any communication among the players, then they overharvest [the commons]. But when people can communicate, particularly on a face-to-face basis, and say, “Well, gee, how about if we do this? How about we do that?” Then they can come to an agreement.

Fran: But what about the “free-rider” problem where some people abide by the rules and some people don’t? Won’t the whole thing fall apart?

Elinor: Well if the people don’t communicate and get some shared norms and rules, that’s right, you’ll have that problem. But if they get together and say, “Hey folks, this is a project that we’re all going to have to contribute to. Now, let’s figure it out,” they can make it work. For example, if it’s a community garden, they might say, “Do we agree every Saturday morning we’re all going to go down to the community garden, and we’re going to take roll and we’re going to put the roll up on a bulletin board?” A lot of communities have figured out subtle ways of making everyone contribute, because if they don’t, those people are noticeable.

Fran: So public shaming and public honoring are one key to managing the commons?

Elinor: Shaming and honoring are very important. We don’t have as much of an understanding of that. There are scholars who understand that, but that’s not been part of our accepted way of thinking about collective action."



"Fran: Do you have a message for the general public?

Elinor: We need to get people away from the notion that you have to have a fancy car and a huge house. Some of the homes that have been built in the last 10 years just appall me. Why do humans need huge homes? I was born poor and I didn’t know you bought clothes at anything but the Goodwill until I went to college. Some of our mentality about what it means to have a good life is, I think, not going to help us in the next 50 years. We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth."

[via: http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/112050255339/theres-a-general-tendency-to-presume-people-just ]
elinorostrom  2010  economics  behavior  longterm  slow  community  communities  communication  organizing  business  problemsolving  fisheries  environment  sustainability  cooperation  collaboration  garretthardin  frankorten  collectivism  commons  landmanagement  governance  resourcemanagement  robertnetting  freeriding  freeriders 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Policy Network - The new 'New Deal'? Sharing responsibility in the sharing economy
"New peer-to-peer ‘sharing’ platforms have the potential to boost living standards across the many countries which they span. But as the boundaries between the personal and commercial blur, these radical innovations can also undermine hard-fought consumer and employee protections. Governments and the market need to share responsibility for developing a new social safety net. Peer-to-peer platforms in particular have both a moral and a business imperative to protect the providers and consumers of their services"
sharingeconomy  work  labo  safetynet  socialsafetynet  2014  economics  collectivism  government  responsibility  arunsundararajan  capitalism  uber  freelancing 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
"Would any sane PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption — changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much — and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect?Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption — residential, by private car, and so on — is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one — if we avidly participate in the industrial economy — we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world — none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem — and this is another big one — is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned — Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States — who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems."
via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environment  sustainability  environmentalism  derrickjensen  capitalism  consumerism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  consumption  kirckpatricksale  waste  simplicity  politics  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  activism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  systemsthinking  systems  misdirection  2009  policy  organization  civilization  individualism  collectivism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Civic Workshop
"A group of people producing and making new culture - looking at ways to reframe our everyday local experiences with an awareness of our collective social and political future."



"The Civic Bureau is now open and the live data from the Census can be seen here.

Census statistics have been the core of social architecture for thousands of years and it is the key tool that directs huge amounts of public funding in both the UK and India. Between 2001-11 the UK census directed the allocation of £1 trillion worth of government spending but the questions, methods and format has remained the same for many years.

The Government has started to explore how to update the census to make better use of technological advances and data expertise.

We want to explore how the census can build a steady accumulation of civic records that can facilitate a different relationship between citizens and the state.

Our first experiment, the Civic Bureau begins at Somerset House, as part of the Civic Workshop residency. Over the coming months we will be inviting the public to take part.

We are interested in how the census can make better use of civic technology and what the census would look like if done at a City level, built on the idea of the city as a public good. This raises questions about how people participate and how often, what kinds of information people want to give towards a "public good" and what would feel representative of their everyday lives.

We have partnered with a team at the ICRI Cities lab at University College London, and will be showcasing Sens-Us, an interactive Citizen Census, at Somerset House. Sens-Us will be based on the VoxBox technology, developed at UCL, which is an innovative way to gather opinions through a “tangible questionnaire” as opposed to filling out forms.

The Civic Bureau will be open from January 15th for one month."
openstudioproject  lcproject  civicworkshop  cities  urban  urbanism  publicgood  culture  culturemaking  everyday  local  collectivism  census  uk 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Scratch-off the Facebook logo, and you’ll find the CompuServ logo underneath. |
"The answer is quite simple. The early internet was not significantly capitalist funded. The change in application topology came along with commercialization, and this change is a consequence of the business models required by capitalist investors to capture profit. The business model of social media platforms is surveillance and behavioral control. The internet’s original protocols and architecture made surveillance and behavioral control more difficult. Once capital became the dominant source of financing it directed investment toward centralized platforms, which are better at providing such surveillance and control, the original platforms were starved of financing. The centralized platforms grew and the decentralized platforms submerged beneath the rising tides of the capitalist web.

This is nothing new. This was the same business model that capital devised for media in general, such as network television. The customer of network television is not the viewer, rather the viewer is the product, the “audience commodity.” The real customers are the advertisers and lobby groups wanting to control the audience.

Network Television didn’t provide the surveillance part, so advertisers needed to employ market research and ratings firms such as Nielson for that bit. This was a major advantage of social media. Richer data from better surveillance allowed for more effective behavioral control than ever before, using tracking, targeting, machine learning, behavioral retargeting, among many techniques made possible by the deep pool of data companies like Facebook and Google have available.

This is not a choice that capitalists made, this is the only way that profit-driven organizations can provide a public good like a communication platform. Capitalist investors must capture profit or lose their capital. If their platforms can not capture profit, they vanish. The obstacle to decentralized social media is not that it has not been invented, but the profit-motive itself. Thus to reverse this trajectory back towards decentralization, requires not so much technical initiative, but political struggle.

So long as we maintain the social choice to provision our communication systems according to the profit motive, we will only get communications platforms that allow for the capture of profit. Free, open systems, that neither surveil, nor control, nor exclude, will not be funded, as they do not provide the mechanisms required to capture profit. These platforms are financed for the purpose of watching people and pushing them to behave in ways that benefit the operators of the platform and their real customers, the advertisers, and the industrial and political lobbies. The platforms exists to shape society according to the interests of these advertisers and lobbies.

Platforms like Facebook are worth billions precisely because of their capacity for surveillance and control.

Like the struggle for other public goods, like education, child care, and health care, free communication platforms for the masses can only come from collective political struggle to achieve such platforms.

This is a political struggle, not a technical one."

[via: https://twitter.com/DrParnassus/status/552285634917040129 RTs by @furtherfield ]
capitalism  surveillance  facebook  internet  walledgardens  2013  dmytrikleiner  platforms  publicgoods  publiceducation  childcare  healthcare  collectivism  politics  communication  web  online  compuserv  decentralization  socialmedia  google  control 
january 2015 by robertogreco
'American Psycho' property promo pulled after Twitterstorm | Art and design | The Guardian
"The developer Redrow has deleted its latest aspirational video of a suave city boy looking down from his luxury penthouse after a web backlash. But it does show the psychotic nature of the housing market in London today"



"The whole thing is beyond parody; as if JG Ballard had been put in charge of the opening titles to the Apprentice. It portrays a world of hyper-luxurious emptiness and alienation, achieved by a relentless ambition to be the best and defeat everyone and everything else in the process. “It is a totally clear expression of the psychotic nature of housing in London at the moment,” says architect Sam Jacob, who made a mash-up parody of the video, cutting Patrick Bateman’s narcissistic monologues from the film American Psycho over the Redrow footage, producing an eerily accurate match.

“It plunges us back into the ultimate yuppie fantasy – the fact that the individual only exists in relation to the brands that they own, the things that they’ve bought. That property and housing is just about individual success, investment, money, achievement.”



"“It’s all part of the same narrative,” says Jacob. “The separation of the individual from collectivity, the fact that you rise above the city, the idea that the city is a kind of beast that is there to be beaten or to beat you. That of course means you’re separated from society and the things that really make a city exciting.”"

[See also:
http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2015/01/how-long-before-property-ads-are-as-insane-as-perfume-ads.html
http://hautepop.tumblr.com/post/107130105697/violence-glass-steel
http://piercepenniless.tumblr.com/post/107101499087/violence-glass-steel ]

[via: http://notes.husk.org/post/107243158244/redrow-london-video
http://notes.husk.org/post/107242854169/not-quite-right
http://notes.husk.org/post/107242718439/redrow-property-london ]
housing  markets  capitalism  london  uk  advertising  promotion  success  money  property  society  individualism  collectivity  collectivism  cities  inequality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Cultural factors in web design | Design | Creative Bloq
"By factoring in cultural variables, we can create sites that are relevant for a wide variety of users around the world"



"Some cultures are High Context. This means most communication is simply understood rather than explicitly stated. These cultures have a much higher tolerance for ambiguity and understatement. You could say that, in a High Context culture, the responsibility for understanding rests with the listener and it’s left to them to divine deeper meaning from the conversation or statements coming at them.

Low Context cultures, on the other hand, are much more explicit and often rely on directness and true feelings to communicate. These cultures are great at creating an external set of rules and responsibilities for the members of society as this is the only way that people can figure out what is to be done. In these types of cultures, the responsibility for understanding is on the speaker to convey their ideas clearly and without ambiguity.

Within these two types of cultures, there are four variables that I believe have a huge impact on the design, and more importantly, the acceptance of that design by users around the world. They are each related to a High or Low context culture.

1. Ambiguity and directness …

2. Collectivism and individuality …

3. High power distance and low power distance …

4. Slow Messaging and Fast Messaging …

Being culturally responsive
So what do we do for our own sites? People need to feel at home with the cultural references in our designs. By using the variables above, we can create culturally responsive sites that are accepted and used by people across the globe. I propose we use cultural variables to show the appropriate content for specific groups of users in the same way that we use media queries to show content according to viewports or breakpoints.

Perhaps the easiest step is to localise the language in your site. Translate the important content, particularly the calls to action, descriptions and contact forms. While you may not be able to make it perfect, it can help to make the site usable for speakers of different languages.

Another step is making the design visually relevant to the user. Add colour, images and queues that are responsive to the users perspective. By referencing culturally significant themes, it makes your design more welcoming and responsive to the user.

Finally, put it all together. Use media queries to adapt to the content blocks and the viewport, and the variables above to display a site that adapts to the user’s culture.

Adapting
Every culture contains a deepness and richness that comes when groups of people get together. As we design for ever larger audiences and as the web reaches deeper into homes and private lives, we need to think more about how our sites contribute to those cultures. We need to adapt them to a wider variety of situations beyond simply viewport or pixel width. How do we make our fellow humans comfortable with our interfaces and site? Start using cultural queries in our designs."

[See also: https://speakerdeck.com/senongo/culturally-responsive-design ]
senongoakpem  webdev  webdesign  culture  2013  highcontext  lowcontext  ambiguity  directness  collectivism  individuality  power  relationships  powerrelationships  authority  slow  fast  messaging  speed  gov.uk  culturalresponsiveness  communication  difference  adapting  adaptation  universality  context  individualism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The smartest cities rely on citizen cunning and unglamorous technology | Cities | The Guardian
"Ignore the futuristic visions of governments and developers, it’s humble urban communities who lead the way in showing how networked technologies can strengthen a city’s social fabric"



"We are lucky enough to live at a time in which a furious wave of innovation is breaking across the cities of the global south, spurred on both by the blistering pace of urbanisation, and by the rising popular demand for access to high-quality infrastructure that follows in its wake.

From Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting and the literally destratifying cable cars of Caracas, to Nairobi’s “digital matatus” and the repurposed bus-ferries of Manila, the communities of the south are responsible for an ever-lengthening parade of social and technical innovations that rival anything the developed world has to offer for ingenuity and practical utility.

Nor is India an exception to this tendency. Transparent Chennai’s participatory maps and the work of the Mumbai-based practices CRIT and URBZ are better-known globally, but it is the tactics of daily survival devised by the unheralded multitude that really inspire urbanists. These techniques maximise the transactive capacity of the urban fabric, wrest the very last increment of value from the energy invested in the production of manufactured goods, and allow millions to eke a living, however precarious, from the most unpromising of circumstances. At a time of vertiginously spiralling economic and environmental stress globally, these are insights many of us in the developed north would be well advised to attend to – and by no means merely the poorest among us.

But, for whatever reason, this is not the face of urban innovation official India wants to share with the world – perhaps small-scale projects or the tactics of the poor simply aren’t dramatic enough to convey the magnitude and force of national ambition. We hear, instead, of schemes like Palava City, a nominally futuristic vision of digital technology minutely interwoven into the texture of everday urban life. Headlines were made around the planet this year when Narendra Modi’s government announced it had committed to building no fewer than 100 similarly “smart” cities.

Because definitions of the smart city remain so vague, I think it’s worth thinking carefully about what this might mean – beyond, that is, the 7,000 billion rupees (£70bn) in financing that India’s high powered expert committee on urban infrastructure believes the scheme will require over the next 20 years. It is one thing, after all, to reinforce the basic infrastructures that undergird the quality of urban life everywhere; quite another to propose saddling India’s cities with expensive, untested technology at a time when reliable access to electricity, clean drinking water or safe sanitary facilities remain beyond reach for too many.

We can take it as read that our networked technologies will continue to play some fairly considerable role in shaping the circumstances and possibilities experienced by billions of city-dwellers worldwide. So it’s only appropriate to consider the ways in which these technologies might inform decisions about urban land use, mobility and governance.

However, especially at a time of such enthusiasm for the notion in India, I think it’s vital to point out that “the smart city” is not the only way of bringing advanced information technology to bear on these questions of urban life. It’s but one selection from a sheaf of available possibilities, and not anywhere near the most responsive, equitable or fructifying among them.

We can see this most easily by considering just who it is the smart city is intended for – by seeking to discover what model of urban subjectivity is inscribed in the scenarios offered by the multinational IT vendors that developed the smart city concept in the first place, and who are heavily involved in sites like Palava. When you examine their internal documentation, marketing materials and extant interventions, it becomes evident there is a pronounced way of thinking about the civic that is bound up in all of them, with rather grim implications for the politics of participation.

A close reading leaves little room for doubt that vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, Cisco and Hitachi construct the resident of the smart city as someone without agency; merely a passive consumer of municipal services – at best, perhaps, a generator of data that can later be aggregated, mined for relevant inference, and acted upon. Should he or she attempt to practise democracy in any form that spills on to the public way, the smart city has no way of accounting for this activity other than interpreting it as an untoward disruption to the orderly flow of circulation. (This is explicit in Palava’s marketing materials, as well.) All in all, it’s a brutally reductive conception of civic life, and one with little to offer those of us whose notions of citizenhood are more robust."



"The true enablers of participation turn out to be nothing more exciting than cheap commodity devices, reliable access to sufficiently high- bandwidth connectivity, and generic cloud services. These implications should be carefully mulled over by developers, those responsible for crafting municipal and national policy, and funding bodies in the philanthropic sector.

In both these cases, ordinary people used technologies of connection to help them steer their own affairs, not merely managing complex domains to a minimal threshold of competence, but outperforming the official bodies formally entrusted with their stewardship. This presents us with the intriguing prospect that more of the circumstances of everyday urban life might be managed this way, on a participatory basis, by autonomous neighbourhood groups networked with one another in something amounting to a city-wide federation.

In order to understand how we might get there from here, we need to invoke a notion drawn from the study of dynamic systems. Metastability is the idea that there are multiple stable configurations a system can assume within a larger possibility space; the shape that system takes at the moment may simply be one among many that are potentially available to it. Seen in this light, it’s clear that all the paraphernalia we regard as the sign and substance of government may in fact merely constitute what a dynamicist would think of as a “local maximum”. There remain available to us other possible states, in which we might connect to one another in different ways, giving rise to different implications, different conceptions of urban citizenship, and profoundly different outcomes.

The sociologist Bruno Latour warns us not to speak airily of “potential”, reminding us that we have to actually do the work of bringing some state of affairs into being before we can know whether it was indeed a possible future state of the system – and also that work is never accomplished without some cost. I nevertheless believe, given the very substantial benefits we know people and communities enjoy when afforded real control over the conditions of their being, that whatever the cost incurred in this exploration, it would be one well worth bearing.

The evidence before us strongly suggests that investment in the unglamorous technologies, frameworks and infrastructures that are already known to underwrite citizen participation would result in better outcomes for tens of millions of ordinary Indians – and would shoulder the state with far-less onerous a financial burden – than investment in the high-tech chimeras of centralised control. The wisest course would be to plan technological interventions to come on the understanding that the true intelligence of the Indian city will continue to reside where it always has: in the people who live and work in it, who animate it and give it a voice."

[See also: http://boingboing.net/2014/12/24/why-smart-cities-should-be.html ]
2014  adamgreenfield  urban  urbanism  collectivism  cities  innovation  smartcities  chennai  caracas  nairobi  portoalegre  digitalmatatus  manila  infrastructure  palavacity  technology  power  control  democracy  ows  occupywallstreet  urbz  crit  transparency  occupysandy  nyc  elcampodecebada  madrid  zuloark  zuloarkcollective  collectives  twitter  facebook  troughofdisallusionment  darkweather  networks  internetofpeople  brunolatour  grassroots  systems  systemsthinking  metastability  dynamicsystems 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Interview with Sjón | The White Review
"Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Where are you from? And how did you come to write?

A: SJÓN — I was born in Reykjavík in 1962. From the beginning I read everything, from children’s books to newspapers – whatever printed material came into the house. At the age of 8 I discovered Icelandic folk stories, which is when I truly started waking up to literature. A year later, I discovered poetry. In school we were given a big collection of poetry, which was to last us throughout our school years, and I started reading this book for pleasure at home. I was reading detective novels, Icelandic folk stories, and Icelandic romantic poetry from very early on. Early reading teaches you the different possibilities of text.

When I came into my teenage years I became a huge David Bowie fan. To be a David Bowie fan in Iceland you more or less had to teach yourself English – to translate the lyrics, to be able to read the interviews in NME. My infatuation with Bowie prepared me for my discovery of modernist poetry, first in translation. At the age of 15 I found a book of Icelandic modernists from the end of the Second World War. That’s when modernism came to Iceland – and they were very much influenced by the surrealists. Somehow, I was bitten by the bug. It simply fascinated me that you were allowed to use the Icelandic language in this way, to create these incredible images and metaphors, and to present such ideas with the Icelandic language. I felt like I should be a part of it. So I started writing poetry and in a few months time I had written enough poetry for a book. I published my first book of poetry the summer I turned 16.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You speak of an early interest in the various kinds of text, and your own writing is not easily assimilated into any single textual mode. As a writer, lyricist and poet, you move in and out of these different formats. What do you classify yourself as first and foremost, if anything? How might this resistance to categorisation link in to your interest in surrealism?

A: SJÓN — I’m a novelist who occasionally writes poetry. I write librettos, lyrics and children’s books but these are all collaborations that I do in between working on novels and poetry. One of the wonders of the novel is how easily it absorbs diverse texts. Everything that is written, whether it is non-fiction, old archives, newspaper articles, lullabies – somehow it can always find its place in the novel, and for that reason the novel became more important to me than the poem.

The novel is encyclopaedic: all of the different manners of expressing oneself in words can find their place there. In the Eighties my friends and I formed a group of surrealist poets called Medusa. Surrealism brings so much with it and one of the first things I realised when I became excited by surrealism was its link with folk stories. Surrealism is always non-academic, always looking for the source of human activity, looking into the back alleys and the darkest clearing in the forest for excitement. Somehow it was always very natural for me to bring all these different things together in what I was doing.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Your novels are hybrids – a crossbreed of narrative fiction, historical fact, myth, music…

A: SJÓN — I like my novels to be made up of different parts, realities, states of consciousness. I now see my work as realist because everything I write is grounded in at least the experience of the character, here, in earthly life. The strange things that happen in the books are what happens in people’s minds, what they experience as truth. That of course creates a hybrid, when your standard is something normalised and accepted as the only way to experience reality.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Music is a great part of this assortment – you’ve mentioned Bowie as an influence, and you have collaborated with musicians such as Björk. Do you think that words can achieve the condition of music, which has a much greater immediacy and is far less freighted with multiple meanings?

A: SJÓN — I think it’s very important to be open to influence from diverse artistic forms and forms of expression. I have been very much influenced by music and one of the routes I took to literature was through the music of David Bowie. I have worked with musicians in all fields – contemporary composers, pop artists – and I’ve worked with very diverse styles of music. But there is a huge difference between words being sung, spoken or read. The emotion that the singing voice brings to the world when sung out loud is something you cannot recreate on paper. I don’t think you should even try.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You have spoken of realising that ‘you could take the classical string quartet as a model for the composition of THE BLUE FOX’. How did you achieve this?

A: SJÓN — I think the fact that I can take the form of the string quartet and use it as the basis of a novel is another proof of how dynamic the novel is. I’m sure that a composer writing a string quartet can learn something from a movie or the structure of film. It was music that gave me the idea of constantly breaking up the narrative. THE BLUE FOX would be a completely different novel if it were chronological. In it, there are constant cliff-hangers and repeated refrains – I’m playing with the element of two melodies that come together but never fully, only in the end finding a solution. It was very interesting that the first people who commented on the book were composers. They said it was very clear to them that I was always playing with volume of information versus text, which is the same thing they do – volume of tones versus time. You can take a melody and stretch it over five minutes, or compress it down to three seconds. They were very much aware of how I was playing with text versus information.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Does your involvement in the world of music, and the musicality of your novels, betray some sort of frustration with the limits of the written word?

A: SJÓN — No. I am in the position where I can move between those different ways of writing. For me, it is a celebration of the many possibilities given to an author. I play no instruments, my only involvement with music is in collaborations with people who know how to do it. It is a privilege to be working with these musicians and to be allowed to bring my words to their work. To hear the words sung is a wonderful present from these people."



"This view actually went against everything that I had been taught in school. The Reformation is presented in Icelandic history books as something very benevolent and it was convenient to ignore that in the first decade after the Reformation life was very difficult for the common man and for scholars. The Methodist church became very dogmatic, and everything that had to do with the old Nordic religion, with old wisdom or old medicine, was banished as sorcery. He is the only historical voice that we have speaking against this. It was an opportunity to put a seed inside somebody’s skull, and take a walk through those times with his eyes."



"The reason that I felt it right to enter this world, this state of complaint against a world going to pieces, is because he lived through the period when the Catholic Church, the only socially responsible institution, was all of a sudden taken away. In Iceland, it is a fact that the Catholic Church was the only welfare structure in the country – we had no king, no dukes, we had no one to take over the social responsibilities when the Catholic Church vanished overnight. All the monasteries were closed down, all the orphanages, the old people’s shelters – everything, overnight. And the duty that the rich had – to keep the livestock alive on behalf of the religious priests who fed the poor – that vanished too.

Jón Guðmundsson is unique in that he is the only one who wrote about this. He bore witness to a world in which man had been relieved of his duty to show charity to his fellow men. This is very much what the last decade has felt like, at least in Iceland, if not many parts of the West. With the deregulation of the economic system, social responsibility was thrown out of the window and all of a sudden the rich became richer and they had no duties any more. This is something that happened with the fall of the Eastern Bloc – the message that we were told then was that capitalism had won and communism was the dark art. The Left lost its voice, at least in Iceland. The centre Left – the social democrats – they decided to start playing along with the capitalists, which is what you would call New Labour here. The real Left was all of a sudden presented as the losers of history, even though these people had been in opposition to the totalitarian regimes in the East for decades. All of a sudden everything that began with the word ‘social’ was a dirty word. The social contract that was established in most of the West after the Second World War, was dealt the final blow."



"In times where grand narratives are needed we look to the grand narratives of our culture. In our case it is the great myths, and sometimes it is to give name to something like the panic after September 11. Myth always puts man down to size, and man realises he is just this tiny figure moving from one meal to another on his way to the grave.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Oral tradition is very much a part of myth. Is this something that can still exist today?

A: SJÓN — You have a whole continent, Africa, which has so many languages that have still not found a written form. There are places that have an unbroken tradition, stretching thousands of years back, of telling the same stories over and over again. Mostly here in the West we have lost the ability to protect our culture orally, and maybe we are in danger. What will happen when all the books have flared up and all the Kindles lost their battery power?

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Literary translation and the rise of world … [more]
sjón  2012  interviews  iceland  poems  poetry  novels  literature  writing  music  björk  reality  collaboration  surrealism  existence  humans  storytelling  davidbowie  mogenrukov  dogme95  life  living  perspective  curiosity  translation  africa  diversity  myths  myth  mythology  charity  catholicism  history  capitalism  economics  society  collectivism  interdependence  individualism  insignificance  folklore  nature  reformation  religion  magic  mysticism  enlightenment  catholicchurch  9/11  oraltradition  ebooks  books  words  coldwar  socialism  communism  jónguðmundsson  sorcery  songs  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Culture Stories: Introduction and Milk.
"So that was a very mundane story about milk. Why did I share it? Because I think sharing stories like these is how we increase and improve culture. It’s not something that can be fixed by having TW3 meetings with senior management. While the senior management should absolutely read these, and (sometimes) discuss them, the act of writing and sharing them itself is how to improve the way we work.

In case you were in doubt, I’m not suggesting that sharing milk is how you improve the culture. Maybe sharing milk isn’t the right culture for a particular organisation, but I’d be interested in hearing why.

These discussions should be in the open. They may not be interesting to people outside your organisation (although you may be surprised), but knowing that they are public will help prevent them being too inward looking. Remember that (hopefully) new people will be joining your team regularly, remember that you are not an isolated team.

So share your culture stories! Maybe we’ll find somewhere to collate them. Or tell me why you think this is a stupid idea. If no-one convincingly does the latter, then I hope to post up a few more of my own.

To kick us off, here are some stories by Alice Bartlett6 that encouraged me to do this one: Six Months at GDS and Tampon Club. I also highly recommend reading Hidden dangers of team building rituals for some wise words on ensuring you’re not being exclusionary."

[via: http://interconnected.org/home/2014/12/02/filtered ]
culture  milk  offices  management  government  jamesdarling  organizations  sharing  collectivism  teams  2014  tamponclub  alicebartlett 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Tampon Club
"In offices that don't provide free tampons for staff, it's easy to get caught out when you need one. Tampon Club is just a bunch of women leaving tampons and sanitary towels in their workplace toilets, so that they're available when required. No more walking back to your locker to get out a tampon, no more sneaking one up your sleeve; tampons in the loo when you need one. Simple as that.

Can I start my own Tampon Club?

Yes! Having a Tampon Club in your office is brilliant and extremely easy to do. Head over to our page about setting one up to find out more. Once you're done, don't forget to let us know! Send us an email to hi@tampon.club or catch us on Twitter at @tampon_club. Send us a photo of your set-up and maybe we'll send you some Tampon Club stickers.

Who is behind this?

A shadowy cabal of menstruating women, natch."

[See also: http://alicebartlett.co.uk/blog/tampon-club

"After sitting around for six months trying to work out how to get my secret stash of tampons into the toilet in a way that would stop them from being tidied away by the cleaning staff, I realised the solution. Put tampons and sanitary towels in the toilet for everyone. Put them in a posh container so it would be obvious that they were supposed to be there. Ask women to contribute if they found it useful.

I bought a container (This one from Muji), and an array of sanitary products, (towels, applicator and non-applicator tampons). I also stuck one of GDS’ design principles onto the box, sort of as a joke, but also because it seemed fitting."

and http://abscond.org/2014/09/25/culture-stories-milk.html

via http://interconnected.org/home/2014/12/02/filtered ]
gender  tamponclub  women  collectivism  sharing 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Why a radical geography must be anarchist | Simon Springer - Academia.edu
"Radical geographers have been preoccupied with Marxism for four decades, largely ignoring an earlier anarchist tradition that thrived a century before radical geography was claimed as Marxist in the 1970s. When anarchism is considered, it is misused as a synonym for violence or derided as a utopian project. Yet it is incorrect to assume anarchism as a project, which instead reflects Marxian thought. Anarchism is more appropriately considered a protean process that perpetually unfolds through the insurrectionary geographies of the everyday and the prefigurative politics of direct action, mutual aid, and voluntary association. Unlike Marxism’s stages of history and revolutionary imperative, which imply an end state, anarchism appreciates the dynamism of the social world. In staking a renewed anarchist claim for radical geography, I attend to the divisions between Marxism and anarchism as two alternative socialisms, where in the former positions equality alongside an ongoing flirtation with authoritarianism, while the latter maximizes egalitarianism and individual liberty by considering them as mutually reinforcing. Radical geographers would do well to reengage anarchism as there is a vitality to this philosophy that is missing from Marxian analyses that continue to rehash ideas— such as vanguardism and a proletarian dictatorship—that are long past their expiration date."
anarchism  marxism  socialism  anarchy  revolution  radicalism  2014  simonspringer  dynamism  pocketsofutopia  mutualaid  collectivism  decentralization  utopia  vanguardism  equality  authoritarianism  egalitarianism  liberty  individualusm  directaction  voluntaryassociation  radicalgeography 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Hope and Ka-ching - The Baffler
"There are at least 150 million members of cooperatives in the United States, if you include retail, housing, agricultural, electrical, insurance, and most other types of co-ops. Eleven thousand American companies are owned wholly or in part by their workers through employee stock-ownership plans. Where these two groups intersect and go even further is in the four hundred worker cooperatives that exist in this country, enterprises that are owned by members and democratically run. As for cooperative factories, New Era is a rarity, among the only operations of its kind in the United States."



"Horizontalism is not simply about being fair to old friends. Nor is it about passing a political litmus test or pretending everyone has identical abilities. Instead, it is a practical matter, a way of mitigating the uncertainty and sacrifice the task requires of all involved, even if it means supporting those who are less proficient or those who are unable to work as hard as others due to unforeseen circumstances. Toward this end, the group recently affirmed their commitment to “solidarity economics,” specifically assuring that all future workers will be members. Despite the disproportionate role played by the founders, every worker, present and future, must be given a “buy-in” that will make them all legitimate owners of capital and make it harder for the business to demutualize, as some cooperatives have in the past. Essentially, they want to be blocked from someday becoming the bosses they deplore.

Starting New Era, one worker told me, was a “survival strategy” pure and simple, a way to “stop the abuse” they had suffered. Making windows for Republic, Robles said, was “a type of modern slavery,” with every minute logged and monitored through a complicated tracking system. Now they move freely, working and breaking when they need to, with a sense of purpose that Robles says gets him happily out of bed at dawn without the help of an alarm clock. Arizona Stingley, who was a nanny for white families in Mississippi in her younger days, told me there was simply no comparison between Republic and New Era. “It was divide and conquer by the boss. They were always pitting Mexicans against blacks,” she recalled. “And it worked. People wouldn’t want to teach you anything because they were afraid you’d take their job.” The groups sat at different tables at lunch and rarely mingled across race lines. Now they share skills instead of regarding each other as threats.

Experiences like these have convinced the New Era crew that cooperatives are the wave of the future. “Bosses, at any minute they can close the plant and just destroy your life. They say it’s your job, but really it’s their job to take away,” said Maclin, whose fluency in English is a resource for the predominantly Spanish-speaking crew. He likened his awakening over the last few years to the movie Star Wars: “You know how it says, the power is with you, the force is with you? Well the power is with us. The force is with us. We are the work force. We’re taking back the power we already have.”



"History abounds with examples of cooperative ambitions; unfortunately, it also contains an almost equal number of failures.

The stumbling block, nearly every time, has been lack of access to capital. Workers are more than capable of managing things on their own—work, after all, goes on whether the bosses are in their offices or out on the putting green. But the money to purchase equipment and pay for space and materials has always been hard to come by for the proletariat. After owners shut down the Youngstown Sheet and Tube steel mill in the late 1970s, a landmark event in the history of deindustrialization, workers made plans to run it themselves; they were stopped when the Carter administration failed to come up with the $100 million in financing it had promised. In 1996 the CEO of Republic Windows and Doors was able to secure nearly $10 million in financing through a public program that diverted property-tax revenue from schools and parks to expand his private company. In 2012 the workers needed just a petty sum to buy the business, but for them there was no public investment to be found.

Finance, as Martin sees it, is the key to getting significant control of wealth into workers’ hands. “There is this myth of capitalism that says that the 1 percent invest productively, but the fact is, we don’t need them,” Martin explains. “They said, ‘If you don’t bail us out, there won’t be jobs.’ But their aim isn’t to make jobs; it’s to make money for themselves. Finance, as it is currently set up, is parasitic. It’s extractive. But what if it was productive instead? What if it actually invested in the community instead of always sucking money out?” The Working World, which has lent out over $4 million in less than ten years, is Martin’s answer to that question."



"Karl Marx wrote approvingly of cooperatives, insisting that the “value of these great social experiments cannot be overrated.” Nonetheless, he probably would have scorned the “small is beautiful” attitude of those cooperators who are content to stay on the fringe, who lack the oppositional spirit necessary to take on capitalism directly. He would also have scoffed at activists who believe they can practice and prefigure democracy without building institutions, accumulating resources, or holding power.

The cooperative activists themselves often recognize the problem. Marina Sitrin, the author of several books about horizontalism, never believed that the large assemblies that characterized the early days of Occupy Wall Street would be sustainable for a prolonged period. She told me that horizontalism needs to be grounded in a specific place and have a well-defined purpose in order to function. A hundred people debating abstract principles in a public forum will likely drive each other bonkers, but the same hundred people may be able to run a school or a health center or a factory if their community and lives depend on it. In other words, for consensus decision-making to be practicable, there has to be something at stake, something to stick to and stick with. You need a school or a health center or a factory."



"What remains to be seen is whether the current crop of cooperators and activists—the New Era window builders, Occupy and its post-disaster rebuilding efforts, and the USW with its plans for union-cooperative hybrids—will actually be able to change things. They look at Mondragon and the substantial cooperative networks in other countries, as well as the factory takeovers in Argentina and Greece, and believe we may be entering a cooperative renaissance spurred on by an endless economic slump. And maybe that is so. But cooperative momentum will flag if the movement doesn’t take the problem of finance seriously. Until we create loan funds or build banks that are committed to non-extractive economic growth, cooperatives will remain marginal phenomena, nice places to shop for organic food and get your bicycle repaired, but not much more.

One thing the cooperators can count on is self-interest. People will pursue worker control because it is more appealing than being exploited and then disposed of by employers whose only allegiance is to the bottom line. They will be drawn to structures that can help them support their families and communities, and these real, urgent needs will in turn encourage them to endure the vexations of direct democracy, to stick with it even though the meetings last for hours and comrades inevitably chafe. It’s still better than having a boss."
collectives  work  chicago  finance  astrataylor  2014  labor  horizontality  hierarchy  hierarchies  horizontalism  deindustrialization  via:Taryn  capital  mondragon  marinasitrin  brendanmartin  collectivism  anarchism  cooperatives  ows  occupywallstreet 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Schools From Below by Raul Zibechi / Autonomy: Chiapas - California / In Motion Magazine
"Among the many things learned, impossible to summarize in a few lines, I want to highlight five aspects, perhaps influenced by the opportunities that we come across in the southern part of the continent.

First is that the Zapatistas defeated the social politics of counterinsurgency, which is the mode adopted by those above to divide, co-opt, and subjugate the communities that rebel. Next to each Zapatista community are communities affiliated with the bad government with their cinderblock houses, who receive vouchers and hardly work the earth at all. Thousands of families succumbed, which is common across all the areas, and accepted gifts from those above. But what is notable and exceptional is that thousands of others continue forward without accepting anything.

I know of no other process in all of Latin America that has been successful in neutralizing such social politics. This is the greatest merit of Zapatismo, succeeding with a militant determination, political clarity, and an inexhaustible capacity to sacrifice. This is the first teaching: it is possible to defeat such social politics.

Autonomy is the second teaching. For some years we have heard discourses on autonomy in diverse social movements, some certainly valuable. In the autonomous municipalities and the communities that make up the Caracol Morelia, I can attest that they constructed an autonomy of economics, of health, of education, and of power. Or we might say an autonomy that comprises all aspects of life. I don’t have the smallest doubt that the same success is found in the other four Caracoles.

A couple of words on economics, or material life. The families in the communities don’t have contact with the capitalist economy. They hardly have contact with the market. They produce all their food, including a good dose of protein. They buy what they do not produce (salt, oil, soap, sugar) in Zapatista stores. The family and community surplus is saved as earnings, with a basis in coffee bean sales. When necessary, for health or for the struggle, they sell a few head of cattle.

Autonomy in education and health is seated in community control. The community elects those who will teach their boys and girls and those who will care for their health. In each community there is a school, and in the health center are working together midwives, bone doctors, and those who specialize in medicinal plants. The community sustains them, the same way they sustain their authorities.

The third teaching is related to collective work. As one of the school guardians (or companions) said, “Collective work is the engine of the process.” The communities have their own lands, thanks to the expropriation of the expropriators, which unavoidably took place to create a new world. Men and women each have their own work and their own collective spaces.

Collective work is one of the foundations of autonomy, whose fruits are often poured into the hospitals, clinics, and primary and secondary education to strengthen the municipalities and the good government committees. Nothing of the great amount which they have constructed would be possible without the collective work of the men, women, boys, girls, and elders.

The fourth question is that of the new cultural politics, which is rooted in family relations and is diffused throughout Zapatista society. The men collaborate in domestic work that continues to fall to the women, caring for the children when the women leave the community for their work as community authorities. The relations between parents and children are of caring and respect, in a general climate of harmony and good humor. I did not observe a single gesture of violence or aggression in the home.

The vast majority of Zapatistas are the young and very young, and there are as many women as men. The revolution cannot be carried out without many young people, and this is not disputed. Those that govern obey, and this is not disputed. Working with the body is one of the other keys of the new cultural politics.

The mirror is the fifth point. The communities are a double mirror: where we can see ourselves and we can see them. Not one or the other, but both simultaneously. We see ourselves watching them. In this going and coming we learn by working together, sleeping and eating under the same roof, in the same conditions, using the same latrines, stepping on the same mud and getting wet in the same rain.

This is the first time that a revolutionary movement has realized an experience of this type. Until now teaching by revolutionaries reproduced the molds of academic intellectuals, with a stratified above and below, frozen. This is something else entirely. We learn with our skin and our senses.

Finally, a question of method and the form of work. The EZLN was born in a concentration camp which represents the vertical relations and the violence imposed by landowners. They learned to work family by family and in secret, innovating the mode of work of the antisystemic movements. Each time the world appears to be a concentration camp, their methods can be very useful for those of us set on creating a new world."
chiapas  education  learning  cityasclassroom  internships  agesegregation  2013  collectivism  unschooling  deschooling  zapatistas  mexico  grassroots  raúlzibechi  democracy  society  community  communities 
october 2014 by robertogreco
▶ Mutiny! What our love of pirates tells us about renewing the commons: Kester Brewin at TEDxExeter - YouTube
"Kester Brewin teaches mathematics in South East London and is also a freelance writer, poet and consultant for BBC education. He writes regularly on education and technology for the national educational press, and has published a number of highly acclaimed books on the philosophy of religion.

His latest book Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates and How They Can Save Us is a groundbreaking re-examination of the culture of piracy, which seeks to understand our continued fascination with these characters whose skull and crossed bones motif appears on everything from baby-bottles to skateboards, yet are still pursued and condemned worldwide for theft and exploitation. Drawing on pirates from history, film and literature, Kester's work explores how our relationship to 'the commons' is central to an improved environmental, political and cultural consciousness, and also tries to work out why his son has been invited to countless pirate parties, but none (yet) with an aggravated robbery theme. His poetry has appeared in magazines around the world and he is currently preparing his debut novel for publication."

[See also: http://www.kesterbrewin.com/pirates/

Free online version
https://medium.com/mutiny-by-kester-brewin

Amazon (Kindle version)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008A5FVMY/

"What is it with pirates?

From Somali fishermen to DVD hawkers to childrens parties, pirates surround us and their ‘Jolly Roger’ motif can be found on everything from skateboards to baby-grows. Yet the original pirates were mutineers, rebelling against the brutal and violent oppression of the princes and merchants who enslaved them.

How has their fight become ours?

In this highly original and ground-breaking book, Kester Brewin fuses history, philosophy and sociology to explore the place of piracy in history and culture, and, calling on Blackbeard, Luke Skywalker, Peter Pan and Odysseus, chases pirates through literature and film into the deepest realms of personal development, art, economics and belief."

https://vimeo.com/52473140

"Pirates and Prodigals
A conversation between Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, and Barry Taylor on the tragedy of the pirate and prodigal son archetypes and what this means for the future church. The discussion drew from ideas presented in Kester Brewin’s latest book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Fuller Theologcial Seminary"]

[More here, specific to education: https://medium.com/@kesterbrewin/a-pirates-life-for-me-education-as-common-good-7f8349267fe1 ]
kesterbrewin  pirates  history  2013  piracy  anarchism  economics  politics  capitalism  blackbeard  oppression  democracy  collectivism  philosphy  sociology  freedom  sharing  distribution  bbc  publishing  music  learning  copyright  privategain  commons  ip  knowlege  privatization  books 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Empires Revolution of the Present - marclafia
"The film and online project brings together international philosophers, scientists and artists to give description and analysis to the contemporary moment as defined by computational tools and networks.

It states that networks are not new and have been forever with us in the evolution of our cities, trade, communications and sciences, in our relations as businesses and nation states, in the circulation of money, food, arms and our shared ecology.

Yet something has deeply changed in our experience of time, work, community, the global. Empires looks deeply to unravel how we speak to the realities of the individual and the notion of the public and public 'good' in this new world at the confluence of money, cities, computation, politics and science."

[Film website: http://www.revolutionofthepresent.org/ ]

[Trailer: https://vimeo.com/34852940 ]
[First cut (2:45:05): https://vimeo.com/32734201 ]

[YouTube (1:21:47): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaTw5epW_QI ]

"Join the conversation at http://www.revolutionofthepresent.org

Summary: The hope was that network technology would bring us together, create a "global village," make our political desires more coherent. But what's happened is that our desires have become distributed, exploded into images and over screens our eyes relentlessly drop to view.

REVOLUTION OF THE PRESENT examines the strange effects — on cities, economies, people — of what we might call accelerated capitalism. Set against a visually striking array of sounds and images, 15 international thinkers speak to the complexity and oddity of this contemporary moment as they discuss what is and what can be.

Documentary Synopsis:
Humanity seems to be stuck in the perpetual now that is our networked world. More countries are witnessing people taking to the streets in search of answers. Revolution of the Present, the film, features interviews with thought leaders designed to give meaning to our present and precarious condition. This historic journey allows us to us re-think our presumptions and narratives about the individual and society, the local and global, our politics and technology. This documentary analyzes why the opportunity to augment the scope of human action has become so atomized and diminished. Revolution of the Present is an invitation to join the conversation and help contribute to our collective understanding.

As Saskia Sassen, the renowned sociologist, states at the outset of the film, 'we live in a time of unsettlement, so much so that we are even questioning the notion of the global, which is healthy.' One could say that our film raises more questions than it answers, but this is our goal. Asking the right questions and going back to beginnings may be the very thing we need to do to understand the present, and to move forward from it with a healthy skepticism.

Revolution of the Present is structured as an engaging dinner conversation, there is no narrator telling you what to think, it is not a film of fear of the end time or accusation, it is an invitation to sit at the table and join an in depth conversation about our diverse and plural world."

[See also: http://hilariousbookbinder.blogspot.com/2014/09/rethinking-internet-networks-capitalism.html ]

[Previously:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:ec1d3463d74b
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:9f60604ec3b3 ]
marclafia  networks  philosophy  politics  science  money  cities  scale  economics  capitalism  2014  kazysvarnelis  communication  communications  business  work  labor  psychology  greglindsay  saskiasassen  urban  urbanism  freedom  freewill  howardbloom  juanenríquez  michaelhardt  anthonypagden  danielisenberg  johnhenryclippinger  joséfernández  johannaschiller  douglasrushkoff  manueldelanda  floriancrammer  issaclubb  nataliejeremijenko  wendychun  geertlovink  nishantshah  internet  online  web  danielcoffeen  michaelchichi  jamesdelbourgo  sashasakhar  pedromartínez  miguelfernándezpauldocherty  alexandergalloway  craigfeldman  irenarogovsky  matthewrogers  globalization  networkedculture  networkculture  history  change  nationstates  citystates  sovreignty  empire  power  control  antonionegri  geopolitics  systems  systemsthinking  changemaking  meaningmaking  revolution  paradigmshifts  johnlocke  bourgeoisie  consumption  middleclass  class  democracy  modernity  modernism  government  governence  karlmarx  centralization  socialism  planning  urbanplanning  grass 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, What to Do When You're Running Out of Time | TomDispatch
"There are three things to note about those changes in 1989. First, most people in power dismissed the possibility that such extraordinary change could happen or deplored what it might bring. They were comfortable enough with things as they were, even though the status quo was several kinds of scary and awful. In other words, the status quo likes the status quo and dislikes change. Second, everything changed despite them, thanks to grassroots organizing and civil society, forces that -- we are now regularly assured -- are pointless and irrelevant. Third, the world that existed then has been largely swept away: the Soviet Union, the global alignments of that time, the idea of a binary world of communism and capitalism, and the policies that had kept us on the brink of nuclear annihilation for decades. We live in a very different world now (though nuclear weapons are still a terrible problem). Things do change.

Maybe, in fact, there’s a fourth point to note as well. That, important as they were, the front-page stories about the liberation of Eastern Europe weren’t what mattered most all those years ago. After all, hidden away deep inside the New York Times that autumn, you can find a dozen or so articles about global warming, as the newly recognized phenomenon was then called. And small as they were, anyone reading them now can see that so long ago the essential problem and peril to our world was already clear.

The thought of what might have been accomplished, had a people’s movement arisen then to face global warming, could break your heart.  That, after all, was still a time when the Earth’s atmosphere held just above 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide, the maximum safe level for a sustainable survivable planet, not the 400 parts per million of the present moment (“142% of the pre-industrial era” level of carbon, the World Meteorological Organization notes). In other words, we’ve been steadily filling the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and so imperiling the planet and humanity since we knew what we were doing."



"If you want to know how potentially powerful you are, ask your enemies. The misogynists who attack feminism and try to intimidate feminists into silence only demonstrate in a roundabout way that feminism really is changing the world; they are the furious backlash and so the proof that something meaningful is at stake. The climate movement is similarly upsetting a lot of powerful people and institutions; to grasp that, you just have to look at the tsunamis of money spent opposing specific measures and misinforming the public. The carbon barons are demonstrating that we could change the world and that they don’t want us to.

We are powerful and need to become more so in the next year as a major conference in Paris approaches in December 2015 where the climate agreements we need could be hammered out. Or not. This is, after all, a sequel to the Copenhagen conference of 2009, where representatives of many smaller and more vulnerable nations, as well as citizens’ groups, were eager for a treaty that took on climate change in significant ways, only to have their hopes crushed by the recalcitrant governments of the United States and China.

Right now, we are in a churning sea of change, of climate change, of subtle changes in everyday life, of powerful efforts by elites to serve themselves and damn the rest of us, and of increasingly powerful activist and social-movement campaigns to make a world that benefits more beings, human and otherwise, in the longer term. Every choice you make aligns you with one set of these forces or another. That includes doing nothing, which means aligning yourself with the worst of the status quo dragging us down in that ocean of carbon and consumption.

To make personal changes is to do too little. Only great movements, only collective action can save us now. Only is a scary word, but when the ship is sinking, it can be an encouraging one as well. It can hold out hope. The world has changed again and again in ways that, until they happened, would have been considered improbable by just about everyone on the planet. It is changing now and the direction is up to us.

There will be another story to be told about what we did a quarter century after civil society toppled the East Bloc regimes, what we did in the pivotal years of 2014 and 2015. All we know now is that it is not yet written, and that we who live at this very moment have the power to write it with our lives and acts."
rebeccasolnit  2014  climatechange  activism  coldwar  change  collectivism  collectiveaction 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Algo Nuevo Parte 1 (Ahora es cuando) on Vimeo
[Parte II: https://vimeo.com/82035242
Parte III: https://vimeo.com/82140664
Parte IV: https://vimeo.com/82155657 ]

["noticias de algúna parte para todos ciudadanos colectivos"
http://algonuevoblog.tumblr.com/ ]

[See also: http://www.goethe.de/ins/cl/de/sao/kul/mag/zgi/20377516.html (Google translation follows.)

"The staff of the Historical Museum asserts something, I must strongly disagree: That capitalism is everything einverleibe, resistance is futile. I feel that as a lame excuse and guidance to passivity, almost as aesthetic total surrender of all creators and try my interlocutors an era after irony, cynicism and defeatism show - radebrechend, after two weeks of Spanish lessons in Bella Vista, television rages loudly above us and below us the engine noise of the Calle Merced. I speak of Cybersyn, a cybernetic economy project during the Unidad Popular, a kind of early socialist Internet, which should strengthen the base and promote self-governing structures, swarms of Stafford Beers icosahedron as a geometric model for non-hierarchical, describing the curiosity and alertness of the now 98 -year Victor Pey, who fought in the Spanish Civil War alongside the anarchist Buenaventura Durruti against the fascists and with whom I had the good fortune to be able to talk last week about today's spirit of Chilean youth and finally try on the horizon a new form the "international solidarity" imagine. This, however, would no longer be controlled by a single party in the 21st century, but of a scattered community of interests, of Ciudadanos colectivos (Tito Tricot). Carla Miranda agrees with their employees by disbelieving shakes his head, because "it but really no reason is to hope. " I insist that all over the world formulated resistance and nothing will absorb just because somewhere a new product is created. The energy would not escape, is still available, I try to drown out the TV. Evidence they want to see. Whether we want to drink Coke, Fanta or Sprite, we were asked, before eating, before us a cup wheat bun along with a tube of mayonnaise. Here and now, at this eatery we have no choice and I have no evidence.

Last I spoke with the historian César Leyton Robinson, who had Hannah Arendt's totalitarianism-book lying on the desk, on the "Prussianization" Chile in the 19th and 20th century, totalitarian economy at the beginning of the 21st century, as well as forms of colonial appropriation of indigenous knowledge. He painted me a line on, from the first German newcomer in Valdivia, the zoologist Rudolf Philippi, through to today's biologists and seed magnate Erik von Baer. A week later I meet Domingo Oñate, a Mapuche historian in Temuco, I talk about the beginnings of the racist policy of "whitewashing" in the 19th century. The Germans were the only ones who would not be mixed. The colonial distinction between civilization (= light-skinned, decent, honest, progressive) and barbarism (= dark-skinned, lazy, messy, retrograde) was felt to this day. At the exit to the former Colonia Dignidad we drive over. What interests me less the exception, that place of torture and excessive violence today folkloric euphemistically in Villa Bavaria renamed, but rather the general heritage of German immigration. A book, published to coincide with the 150th German colonization in 1998, is a testimony: German orchestras, choirs, schools, careers, long may they live, three times high! Nazism is simply hidden. Revisionism or sense of tradition? Is the exception the rule? Should I pursue the gloomy thesis Agamben, who claims that all "camp" is, today, the gated communities of the rich? And do not already Voltaire has guileless Candide pockets full of diamonds stuffed in order to free themselves from the struggle for existence? - I hear the cynics happy call.

Confidence on the other hand, the us in the Comunidades is placed in the Mapuche in the mountains behind Curarrehue, the songs of their ancestors, which we get to hear the holistic connection to the earth, to Wallmapu , all of which tells a different story. And the seed of wheat is now "only" to fifty percent in the hands of "Semilla Baer". The optimist would say that the chances are 50-50. Here in Araucanía, the land of beautiful lakes and mountains, created the first images that will tell a different story on stage - neither of constantly still haunted the minds millennium still the hegemonic domination of transnational corporations, which on the best ways are to devastate the planet for thousands of years.

Kevin Rittberger, Curarrehue, January 9, 2014" ]
chile  history  2020  scifi  sciencefiction  neoliberalism  2014  2013  future  buenaventuradurruti  cybersyn  unidadpopular  hannaharendt  césarleytonrobinson  rudolfphilippi  domingooñate  mapuche  whitewashing  temuco  valdivia  carlamiranda  capitalism  araucanía  agamben  germany  germans  kevinrittberger  arauco  forestry  collectivism  anarchism  srg 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Luddite Pedagogy - Hybrid Pedagogy
"In stark contrast to the fluffy talk of a thousand “revolutions” coming from plush conference halls in places like Long Beach, California – talk that reduces serious political discourse to the level of a sales pitch – the Luddites were willing to pay the ultimate price for a real revolution in the prevailing power relations, hoping to build a social order that forward-thinking people like the Luddites might be able to believe in.

A Luddite pedagogy for the 21st century

Just as the 19th century Luddism was interested far more in a forward-looking political agenda than in particular pieces of technology, so a 21st century Luddism in education will be concerned with more important issues than whether or not allowing pupils to use their own devices in class is a good idea. Like their political ancestors, the Luddite pedagogues will wield a hammer, but they won’t see any urgency in bringing it down on trivial things like touch-screen gadgetry. Instead, the targets lie elsewhere.

One place they lie is in the false talk of liberation that has gained popularity among people using the #edtech hashtag. A Luddite pedagogy is a pedagogy of liberation, and, as such, it clashes head on with the talk of liberation peddled by advocates of edtech. According to the latter, the child, previously condemned to all the unbearably oppressive restrictions of having to learn in groups, can now be liberated by the tech that makes a 1:1 model of education feasible, launching each and every child on an utterly personal learning journey. Liberation as personalisation – here the Luddite finds something that ought to be smashed.

But what needs to be smashed is less the pedagogy itself than the idea of freedom it rests on – the more general political notion that freedom is all about freeing individuals from social constraints so that they can pursue their personal projects unhampered by the claims of society. This is the essentially liberal idea championed by Sir Ken Robinson, for instance, for whom it is enough for individuals to find things to do that they enjoy and that allow them to develop a talent.

But we need to be clear here: Luddism doesn’t want to smash the concern for personal freedom, rather it wants to smash the idea that it is enough. The untruth of personalisation is its unjustified narrowing of the horizon of liberation."



"A Luddite pedagogy takes its cue from this need to build (and later maintain) a world – a society – of a certain sort. And in pursuing this end, the Luddite hammer has to be brought down again on a number of currently dominant assumptions about education.

One is the assumption that education must be child-centred. Luddites laugh at the assumption that education must have a single centre. No, it has two (as Hannah Arendt argued). It must also be centred on the needs of the society whose construction and maintenance depend partly on education. Rather than the ideal of letting the child pursue his or her curiosity unconstrained (an impossible ideal in any case), Luddite teachers are right to cultivate the broadest possible engagement with the world that children will find themselves bearing responsibility for in the future.

And this means that the education of children at its best is less about personalisation than socialisation. And, no, it is not a form of indoctrination beginning with infants being frogmarched around the schoolyard before being compelled to learn the Little Red Book off by heart.

This does not imply any antithesis to solitary work or personal choice or occasional use of 1:1 techniques. All it entails is the inclusion of these in the broader framework of an education taking place chiefly in a school outside the home, where children can be introduced to the habits, values, ideas and ways of thinking that are crucial to a free society.

Like all societies, that free society, at the very least needs to be able to use the pronoun “we”. We can only achieve freedom historically if we find ourselves among people similarly engaged by the questions of who we are, what we are doing, what we believe and what makes sense to us. As preparation for this, a crucial initial task of school is to enable children to feel that they are part of a larger whole beyond the family, and then to equip them and inspire them to carry on the dialogue about the beliefs and ideas and frameworks of sense that hold society together."



"Because of the centrality in that debate of the questions about who we are, what we are doing, what we believe the Luddite pedagogy entails what might be called a Delphic model of education (recalling the inscription outside the Temple of Apollo in Delphi: Know Thyself), and it entails bringing the Luddite hammer down hard on the liberal taboo against what we would call an education in belief (and they would call indoctrination).

The broader liberal framework of personalising edtech requires keeping values out of education as much as possible, except as things to be studied “objectively” (e.g. in the form of comparative religion, where belief systems are presented without being questioned and evaluated). Only a minimal set of values are to be openly endorsed: chiefly the values of a respect for the facts and logic, combined with the minimal liberal agenda of tolerance, peace, and the value of a sort of idle critical thinking (idle because it is not really in earnest about criticising other systems of belief – that would be too illiberal).

A Luddite pedagogy puts the non-idle interrogation of values at the centre of the curriculum, at least in the high school, when children have a broad enough background to draw on when making their critical appraisals of ideas about value – the aim being to help children begin to think more deeply about what we believe and what makes sense and what doesn’t."
tornhalves  luddites  history  2014  luddism  edtech  education  socialization  democracy  learning  howwelearn  individualization  technology  1:1  kenrobinson  tcsnmy  freedom  collectivism  collectivity  debate  discourse  curriculum  walterbenjamin  hannaarendt  progress  disruption  mechanization  automation  atomization  subservience  revolution  neoluddism  society  unschooling  deschooling  personalization  schools  schooling  child-centered  children  1to1 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Arjun Appadurai | archive public
"Archive and Aspiration

Social memory remains a mystery to most of us. True, there has been much excellent work by psychologists, neurologists and other sorts of critics about the workings of collective memory. Yet, there is a deep gap between our understandings of the externalities of memory and its internalities. This is a kind of Cartesian gap too, this time not between mind and body but between the biochemistry of memory and its social locations and functions. The arrival of the electronic archive, with its non-hierarchical, digital and para-human characteristics, sometimes seems to have widened this gap, since there is no easy way to get from the neural maps implied in most visions of biological memory and the social maps referred to in such wonderful images as Pierre Nora’s image of the ‘places of memory’. This gap between the neural locus of memory and its social location creates a variety of challenges for different fields and disciplines.

Memory and the Archive

In the humanist imagination, the archive is no more than a social tool for the work of collective memory. It is a neutral, or even ethically benign, tool which is the product of a deliberate effort to secure the most significant portions of what Maurice Halbwachs called ‘the prestige of the past’. Its quintessential expression is the document, a graphic trace, usually a written text, whose accidental survival has been reinforced by the protection offered to it by the archive. In this sense the archive is an empty box, a place, a site or an institution, whose special role is the guardianship of the document. Over time, the idea of the document has been broadened to include artifacts, monuments, products, even whole neighborhoods and cities. UNESCO’s longstanding mission to conserve important monuments as tributes to human heritage is, in fact, a product of this ethical view of the archive as a container or body, animated by something less visible – usually the spirit of a people, the people, or humanity in general."



"Thus, we should begin to see all documentation as intervention, and all archiving as part of some sort of collective project. Rather than being the tomb of the trace, the archive is more frequently the product of the anticipation of collective memory. Thus the archive is itself an aspiration rather than a recollection. This deep function of the archive has been obscured by that officializing mentality, closely connected to the governmentalities of the nation-state, which rests on seeing the archive as the tomb of the accidental trace, rather than as the material site of the collective will to remember."

[via: https://twitter.com/tchoi8/status/506940967694663682 ]
archives  archiving  imagination  memory  collectivism  humanism  humanities  arjunappadurai  foucault  migration  aspiration  memorygaps  desire  memories  socialmemory  arjenmulder  michelfoucault 
september 2014 by robertogreco
unMonastery: Matera
"“When it comes to work it is increasingly difficult to reconcile making money with making sense. People do work to make a living. Others do work to make meaning. But the two works are not the same work.”

The unMonastery is an ambitious and radical response to the challenge of bridging this gap. It draws inspiration from the 10th century monastic life to encourage radical forms of social innovation and collaboration. A sort of lay, off-grid mendicant order striving for a society that can better withstand present and future systemic crises.

This place-based social innovation, is aimed at addressing the interlinked needs of empty space, unemployment and depleting social services by embedding committed, skilled individuals within communities that could benefit from their presence.

The unMonastery aims to develop a new kind of social space, akin to co-living and co-working spaces, drawing influence from both Monasteries and HackerSpaces, with a focus on the process of co-creation and co-learning between the community and unMonasterians.

At the core of the unMonastery concept is a desire to recreate the best social functions of the traditional monastery: by giving the participants a collective purpose, a chance to develop deep relationships with one another and a reduced need to generate personal income so time can be dedicated entirely to serving the local community and contributing to global efforts in creating new digital tools.

At-A-Glance
• The unMonastery is a non-profit project that aims to challenge existing dependency chains and economic fictions.
• The unMonastery was developed in collaboration with EdgeRyders LBG, over the course of 18 months. • Edgeryders started out as a project by the Council of Europe and the European Commission, which after termination developed into an international community run social enterprise.
• The unMonastery as a whole is defined by the place in which unMonasterians gather - and is not tied to a physical geographical location.
• The unMonastery aims to establish a network of spaces throughout the world, which will work together but autonomously to prototype new solutions to common problems.
• The unMonastery is heavily indebted to the concept of HackerSpaces and borrows parts of the model to build an outward facing space that engages closely with its local community."

[See also: http://unmonastery.org ]
unmonastery  money  society  hackerspaces  monasteries  socialinnovation  community  communities  collectivism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
‘Not Nothing’ Tries to Capture the Artist Ray Johnson - NYTimes.com
"The Siglio book, edited by the poet Elizabeth Zuba, spans most of this history. The first entries, from the mid-1950s, are pure text, blocks of single-space typed prose. Gertrude Stein’s cut-and-paste approach to language is an obvious influence, jazzed up by Johnson’s penchant, verging on compulsion, for associative wordplay and puns.

Even when his work was text-intensive, though, he had an eye alert to shaping it visually. In a second 1950s piece composed of lists of isolated phrases — “Virginia gets tomahawk,” “regards têtes” — he slanted the lists diagonally across the page and turned half the phrases upside down, a graphic that could have been realized only by a radical reimagining of what a typewriter could do.

Johnson had his art heroes — Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters, Allan Kaprow, the Fluxus founder George Maciunas — whom he acknowledged in his correspondence work, placing their names alongside those of pop stars, art world potentates and personal friends. Name-dropping, if that’s what this was, is a recurrent feature of Johnson’s art, but it’s different than Warhol’s celebrity chasing.

Like Warhol, Johnson had an appetite for glamour and the politics of who-knows-who. But he was impatient with hierarchy. Warhol was a worshiper, Johnson a collector, a cataloger. In his work the same plane of importance is occupied by Marcel Duchamp, Anita O’Day and Toby Spiselman, a Long Island friend. It’s hard to imagine Warhol heading up an Anna May Wong fan club, but Johnson did. There’s a sense that for him all names are equivalent in value, are all collage elements, all “nothings,” or rather somethings, equally useful and even soothing in their sameness.

This is not to say that Johnson’s correspondences are embracing and warm. “Every letter I write is not a love letter,” he once wrote, and he wasn’t kidding. Wary distance was Johnson’s default position. When writing to people he didn’t know — Jacques Derrida, say — he could sound jumpy and twisty or haughty. Even in letters to close friends, like the historian William S. Wilson, his most astute biographer, Johnson tended to dance around difficult, intimate subjects.

He would almost certainly have leveled a cool stare at the 21st-century interest — amounting to a faith — in collectivity, collaboration and social practice as utopian models. Mail art, on the surface, looked democratic, nonelitist, even populist; theoretically, anyone could join in. Yet Johnson’s reports from New York Correspondence School meetings speak of members who were summarily banished from the roster for some infraction or other. Johnson himself, in what feels like a punitive spirit, dropped people from his mailing list. Was such policing meant to be tongue-in-cheek, mocking how the real world operated? Impossible to say. Johnson wore ambiguity like a shield.

Occasionally, though, we see him let down his guard, as in a 1975 letter: “I just can’t take it. Overload. My history is too much for me. By the way, the big emotional event of the year is the departure of Richard Lippold with a young Italian.”

For all the zany exuberance surrounding Johnson’s role as mail-art webmaster, there’s a lot of darkness in the book. Death is a running theme, in Johnson’s tight-lipped bulletins on the demise of artists (Albers, Eva Hesse) and weirdly repeated mentions of dead cats. He describes, with gusto, crushing insects in his apartment, and recounts, with bizarre hilarity, the killing of a rooster he witnessed at a boozy art party. His attitude in the telling is beyond irreverence, close to delight.

But was it really? Any conclusions drawn about Johnson’s psychology from his writing must be provisional. He was a master at covering his tracks. Even friends like Mr. Wilson, a frequent presence in his correspondence, felt they barely knew him. He might as well have been the E. T. that he sometimes looked like. We read the correspondences of artists and writers in search of some truth beyond what they give us in their work. But the only sure truth about Johnson is the work: pioneering, stimulating, witty, angry, exasperating and like no other. If there’s a lot we can’t know, that’s O.K. Mystery is part of his beauty and his lastingness."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:31e2f33614a6
http://kaleidoscope-press.com/2014/06/readray-johnsons-bookspublished-by-siglio-press/
http://sigliopress.com/book/not-nothing/
http://sigliopress.com/book/the-paper-snake/ ]
rayjohnson  collection  catalogs  lists  namedropping  hollandcotter  104  elizabethzuba  blackmountaincollege  bmc  mailart  art  overload  nothings  happenings  concretepoetry  poetry  writing  letters  fluxus  georgemaciunas  allankaprow  josephcornell  kurtschwitters  hierarchy  horizontality  death  irreverence  newyorkcorrespndenceschool  collectivity  collaboration  socialpracticeart  collectivism  ambiguity  2014  books 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Community of Artists: Radical Pedagogy at CalArts, 1969-72 (East of Borneo)
"In (and Out of) the Classroom

The academic program instituted in the first two years after the institute opened in 1970 responded actively to the radical critique of education, at the same time evincing a Romantic belief in the liberating and equalizing powers of art and artists. Early promotional literature explicitly redefined the notion of “school” or steered clear of the word altogether. As Judith Adler notes in her 1979 ethnography of CalArts, Artists in Offices, “reference to the new organization as an institute (with its connotations of scientific and scholarly prestige) and as a community implicitly distinguished CalArts from other schools where artists teach students.” 6 The CalArts concept statement explicitly stated that “students [were] accepted as artists […] and encouraged in the independence this implies,” while elsewhere faculty and students were described as “collaborators.” 7

The first admissions bulletin similarly highlighted the fact that there was to be no fixed curriculum at CalArts. Provost and dean of theater Blau advocated “no information in advance of need,” and dean of music Mel Powell called for “as many curricula as students.” The vision for critical studies outlined by dean Maurice Stein argued for doing away with courses altogether, because “courses really get nobody anywhere.” Powell’s vision for the music school was similarly anarchic and personality-driven: “We must know by now that curricula, or especially descriptions of curricula, are almost always humbug. What counts is the people involved. Expansion of musical sensibility, adroitness, knowledge, experience—that has to be operative, not catalog blather.”

Many of the radical pedagogical impulses expressed in these early admissions materials came to pass once the institute was up and running—in its first year, on a temporary campus at the Villa Cabrini, a former Catholic girls’ school in Burbank, and in its second year, on the permanent CalArts campus in Valencia. Although the school of critical studies did end up offering courses, the options might better be described as “anti-courses”—i.e., non-academic classes parodying academic classes or academic classes in subject areas considered unworthy of study by the academy, such as Advanced Drug Research, Chinese Sutra Meditation, Sex in Human Experience and Society or Superwoman: A Feminist Workshop. Across the institute, schedules were intentionally loose and attendance voluntary. 9 One of the course schedule bulletins that were mimeographed weekly and distributed on campus lists a range of classes and events, some of which repeat, others that do not: a lecture on “Epistemology of Design” is offered “at instructor’s home,” while Peter Van Riper is scheduled to lecture on “Art History or Whatever He’s Into”; a meeting with the dean of students is open to “all persons interested in discussing and working on untraditional ways of providing psychological services (Counseling, Group Therapy, Encounter Groups, etc.)”; the Ewe Ensemble (Music of Ghana) meets in parking lot W, at the same time that Kaprow offers Advanced Happenings; in the evening, a concert by Ravi Shankar."



"The Fluxus artists’ interest in a more open-ended, experienced-based pedagogy and their experiments with temporality and alternative uses of space dovetailed nicely with the administration’s desire to buck the bureaucratic conventions of schooling. 13 As the associate dean of the art school, Kaprow in particular had a powerful influence on the direction of the early institute. “Kaprow was the thinking behind the school as far as I’m concerned,” Knowles argues. “[He] had the vision of a school based on what artists wanted to do rather than what the school wanted them to do.”"



"Corrigan and Blau fought their dismissal, insisting that they couldn’t be fired by the Disney Corporation, only by the board of trustees—who to begin with refused to support the decision. Roy Disney modified his position to allow Corrigan to stay on until the end of the year, though he remained firm in his firing of Blau as provost. Blau rejected an offer to stay on as dean of theater and dance, and by the end of 1972, both Corrigan and Blau had been ousted, three years after they’d begun planning the new school and two years after it opened. The faculty was downsized, and numerous hires they had made were canceled or let go.

Notes from a faculty retreat convened in Idyllwild, California after the institute’s first year reveal that many of the original faculty and administrators themselves favored reforming the structure and curriculum of the institute, and one wonders how the school might have developed had Corrigan and Blau been allowed to stay and build on their experience. Blau, for instance, argued that “the faculty must be better structured to reflect more of a distinction between student and faculty” and “a better definition of competence, eligibility, and progress must be established” for students. He also suggested that “separate programs […] be introduced for students who are capable of directing themselves and those students who need more specific guidance.” Other faculty members cited “great dissatisfaction with the chaotic situation of the past year,” “a need for more pragmatism,” and a need to clarify “programs and degrees—their content and what they represent.”

Although by that time the Disneys had donated more than $30 million to the school, much of it had gone to fund the building, which was lavishly equipped for art making, and the institute soon found itself in financial trouble. After a brief interlude with Walt Disney’s son-in-law Bill Lund at the helm, CalArts got a new president in 1975, Robert Fitzpatrick, whose charge was to assure fiscal solvency to the institute and make “all the divisions separate, to give each dean complete autonomy in his field, and to make the intermingling available to the students who could profit by it as a resource, not an obsession.” 28 Fitzpatrick had little reverence for the institute’s founding vision—either Walt’s version or Blau and Corrigan’s: “The trouble with utopia is that it doesn’t exist,” he said in a 1983 interview. “And then there was this dream of the perfect place for the arts, with all the disciplines beautifully mingling, every filmmaker composing symphonies, every actor a perfect graphic artist. Sure, it’s a great idea as far as it goes. But nobody noticed that each of the arts has its own pace, its own rhythm, and its own demands.”

What is missing from Fitzpatrick’s own vision is any reference to the more Marcusian conception of the institute not just as the “perfect place for the arts,” but as an ideal community fashioned through the arts. As Faith Wilding reflects on her experience in the Feminist Art Program and the community that developed out of it:
What remains of primary importance to me […] is the sense that we were connecting to a much larger enterprise than trying to advance our artistic careers, or to make art for art’s sake. It was precisely our commitment to the activist politics of women’s liberation, to a burgeoning theory and practice of feminism, and to a larger conversation about community, collectivity and radical history, which has given me lasting connections to people and a continuing sense of being part of a cultural and political resistance, however fragmentary the expression of this may be in my life today.

Despite his own conflicts with the institute, Blau holds a similar perspective: “During the time I was there (I cannot speak for it now), it was—like the Bauhaus or Black Mountain—not only a school but very much what Disney wanted, a community of the arts, in which students and teachers trained together, performed together, constructed ‘environments’ together and even somehow managed—where the particular work was not of a communal nature—to leave each other alone.”

CalArts today is a school rather than an anti-school, with grades (low pass/pass/high pass), a timetable for graduation, and for the first time in its history, a syllabus in every classroom. Yet an investment in radical pedagogy persists, with a loose consensus that the educational situations that work best often involve field trips and social outreach, project-based learning, and “mentoring” as opposed to “teaching.” The notion that faculty are to treat students as artists and colleagues prevails, with its attendant benefits and difficulties. The question of what form the delivery of content should take is a live one. Time and space are continually contested, and an openness to what might be places constant pressure on what is.

Just last year, the institute carved out a “commons” time from the heavily scheduled individual school curricula in which students can come together across disciplines to collaborate—in some sense, a return to its origins. Although, to paraphrase Marcuse, an art school can only be truly free in a free society—i.e., art becomes life only when life is also opened up to creative change—the promise of this commingling endures. Indeed, the Gesamtkunstwerk that preserves a vision of emancipated social life in times of political conservatism holds even greater possibilities in our own era of renewed resistance and collective action."
calarts  cv  history  education  1960s  1970s  robertfitzpatrick  roydisney  waltdisney  robertcorrigan  mariosalvo  herbertblau  fluxus  judithadler  melpowell  janetsarbanes  mauricestein  feminism  freedom  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  alisonknowles  petervanriper  allankaprow  dickhiggins  emmettwilliams  jamestenney  namjunepaik  owensmith  judychicagomiriamschapiro  johnbaldessari  herbertmarcuse  art  arteducation  radicalism  communes  communalism  interdisciplinary  crosspollination  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  experimentation  blackmountaincollege  bmc  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  deschooling  capitalism  unschooling  power  control  democracy  anti-teaching  anti-schools  artschools  altgdp  activism  community  relationships  bauhaus  collectivism  society  grades  grading  schedules  timelines  syllabus  projectbasedlearning  2014  1969  1970  1971  1972  pbl  radicalpedagogy  artschool  syllabi 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Love People, Not Pleasure - NYTimes.com
"We look for these things to fill an inner emptiness. They may bring a brief satisfaction, but it never lasts, and it is never enough. And so we crave more. This paradox has a word in Sanskrit: upadana, which refers to the cycle of craving and grasping. As the Dhammapada (the Buddha’s path of wisdom) puts it: “The craving of one given to heedless living grows like a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life... Whoever is overcome by this wretched and sticky craving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.”

This search for fame, the lust for material things and the objectification of others — that is, the cycle of grasping and craving — follows a formula that is elegant, simple and deadly:

Love things, use people.

This was Abd al-Rahman’s formula as he sleepwalked through life. It is the worldly snake oil peddled by the culture makers from Hollywood to Madison Avenue. But you know in your heart that it is morally disordered and a likely road to misery. You want to be free of the sticky cravings of unhappiness and find a formula for happiness instead. How? Simply invert the deadly formula and render it virtuous:

Love people, use things.

Easier said than done, I realize. It requires the courage to repudiate pride and the strength to love others — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, God and even strangers and enemies. Only deny love to things that actually are objects. The practice that achieves this is charity. Few things are as liberating as giving away to others that which we hold dear.

This also requires a condemnation of materialism. This is manifestly not an argument for any specific economic system. Anyone who has spent time in a socialist country must concede that materialism and selfishness are as bad under collectivism, or worse, as when markets are free. No political ideology is immune to materialism.

Finally, it requires a deep skepticism of our own basic desires. Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in the battle. The day you declare a truce is the day you become unhappier. Declaring war on these destructive impulses is not about asceticism or Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Abd al-Rahman never got his happiness sums right. He never knew the right formula. Fortunately, we do."
relationships  people  consumerism  materialism  buddhism  2014  arthurbrooks  abdal-rahman  economics  happiness  unhappiness  life  living  skepticism  desire  charity  virtue  fame  money  danielkahneman  collectivism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
New Statesman | Jon Cruddas's speech on radical hope: full text
"Now, I’ll begin with a story. One that dominates the philosopher Jonathan Lear’s brilliant book, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. It is about the Crow Indians. A story about what happens when the economy of a society is destroyed and a people’s way of life comes to an end. It was told by their great chief Plenty Coups, shortly before he died. He said, ‘When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not be lifted up again. After this nothing happened’.

What did he mean? That the culture that gave their life meaning and purpose died. The whole fabric of their beliefs and standards was destroyed and this loss was irreparable. What would come next? The Crow people actually survived despite this loss because their leadership re-imagined a future; it created a ‘radical hope’. It was radical because it was a future without guarantees but most important it was without despair.

In a period of rapid social and economic change it raises key questions about how we draw on a community’s memory and traditions to define the future. The book throws up many challenges for all today’s political parties.

For example, the Labour Party is the product of industrial society.

A party built on mass production over one hundred years ago:
a large stable workforce,
large productive units,
mass consumption,
and a class society.

Yet we are now in the middle of a de-industrial revolution fragmenting the communities it once sustained. A post-industrial economy is taking shape around our advanced manufacturing and the new information and communications technologies. The shift to a services economy is flattening out old, hierarchical command and control structures.
Digital technology is unseating whole industries and workforces, and production is becoming more networked and disorganised. Our class system is being reconstructed.
The disruption of technological change is greater than at any times since the industrial revolution. The institutions and solidarities workers created to defend themselves against the power of capital have disappeared or become outdated and ineffective. As such, social democracy has lost its social anchorage in the coalitions built up around the skilled working class. Once great ruling parties can appear hollowed out; in danger of shrinking into a professionalized political class.

Often in government they were not very social, nor very democratic. Top down and state driven. Compensating for the system not reforming it. A politics about structures and not about individuals. This model of social democracy built in the industrial era has come to the end of its useful life. These forces also challenge the Tories and their traditional Conservative values."



“Despite this failure of the old order, we are also living in a time of tremendous opportunity.”

“We became institutional conservatives defending the outdated.”

“We will not build the new economy with the old politics of command and control.”

“We have to tackle concentrations of power, and make sure people have the skills and the abilities to take advantage of the internet.”



"Just as in the age of steam and the age of the railways, our new digital age is radically changing society. But while rail transformed society it also created opportunities for the robber barons to monopolise and control it for their own good. We have to tackle concentrations of power, and make sure people have the skills and the abilities to take advantage of the internet. In the vanguards of the new economy there is a new productive force which is the ‘life of the mind’. There are new kinds of raw materials - the intangible assets of information, sounds, words, images, ideas – and they are produced in creative, emotional and intellectuallabour. New models of production are using consumers and their relationships in the co-inventing of new ideas, products and cultural meaning."



“To develop these opportunities throughout the population we need an education system that cultivates the full range of individual capabilities. Our present model of education rewards conformity in pursuit of a narrow, logical and mathematical form of intelligence. It fails far too many children and it reproduces the power of the already privileged. It is wasteful of our most important economic resource which is human ingenuity. We need to give craft and vocational work the same value and status as academic work, and prioritise digital inclusion to help adults who lack digital skills make the most of the internet.”

“It fails far too many children and it reproduces the power of the already privileged.”

“It is a mutual recognition that we are all dependent upon other people throughout our lives.”    

“We need one another to succeed individually.”

“People are losing confidence in the ability of our public institutions to serve the collective interest.”

[via @justinpickard https://twitter.com/justinpickard/status/484349852797911040 ]
joncruddas  hope  radicalhope  change  systemschange  capitalism  socialism  economics  politics  hierarchy  horizontality  hierarchies  jonathanlear  crowindians  history  democracy  organizations  conservatism  neoliberalism  2014  inequality  creativity  innovation  education  unschooling  unlearning  deschooling  collectivism  interdependence  individuality  internet  technology  industrialization 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Cultural Emotion Expressions - Wikipedia
"Eastern and Western Cultures can be classified according to their geographic locations. "Cultures transcend national borders and require researchers to use meaningful dimensions of variability rather than physical boundaries." (Niedenthal, et al. pg 313) For the sake of this entry, Eastern cultures include those of Asia and Eastern Europe, and Western cultures include those of North America and Western Europe. Eastern cultures are said to be very collectivist, meaning they do things for the good of everyone else. "The needs, wishes, and desires of the collectivities in which individuals find themselves are emphasized and the notion of individuality is minimized or even absent from the cultural model." (Niedenthal, et al. pg 314) Whereas Western cultures are seen as more individualistic, or "...ones in which important meanings concerning relationships, identity, power, and ambition converge to promote individual needs, wishes, and desires. In such cultures, and North America is assumed to be the prototype,...equality and the possibility of personal attainment are encouraged." (Niedenthal, et al. pg 314) These simple definitions provided by Neidenthal show the drastic differences between cultures of the East and the West.

Eastern cultures, and their emotional expressions, "have been largely left to speculation, and often labeled "mysterious," and "deviant"."(Miyahara) Miyahara,referencing a study conducted on Japanese interpersonal communication, goes onto explain that the Japanese "are low in self disclosure, both verbally and non-verbally....Most of these attributes are ascribed to the Japanese people's collectivistic orientations."(Miyahara) This study conducted shows how the Japanese people, members of the Eastern culture, have a relatively low expression of emotion. "Emotional moderation in general might be expected to be observed in collectivist cultures more than in individualistic cultures, since strong emotions and emotional expression could disrupt intra-group relations and smooth social functioning." (Niedenthal, et al. pgs 314-15). In Eastern culture, specifically Japanese culture, it is shown that the way they feel are felt between people rather than with themselves. When Japanese students in school are asked about their emotions they usually respond by saying it comes from their outside social surroundings. When asked about where the emotions they feel come from they never refer to themselves first. This proves that most Japanese people feel emotion with the environment they are surrounded by. (Uchida, et al.)

Western cultures tend to express their emotions more freely, although sometimes it not always acceptable. "A Finnish man once told one of us that Finns are in general suspicious of adults who do not control their expression of emotion, especially in public." (Niedenthal, et al. pg 306) This quote, taken from Niedenthal, shows that some cultures do not trust those who express their emotions freely. In another study comparing the relationships among American and Japanese people found, "People in individualistic cultures are motivated to achieve closer relationships with a selected few, and are willing to clearly express negative emotions towards others." (Takahashi, et al. pg 454) This shows that people living in individualistic cultures express their emotions, even the negative ones, towards others. This is completely opposite of the findings of a collectivistic culture. In Western culture, specifically American culture, they feel their emotions more within themselves rather than the environment around them. When American students in a school are asked about their emotions they usually respond by saying they feel their emotions with themselves. This proves that Americans consider emotions as a personal journey and it can only be experienced independently. (Uchida, et al.)"
culture  emotions  ambition  collectivism  individualism  relationships  identity  power  japan  communication 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Blended Learning Revisited | MIT Video
"Description: Even when children are high achievers and facile with new technology, many seem gradually to lose their sense of wonder and curiosity, notes John Seely Brown. Traditional educational methods may be smothering their innate drive to explore the world. Brown and like"minded colleagues are developing the underpinnings for a new 21st century pedagogy that broadens rather than narrows horizons.

John Seely Brown, former chief scientist at Xerox, has morphed in recent years into the "Chief of Confusion," seeking "the right questions" in a range of fields, including education. He finds unusual sources for his questions: basketball and opera coaches, surfing and video game champions. He's gathered insights from unorthodox venues, and from more traditional classrooms, to paint quite a different picture of what learning might look like.

The typical college lecture class frequently gathers many students together in a large room to be 'fed' knowledge, believes Brown. But studies show that "learning itself is socially constructed," and is most effective when students interact with and teach each other in manageable groups. Brown wants to open up "niche learning experiences" that draw on classic course material, but deepen it to be maximally enriching.

[This following part is the part I posted to Tumblr: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/88637099043/in-basketball-and-opera-master-classes-and-in ]

In basketball and opera master classes, and in architecture labs, he has seen how individuals become acculturated in a "community of practice," learning to "be" rather than simply to "do." Whether performing, creating, or experimenting, students are critiqued, respond, offer their own criticism, and glean rich wisdom from a cyclical group experience. Brown says something "mysterious" may be taking place: "In deeply collective engagement in processes...you start to marinate in a problem space." Through communities of practice, students' minds "begin to gel up," even in the face of abstraction and unfamiliarity, and "all of a sudden, (the subject) starts to make sense."

Brown cites the entire MIT campus as a "participatory learning platform," where "people create stuff to be read and tried and critiqued," where cognitive "apprenticeships" lead to networks of practice. "Deep tinkering" is encouraged, which accelerates the building of instinct that is essential in creating a "tacit dimension" of familiarity with complex subject matter. This is "playing at its deepest sense," says Brown, and the way to create resilient students who "learn to become," and "don't fear change" in a world full of flux.

Dava Newman has been looking for ways to keep MIT engineering students motivated and playful. She is working on design and build courses for engineering students that emphasize community and creativity. Engineering School planners are also considering a new degree option intended to prepare students "to tackle complex socio"technological challenges in energy, the environment, hunger," since students say they come to MIT in order to learn how to address such complex, real"world problems.

MIT Physics Professor John Belcher describes virtual laboratories complete with avatars that help students visualize key concepts in the field, such as Faraday's Law ("where everyone dies in electromagnetism"). Students eagerly engage in these virtual labs, which are accompanied by actual experiments, and create effective online communities for maximizing the experience."

[via: https://twitter.com/MrZiebarth/status/477247566329827329 ]
johnseeleybrown  education  learning  conversation  communities  presence  being  howwelearn  constructivism  wonder  curiosity  howweteach  schools  unschooling  deschooling  lectures  social  groups  practice  culture  culturesoflearning  collectivism  process  participatorylearning  critique  criticism  play  change  motivation  community  creativity 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Peter Senge: Systems Thinking and The Gap Between Aspirations and Performance - YouTube
"In his keynote presentation to our Climate, Buildings and Behavior symposium last month, leading organizational thinker Peter Senge offers a distillation of his insights into the most important factors in achieving meaningful change for the environment or in any sphere of life. They include positive aspirations instead of negative admonitions ("the power of aspiration is much greater than the power of desperation"), the desire and vision to bring into being and develop something new (like building a cathedral, or raising a child) and networks of relationships with collaborators engaged in "collective, creative process." Whatever kind of personal or social change work you're engaged in, you'll take away actionable insights from this accessible and profound talk."
via:steelemaley  2013  systems  systemsthinking  collaboration  networks  changetheory  change  howthingschange  relationships  collectivism  process  petersenge  climate  climatechange  behavior  organization  environment  aspiration  humbertomaturana  desperation  awareness  hierarchy  hierarchies  listening  meetings  knowledge  knowledgenetworks  networksoflovingrelations 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Against "Innovation" #CNIE2014
[See also: http://steelemaley.net/2014/05/16/philosophers-innovation-and-questioning/ ]

"One culture values openness and collaboration and inquiry and exploration and experimentation. The other has adopted a couple of those terms and sprinkled them throughout its marketing copy, while promising scale and efficiency and cost-savings benefits. One culture values community, and the other reflects a very powerful strain of American individualism — not to mention California exceptionalism — one that touts personal responsibility, self-management, and autonomy."



"As I read Solnit’s diary about the changes the current tech boom is bringing to San Francisco, I can’t help but think about the changes that the current ed-tech boom might also bring to education, to our schools and colleges and universities. To places that have also been, in certain ways, a "refuge for dissidents, queers, pacifists and experimentalists.”

Global ed-tech investment hit a record high this year: $559 million across 103 funding deals in the the first quarter of the year alone. How does that shape or reshape the education landscape?

In the struggle to build “a great hive,” to borrow Solnit’s phrase, that is a civil society and not just a corporate society, we must consider the role that education has played — or is supposed to play — therein, right? What will all this investment bring about? Innovation? To what end?

When we “innovate” education, particularly when we “innovate education” with technology, which direction are we moving it? Which direction and why?

Why, just yesterday, an interview was published with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, who’s now moving away from the MOOC hype and the promises he and others once made that MOOCs would “democratize education.” Now he says, and I quote, “If you’re affluent, we can do a much better job with you, we can make magic happen." Screw you, I guess, if you're poor.

I’ve gestured towards things so far in this talk that might tell us a bit about the culture of Silicon Valley, about the ideology of Silicon Valley.

But what is the ideology of “innovation.” The idea pre-dates Silicon Valley to be sure."



"See, as I started to gather my thoughts about this talk, as I thought about the problems with Silicon Valley culture and Silicon Valley ideology, I couldn’t help but choke on this idea of “innovation.”

So I’d like to move now to a critique of “innovation,” urge caution in chasing “innovation,” and poke holes, in particular, in the rhetoric surrounding “innovation.” I’d like to challenge how this word gets wielded by the technology industry and by extension by education technologists.

And I do this, I admit in part, because I grow so weary of the word. “Innovation” the noun, “innovative” the adjective, “innovate” the verb — they’re bandied about all over the place, in press releases and marketing copy, in politicians’ speeches, in business school professors’ promises, in economists’ diagnoses, in administrative initiatives. Um, in the theme of this conference and the name of this organization behind it.

(Awkward.)

What is “innovation”? What do we mean by the term? Who uses it? And how? Where does this concept come from? Where is it taking us?

How is “innovation” deeply ideological and not simply descriptive?"



"The technology innovation insurrection isn’t a political one as much as it is a business one (although surely there are political ramifications of that).

In fact, innovation has been specifically theorized as something that will blunt revolution, or at least that will prevent the collapse of capitalism and the working class revolution that was predicted by Karl Marx.

That's the argument of economist Joseph Schumpeter who argued most famously perhaps in his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy that entrepreneurial innovation was what would sustain the capitalist system — the development of new goods, new companies, new markets that perpetually destroyed the old. He called this constant process of innovation “creative destruction."



"The precise mechanism of the disruption and innovation in Christensen’s theory differs than Schumpeter’s. Schumpeter saw the process of entrepreneurial upheaval as something that was part of capitalism writ large — industries would replace industries. Industries would always and inevitably replace industries.

Schumpeter argued this process of innovation would eventually mean the end of capitalism, albeit by different processes than Marx had predicted. Schumpeter suggested that this constant economic upheaval would eventually cause such a burden that democratic countries would put in place regulations that would impede entrepreneurship. He argued that, in particular, “intellectuals” — namely university professors — would help lead to capitalism’s demise because they would diagnose this turmoil, develop critiques of the upheaval, critiques that would appealing and relevant to those beyond the professorial class.

That the enemy of capitalism in this framework is the intellectual and not the worker explains a great deal about American politics over the past few decades. It probably explains a great deal about the ideology behind a lot of the “disrupting higher education” talk as well."



"“The end of the world as we know it” seems to be a motif in many of the stories that we hear about what “disruptive innovation” will bring us, particularly as we see Christensen’s phrase applied to almost every industry where technology is poised to transform it. The end of the newspaper. The end of the publishing industry. The end of print. The end of RSS. The end of the Post Office. The end of Hollywood. The end of the record album. The end of the record label. The end of the factory. The end of the union. And of course, the end of the university.

The structure to many of these narratives about disruptive innovation is well-known and oft-told, echoed in tales of both a religious and secular sort:

Doom. Suffering. Change. Then paradise."



"Our response to both changing technology and to changing education must involve politics — certainly this is the stage on which businesses already engage, with a fierce and awful lobbying gusto. But see, I worry that we put our faith in “innovation” as a goal in and of itself, we forget this. We confuse “innovation” with “progress” and we confuse “technological progress” with “progress” and we confuse all of that with “progressive politics.” We forget that “innovation" does not give us justice. “Innovation” does not give us equality. “Innovation" does not empower us.

We achieve these things when we build a robust civic society, when we support an engaged citizenry. We achieve these things through organization and collective action. We achieve these things through and with democracy; and we achieve — or we certainly strive to achieve — these things through public education. "
audreywatters  2014  edtech  culture  technology  californianideology  innovation  disruption  highered  highereducation  individualism  google  googleglass  education  schools  learning  ds106  siliconvalley  meritocracy  rebeccasolnit  class  society  poverty  ideology  capitalism  novelty  change  transformation  invention  language  salvation  entrepreneurship  revolution  business  karlmarx  josephschumpeter  johnpatrickleary  claytonchristensen  sustainability  mooc  moocs  markets  destruction  creativedestruction  publiceducation  progress  justice  collectivism  libertarianism 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Communal work - Wikipedia
"Communal work is when a gathering takes place to accomplish a task or to hold a competition. A number of cultures have such gatherings, often for the purpose of holding a competition, as in a spelling bee, or for providing manual labour, as in a barn raising.

Especially in the past, the tasks were often major jobs, such as clearing a field of timber or raising a barn, that would be difficult to carry out alone. It was often both a social and utilitarian event. Jobs like corn husking or sewing, could be done as a group to allow socializing during an otherwise tedious chore. Such gatherings often included refreshments and entertainment provided by the group. Different words have been used to describe such gatherings."

[talkoot references here: http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2014/05/essay-designing-finnishness-for-out-of-the-blue-gestalten.html ]
communalwork  community  interdependence  mutualaid  collectivism  barnraising  bees  bee  gadugi  talkoot  meitheal  dugnad  mink'a  minka  naffir  gotong-royong  bayanihan  imece  harambee  crowdsourcing  gatherings  events  allhands 
may 2014 by robertogreco
SOPHIA AZEB /// The “No-State Solution”: Power of Imagination for the Palestinian Struggle « ARCHIPELAGO | The Podcast Platform of the Funambulist
"This conversation with Sophia Azeb is the first of a series recorded along the American and Canadian West Coast. Sophia and I talk about our frustrations to see the lack of imagination offered by the “solutions” (a highly problematic term) often given to end what remains problematic to call “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In opposition to the traditional “two-state solution” and “one-state solution,” Sophia proposes a “no-state solution,” that refuses the recognition of any property on the land and thus, state-sovereignty. We talk about the land being practiced by the bodies, and the bodies being fragments of the land, through a corpus of anti-colonial poetry. Finally we address science-fiction as a provider of narratives whose imaginative power can have important political impact in the construction of a collective future.

Sophia Azeb is a PhD Candidate in the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Her dissertation project, Ceci (n’)est (pas) une Arabe: Cultural Explorations of Blackness in the North African Diaspora, 1952-1979, explores articulations of blackness within multilingual and transnational anti-colonial cultural practices of expatriate African Americans, Algerians, and Egyptians during the Cold War era. She writes on these and related topics for Africa Is A Country, The Feminist Wire, and KCET Artbound. Sophia is an ardent Gooner, and can be found on Twitter: @brownisthecolor.

WEBSITES:

- http://africasacountry.com/author/smallsilence/
- http://thefeministwire.com/2012/09/introducing-sophia-azeb/
- http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/columnists/sophia-azeb/

REFERENCE BOOKS:

- Mahmoud Darwish, “Ana Atin ila Zit ‘aynaki (I am coming to the shadows of your eyes).”
- Mike Krebs and Dana M. Olwan. “‘From Jerusalem to the Grand River, Our Struggles are One’: Challenging Canadian and Israeli Settler Color Colonial Studies 2:2, 2012.
- Achille Mbembe. De La Postcolonie, essai sur l’imagination politique dans l’Afrique contemporaine. Éditions Karthala, 2000.
- Joe Sacco. Palestine. Fantagraphics, 2001.
- Raja Shehadeh, Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape, Scribner, 2008.
- Raja Shehadeh, 2037: Le Grand Bouleversement, Galaade, 2011.

REFERENCE ART WORK:

- Larissa Sansour, “Nation Estate” (2012): [image]

- Larissa Sansour, “A Space Exodus” (2009): [image]

REFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHS:

- Israeli settlement of Kochav Ya’akov near Qalandiya checkpoint (West Bank) /// Photograph by Léopold Lambert (2010): [image]

- Palestinian settlement in the North of Ramallah on the road to Birzeit University /// Photograph by Léopold Lambert (2010): [image]"
sophiaazeb  via:javierarbona  2014  palestine  israel  colonialism  decolonization  collectivism  property  indigeneity  history  sciencefiction  scifi  sovereignty  land  borders  border  settlements  culture  postcolonialism  maps  mapping  ownership  mobility  speculativefiction  poetry 
april 2014 by robertogreco
What I’m working on lately: Practices of the minimum viable utopia (long) | Speedbird
"In the fusion of each of these three archetypal processes, el Campo de Cebada, Godsbanen and Unto This Last, we can see the outlines of something truly radical and terribly exciting beginning to resolve. What can be made out, gleaming in the darkness, is a — partial, incomplete, necessarily insufficient, but hugely important — way of responding to the disappearance of meaningful jobs from our cities, as well as all the baleful second-order effects that attend that disappearance.

When apologists for the technology industry trumpet the decontextualized factoid that each “tech” job ostensibly creates five new service positions as a secondary effect, what they neglect to mention is that the lion’s share of those jobs will as a matter of course prove to be the kind of insecure, short-term, benefits-lacking, at-or-close-to-minimum-wage positions that typify the contemporary service sector. This sort of employment can’t come anywhere close to the (typically unionized) industrial-sector jobs of the twentieth century in their capacity to bind a community together, either in the income and benefits they produce by way of compensation, in the conception of self and competence they generate in those who hold them, or in the sense of solidarity with others similarly situated that they generally evoke.

At the same time, though, like many others, I too believe it would be foolish to artifically inflate employment by propping up declining smokestack industries with public-sector subsidies. Why, for example, continue to maintain Detroit’s automobile manufacturers on taxpayer-funded life support, when their approach to the world is so deeply retrograde, their product so very corrosive environmentally and socially, their behavior so irresponsible and their management so blitheringly, hamfistedly incompetent? That which is falling should also be pushed, surely. But that can’t ethically be done until something of comparable scale has been found to replace industrial manufacturing jobs as the generator of local economic vitality and the nexus of local community.

So where might meaningful, valued, value-generating employment be found — “employment” in the deepest sense of that word? I have two ways of answering that question:

- In the immediate term, I believe in the material and economic significance of digital fabrication technologies largely using free and open-source plans, deployed in small, clean, city-center workshops, under democratic community control. While these will never remotely be of a scale to replace all the vanished industrial jobs of the past, they offer us at least one favorable prospect those industrial jobs never could: the direct production of items immediately useful and valuable in one’s own life. Should such workshops be organized in such a way as to offer skills training (perhaps for laid-off service-sector workers, elders or at-risk youth), they present a genuinely potent economic and social proposition.

There are provisos. The Surly Urbanist correctly suggests that any positions created in such an endeavor need to be good jobs, i.e. not simply minimum-wage dronework, and my friend Rena Tom also notes that the skills training involved should be something more comprehensive than a simple set of instructions on how to run a CNC milling machine — that any such course of instruction would be most enduringly valuable if it amounted to an apprenticeship first in the manual and only later the numeric working of materials. I also want to be very clear that, per the kind of inclusive decision-making processes used at el Campo de Cebada, such a workshop would have to be something a community itself collectively thinks is worth experimenting with and investing in, not something inflicted upon it by guileless technoutopians from afar.

- In the fullness of time, I believe that the use of relatively high-technology techniques to accomplish not merely the local, autonomous production of everyday objects, furnitures and infrastructures, but their refit and repair, will come to be an economically salient activity in the global North. In this I see a congelation of several existing tendencies, logics or dynamics: the ideologically-driven retreat of the State from responsibility for stewardship of the everyday environment; the accelerating attrition and degradation of the West’s dated and undermaintained infrastructures, and their concomitant need for upgrade or replacement; increasing belief in the desirability of densifying urban infill; the rising awareness in the developed world of jugaad, gambiarra and other cultures of repair, reuse and improvisation; the emergence of fabricator-enabled adaptive upcycling; the circulation of a massive stock of recyclable componentry (in the form of obsolescent structures as well as landfill-bound but effectively nondegradable consumer items), coupled to the emergence of a favorable economics of materials recovery; broader experience with and understanding of networked, horizontal and leaderless organizational structures; the creation of a robust informational commons, including repositories of freely-downloadable specifications; and finally the clear capability of online platforms to facilitate development and sharing of the necessary knowledge, maintain some degree of standardization (or at least harmonization) of practice, suggest sites where citizen repair might constitute a useful intervention, and support processes of democratic decision-making."
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april 2014 by robertogreco