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Harvard’s Progress Is Not Our Progress
"any of us have come together tonight, some no doubt interested to see how this idea of “class warfare” suits Harvard. Since we announced this event, I have heard and seen people remarking with surprise and irony that Harvard should be the site of anything to do with a class war. But I assure you, Harvard has always played a key role in the class war.

Perhaps you have read an article from one of our panelists, Meagan Day. “Defend Your Class,” which ran in Jacobin last April, is named for the slogan that Harvard deployed to inspire its students to leave the classroom in 1912 and take up arms with the National Guard to break the Lawrence, Massachusetts “Bread and Roses” textile workers’ strike.

What was the threat from which Harvard elites needed defense? It was a movement of the working class, men, women, and children, of thirty countries of origin, speaking forty-five languages, demanding freedom from the daily threats to their lives posed by underpaid and dangerous jobs — and, even more radically, the freedom to exist beyond the value assigned to their labor by the capitalist bosses.

What was the value of those three words, “Defend your class,” to the Harvard undergraduate militiamen? Perhaps you know that hundreds of strikers were beaten and thrown in jail by the strikebreakers, and two were murdered. For demonstrating their allegiance to their class, the Harvard students received course credit.

The Harvard brand has expanded fabulously in its prestige and in its power since that strike. And above all, it has expanded its capacity to defend its class. About a mile from where we are gathered here, a new engineering school complex is being built, described by our President Lawrence Bacow as “a jewel of a building.” To Bacow, Allston has long been “just an idea, a vision of the future,” but with the construction of the engineering school, a billion-dollar project, “that future is rapidly coming into focus.” It’s a bleak “future” for one of the last affordable neighborhoods in Boston, while hundreds of our neighbors sleep on the streets every night and a minimum-wage worker must work 210 hours to make rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Cambridge.

President Bacow’s praise for the new Allston campus is just pretty talk for a class war. Harvard’s progress is not our progress.

Has anyone, watching our teaching fellows and course assistants strike for fair pay and decent health care, taken comfort in the fact that sixty-two of the world’s current billionaires are Harvard men and women? Who among us reads that the Harvard endowment has reached $40 billion in fiscal year 2019 and celebrates, knowing that those dollars rebound from investments in private prisons and the global destruction of fossil fuels?

We do not, because Harvard’s progress is not our progress. This institution stands shoulder to shoulder with the National Guard of 1912, the Henry Kissingers of 1969, and the war-mongering presidents of the 2000s, Republican and Democrat. In these 384 years, it has not missed a single step.

My task is not to build up a pile of evidence against Harvard out of hatred or spite. I want to illustrate that the war-making, strike-breaking impulses of this institution are not random; they are not unrelated. Harvard is a case study in the unified power of the elite in pursuit of the almighty profit motive, the power of the next dollar and the dollar after that.

That is what we all are worth to it. But every single one of you is worth the world to me. And I hope that you feel that way about one another, because our shared future depends upon it. We can comfort, rally, mourn, and transform the face of the earth with this knowledge.

At the heart of that approach to each other is the indispensable ethic of solidarity. In the words of St Augustine, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” When our homeless brothers and sisters walk into an apartment and call it home, we will say: this is justice, and not charity. When working-class children enroll in free college instead of the army in order to build a better life, we will say: this is justice, not charity. When we realize and honor Fred Hampton’s vision for a rainbow coalition against a racist police and incarceration system, against the starvation of children, and against the commodification of health care, we will say: this is not charity, this is not generosity, this is justice.

Behind the idea of charity is the sense that we do not deserve the things we need for our own survival. In our time, in which class warfare is reaching a great crescendo, something tells me that the powerful institutions of this world will continue to become ever less charitable. Let us take the matter of our survival out of their hands and into our own. Let us have justice, a justice made possible by solidarity. There is no substitute on earth for that.

I am a literature student, so I am thinking of a verse written by W. B. Yeats in praise of a friend “bred to a harder thing than Triumph.” As a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, I have knocked hundreds of doors in Iowa and in New Hampshire. I will not forget the Iowans that I met shortly before the New Year. I spoke to a woman who was on leave from her low-wage job because a physical disability made the work too painful. But what decided her vote was the idea of a world in which she could afford mental health care.

She told me about the struggle she faces every day to get out of her bed, and then told me that on February 3, she would get out of bed, get into her car, and drive to a caucus site to caucus for Bernie Sanders. She planned to do all of these things in the name of a harder thing than triumph.

Here in Massachusetts, the great antiwar activist Al Johnson canvassed among us in Nashua every weekend. Al passed away on January 1, 2020. From his deathbed on December 31, 2019, Johnson made two hundred phone calls for Bernie Sanders. Born to a Kentucky coal miner, raised in Massachusetts public housing, he was imprisoned as a conscientious objector of the Vietnam War. He spent a year in that military prison for loving peace. So great was Johnson’s love for peace that it led him not only to work alongside the Black Panthers and the Poor People’s Movement, but ultimately to join Bernie Sanders’s movement for an end to war and poverty across the globe.

Al Johnson was bred to a harder thing than triumph. Al Johnson was bred to solidarity his entire life.

Let us be bred to a harder thing than triumph: the thing that makes triumph possible. Let it be solidarity. For then our work can never come to nothing.

In the last day of his life, Al Johnson placed two hundred calls in the name of a world he would not live to see. What great certainty he had in those final hours — not a certainty in victory, but a certainty in the value of your life and mine. Let us be so certain in our shared purpose and certain in our shared way forward.

With every undocumented family, with every climate refugee, with every community devastated by the “war on drugs,” with every unionized worker, we are more certain that the world must change, because we belong in it. The day will come when the working class lives in the housing it has built and benefits from the labor it has exerted. We must work for that day together in solidarity, and we must accept no substitute. We must vote for solidarity in 2020 — but this is only the beginning."
labor  work  class  elitism  harvard  piperwinkler  exploitation  workingclass  2020  endowment  progress  charity  philanthropy  staugustine  fredhampton  survival  wbyeats  justice  society  socialjustice  berniesanders  socialism  solidarity  organizing  aljohnson 
yesterday by robertogreco
Phones Are the Best Technology - The Atlantic
“As you kneel beside your bed tonight, and dote briefly on each of the world’s miseries, expend a few seconds on Shawn Sebastian. As a Democratic precinct secretary in Story County, Sebastian needed to report the results of his local caucus to the state party.

“I’ve been on hold for over an hour with the Iowa Democratic Party,” he told Wolf Blitzer, the CNN anchor, around 10 p.m. last night. The party “tried to, I think, promote an app to report the results. The app just, like, doesn’t work, so we’ve been recommended to call into the hotline.” Muzak piped in the background. “I’m just waiting on hold and doing my best,” Sebastian repeated.

Then, suddenly, the hotline came alive—a woman’s voice asked if he needed help. “Hello? Hello?” said the voice. “I’ve got to get off the phone,” Sebastian said. Yet before he could actually greet the operator (“Okay, hi. Hello?”) came the tell-tale click of a dead receiver.

And with the rising resignation of a trained Shakespearean, Sebastian turned to Blitzer and announced: “They hung up on me.” It took him roughly another hour to finally deliver his results. (They are: Sanders, 2; Warren, 2; Buttigieg, 2.)

The point of this story is not that technology is bad. In the pandemonium of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus—in which a custom-made and little-tested app failed, with no apparent backup plan, delaying the results nearly a day—that argument will be advanced loudly and often. The point of the story is that telephones are, in fact, the best technology. If the Iowa Democratic Party had recognized this truth, Sebastian would never have been left lingering on hold. And not only should the Iowa Democratic Party have relied more eagerly on telephones, but we all should use them more. Phones are efficient, irreplaceable, and essential to civic life. And we are reckless and stupid, as a society, to be abandoning them in pursuit of software’s siren song.

Iowa is a microcosm of this effect. There was an obvious alternative to developing a new piece of software: Just get a bunch of volunteers to sit in a big room in Des Moines and talk to precinct secretaries on the phone. Had the state party developed some form of authorization ahead of time—perhaps by giving each precinct secretary a codeword, on a sheet of paper—callers could have provided results quickly and securely. Iowa has 1,681 precincts: Assuming the state party could find several hundred volunteers, and that each conversation with a local secretary lasted 20 minutes or so (as Sebastian later reported), the task would be complete in about two hours. If the party were asking only for final caucus results, it could complete the same task with about 60 volunteers.

Such a system could be infiltrated, maybe, but it could not be easily hacked. It requires little training: Almost everyone, of every age, knows how to place a phone call. And simple voice calls are accessible to the roughly one in five Americans who do not own a smartphone.

A telephone-based system is also proven. Year in and year out, in races big and small, the Associated Press provides gold-standard election-result data. It compiles those data through an old-fashioned phone tree: First, a local AP stringer calls a set of county clerks and gets vote tallies, then she calls an AP vote-entry clerk in Spokane, Washington, and reads them over the phone. This seemingly low-tech process has produced nearly every live election result that you have seen on TV or website—emphasis on live. “It’s an essential process that requires dedicated people and documented expertise,” brags the AP. That may be true. But it is not so mysterious that it should elude a local political party.

Yet it should not surprise us that the Iowa Democrats declined to use phones. We all do. Every single day, for no good reason, Americans now eschew making phone calls, even when they will provide the best information in the most efficient way. If it’s 5 p.m. on a Monday of a three-day weekend, and you want to know whether your local pizza place is open, the fastest and best option is to call it. But time after time, I have seen people satisfy themselves with Google’s sheepish approximation. “Well, it looks like they’re usually open till 6, but that may change because of the holiday,” announces whoever happens to be in the car’s passenger seat, their nose three inches from the glowing iPhone. “I guess we’ll see,” says the driver, turning onto the interstate. Twenty minutes later, you have no one to blame but yourself when you find Vito’s of Poughkeepsie uses Sunday hours on President’s Day.

Already I can hear the roars of “OK Boomer” that will inevitably meet this post. So let me clarify, first, that I was born in the 1990s. I have come to love the phone as an adult. There remains an immense amount of information in the world that is easiest to access by phone. Should you worry about your child’s mild flu symptoms? Call the pediatrician. Need to know if funding for the town library increased last year? Call city hall.

And while I hear my fellow Millennials complain about phone anxiety, I wonder who is encouraging that particular neuroticism. For in every other realm, the country’s largest companies have midwifed this societal retreat from telephony. It is far easier for corporations, of course, if we use their apps, whether it be to complain or query or order a grande nonfat chai latte. If we order on the app, our request is tabulated and measurable; it is automatically monitored and easier to optimize. Best of all, local employees—those people called, in any other context, our neighbors—can be judged based on how fast they respond to our needs. The rise of what the writer Malcolm Harris calls “servant apps” is stripping the world of the easiest form of solidarity, which is geography. It used to be that, when you moved into a new home, the previous occupants left you their binder of local takeout and delivery menus. In those first months, you tried out the local offerings; over the years, you got to know the voice on the other side of the phone. Today, when city dwellers move to a new neighborhood, they reload Seamless.

Talking on the phone is also—let’s be clear—very easy. Toddlers can do it with aplomb. First graders learn how to call 911. Whereas texting or Instagram DMing proceeds as a kind of ambient chatter with no clear start or stop point—allowing all sorts of innovative new forms of passive-aggression, chief among them ghosting—a phone call is simple. It requires a greeting. Then it requires a statement of purpose. Then the two parties talk. Then eventually someone needs to get off the line, and the conversation ends. This discrete pattern holds whether you called to report Story County Precinct 1-1 or whether you just called to say “I love you.”

Phones are beautiful, really. “The telephone lets anybody say what he wants to the person of his choice; he can conduct business, express love, or pick a quarrel. It is impossible for bureaucrats to define what people say to each other on the phone, even though they can interfere with—or protect—the privacy of their exchange,” observed the philosopher Ivan Illich in 1973. To him, phones had the best quality that a technology could have: conviviality. “They can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user,” he wrote. Phones, in his view, were a tool of both liberty and equality.

Which is to say: They are a tool of democracy. Make no mistake about the end goal of all of this. As Americans, we have spent the past several decades building a sociotechnical system that aims to free people from ever having to talk to strangers. “‘Don’t talk to strangers!’ That is a lesson for four-year-olds,” writes the political theorist Danielle Allen. She points out that only the president gets to pretend that no American is a stranger: He can look into everyone’s eye and shake everyone’s hand. “The more fearful we citizens are of speaking to strangers, the more we are docile children and not prospective presidents; the greater the distance between the president and us, the more we are subjects, not citizens,” she says. “Talking to strangers is a way of claiming one’s political majority and, with it, a presidential ease and sense of freedom.” (It is also a good way of figuring out who should run for president.)

We hate talking to strangers—so instead we argue by tweet, order by servant app, and address the world from behind constructed veils of personal comfort. What a calamity. Talking to strangers is good. It is good for you, and it is good for the stranger. It is an economic good, as a kind of public luxury; it is a moral good, as a form of ethical instruction. Exodus 22:21 famously commands its readers not to mistreat or oppress a stranger, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” To this we should add an American epilogue: Do not abandon the stranger on the phone, for you were left on hold in Des Moines.”
robinsonmeyer  2020  elections  telephones  technology  communication  social  society  strangers  iowa  reliability  accessibility  ivanillich  conviviality  toolsforconviviality  danielleallen 
6 days ago by robertogreco
(Self-Directed) Education is a Political Act | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
“With that said, I created the following diagram as a visual aid to help understand the many various SDE methods at work, how they generally are similar and different, how their sense of “freedom” is ideologically politicized, and how they are allied as trust based models in contrast with fear based counterparts in the top section of the diagram. This diagram seeks not to pigeonhole any one model into a political ideology but rather to provide a broad understanding of where each model lies on a spectrum of definitions and methodologies of “freedom” and education as a political act.

[image: “A chart showing fear based and trust based models of education"]

Since freedom is rooted and established in trust, the act of stripping away that freedom starts with fear and control. Therefore, I have simply distinguished these two overarching philosophies into “Fear Based” and “Trust Based” categories. The fear based models of education are out of scope for this article (for more on that, start with this excellent article). However, I want to briefly touch upon why “Democratic Schools” are listed under this category. Note that “Free Schools” are listed under the trust based model; while most Free Schools are also democratic, it is possible to have democratic decision-making in fear based schools (e.g. “Vote on whether we’re studying the Nile or the Pyramids first…”) This distinction is not always clear and earlier in my research caused me a lot of confusion, especially in my travels to Europe where I learned that visiting a “democratic” school did not necessarily mean I could expect the school to be self-directed as well. It is also important to note that often (but not always) this did not mean the educators there were not interested in SDE. Rather, they were often working constrained by laws that make SDE illegal in countries like Greece, Turkey and Germany. Meanwhile, in the United States the adoption of democratic education within conventional schools can also be seen in classroom meeting trends and in the work of organizations like the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA).

On the “trust based” side of the diagram, most notable might be that I have placed unschooling under all three political ideologies. Unschooling is certainly the most difficult SDE methodology to pin down, since it is practiced for so many different reasons and in so many different ways. I broke it down into three general sub-groups:

- Self-Governed Unschoolers under the Libertarian label are generally those unschoolers looking for independence from institutionalization. These are families who are focused on the liberation of their learners. While they might be a part of some collective or taking classes in various places, ultimately their focus is their own freedom and learning, not the welfare of any collective or group they may temporarily be a part of.

- Decolonizing Unschoolers is best described by Zakiyya Ismail, who simply wrote, “It is about stepping out of an oppressive system and into a liberatory one.”20 For these unschoolers, this is not just about independence of one’s own learning; it is also about dismantling the oppressive system of conventional schooling in order to create an equitable world, and so, this model fits well under the Anarchism label.

- Communal Unschoolers is admittedly a term I made up for clarification and distinction in this diagram. However, this is a very real type of unschooling, a type that I run across often in my own work with unschoolers. Communal Unschoolers are families who unschool as a collective in order to make it possible to do so for each individual family. There’s a reliance on each other and a buy-in in order for each learner to be able to unschool. Therefore, this model fits best under the label of Socialism.

As for schools and centers, I’ve placed Sudbury Schools and Liberated Learners under the Libertarian umbrella. Liberated Learners are listed here for the same previously mentioned reason that Self-Governed Unschoolers are in this category. And while Sudbury Schools are communities, their standard of no adult offerings and policy of barring parent involvement align with the notion of learning based primarily on the individual’s needs. Their School Meeting and Judicial Committee structures reflect the Libertarian idea that governance is necessary but should be made as small as is necessary to maintain autonomy.

I have listed Free Schools and Summerhill on the other end of the spectrum, under the Socialist label. While individual freedom is certainly valued highly in these schools, Summerhill and Free Schools generally emphasize being a collective reliant on communal equity. In contrast to Sudbury Schools, these schools generally have communal offerings (or classes in the case of Summerhill) and often rely on parent involvement in the community (or the adult “House Parents” and older youth “Beddies” who foster a sense of “family” at Summerhill, which is a boarding school). There is a real sense that a culture needs to be developed for a healthy learning atmosphere to thrive (much like the nineteenth century SDE Swiss educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi’s premise that an “emotionally secure environment” needs to be present for “successful learning” to take place).

Judith Suissa compares Summerhill to the third category listed in the diagram, anarchism, when she writes, “What Neill was really after was an appreciation of freedom for its own sake– a far cry from the social anarchists, who viewed freedom… as an inherent aspect of creating a society based on mutual aid, socio-economic equality and cooperation.”22 From this reasoning, I have placed in the anarchistic category Agile Learning Centers, as well as the more obvious Free Skools and Modern Schools (which directly declare/d themselves anarchistic). Agile Learning Centers were a direct reaction to the Free School model, retooling and reframing Free School practices for meetings, conflict resolution, and so on. These consent driven structures and nonhierarchical systems align with anarchist ideologies. Additionally, the ALC Network’s intentional dedication to social justice and equity separate it from the other SDE models and also fall under the definition of anarchistic values.

With all of this said, it is important to remember that each individual and each center is different, and that such diagrams are only useful as a general guide to understanding the methodologies. At the same time, this comparison of SDE models to political ideologies is also an important reminder that, while one does not need to support radical politics to believe in SDE, a young person practicing Self-Directed Education will experience radical freedom and trust based ideologies, and those experiences will influence the development of their framing of the world. The same is also true of children being raised in conventional fear based environments, different as the politically ideological implications may themselves be.

Articulating these SDE model differences while holding as foundational their trust based alliance is a practice intended to establish a greater bond. With this understanding, all of us in this world of Self-Directed Education can learn more from one another. During this time period where partisanship is dividing humanity so severely, it is important to remember our similarities and to remember that all individuals, regardless of political beliefs or educational beliefs or any other beliefs that diversify humanity, all deserve to be approached with respect and kindness. I am proud to be in alliance with other members of this trust based Self-Directed Education movement, and I celebrate our many flavors and methods.”
alexanderkhost  via:derek  2020  politics  self-directed  self-directedlearning  freeschools  summerhill  sudbury  sudburyschools  education  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  anarchism  anarchy  socialism  individualism  society  radicalism  children  modernschools  autonomy  mutualaid  freedom  liberation  community  communities  progressive  sfsh  lcproject  tcsnmy  libertarianism  doctrine  authority  authoritarianism  conservatism  moderatism  moderation  permissiveness  liberalism  publicschools  conventionalschools  agilelearningcenters  waldorf  waldorfschools  montessori  montessorischools  charterschools  trust  fear  parenting  schooliness  indoctrination  judithsuissa  asneill 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Figures & Fictions: Santu Mofokeng - YouTube
“Mofokeng lives in Johannesburg where he began his career as a photojournalist. But he has long been engaged with the poetic and symbolic potential of black and white photography. As he has noted: ‘My approach has always been based on poetry and philosophy, in standing back. I don’t believe in one truth: I like to look at things from many sides.’

The series Chasing Shadows documents a set of caves used both as a Christian prayer site and a place of traditional healing. Mofokeng’s concern with the rituals, costume and ceremonies is balanced with personal interest, in a portrait of his brother, seeking a cure for AIDS. Another series, Child-Headed Households, registers the blight of AIDS without depicting it directly. Here, Mofokeng frames the new reality of families formed of sibling communities who fare for themselves in impoverished circumstances.

Interviewed by Tamar Garb, South Africa, 2010

This film was originally produced as part of a series for the Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography exhibition on display 12 April – 17 July 2011.”

[via: https://twitter.com/ztsamudzi/status/1221806667211214853

https://twitter.com/ztsamudzi/status/1221799429927161856
"I went to bed having just heard about Santu Mofokeng’s passing & woke up thinking about him. He was a man with extraordinary vision, an extraordinary ability to capture a layered subject within layered materiality. He showed us time and again that the camera can capture spirit."]
santumofokeng  photography  southafrica  capitalism  photojournalism  apartheid  2010  townships  soutafrica  johannesburg  life  poverty  class  race  movement  spirit  spirits  spirituality  society  socialissues  aesthetics  documentary  stories  meaning  storytelling  captions  meaningmaking  perception 
21 days ago by robertogreco
Barbara Smith: Why I Left the Mainstream Queer Rights Movement - The New York Times
"A black feminist describes her disillusionment, saying many people are still marginalized, even in progressive circles.

I have not been active in the organized L.G.B.T.Q. movement for a long time.

I enthusiastically participated in the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. About 100,000 of us were there from around the country, a good turnout but much smaller than subsequent marches — when being out and proud was less dangerous.

At the second national march, in 1987, I was invited to be one of eight major speakers. It was exhilarating to speak before a crowd of nearly one million people.

At the same time, it was devastating to see the vast AIDS quilt on display in one place for the first time, symbolizing so much human loss.

I felt ambivalent about the 1993 march. For me it was overly focused on gays in the military and in presenting our community as an affluent consumer group to win favor from the corporate mainstream. This supposed affluence was not even real except for a privileged sector of largely white gay men.

In 1999 the tight circle of organizers of the Millennium March in Washington reflected how narrow and hierarchical the movement had become.

A group of us established the multiracial Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process. Ted Beck, Mandy Carter, Chandra L. Ford, Kara Keeling and I wrote an open letter to the march organizers titled “Will People of Color Pay the Price?”

Our efforts at opening up the organizational process were not successful. I did not attend the 1999 march or any subsequent ones. For me the Millennium March was the last straw.

I prefer to put my energy into multi-issue organizing. In the 1970s and 1980s, I co-founded the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist group, and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press to give women of color, lesbians of color and even gay men of color a voice.

Three decades later, despite some genuine efforts to increase diversity, especially in progressive movement circles, exclusivity and elitism still divide us. We have won rights and achieved recognition that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago, but many of us continue to be marginalized, both in the larger society and within the movement itself.

One in four people in the L.G.B.T.Q. community experienced food insecurity in 2017. Twenty-four percent of lesbians and bisexual women earn less than the federal poverty line. L.G.B.T.Q. youth have a 120 percent higher risk of experiencing homelessness than heterosexual, cisgender youth.

Black men who have sex with men have the highest rates of new H.I.V. diagnoses. People who are transgender, particularly transgender women of color, experience appalling levels of violence, and this violence is exacerbated by poverty and racism.

These statistics show it is not possible to achieve justice in a vacuum. Marriage equality and celebrity culture will not solve it. Neither will political agendas focused on unquestioned assimilation. Gaining rights for some while ignoring the violation and suffering of others does not lead to justice. At best it results in privilege.

Unless we eradicate the systemic oppressions that undermine the lives of the majority of L.G.B.T.Q. people, we will never achieve queer liberation."
2019  barbarasmith  progressives  activism  oppression  inclusivity  elitism  liberation  combaheerivercollective  collectivism  gayrights  lgbtq  queer  feminism  queerrights  disillusionment  marriage  hierarchy  tedbeck  mandycarter  chandraford  karakeeling  race  poc  blackness  rights  society  us  politics  policy  homelessness  homeless  violence  marriageequality  celebrityculture  justice  socialjustice 
23 days ago by robertogreco
In 2030, we ended the climate emergency. Here’s how - The Correspondent
“If words make worlds, then we urgently need to tell a new story about the climate crisis. Here is one vision of what it could look and feel like to radically, collectively take action.”



“In a climate emergency, courage is not just a choice. It’s strategic. It’s a survival strategy.

Letting go of the life you thought you were going to have can cause a huge amount of grief. There’s a huge amount of courage in opening up to redefining your existence. There’s a huge amount of bravery to know that perhaps life even gets richer and deeper in unexpected ways.

It only takes 3.5% of the population to bring about political change. In New Zealand, approximately 3.5% of the population participated in climate strikes in autumn 2019, which was almost immediately followed by the country adopting one of the boldest climate goals in the world: to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Building on New Zealand’s pioneering policy, 2020 is the year we acknowledge that the most urgent thing we can do in an emergency is to passionately tell others that it exists.

The call to protect the planet will become a rallying cry as climate strikes around the world continue to escalate. More people will begin to demand a better world that works for everyone. This climate movement will catalyse urgent revolutionary policy to tackle the crisis.

We’ll still know in 2020 that we have to do a lot better, but admitting we’re in an emergency means we can start to tell ourselves new stories that will help get us out of the crisis. We will redefine happiness. We will watch hopeful television and movies about a possible world that does not yet exist. We will stop seeing the Earth as an external thing to be saved. We’ll realise that we are inextricably linked to the planet: saving it is, in fact, saving ourselves.”



“In 2021, a new president of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, the US, will pass a series of sweeping legislative changes to bring about a Green New Deal and help permanently decentralise political power from the extractive industries that have concentrated wealth for centuries.

It doesn’t matter which government is in power. Elections move too slowly. We will demand candidates that recognise the reality of this crisis.

George Monbiot has called this process “political rewilding” (where top-down governance is replaced with more participatory, spontaneous, bottom-up models), but it’s probably more easily understood as accountability. It’s the idea that industries holding the power to end civilisation as we know it shouldn’t regulate themselves. It’s the idea that government officials shouldn’t put corporate profits over the public good. It’s the idea that protecting the security of all life on Earth is really just about loving each other.

We will begin to redefine democracy through demonstrations, demanding climate justice.
Read about the efforts to tackle India’s air pollution crisis.We will begin to redefine freedom in an era where the air we breathe embodies the deadly choices made by white men for hundreds of years.

This is how people will begin to listen again and exert moral leadership in all the positions of power we hold in our lives.”



“We will begin to redefine individual actions as actions on behalf of the collective. We will see care work and mutual aid as being at the core of climate action. The term “climate action” will start to lose meaning. It will just become “action”.

We will begin the process of climate reparations – partially repairing the loss and damage of colonialism and decentralising political power on a global scale. We will begin the process of returning land to indigenous control. We will see each other as people deserving of the right to thrive.

Indigenous people have, for centuries, effectively managed more than 80% of the world’s biodiversity. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a particularly effective model for how to uphold peaceful nation-to-nation relationships while simultaneously building a world that works for everyone. We, as humans, have known how to do this for a very long time. We will remember how to do it again.

We will finally reach peak global emissions. We will finally stop accelerating towards our own destruction.”



“We will begin decommodifying our own survival; that is, we will provide all the necessities for survival as a human right. We will no longer be “earning” a living or letting how “productive” we are determine our individual importance to society. We will give each other what we deserved all along: acceptance as a fellow living being.

It’s this runaway cycle of production for profit-at-all-costs that created the climate crisis. Stopping this cycle is possible by changing how the economy works. We will abandon the concept of growth for growth’s sake. We will celebrate inefficiency. We will call it creativity. We will call it living.

By establishing a civilisation that values life instead of production, we will recalibrate the economy to care for people and the planet’s needs. Our worth won’t be tied to how much we can produce for people who are already rich. We will build a society that guarantees the basics of survival – food, water, shelter, community – to everyone.”



“Perhaps the most radical change of all this decade will be our newfound ability to tell a story – a positive story – about the future and mean it.

What that story looks like will probably be very different than what you’ve just read, but it will feel very much the same. It will feel like something you’ve always wanted, but never thought you’d get. You deserve it.

That is what we have to do now, in the first days of 2020. Dream unashamedly big dreams, dreams that reimagine the more just and loving world we want to live in, not the one traditional science fiction or even the media suggests is inevitable. Put these dreams to paper, speak them into the world, and work together to make them a reality.”
2020s  2020  2030  ericholthaus  climatechange  speculativefiction  sciencefiction  hope  future  climatecrisis  environment  policy  climatejustice  socialism  capitalism  latecapitalism  commodification  interconnectedness  interdependence  freedom  efficiency  life  living  slow  productivity  humanrights  canon  civilization  society 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Collapse of Neoliberalism | The New Republic
"We should not be surprised by these dynamics. The arc of neoliberalism followed a pattern common in history. In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus’s head like the goddess Athena. But it is worth remembering that Thatcher occasionally pulled her punches. Rhetorically, she would champion the causes of the right wing. But practically, her policies would often fall short of the grand vision. For example, she refused to allow any attempt to privatize the Royal Mail and the railways. She even preferred to use the word denationalization to privatization, thinking the latter unpatriotic and far too radical. The central problem, as she noted in her memoirs, was that “there was a revolution still to be made, but too few revolutionaries.”

A similar story can be told of Ronald Reagan. Partly because he faced a Democratic House of Representatives, conservative radicals were occasionally disappointed with the extent to which the Reagan administration pushed its goals. Under Ronald Reagan, William Niskanen writes, “no major federal programs … and no agencies were abolished.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created during the Reagan administration, and President Reagan signed a variety of environmental laws. Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think.

In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities—and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. Thus, when the Tories ousted Thatcher and replaced her with John Major, they unwittingly made Thatcherism possible. Major wanted to offer Britain “Thatcherism with a human face,” and he set himself to smoothing out the rough edges. The result was to consolidate and advance the neoliberal project in Britain. When Major was elected in his own right, in 1992, he got more votes than Thatcher ever had—and more than Tony Blair received in 1997. As Major himself noted, “1992 killed socialism in Britain.… Our win meant that between 1992 and 1997 Labour had to change.”

The American story is similar. Reagan passed the torch to George H.W. Bush. Although Bush was not from Reagan’s political camp within the Republican Party (he had challenged Reagan for the presidency in 1980 and was viewed with skepticism by the true believers), Bush moved to embrace Reaganism in his campaign commitments. At the same time, with the losses of Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, and Michael Dukakis in 1988, Democrats began to think they had to embrace neoliberalism as a path out of the political wilderness.

Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East.

The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today’s problems. As an answer to the problems of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity, it offers more of the same or, at best, incremental and technocratic “nudges.” The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to confront the collapse of the middle class and the spread of widespread economic insecurity. The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to address the corruption of politics and the influence of moneyed interests in every aspect of civic life—from news media to education to politics and regulation. The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community. And the solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to confront the fusion of oligarchic capitalism and nationalist authoritarianism that has now captured major governments around the world—and that seeks to invade and undermine democracy from within.

In 1982, as the neoliberal curtain was rising, Colorado Governor Richard Lamm remarked that “the cutting edge of the Democratic Party is to recognize that the world of the 1930s has changed and that a new set of public policy responses is appropriate.” Today, people around the world have recognized that the world of the 1980s has changed and that it is time for a new approach to politics. The central question of our time is what comes next."
neoliberalism  economics  government  policy  failure  politics  2019  ganeshsitaraman  greatrecession  finance  alangreenspan  barackobama  josephstiglitz  capitalism  latecapitalism  imf  coldwar  monetarypolicy  banking  competition  inequality  monopolies  us  margaretthatcher  society  class  privatization  ronaldreagan  ideology  technocrats  reaganism  thatcherism  denationalization  georgehwbush  jimmycarter  waltermondale  michaeldikakis  2008  crisis  richardlamm  1982 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
HEWN, No. 337: What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech?
"The response to my article “The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade” has been overwhelming, and I’ve spent the first few days of 2020 dealing with the influx of messages it’s prompted — mostly positive messages thankfully, although I haven’t looked at the comments on Reddit or Hacker News. (Good grief, why would I?!)

I want to respond briefly to one of the most frequent complaints I’ve heard: that I did not also write a list of “The 100 Best Ed-Tech Achievements of the Decade.” And that somehow that means my analysis is incomplete.

I’m not sure why folks want me to tell them what’s praiseworthy. As I said on Twitter: get your own moral compass. Look at your own practices, at the practices of those around you. And do better.

But more importantly, let’s be clear: the technology industry — education technology or otherwise — does not need my validation. It needs criticism. It needs criticism that refuses to come with sugar-coating and a few plaudits. There are not “two sides” to this issue that deserve equal time. There are not “two sides” — some good and some bad ed-tech — that exist in any sort of equal measure.

What if anything “good” about ed-tech this past decade was so overwhelmed by all the money funneled into the “bad” that the “good” didn’t matter one whit? What if all that “bad” meant any semblance of “good” was stifled, suffocated? What if, as David Kernohan has suggested, there wasn’t anything this past decade but technological disappointment? What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech?

I’m serious. Sit with that sentence a minute before you pipe up to defend your favorite app or social network or that cute robot your kids coded to move in a circle. What if there wasn’t anything good about ed-tech? What if ed-tech is totally inseparable from privatization, behavioral engineering, and surveillance? What if, by surrendering to the narrative that schools must be increasingly technological, we have neglected to support them in being be remotely human? What if we can never address the crises of our democracies, of our planet if we keep insisting on the benevolence of tech?"
audreywatters  edtech  technology  schools  education  surveillance  humanism  climatechange  society  democracy  canon  privatization  behaviorism  davidhernohan  criticism  journalism  2020 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism | Life and style | The Guardian
“From the ‘KonMari method’ to Apple’s barely-there design philosophy, we are forever being urged to declutter and simplify our lives. But does minimalism really make us any happier? By Kyle Chayka”



“The most famous proponent of minimalism – or at least minimalism as a lifehack – was probably Steve Jobs. In a famous photograph from 1982, Jobs sits on the floor of his living room. He was in his late 20s at the time, and Apple was making $1bn a year. He had just bought a large house in Los Gatos, California, but he kept it totally empty. In Diana Walker’s photo, he is seen cross-legged on a single square of carpet, holding a mug, wearing a simple dark sweater and jeans – his prototypical uniform. A tall lamp by his side casts a perfect circle of light. “This was a very typical time,” Jobs later remembered. “All you needed was a cup of tea, a light and your stereo, you know, and that’s what I had.” Not for him, the usual displays of wealth or status. In the photo he looks content.

Yet the image of simplicity is deceptive. The house Jobs bought was huge for a young, single man with no use for that excess space. Wired magazine later discovered that the stereo setup resting in the corner would have cost $8,200. The lone lamp that illuminates the scene was made by Tiffany. It was a valuable antique, not a utilitarian tool.

Not only is simplicity often less simple than it looks, it can also be much less practical than it seems. People often conflate the phrase “form follows function” – the idea that the external appearance of an object or building should reflect the way that it works – with the self-conscious appearance of minimalism, as in Jobs’s house or the design of Apple’s iPhone. But Jobs’s empty living room was not particularly usable. Instead of the mantra that “form follows function”, Jobs echoes a slogan that could be glimpsed not long ago in one upscale New York shop front: “Fewer, better.” Possess the best things and only the best things, if only you can afford them. It was better to go without a couch than buy one that wasn’t perfect. That commitment to taste might be rarified, but it probably did not endear Jobs to his family, who might have preferred a place to sit.

Apple devices have gradually simplified in appearance over time under designer Jony Ive, who joined the company in 1992, which is why they are so synonymous with minimalism. By 2002, the Apple desktop computer had evolved into a thin, flat screen mounted on an arm connected to a rounded base. Then, into the 2010s, the screen flattened even more and the base vanished until all that was left were two intersecting lines, one with a right angle for the base and another, straight, for the screen. It sometimes seems, as our machines become infinitely thinner and wider, that we will eventually control them by thought alone, because touch would be too dirty, too analogue.

Does this all really constitute simplicity? Apple devices have only a few visual qualities. But it is also an illusion of efficiency. The company strives to make its phones thinner and removes ports – see headphone jacks – any chance it gets. The iPhone’s function depends on an enormous, complex, ugly superstructure of satellites and undersea cables that certainly are not designed in pristine whiteness. Minimalist design encourages us to forget everything a product relies on and imagine, in this case, that the internet consists of carefully shaped glass and steel alone.

The contrast between simple form and complex consequences brings to mind what the British writer Daisy Hildyard called “the second body” in her 2017 book of the same name. The phrase describes the alienated presence that we feel when we are aware of both our individual physical bodies and our collective causation of environmental damage and climate change. While we calmly walk down the street, watch a film or go food shopping, we are also the source of pollution drifting across the Pacific or a tsunami in Indonesia. The second body is the source of an unplaceable anxiety: the problems are undeniably our fault, even though it feels as if we cannot do anything about them because of the sheer difference in scale.

Similarly, we might be able to hold the iPhone in our hands, but we should also be aware that the network of its consequences is vast: server farms absorbing massive amounts of electricity, Chinese factories where workers die by suicide, devastated mud pit mines that produce tin. It is easy to feel like a minimalist when you can order food, summon a car or rent a room using a single brick of steel and silicon. But in reality, it is the opposite. We are taking advantage of a maximalist assemblage. Just because something looks simple does not mean it is; the aesthetics of simplicity cloak artifice, or even unsustainable excess.

This slickness is part of minimalism’s marketing pitch. According to one survey in a magazine called Minimalissimo, you can now buy minimalist coffee tables, water carafes, headphones, sneakers, wristwatches, speakers, scissors and bookends, each in the same monochromatic, severe style familiar from Instagram, and often with pricetags in the hundreds, if not thousands. What they all seem to offer is a kind of mythical just-rightness, the promise that if you just consume this one perfect thing, then you won’t need to buy anything else in the future – at least until the old thing is upgraded and some new level of possible perfection is found.”
kyleshayka  minimalism  2020  life  living  materialism  consumerism  maximalism  climatechange  environment  infrastructure  apple  mariekondo  stevejobs  cleanliness  clutter  happiness  konmarimethod  austerity  freedom  distraction  attention  economics  joshuabecker  courneycarver  2008  2011  capitalism  therapy  simplicity  society  civilization  excess  comodification  possessions  stuff  haording  joshuafieldsmillburn  ryannicodemus  2010  2017  ownership  mobility  lifestyle  marketing  perfection  disposability  design  jonyive  form  function  formfollowsfunction  efficiency  daisyhildyard  shopping  instagram  aesthetics  asceticism 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Anand Giridharadas on Twitter: "My theory of beating Trump. Run a true progressive. And sell their policies in a way too few progressives do — in the languages of patriotism and personal transformation. Show people your way is the American way. And your
"The languages of justice and corruption are powerful. They’re the ones I speak in much of the time.

But I think we sometimes forget that America will be more fun, more thrilling, more joyous, full of better marriages and better holidays and better youths if these ideas succeed.

Progressive candidates can do better at helping people picture their lives on the other side of the mountain of change.

What will your marriage be like when you’re not stressed by debt and healthcare?

What books will you read to your kids when you’re not working three jobs?

Personal transformation is a powerful American vernacular. Except it’s about what you can do alone, as a self.

What I’m suggesting is that progressives co-opt this language but for grand public policy.

Sell health and education and tax policy as the real enablers of a new you.

And patriotism.

Don’t let the incrementalists and the defenders of ruthless corporations own the flag.

Taking care of each other is the American thing. Learning is the American thing. Paying your fair share is the American thing.

Root this fight in the language of country.

I don’t hear enough of these things.

I was born in Ohio. I went to college in Michigan. I now live in New York.

I believe these policies would benefit people in all these places. But some languages work better than others in the heartland.

Languages that are true to the facts.

At the end of the day, the country progressives want to build will be a more fun country to live in. That truth gets lost in the very worthy talk of oligarchy, corruption, and billionaires. I’m guilty of this, too.

We have to help people visualize the new America — and new them.

So that’s one guy’s take on how to defeat Trump while defeating what enabled Trump, while being mindful that doing so requires speaking to people who are non-native speakers of the language of social justice.

Check out the rest of my chat with @MMFlint: https://anchor.fm/rumble-with-michael-moore "
justice  corruption  anandgiridharadas  politics  progressive  progressivism  elections  2020  2019  patriotism  society  solidarity  personaltransformation  healthcare  inequality  medicine  change  debt  education  highered  highereducation  taxes  policy  centrism  incrementalism  corporatism  care  caring  us  economics  relationships  language  messaging  oligarchy  socialjustice  transformation  elizabethwarren  berniesanders  michaelmoore 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ep. 9: Please Let Me Rob You, I'm Woke (feat. Anand Giridharadas) from RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE on RadioPublic
[also available here:

https://anchor.fm/rumble-with-michael-moore/episodes/Ep–9-Please-Let-Me-Rob-You–Im-Woke-feat–Anand-Giridharadas-e9s5iu/a-a182c6l
https://open.spotify.com/episode/3j3jewq1yxOQ5eQpE5GdtJ
https://overcast.fm/+V18Uxlflk ]

“While the majority of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and one emergency away from financial peril, a new study shows that the 500 richest people in the world gained a combined $1.2 trillion in wealth in 2019. In the U.S., the richest 0.1% now control a bigger share of the pie than at any time since the beginning of the Great Depression.

But what happens when the very people hoarding this wealth at the expense of democracy, the environment and an equitable society, re-brand themselves as the people who will fix society’s problems? What happens when the arsonists pose as the firefighters?

Anand Giridharadas has been studying these questions and he joins Michael Moore to name names and discuss what to do about it.

Rumble Reads:

Anand’s book, “Winners Take All” is here:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539747/winners-take-all-by-anand-giridharadas/9780451493248

Follow Anand here:

https://twitter.com/AnandWrites

The Jamie Dimon “60 Minutes” episode that Michael and Anand ridicule is here:

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/jamie-dimon-jp-morgan-chase-ceo-the-60-minutes-interview-2019-11-10/

The new survey about the wealthiest people in the world is here :

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-27/world-s-richest-gain-1-2-trillion-as-kylie-baby-sharks-prosper
anandgiridharadas  michaelmoore  inequality  winnerstakeall  winwin  2019  us  wealth  power  economics  society  war  polarization  internet  work  labor  democracy  capitalism  abuse  proximity  barackobama  lloydblankfein  democrats  markzuckerberg  jeffbezos  billgates  politics  policy  wapo  washingtonpost  class  republicans  corporations  taxes  profits  mikepence  elections  corruption  finance  financialization  profiteering  banks  banking  investment  stockmarket  michaelbloomberg  liberals  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  oligarchy  plutocracy  kleptocracy  healthcare  cities  problemsolving  culture  elitism  climatechange  reputationlaundering  reputation  business  neoliberalism  wokemanickypercapitalism  latecapitalism  poverty  walmart  healthinsurance  pharmaceuticals  wendellpotter  change  profiteers  berniesanders  2020  fun  debt  education  highered  highereducation 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Alec Resnick on Twitter: “OK, via prompt by @vgr, 1 like = 1 opinion about unschooling”
“1. Unschooling’s greatest mistake was situating itself in the negative space of school. It doesn’t have a coherent position on what learning is.

2. Because unschooling is reacting to school’s coercive structures, it has developed an overly naturalistic view of learning that’s about “getting out of the way” which idealizes youth, learning, and often glosses over the complexities of actually learning and working.

3. The future of unschooling is much more likely to be invented in the world of work than the world of school or unschooling. And it probably won’t even be named as education per se for much of its infancy.

4. Mostly we talk about “learning” only to make sense of either (a) doing something inauthentic, or (b) being a novice. At some point, you stop “learning” the guitar and start just getting better. The most radical perspectives abandon treating learning as a distinct activity.

5. The most meaningful part of “unschooling” is the phase people go through in learning to learn and get things done without school-like structures. Understanding why we go through that phase has much more to do with psychology than education and is woefully under-explored.

6. Education won’t see meaningful reform until the time and money associated with schooling is made available for invention and experimentation. Unschooling, as long as it remains an “exit” strategy (in the AO Hirschman) sense, will never be instrumental to this.

7. One’s opinion about the relative decomposition of the premia which formal education earns people into human, network, and social/cultural capital is a far more important term in the mid-term future of school, learning, and unschooling than anyone’s pedagogy.

8. Education is a prematurely professionalized sector. Basic standards of rigor, consistency, shared vocabulary, and similar which other professions take for granted don’t yet exist. Unschooling has inherited and amplified this hubris as a reactionary position and community.

9. Human development is slow. Experimentation requires longer time horizons than most investment vehicles permit. To a first approximation, you can probably ignore research or reform efforts which don’t have built into their structure deep acknowledgment of this.

10. By framing its superiority in terms of rights, humane-ness, and ethics (as opposed to, e.g., efficacy), unschooling opts for the losing side of the political economy in conversations about the future of learning. This is a harsh critique of both unschooling and education.

11. Unschooling hand-waves at the reasons school exists (e.g. “industrial revolution factory model”), but has failed to develop a coherent analysis of school’s robustness to change and staying power. “What’s adaptive about school for whom?” is an underappreciated question.

12. School [and un-schooling] have much more to learn from kindergarten and the world of work than either appreciate.

13. It is a deep and important question why, for the most part, graduates from graduate schools of education (having nominally studied how people learn and grow), are not some of the most highly paid and sought after designers/managers in fields where knowledge work dominates.

14. A basic incoherence in discussions of unschooling, learning, and education, is that [mostly] people treat learning as a domain-independent activity. Domain specificity of methods’ relevance/efficacy is ignored because of the political functions of discourse around learning.

15. The set of things people worry about learning is ~arbitrary, a minute sliver of what’s out there. The process of identifying, creating curricula for, and developing educators to support learning a topic is so slow so as to make content-first reformers largely irrelevant.

16. Most discussions of learning wildly overindex on “fit” of topic-defined interest. Learning and motivation are driven by the social and cultural contexts in which people find themselves.

17. When given the chance to focus on “cognitive” or “affective” factors in someone’s learning, returns are almost always higher emphasizing the affective. We don’t yet have fundamental explanations for this, but it is a fact largely ignored by unschoolers and schoolers alike.

18. At most conferences, you hear about new ideas and new work. Unschooling/alt-ed conferences are much more similar to a political caucus coming together around values. Whether this is cause or effect, the intellectual stagnation has yet to even be identified by the sector.

19. Unschooling [and school] has never really grappled with the reality that choice amongst “education options” is better understood as choice among “insurance products” than “investment products”. i.e. it is about raising the floor to which you can fall.

20. The timescale required to capture the long-term returns of human capital development mean that for all intents and purposes, only governments, churches, universities, and visionary billionaires will be in a position to meaningfully experiment with new K12 institutions.

21. Much of the work of unschooling has as little to do with school and learning as remediating an unhealthy relationship to body image has to do with the theory of nutrition.

22. One of the greatest unrecognized reform strategies is to leverage new, salient skills (e.g. programming) to create cover for new pedagogy. Doing this in K12 requires inventive, intellectual work connecting these skills to all the disciplines for which school is responsible.

23. Dewey, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, etc.—the extent to which these have succeeded or not has ~nothing to do with their pedagogical efficacy. It is a political/financial/cultural fact. Efforts which do not have a historical analysis and story about this are unserious.

24. One of the most important [false] things you learn in school is that you learn by being taught. In unschooling, many people never unlearn this, instead substituting other classes or courses for the classroom that’s now gone.

25. Many explain away counterfactuals about people who drop out/unschool/homeschool by pointing to privilege. This is a fascinating datum. If it were an honest point, then educators would be interested in the pedagogical and managerial insights of the upper-middle class family.

26. There are approximately as many people homeschooled as there are in charter schools. “Charter school” is a design and governance mechanism. As is “homeschooling”. Talking about them as though they are pedagogies—e.g. “Does homeschooling work?”—is pure confusion.

27. Just as corporations have offered us new [often dark] visions of what the next nation states look like, so too will the first entities to figure out how to leverage tools like income share agreements to securitize human capital offer us new [maybe dark] visions of cities.

28. The bias to emphasize the cognitive in education leads people to vastly overestimate the power of remote technologies and experiences to transform learning. If it is fundamentally social, much of it will be fundamentally local.

29. To the extent unschooling recognizes learning is a slow, social, high-touch, and therefore local process it has one up on every company tackling this space which aims to be the first in history to create a large-scale, high-touch organization anyone wants to join.

30. One of the most valuable skills those who unschool and support others who unschool develop is the ability to introduce people to a map of an intellectual territory without confusing exposure for attempted mastery. Formal education could learn a great deal from this.

31. The most important ratio in the future of learning is the relative balance of dollars and minutes which go into (a) investigating how school works and could be improved, (b) investigating how “non-traditional” learning works, & (c) inventing new tools/approaches.

32. Pick any organizational unit (company, lab group, whatever). The first 100h of activity on-boarding a junior colleague to that group likely represents 1000h (8–10m full-time) of rigorous activity for a young person. Unschooling should focus on organizing access to this.

33. One of the cleverest sleights of hand—whose provenance I’m still mystified by—is that we discuss learning’s future in terms of methods instead of entrants/products. Learning is one of the most “execution-dependent” and “recipe-resistant” activities I can imagine.

34. Once you assume the moniker of “alternative”, you’ve lost the whole ball game.

35. Unschooling is really a battle against legibility. Competing with school will mostly be about subverting or competing with its measures of legibility. School’s measures are far less meaningful than most will admit. In whose interest is it to improve them?

36. To the extent that unschooling (and school reform) must confront legibility, as work product becomes increasingly structured and digitized (e.g. Figma, GitHub, etc.) there is a growing opportunity to leverage passive process artifacts for analysis and evaluation.

37. Conversely, most attempts to leverage portfolios or similar dramatically underestimate the sensing bandwidth constraints they’re up against. Last I checked, MIT spends an average of eleven (11) minutes evaluating a candidate.

38. Unschooling rightly recognizes an opportunity to unbundle (often leveraging online and community resources). Its efficacy requires knowing youth well (which dramatically increases CAC). No one knows whether, including that, there’s any value to be unlocked by unbundling.

39. Many undertake alternative educational arrangements/endeavors prompted by their own children. Though an authentic motive, it is not durable: Starting and growing the organization will outlive your kid’s needs.

40. A core challenge in organizing for educational change (in unschooling and elsewhere) is that your constituency (youth and families) are definitionally … [more]
unschooling  alecresnick  education  learning  deschooling  legibility  credentials  charterschools  howwelearn  pedagogy  howweteach  schools  schooling  society  work  chezpaniesse  local  alicewatters  learningecologies  environment  rahcelcarson  resources  tools  organization  organizing  montessori  reggioemilia  portfolios  formal  informal  informallearning  mastery  labor  homeschool  waldorf  johndewey  history  psychology  humandevelopment  skills  coercion  alternative  altedu  greatbooks  networks  networking  class  canon  classism  inequality  universalbasicincome  ubi  constraints  economics  race  institutions  flexibility  disciplines  specialization  exposure  edg  srg  mitmedialab  ledialab  xeroxparc  access  identity  opportunity  edtech  branding  culture  culturalcapital  rent-seeking  bureaucracy  sudburyschools  sudburyvalleyschools  reality  social  technocrats  publicschools  publicgood  apprenticeships  mentoring 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
A Powerful Statement of Resistance from a College Student on Trial in Moscow | The New Yorker
"Instead of writing my own column, I have translated Zhukov’s final statement, delivered in court on Wednesday. I did it because it is a beautiful text that makes for instructive reading. Parts of it seem to describe American reality as accurately as the Russian one. Parts of it show what resistance can be. All of it, I hope, will make readers think twice before they use the word “Russians” to mean goons. I also hope it will serve as a reminder of what we miss while we are—rightly—obsessed with American politics, which is made more provincial every day by its isolationist President and the need to try to reduce the harm he causes. As for the column I was going to write, I will still have plenty of opportunities to write it, while the very young man who spoke the following words will be unable to publish for the next three years.

“This court hearing is concerned primarily with words and their meaning. We have discussed specific sentences, the subtleties of phrasing, different possible interpretations, and I hope that we have succeeded at showing to the honorable court that I am not an extremist, either from the point of view of linguistics or from the point of view of common sense. But now I would like to talk about a few things that are more basic than the meaning of words. I would like to talk about why I did the things I did, especially since the court expert offered his opinion on this. I would like to talk about my deep and true motives. The things that have motivated me to take up politics. The reasons why, among other things, I recorded videos for my blog.

“But first I want to say this. The Russian state claims to be the world’s last protector of traditional values. We are told that the state devotes a lot of resources to protecting the institution of the family, and to patriotism. We are also told that the most important traditional value is the Christian faith. Your Honor, I think this may actually be a good thing. The Christian ethic includes two values that I consider central for myself. First, responsibility. Christianity is based on the story of a person who dared to take up the burden of the world. It’s the story of a person who accepted responsibility in the greatest possible sense of that word. In essence, the central concept of the Christian religion is the concept of individual responsibility.

“The second value is love. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the most important sentence of the Christian faith. Love is trust, empathy, humanity, mutual aid, and care. A society built on such love is a strong society—probably the strongest of all possible societies.

“To understand why I’ve done what I’ve done, all you have to do is look at how the Russian state, which proudly claims to be a defender of these values, does in reality. Before we talk about responsibility, we have to consider what the ethics of a responsible person are. What are the words that a responsible individual repeats to himself throughout his life? I think these words are ‘Remember that your path will be difficult, at times unbearably so. All your loved ones will die. All your plans will go awry. You will be betrayed and abandoned. And you cannot escape death. Life is suffering. Accept it. But once you accept it, once you accept the inevitability of suffering, you must still accept your cross and follow your dream, because otherwise things will only get worse. Be an example, be someone on whom others can depend. Do not obey despots, fight for the freedom of body and soul, and build a country in which your children can be happy.’

“Is this really what we are taught? Is this really the ethics that children absorb at school? Are these the kinds of heroes we honor? No. Our society, as currently constituted, suppresses any possibility of human development. [Fewer than] ten per cent of Russians possess ninety per cent of the country’s wealth. Some of these wealthy individuals are, of course, perfectly decent citizens, but most of this wealth is accumulated not through honest labor that benefits humanity but, plainly, through corruption.

“An impenetrable barrier divides our society in two. All the money is concentrated at the top and no one up there is going to let it go. All that’s left at the bottom—and this is no exaggeration—is despair. Knowing that they have nothing to hope for, that, no matter how hard they try, they cannot bring happiness to themselves or their families, Russian men take their aggression out on their wives, or drink themselves to death, or hang themselves. Russia has the world’s [second] highest rate of suicide among men. As a result, a third of all Russian families are single mothers with their kids. I would like to know: Is this how we are protecting the institution of the family?

“Miron Fyodorov [a rap artist who performs under the name Oxxxymiron], who attended many of my court hearings, has observed that alcohol is cheaper than a textbook in Russian. The state is pushing Russians to make a choice between responsibility and irresponsibility, in favor of the latter.

“Now I’d like to talk about love. Love is impossible in the absence of trust. Real trust is formed of common action. Common action is a rarity in a country where few people feel responsible. And where common action does occur, the guardians of the state immediately see it as a threat. It doesn’t matter what you do—whether you are helping prison inmates, speaking up for human rights, fighting for the environment—sooner or later you’ll either be branded a ‘foreign agent’ or just locked up. The state’s message is clear: ‘Go back to your burrow and don’t take part in common action. If we see more than two people together in the street, we’ll jail you for protesting. If you work together on social issues, we’ll assign you the status of a “foreign agent.” ’ Where can trust come from in a country like this—and where can love grow? I’m speaking not of romantic love but of the love of humanity.

“The only social policy the Russian state pursues consistently is the policy of atomization. The state dehumanizes us in one another’s eyes. In the state’s own eyes, we stopped being human a long time ago. Otherwise, why would it treat its citizens the way it does? Why does it punctuate its treatment of people through daily nightstick beatings, prison torture, inaction in the face of an H.I.V. epidemic, the closure of schools and hospitals, and so on?

“Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror. We let this be done to us, and who have we become? We have become a nation that has unlearned responsibility. We have become a nation that has unlearned love. More than two hundred years ago, Alexander Radishchev [widely regarded as the first Russian political writer], as he travelled from St. Petersburg to Moscow, wrote, ‘I gazed around myself, and my soul was wounded by human suffering. I then looked inside myself, and saw that man’s troubles come from man himself.’ Where are these kinds of people today? Where are the people whose hearts ache this much for what is happening in our country? Why are hardly any people like this left?

“It turns out that the only traditional institution that the Russian state truly respects and protects is the institution of autocracy. Autocracy aims to destroy anyone who actually wants to work for the benefit of the homeland, who isn’t scared to love and take on responsibility. As a result, our long-suffering citizens have had to learn that initiative will be punished, that the boss is always right just because he is the boss, that happiness may be within reach—but not for them. And having learned this, they gradually started to disappear. According to the state statistical authority, Russians are slowly vanishing, at the rate of four hundred thousand people a year. [Deaths exceeded births by nearly two hundred thousand in the first six months of 2019.] You can’t see the people behind the statistics. But try to see them! These are the people who are drinking themselves to death from helplessness, the people freezing to death in unheated hospitals, the people murdered by others, and those who kill themselves. These are people. People like you and me.

“By this point, it’s probably clear why I did what I did. I really want to see these two qualities—responsibility and love—in my fellow-citizens. Responsibility for one’s self, for one’s neighbors, for one’s country. This wish of mine, Your Honor, is another reason why I could not have called for violence. Violence breeds impunity, which breeds irresponsibility. By the same token, violence does not bear love. Still, despite all obstacles, I have no doubt that my wish will come true. I am looking ahead, beyond the horizon of years, and I see a Russia full of responsible, loving people. It will be a truly happy place. I want everyone to imagine Russia like this. And I hope this image can lead you in your work, as it has led me in mine.

“In conclusion, I would like to state that if the court decides that these words are spoken by a truly dangerous criminal, the next few years of my life will be marked by deprivation and adversity. But I look at the people [who have been jailed in the latest wave of activist arrests] and I see smiles on their faces. Two people I met briefly during pretrial detention, Lyosha Minyaylo and Danya Konon, never complained. I will try to follow their example. I will endeavor to take joy in having this chance—the chance to be tested in the name of values I hold dear. In the end, Your Honor, the more frightening my future, the broader the smile with which I look at it. Thank you.”"
mashagessen  yegorzhukov  2019  russia  violence  responsibility  love  trust  civics  language  christianity  empathy  humanism  humanity  mutualaid  care  caring  society  future  freedom  heroes  repression  corruption  inequality  happiness  suicide  families  mironfyodorov  oxxxymiron  action  commonaction  atomization  alexanderradishchev  suffering  life  living  autocracy  vladimirputin  authority 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Dystopias Now | Kim Stanley Robinson
"Immediately many people will object that this is too hard, too implausible, contradictory to human nature, politically impossible, uneconomical, and so on. Yeah yeah. Here we see the shift from cruel optimism to stupid pessimism, or call it fashionable pessimism, or simply cynicism. It’s very easy to object to the utopian turn by invoking some poorly-defined but seemingly omnipresent reality principle. Well-off people do this all the time.

Clearly we enter here the realm of the ideological; but we’ve been there all along. Althusser’s definition of ideology, which defines it as the imaginary relationship to our real conditions of existence, is very useful here, as everywhere. We all have ideologies, they are a necessary part of cognition, we would be disabled without them. So the question becomes, which ideology? People choose, even if they do not choose under conditions of their own making. Here, remembering that science too is an ideology, I would suggest that science is the strongest ideology for estimating what’s physically possible to do or not do. Science is AI, so to speak, in that the vast artificial intelligence that is science knows more than any individual can know—Marx called this distributed knowing “the general intellect”—and it continually reiterates and refines what it asserts, in an ongoing recursive project of self-improvement. A very powerful ideology. For my purpose here, I only invoke science to assert that the energy flows in our biosphere would provide adequately for all living creatures on the planet today, if we were to distribute them properly. That proper distribution would involve not just cleaner, ultimately decarbonized technologies—these are necessary but not sufficient. We would also have to redefine work itself to include all the activities now called social reproduction, treating them as acts valuable enough to be included in our economic calculations one way or another.

An adequate life provided for all living beings is something the planet can still do; it has sufficient resources, and the sun provides enough energy. There is a sufficiency, in other words; adequacy for all is not physically impossible. It won’t be easy to arrange, obviously, because it would be a total civilizational project, involving technologies, systems, and power dynamics; but it is possible. This description of the situation may not remain true for too many more years, but while it does, since we can create a sustainable civilization, we should. If dystopia helps to scare us into working harder on that project, which maybe it does, then fine: dystopia. But always in service to the main project, which is utopia."
utopia  dystopia  criticism  kimstanleyrobinson  2018  centrism  cynicism  society  climatechange  civilization  sufficiency  ideology  karlmarx  framing 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ed-Tech Agitprop
"Is technology changing faster than it's ever changed before? It might feel like it is. Futurists might tell you it is. But many historians would disagree. Robert Gordon, for example, has argued that economic growth began in the late 19th century and took off in the early 20th century with the invention of "electricity, the internal combustion engine, the telephone, chemicals and plastics, and the diffusion to every urban household of clear running water and waste removal." Rapid technological change -- faster than ever before. But he argues that the growth from new technologies slowed by the 1970s. New technologies -- even new digital technologies -- he contends, are incremental changes rather than whole-scale alterations to society we saw a century ago. Many new digital technologies, Gordon argues, are consumer technologies, and these will not -- despite all the stories we hear -- necessarily restructure our world. Perhaps we're compelled to buy a new iPhone every year, but that doesn't mean that technology is changing faster than it's ever changed before. That just means we're trapped by Apple's planned obsolescence.

As historian Jill Lepore writes, "Futurists foretell inevitable outcomes by conjuring up inevitable pasts. People who are in the business of selling predictions need to present the past as predictable -- the ground truth, the test case. Machines are more predictable than people, and in histories written by futurists the machines just keep coming; depicting their march as unstoppable certifies the futurists' predictions. But machines don't just keep coming. They are funded, invented, built, sold, bought, and used by people who could just as easily not fund, invent, build, sell, buy, and use them. Machines don't drive history; people do. History is not a smart car."


We should want a future of human dignity and thriving and justice and security and care -- for everyone. Education is a core part of that. But dignity, thriving, justice, and care are rarely the focus of how we frame "the future of learning" or "the future of work." Robots will never care for us. Unbridled techno-solution will never offer justice. Lifelong learning isn't thriving when it is a symptom of economic precarity, of instability, of a disinvestment in the public good.

When the futures we hear predicted on stages like this turn so casually towards the dystopian, towards an embrace of the machine, towards an embrace of efficiency and inequality and fear -- and certainly that's the trajectory I feel that we are on with the narratives underpinning so much of ed-tech agitprop -- then we have failed. This is a massive failure of our politics, for sure, but it is also a massive failure of imagination. Do better."
2019  audreywatters  edtech  agitprop  dystopia  technology  storytelling  propaganda  pressreleases  capitalism  neoliberalism  benjamindoxtdator  economics  education  learning  highered  highereducation  johnseelybrown  davos  worldeconomicforum  power  money  motivation  purpose  howwelearn  relationships  howweteach  schools  schooling  disruption  robots  productivity  futurism  robertgordon  change  history  jilllepore  security  justice  society  socialjustice  technosolutionism  californianideology  work  labor  future  machines  modernism 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Spaces of the Learning Self - e-flux Architecture - e-flux
"In the 2015 UNESCO-sponsored policy paper entitled “The Futures of Learning,” notions such as “active learner,” “metacognitive development” and “participatory learning” are abound. The most important, however, seems to be the “personalization” and “customization” of learning, or even “learner-designed learning.” As if copy-pasted from Van der Ryn’s 1969 tract, the advice reads as follows: “With personalized learning, individuals approach problems in their own way, grasp ideas at their own pace, and respond differently to multiple forms of feedback.” Neuroscience research is cited to the effect that instead of preparing “lessons” (so old school), the task of a instructor should be “designing project-based forms of learning.” This proposition rests on the assumption that learners improve better on “core subject matter” and benefit from emphasis on “depth over breadth” when learning in a personalized environment. “Instructional design” is presumed to become the central agency of such infinitely customized collaborative pedagogy. The key instructional designer, however, is going to be the learner herself, equipped with networked hand-held devices: “Future learning processes will inevitably take place in environments in which learners select their own modes of learning and bring personal technologies into education,” thereby dissolving not only any difference between formal and informal learning, but also between inner and outer, psychic and physical spatialities of learning.

This exit from the old systems and architectures of both education and class and enter into mobile learning capsules, however they may be defined, has been a political project and designer’s dream since at least the 1960s. Yet considering Didier Eribon’s self-critical account of class flight into self-organized learning, Ruth Lakofski’s appreciation of the bag lady’s mode of spatializing her “exploring soul,” or Sim Van der Ryn’s proposals for an education revolution based on radical individualism, the vista of “pedagogy 2.0” and lifelong personalization (read: commodification) as is promoted today is truly disheartening. That said, the self still waits to be designed. Improved enclosures for enhanced learning experiences will be proposed, with no end in sight. The paradox of programmed autodidactism and the responsibilization of the neoliberal subject to watchfully manage their own lifelong learning curriculum will stimulate the knowledge industry of instructional design schemes. It might thus be convenient to recall what Ivan Illich, author of the influential 1971 Deschooling Society, self-critically wrote in retrospect when he called for “the reversal of those trends that make of education a pressing need rather than a gift of gratuitous leisure.” Drug-like addiction to education, Illich bemoaned, would make “the world into a universal classroom, a global schoolhouse.” Something surely to be avoided, at all cost."
tomholert  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  deschoolingsociety  leisure  education  economics  individualism  californianideology  teachingmachines  edtech  technology  automation  autodidacts  responsibility  neoliberalism  personalization  commodification  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  simvanderryn  ruthlakofski  didiereribon  self-directed  self-directedlearning  openstudioproject  lcproject  informallearning  formal  networkedlearning  collaboration  collectivism  instructionaldesign  projectbasedlearning  neuroscience  lifelonglearning  michelfoucault  pierrebourdieu  annieernaux  raymondwilliams  chantaljaquet  self-invention  ruthlakosfski  mobile  mobility  cybernetics  1968  1969  anthonyvidler  mikekelley  environment  howardsingerman  autonomy  chrisabel  jerrybrown  california  robertsommer  antfarm  archigram  psychology  participatory  michaelwebb  architecture  design  society  networks  esaleninstitute  unesco  philosophy  educationalphilosophy 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
"The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate" thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples' today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin--which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota--or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, etc.--and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary, European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the of the European intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they "secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say--and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment--that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one--is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology--and that is put in his own terms--he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx'--and his followers'--links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open--in the European view--to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood--a replenishable, natural item--as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate which they can show a good profit. That's their ethic, and maybe they will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's … [more]
russellmeans  1980  writing  oraltradition  lakota  thinking  abstraction  indigeneity  genocide  resistance  marxism  culture  outsiders  education  unschooling  deschooling  leftism  anarchism  johnlocke  adamsmith  descartes  physics  politics  economics  christianity  religion  efficiency  spirituality  complexity  hegel  karlmarx  materialism  isaacnewton  dehumanization  despiritualization  progress  development  victory  freedom  loss  indoctrination  schools  schooling  scientism  rationalism  capitalism  redistribution  truth  revolution  society  industrialization  sovietunion  china  vietnam  order  indigenous  alternative  values  traditions  theory  practice  praxis  westernism  europe  posthumanism  morethanhuman  rationality  belief  ideology  nature  survival  extermination  whiteness  whitesupremacy  community  caucasians  deathculture  isms  revolt  leaders  idols  leadership  activism  words  language  canon  environment  sustainability 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
paying for civilization
"The other day I was walking the dogs along a favorite trail, turned a corner, and realized there’d been a significant re-routing. They’d closed a section of the old trail, which was rocky and treacherous and steep in winter, and rerouted a new, evenly graded trail to the side. A few yards down, they’d planted a new row of saplings, protecting them from the hungry deer with chicken wire. A bit farther down the trail, they’d opened up a once-fenced and densely wooded section of the trail to create a small sitting area overlooking a small, usually hidden reservoir. I actually gasped when I saw it. I was so surprised, happy, grateful. What a gift!

I use the word ‘they’ as if it were people, and of course people did the work. But in a way, I gave that gift to myself. Or everyone in Missoula gave that gift to me. A whole host of trail maintenance programs are funded by the Missoula Open Space Bond, which funds the conservation and maintenance of trails, rivers, and open spaces in the county. It helps restore busted habitats, and continues work on a project making it so that there’s a trailhead within ten minutes of everyone in the county — not just people who live in the more desirable areas. It’s regrading hills to make trails more accessible. It’s making civilization better, more livable. And I fucking love paying for it. That’s what I say every time I pay my taxes: I love paying for civilization.

I don’t know where the American attitude towards taxes came from. I do know that growing up, through some combination of pop culture and adult figures, I somehow internalized the idea that taxes are bad, and smart people spend a lot of money figuring out how not to pay them. It’s not tax evasion, it’s good business sense. Or something like that. Weirdly, that began to change when I actually started working. I didn’t make enough in my 20s to pay hardly any taxes. In fact, I was making so little for much of my grad school career that I became accustomed to large refunds at the end of every year, which felt like bonanzas, but made me feel sheepish: you don’t even make enough for us to really tax you.

After grad school, those refunds began to disappear. I moved to New York, where everyone bitches about the city taxes. But I also looked around me and saw marvels of the city everywhere. Every time I walked along the Brooklyn piers, or used a public drinking fountain, or watched the streets being cleaned of New York filth, or even riding the broken subway. Did I want the subway to be fixed? Of course! Was I nonetheless grateful for a marvel that transports 4.3 million people in the city every damn day? Yes. Again: I love paying for civilization.

I had to find a financial advisor earlier this year, mostly because I had a book advance and needed to come up with a strategy to pay down my still massive student loans. He’s a nice guy, very smart, but when we sat down, he immediately started telling me about the complex ways I could shelter my earnings from taxes. When I told him I was down with paying taxes, it was difficult to tell if he was just surprised or just thought I was stupid — which presupposes the idea that smart people pay less taxes. I’m not dumb, and I take deductions like everyone else. But I’ve also made a conscious decision to think of paying taxes not as a burden to get out of, but as a willingly performed obligation, a way of being a citizen in my community.

My property tax statement came in the mail last month. In Montana, it lists the specific allocation of every tax dollar, down to the penny. We’re spending $50.66 on the county library. $3.84 on “relationship violence services.” $14.08 on “aging services.” $519.98 on elementary schools, and $168.90 for “elementary equalization,” which goes towards school districts that don’t get the same $$$ in property taxes. $14.48 in weed control. $35.99 towards the beloved neighborhood park, where there’s a natural iceskating rink and hoards of children and so much room for the dogs to run. $7.68 in substance abuse prevention. And $56.70 towards the Open Space bond, which includes that regraded path and sitting area.

I don’t have kids, so I don’t personally “use” the public school system. I don’t have friends or family members in substance abuse programs, or in need of assistance fleeing domestic abuse. I don’t (yet) need aging services. But the idea that I should only pay for things that benefit me directly is anathema to me. Every single thing on that list benefits me in some way, because it benefits the community around me. Kids’ education matters not because they’re my kids, but because education matters, in general. I might not need rescue services in the woods out in the corner of the county, but some day, maybe I would. Maybe I would need help in some way that’s currently unimaginable to me. Paying taxes means caring for other people, even if their circumstances aren’t identical to your own. And for all of our best intentions, sometimes we need incentive to care about other people.

I’ve spent a lot of time reporting on and talking to libertarians and conservatives who object to nearly all forms of taxation and government spending, apart from roads. They believe that individuals should be able to decide which programs are important to them, and fund them accordingly — personally, through non-profits, through churches. I get the impulse; we work hard for our money and we’ve internalized a “right” to agency over where it’s directed. Within that model, there are all sorts of services that would fall through the cracks — and not just weed control. Just look at the GoFundMe model: if you have a cute kid, an incredibly tragic or melodramatic story, and a good marketing sense, your plea for assistance might go viral and be filled. But the vast majority go unfunded and unfound. Leaving services up to subjective giving means allowing so many people, and projects, to fall through the cracks. Taxes create a remove — and foils our very human, but very uneven, impulses.

Which isn’t to say that I like everything my taxes fund — military spending in particular. I don’t like bloat or waste; who does? But I also don’t think that entire programs and services should be cut, or cut to the bone, in the name of giving me $14.07 more a year. I support and vote for candidates who advocate for responsible spending — but spending nonetheless. I get annoyed at the hand-wringing over whether or not something like Elizabeth Warren’s health care plan will raise taxes on the middle class, because I’d much rather pay more taxes and far less in personal health care costs and premiums — while also reveling in the ways universal health care would liberate myself and others from “job lock,” and the constant fear of medical debt, and fear in general. How much is too much to pay to make life substantively better for so many people around you?

This all comes back to an idea I touched on a few weeks ago, thinking about how you can decrease burnout in others. One way is by not practicing burnout behaviors that affect everyone you encounter. Another is working to create and normalize social safety nets that take away even one massive burden and fear — for yourself, for your neighbors, for your coworkers, for people you’ll never meet but whose mental and physical contributions to society nevertheless matter.

I love that a huge truck comes by the first week of November and sucks up all the leaves from the street. I love my trails. I love that the roads get plowed, even when it takes a bit. I love that the bus is free, even though I’m going to keep voting for people who want more buses, more routes. I love the library — it doesn’t matter that I hardly use it; I love that it’s there for others, and that it’s always full. I love the weed control that prevents the forests from being overtaken by noxious invasive species. And I love all the projects that seemingly benefit me not at all, because they make life better and livable for someone else.

Think about all the things in your life and community that you help pay for every day. You create and maintain civilization, every day. Taxes! What a blessing, to be able to care for others in this way."
taxes  society  civilization  collectivism  education  healthcare  parks  socialsafetynet  annehelenpetersen  2019  well-being  politics  libertarianism  communities  community  government  missoula  aging  retirement  socialsecurity  publicschools  care  caring  taxation  roads  infrastructure  services 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Noel Ignatiev’s Long Fight Against Whiteness | The New Yorker
“In the eighties, the economy began to shift. Automation took root, and plants began laying off workers. Contemplating the large, industrial workforces of prior decades, Ignatiev had been able to imagine workers forming councils, seizing the means of production, and deposing their bosses. But, as factories emptied out, he no longer knew where to look. In his forties, he, too, was laid off. He decided to go back to school. A friend from S.T.O. who had been admitted to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education persuaded the administration to admit Ignatiev, despite the fact that he lacked a bachelor’s degree. Ignatiev enrolled, then transferred to the history department, where he worked toward his doctorate.

Ignatiev was now a student at the most prestigious university in the world. But he still believed in creating literary projects unencumbered by the traditional press and its credentialled demands. In 1993, he and his friend John Garvey, a former New York City cab driver whom he’d met on the radical labor circuit, started Race Traitor, a journal with the motto “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” John Brown, the white man who led a small militia of black men as they raided an arsenal, at Harpers Ferry, in hopes of sparking an armed slave rebellion, became their lodestar—an example of what it might look like to reject one’s whiteness. Ignatiev and Garvey, who is also an editor at Hard Crackers, called for an “abolition of the white race.” This prompted the expected outrage from right-wingers, who heard a call for extinction, but also upset liberals, who saw them as impractical troublemakers.

In 1995, Ignatiev finished the dissertation that would become “How the Irish Became White.” Not long ago, someone asked him why he had written the book. “The country is divided into masters and slaves,” Ignatiev wrote:
A big political problem is that many of the slaves think they are masters, or at least side with the masters at crucial moments—because they think they are white. I wanted to understand why the Irish, coming from conditions about as bad as could be imagined and thrown into low positions when they arrived, came to side with the oppressor rather than with the oppressed. Imagine how history might have been different had the Irish, the unskilled labor force of the north, and the slaves, the unskilled labor force of the South, been unified. I hoped that understanding why that didn’t happen in the past might open up new possibilities next time.

The book was a hit, by academic standards. Ignatiev now had a powerful platform. But he was also a decade removed from the steel mills, and he was unsure how much a book could really do. Privately, he questioned the value of his new life in the highest reaches of the academy. His on-campus provocations—which included a 1992 incident in which he called for the removal of a kosher toaster oven in a student dormitory—only caused bewilderment among students and administrators.

By 1998, it was time for him to move on. He accepted a post at Bowdoin College, a small school in Maine that mostly catered to white New England prep schoolers. The first class he taught there was a freshman seminar on the making of race; his most adoring student that semester was me, a naïve, vain eighteen-year-old Korean immigrant from North Carolina who desperately wanted to live outside the confines dictated by his race and his own privilege. Ignatiev, with his stories of working in the steel mills, his scorn for credentialled people, and his unwavering belief that a society free from white supremacy was possible, provided a model of a life worth living. I attended all of his office hours, learned to idolize John Brown, and read everything he put in front of me. In my dorm room and in the cafeteria, I talked excitedly to my confused friends about revolutionary politics and abolishing whiteness. At the end of that year, I dropped out and enrolled in Americorps, in hopes of becoming a radical.

I learned, ultimately, that I didn’t have the strength of his convictions. I could never see a new society in my co-workers or, perhaps more importantly, in myself. Even so, I kept looking for traces of what Ignatiev was talking about. There are moments—observing a seemingly small gesture of kindness between two protesters in St. Paul, or noticing the elegant design of the food halls at Standing Rock—when some great possibility seems to reveal itself. When that happens, I think immediately of Ignatiev and his belief in the revolutionary potential of ordinary Americans.

Acouple of months before he died, I drove up to see Ignatiev at his home, in Connecticut. His illness prevented him from swallowing, but he wanted to cook dinner for me in his back yard, where he had fitted a large wok over a rusty propane ring. “Even though I can’t eat anymore, I still find it relaxing to cook,” he told me. As we chopped up the vegetables in a light rain, we talked about all the things we had discussed in his office—John Brown, labor movements, the need to break away from credentialled society. Just as he would a few weeks later, at Freddy’s Bar, he expressed doubt about whether his work had amounted to anything.

I am not so vain as to believe that Noel’s influence on my life provides proof that his work, in fact, made a difference. If his ideas about whiteness and of “white privilege” became fashionable within the academy, they later took on forms he could barely recognize, and oftentimes, despised. He was bewildered by the rise of a style of identity politics that reified the fictions of race and, through its fixation on diversity in élite spaces, abandoned the working class. And as a lifelong radical he took little solace in the rise of a young, insurgent left drawn to the reformist revolution of Democratic Socialism. These movements, I imagine, must have felt like defeats to Ignatiev. We are very far from the abolition of the white race, and there are very few people who believe that changing the minds of five, much less five hundred thousand people, could potentially revolutionize the world.

And yet, from another perspective, there is no political or literary trend—or President—capable of derailing Ignatiev’s true lifelong project. In his writing, and in Race Traitor and Hard Crackers, Ignatiev demonstrated the transformative power of working-class stories. His radicalism was always tethered to specific people, who, in their own ways, inspired sympathy and a desire for connection. That specificity will always be relevant; it may be especially so at a moment of cynical alienation, when identities have become recitations rather than communities. There is enduring power in the narratives he collected and shared—the stories of people he met as a child, in Philadelphia, or in the plants and mills of Chicago, or in his classrooms. My favorite of these stories is included in the introduction to “How the Irish Became White”:
On one occasion, many years ago, I was sitting on my front step when my neighbor came out of the house next door carrying her small child, whom she placed in her automobile. She turned away from him for a moment, and as she started to close the car door, I saw that the child had put his hand where it would be crushed when the door was closed. I shouted to the woman to stop. She halted in mid-motion, and when she realized what she had almost done, an amazing thing happened: she began laughing, then broke into tears and began hitting the child. It was the most intense and dramatic display of conflicting emotions I have ever beheld. My attitude toward the subjects of this study accommodates stresses similar to those I witnessed in that mother.

Sometimes, while walking around gentrifying Brooklyn, I will see young, white progressives talking to the people whom they are displacing. There’s an officiousness—an almost disingenuous toadying—to these interactions that I, with my modern, fashionable prejudices, find a bit funny and gross. Do they believe that the contradictions between their stated politics and their actual lives can be cleansed through ritualistic bonhomie? Or are they just saying an extended goodbye to their temporary neighbors? Ignatiev might have looked at those same conversations and seen people who desperately wanted to be saved from their whiteness. He might have walked by, with a generosity of spirit that I do not possess, and dropped a few leaflets at their feet, filled with enthusiastic, optimistic provocations, and unreasonable demands.”
jaycaspiankang  2019  noelignatiev  irish  history  race  racism  whiteness  marxism  socialconstructions  society  class  radicalism  us  clrjames  work  labor  privilege  whiteprivilege  behavior  expectations  falsehoods  kingsleyclarke  affirmativeaction  sto  johnbrown  johngarvey  credentials  convictions  kindness  democraticsocialism  abolition  abolitionism  organizing  workingclass  cv  classwarfare  radicals  unschooling  deschooling  labormovements  connection  sympathy  alienation 
november 2019 by robertogreco
What the Nordic nations can teach us about liveable cities - BBC Worklife
“Inclusivity issue?

But others working in the field are more sceptical about the idea of singling out Nordic methods as a global ideal worthy of their own postgraduate programme.

“There is a great paradox between how Sweden, Norway and Denmark sell themselves and what is actually the case,” argues James Taylor Foster, a British curator at ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm. He says that the Nordic concept of Jantelagen, which discourages standing out from the crowd, can hinder frank conversations about challenges and the need to adapt for the future. “Urban planning should be about inclusivity and I am not sure how inclusive the region is in reality, in relation to how it can often describe itself,” says Taylor Foster, who is trained in architecture.

There is a great paradox between how Sweden, Norway and Denmark sell themselves and what is actually the case – James Taylor Foster
One issue he believes deserves particular attention is the region’s dwindling stock of affordable housing. Many major urban hubs including Copenhagen, Stockholm and even Tromsø are experiencing a squeeze amid rapid population growth, gentrification and increased tourism. This has led to increased segregation as lower earners are forced further out of city centres and exacerbated integration challenges following record immigration, especially in Sweden.

In Stockholm, for example, outer suburbs such as Tensta and Rinkeby are largely populated by low-income immigrant families. While these areas comprise well-maintained apartment blocks, parks, pedestrianised shopping areas and subway stops connecting them to the city centre, Taylor Foster argues that residents can still feel isolated and may find their interaction with city services limited.

“If you need to go to a specialist hospital, they are largely in the centre of the city. Tax offices, museums… they are largely in the centre,” says Taylor Foster. “But some low-income families simply can’t afford a monthly SL [Stockholm public transport] pass, which is set to get even more expensive in the new year.” He argues that mobility – physical, cultural and social – needs to be prioritised in future. “We need to be able to think in a holistic way that allows engagement and experimentation. Practically speaking, public transport within a city could be completely free of charge,” he says.

We could learn a lot from other places that experiment and test ideas quickly – Jordan Valentin Lane
Jordan Valentin Lane, an Australian-born sustainability strategist and architect who works in Södertälje, a municipality south of the Swedish capital, describes urban planning practice as “quite homogenous”, with middle-class locals tending to dominate the field. This, he argues, can promote a limited perspective, while the region’s penchant for strict rules and consensus-based decisions can sometimes limit innovation. “Cities are works in progress, but sometimes things take too long, we could learn a lot from other places that experiment and test ideas quickly.”

However, Valentin Lane argues that courses like the Nordic urban planning master’s programme can play a positive role in promoting diversity in the field. “We can learn in the Nordics from hiring people with international backgrounds,” he says. “They have different ways of knowing the world and what’s possible. They take with them a whole history of place-making and city-making that may not have even been considered in the Nordics”.

He cites the example of outdoor pavement seating areas at city centre restaurants and cafes, a concept popular in other European cities which experienced “a real push-back” from city officials when planners suggested introducing it to Stockholm the 1970s. This kind of al fresco experience proved highly popular, despite Sweden’s cooler climate, with bars and restaurants now allowed to open their outdoor areas from April until October.

Valentin Lane also believes international students have much to gain from working in the region. “There is a good level of English, generous parental leave which you don’t get in other countries, and a lot more discussion and research being done from critical perspectives.”

Adapting the Nordic way

Back at Roskilde University, David Pinder says he is aware of the danger of “presenting a too celebratory perspective on Nordic urban planning”. He says the course also raises “critical questions” about past and present regional projects and hopes that it will help play a role in solving future issues.

“As cities grow and become prosperous, we really need to look at the downsides of that development, especially questions about affordability and growing inequality,” he argues. “What is meant by liveability, is this potentially an exclusive agenda and how can it address these problems of inequality and social justice? [This] will be a key area of debate in the coming years.”

Students take part in regular discussions with practitioners who are already starting to deal with these challenges, including local municipalities, urban consulting firms and non-profit organisations. Pinder hopes some of these practitioners will hire students after they graduate or inspire them to embark on their own planning projects. Meanwhile there are signs that the international students are already bringing a critical perspective to the table.

Leo Couturier Lopez argues that while he appreciates living near parks, having wide streets and the trend for low-rise buildings in Denmark, he believes that Copenhagen could become more attractive by densifying, rather than focusing on creating new areas such Lynetteholmen, a new island which is set to provide 35,000 new homes east of the city centre.

He also misses Paris’ buzzing late-night restaurant and cafe culture; in Copenhagen he is “sometimes a bit disappointed” with the social life in some residential neighbourhoods. “Copenhagen could develop and revitalise its existing centralities with small restaurants, small shops and little cafes and affordable houses, rather than the risk of creating lifeless new neighbourhoods.”

The region is perhaps best used as a source of inspiration for other cities, rather than as a direct guide to ‘copy and paste’
It’s an observation that has recently started to enter mainstream social and political debate, following studies suggesting that Nordics countries are some of the most challenging for expats and immigrants to make friends in, while concerns about social isolation and loneliness among the local population have also come to the fore.

Student Camilla Boye Mikkelsen says she will likely remain biased towards Nordic planning methods in future, having grown up in Copenhagen. But for her, a key takeaway from the course so far is that the region is perhaps best used as a source of inspiration for other cities, rather than as a direct guide to “copy and paste”.

“Saying ’now we are going to make London into a bike-friendly city like Copenhagen’ might not be the right thing to do,” she argues. “London is way busier and a stressful city where there are always people around.”

“If you were to be inspired by the Nordic perspective on planning, the most important thing would not be to directly copy and put it on your city, but instead think: how can I adapt the Nordic model to our city and how our city works and our city’s unique rhythms?””
cities  society  nordiccountries  scandinavia  sweden  denmark  2019  urban  urbanism  planning  urbanplanning  inclusivity  inclusion  jordanvalentinlane  jantelagen  jamestaylorfoster  copenhagen  tromsø  stockholm  norway 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | What Quakers Can Teach Us About the Politics of Pronouns - The New York Times
"In the 17th century, they also suspected that the rules of grammar stood between them and a society of equals.

Pronouns are the most political parts of speech. In English, defaulting to the feminine “she/her” when referring to a person of unspecified gender, instead of the masculine “he/him,” has long been a way of thumbing one’s nose at the patriarchy. (“When a politician votes, she must consider the public mood.”)

More recently, trans, nonbinary and genderqueer activists have promoted the use of gender-inclusive pronouns such as the singular “they/their” and “ze/zir” (instead of “he/him” or “she/her”). The logic here is no less political: If individuals — not grammarians or society at large — have the right to determine their own gender, shouldn’t they get to choose their own pronouns, too?

As with everything political, the use of gender-inclusive pronouns has been subject to controversy. One side argues that not to respect an individual’s choice of pronoun can threaten a vulnerable person’s basic equality. The other side dismisses this position as an excess of sensitivity, even a demand for Orwellian “newspeak.”

Both sides have dug in. To move the conversation forward, I suggest we look backward for an illuminating, if unexpected, perspective on the politics of pronouns. Consider the 17th-century Quakers, who also suspected that the rules of grammar stood between them and a society of equals.

Today the Quakers are remembered mainly for their pacifism and support for abolition. Yet neither of these commitments defined the Quaker movement as it emerged in the 1650s from the chaos of the English Civil War. What set the Quakers apart from other evangelical sects was their rejection of conventional modes of address — above all, their peculiar use of pronouns.

In early modern England, the rules of civility dictated that an individual of higher authority or social rank was entitled to refer to himself — and to be referred to by others — with plural, not singular, pronouns. (A trace of this practice survives today in the “royal ‘we.’”) The ubiquitous “you” that English speakers now use as the second-person singular pronoun was back then the plural, while “thee” and “thou” were the second-person singulars.

When Quakerism emerged, proper behavior still required this status-based differentiation. As one early Quaker explained, if a man of lower status came to speak to a wealthy man, “he must you the rich man, but the rich man will thou him.”

Quakers refused to follow this practice. They also refused to doff their hats to those of higher social standing. The Quakers’ founder, George Fox, explained that when God sent him forth, “he forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low; and I was required to thee and thou all men and women, without any respect to rich or poor, great or small.”

The Quakers thus declared themselves to be, like God, “no respecter of persons.” So they thee-ed and thou-ed their fellow human beings without distinction as a form of egalitarian social protest. And like today’s proponents of gender-inclusive pronouns, they faced ridicule and persecution as a result.

But there is also an important difference between the Quakers and today’s pronoun protesters. While modern activists argue that equality demands displays of equal respect toward others, the Quakers demonstrated conscientious disrespect toward everyone. Theirs was an equality of extreme humility and universally low status. Even the famously tolerant founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, couldn’t stand the Quakers and complained of the “familiarity, anger, scorn and contempt” inherent in their use of “thee” and “thou.”

Indeed, the trend in pronouns at that time was toward a leveling up, not a leveling down. By the middle of the 17th century, in response to increasing geographic and social mobility, the plural “you” had begun to crowd out the singular “thee” as the standard second-person pronoun, even for those of a lower social station. This meant that everyone would soon become, effectively, entitled — at least to the honorific second-person plural.

One might expect principled egalitarians like the Quakers to celebrate a linguistic process whereby all social ranks experienced an increase in dignity. But Fox and his followers looked on the universal “you” with horror, as a sign of the sin of pride. Long before he founded Pennsylvania, the Quaker William Penn would argue that when applied to individuals, the plural “you” was a form of idolatry. Other Quakers produced pamphlets citing examples from more than 30 dead and living languages to argue that their use of “thee” and “thou” was grammatically — as well as theologically and politically — correct.

The Quaker use of “thee” and “thou” continued as a protest against the sinfulness of English grammar for more than 200 years. (In 1851, in “Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville could still marvel at “the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker idiom.”) But eventually, in the 20th century, even the Quakers had to admit that their grammatical ship had sailed.

Modern practitioners of pronoun politics can learn a thing or two from the early Quakers. Like today’s egalitarians, the Quakers understood that what we say, as well as how we say it, can play a crucial part in creating a more just and equal society. They, too, were sensitive to the humble pronoun’s ability to reinforce hierarchies by encoding invidious distinctions into language itself.

Yet unlike the early Quakers, these modern egalitarians want to embrace, rather than resist, pronouns’ honorific aspect, and thus to see trans-, nonbinary and genderqueer people as equally entitled to the “title” of their choosing.

To their critics, however, allowing some people to designate their own pronouns and expecting everyone else to oblige feels like a demand for distinction. Yes, some of these critics may be motivated by “transphobic” bigotry. But others genuinely see such demands as special treatment and a violation of equality. They themselves experience “he” and “she” as unchosen designations. Shouldn’t everyone, they ask, be equally subject to the laws of grammatical gender?

According to the Quakers, both sides are right: Language reflects, as well as transforms, social realities. But the dual demands of equality and respect aren’t always in perfect harmony. Sometimes they are even in conflict. Respect can require treating people unequally, and equality can mean treating everyone with disrespect.

At present, the battle over the third-person singular subject in English seems to be resolving itself in the direction of the singular “they” — at least when referring to a person of unspecified gender. (“When a politician votes, they must consider the public mood.”) Pedants naturally complain. They argue that applying a plural pronoun to a singular subject is simply bad English. But as linguists note, spoken English has been tending that way for many years, long before the issue became politicized.

If the rules of grammar are indeed an obstacle to social justice, then the singular “they” represents a path of least resistance for activists and opponents alike. It may not be the victory that activists want. Still, it goes with the flow of the increasing indifference with which modern English distinguishes subjects on the basis of their social position. More fittingly, if applied to everyone, “they” would complete the leveling-up progress of equal dignity that “you” started centuries ago.

Of course, a 17th-century Quaker would be likely to dismiss the singular “they” as diabolically bad grammar. But hey, who asked them?"
quakers  language  english  teresabejan  pronouns  they  equality  inclusivity  patriarchy  gender  nonbinary  genderqueer  grammar  politics  newspeak  society  status  resistance  refusal  georgefox  class  inclusion  hierarchy  egalitarianism  titles  rules 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Inhumanism Rising - Benjamin H Bratton - YouTube
[See also:
https://trust.support/watch/inhumanism-rising

“Benjamin H. Bratton considers the role ideologies play in technical systems that operate at scales beyond human perception. Deep time, deep learning, deep ecology and deep states force a redrawing of political divisions. What previously may have been called left and right comes to reflect various positions on what it means to be, and want to be, human. Bratton is a design theorist as much as he is a philosopher. In his work remodelling our operating system, he shows how humans might be the medium, rather than the message, in planetary-scale ways of knowing.

Benjamin H. Bratton's work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture)

In The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016. 503 pages) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. He proposes that different genres of planetary-scale computation – smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation – can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure that is both a computational infrastructure and a new governing architecture. The book plots an expansive interdisciplinary design brief for The Stack-to-Come.

His current research project, Theory and Design in the Age of Machine Intelligence, is on the unexpected and uncomfortable design challenges posed by A.I in various guises: from machine vision to synthetic cognition and sensation, and the macroeconomics of robotics to everyday geoengineering.”]
benjaminbratton  libertarianism  technology  botcoin  blockchain  peterthiel  society  technodeterminism  organization  anarchism  anarchy  jamesbridle  2019  power  powerlessness  control  inhumanism  ecology  capitalism  fascism  interdependence  surveillance  economics  data  computation  ai  artificialintelligence  californianideology  ideology  philosophy  occult  deeplearning  deepecology  magic  deepstate  politics  agency  theory  conspiracytheories  jordanpeterson  johnmichaelgreer  anxiety  software  automation  science  psychology  meaning  meaningfulness  apophenia  posthumanism  robotics  privilege  revelation  cities  canon  tools  beatrizcolomina  markwigley  markfisher  design  transhumanism  multispecies  cybotgs  syntheticbiology  intelligence  biology  matter  machines  industry  morethanhuman  literacy  metaphysics  carlschmitt  chantalmouffe  human-centereddesign  human-centered  experience  systems  access  intuition  abstraction  expedience  ideals  users  systemsthinking  aesthetics  accessibility  singularity  primitivism  communism  duty  sovietunion  ussr  luxury  ianhacking 
november 2019 by robertogreco
dandan the transient on Twitter: "I see these two found each other, bleh. For the record decolonization is about a return to traditional values and ways of thinking, adaptation to and of tech is a cornerstone of most Native traditions." / Twitter
[via and see also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:1fb6a90208e0 ]

“I see these two found each other, bleh.

For the record decolonization is about a return to traditional values and ways of thinking, adaptation to and of tech is a cornerstone of most Native traditions. [quoting @kendrick_mccabe:]
@loisdum I’m convinced it’s a buzz word now with roots in something honorable but has lost its way. Wanting “decolonization” but utilizing the wheel, western technology, doesn’t make sense to me…

My ancestors didn’t see steel and think, “how nice but that’s not traditional.”

No they traded for and adapted it to their needs. The took the improved material and formed it into their traditional (and better) shape (the ulu).

I have any old ulu made out of a food lid that an ancestor made when Russians gave them canned foods.

Natives were often better armed then the US Army, with plains NAtives going from bows to repeater rifles while the cavalry still often used black powder.

(Note in most situations a good bow is better then black powder).

From methodology to material when most tribes found something useful they traded for it and found a way to impRove it for their use.

Adaption, ingenuity, and cleverness are traditional values.

That is why the majority of modern foods (like 87% from one article) originated from precontact Native food science.

Medicine, architecture, leadership, governmental systems, pragmatism, the list goes on, all because we experimented, discovered, and improved.

All that said, the wheel was known by most tribes before contact, and it was surely seen and understood not soon after.

It was deemed for the most part not very useful when we had canoes that could go farther, faster, and with less work.

The wheel requires roads to not only be built, but maintained. Don’t believe me, ask why the military has been trying to develop mechanical legged gear haulers since WW2. Or why hikers aren’t taking trailers on thru hikes.

And tracked vehicles are extremely damaging.

The wheel is great if you want to build and maintain an infrastructure, something pre industrial societies needed cheap or free labor to do the building and maintaining.

Laborers weren’t considered disposable to most Native cultures.

And why even go to that work when a river gets you there twice as fast and a fraction of the work?

Why struggle with a wagon up a mountain pass when a travois will glide along? I know which I’d rather have to repair on the fly.

A better question than “why didn’t Natives build wheels?” is “why did Europeans spend decades blocking, damming, and covering their natural roadways instead of just discovering kayaks and canoes?”

But now we have roads so not taking advantage of that with the wheel would be silly and untraditional.

The environment has been changed and we adapt as we always have.

A lot of folks bringing up “no domesticated beasts of burden” so let me remind you llama, dogs, and horses.

Just cause colonial history taught y’all an entire continent was filled with horses in 30 years from 8 escaped Spanish mounts don’t make it true.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y815zgfbox6wknk/Collin.Horse.Dissertation.pdf?dl=0&fbclid=IwAR1lLBDf6SD9hl9ivIpGnuN_z7G-mlhtx54wKMpD3QJVqKq1yEptAGDuNI8

Add to your knowledge even European history (though untrustworthy compared to Indigenous history) records that at least 3 Inuit at different times crossed over to England, one of them kayaking into London on a rainy day, all preColombus

We discovered you [quoting @DanDanTransient:]
And Inuit in kayaks crossed into England and back as is recorded in history and story so I mean, there ya go

I guess I should connect these two as one does [quoting @DanDanTransient:]
Ok so I love the positive and informative comments on my wheel thread, but I want to address my favorite flavor of statement that I just couldn’t believe anyone like believed.

Summing them all up “Natives didn’t use the wheel because we didn’t have agricultural societies.”

Ok once I got done laughing at this wrong statement I doubled down on any of them in that I believe pre industrial societies require a system of forced labor to build and maintain roads. Few tribes had that here, laborers weren’t widely accepted as disposable.

I mean like Europeans may have tried for an agricultural society but I think it’s pretty verifiable that the rest of the world was doing it better.
dandan the transient

Like 87% of the world’s food today comes from pre contact American food science, and the majority of the rest came from outside europe.

Now that’s based on articles cause the closest I’ve came to being a scientist is wearing a lab coat and waving a microscope at climate change deniers.

So my numbers may be off, but we still gave the world most of its modern food.

But what I’m not off about is many tribes had flourishing agriculture both in the generally accepted method and in what I would consider non standard.

First in the generally accepted category those dudes in central America like created corn from grass, they weren’t just kinda playing around, they like made something.

Tomatoes are another example of “hey look at this little berry I’m gonna create something the size of an apple.”

Not too mention quinoa, rices, grains, and orchids that covered the land. Just cause Europeans burned a lot of it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

But let’s go beyond the standard accepted forms because innovation is traditional in both method and thought.

The spread of bear poop filled with huckleberry seeds to increase the amount of plants, clearing one style of tree to make room for more useful trees, clearing brush to prevent damaging fires, or carrying seeds to easier each locations for medicines and craftable plants.

When settlers arrived here they were shocked at the “wild” paradise filled with useful things, it was like forests were engineered to suit the tribes’ needs.

Spoiler it was like that because we engineered it that way.

We did the work.

Their inability to see terraforming for what is was doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. They benefited and continue to benefit from thousands of years of planning and labor.

The fact that we didn’t clear cut trees or make long straight rows to labor over doesn’t mean we weren’t planning out and caring for our lands, it means we were working smarter not harder.

Clearing wide spaces opens the door for erosion and a lack of diversity ruins the soil, increasing salt content and sapping nutrients.

Sure you can rotate crops or haul fertilizer to combat this, but why add that labor when animals and other plants will do it for you?

And let’s remember when thinking about both our ancestors and our place in modern society that: [quoting @DanDanTransient:
Adaption, ingenuity, and cleverness are traditional values.

And I think the environment will agree with me, if your definition of agriculture is limited to back breaking labor that destroys the land than agriculture needs 🚮.

But if your definition can expand to land stewardship that improves the land for human and nonhuman people 👍

And link to the next stage I guess [quoting @DanDanTransient:]
Before someone comes at this with the same energy they did the wheel thread talking about population let’s hit that myth.
indigenous  technology  wheels  steel  decolonization  tradition  culture  trading  horses  natives  blackpowder  guns  adaptation  food  science  medicine  architecture  leadership  governance  government  pragmatism  canoes  kayaks  transportation  roads  vehicles  terrain  mobility  infrastructure  society  industrialization  labor  maintenance  repair  environment  waterways  nature  land  history  inuit  2019  agriculture  ingenuity  cleverness  work  terraforming  clearcuts  trees  crops  croprotation  fertilizer  animals  plants  horticulture 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "So I learned something fun about the word "pioneer" today. It was originally a military rank in the late medieval period for ... construction workers." / Twitter
“So I learned something fun about the word “pioneer” today.

It was originally a military rank in the late medieval period for … construction workers.

Specifically, CWs who went ahead of armies to cut down forest, clear trails, build roads/bridges, identify fording spots, etc

so the REAL army could march through later.

In other words, they were doing all of this in enemy territory while getting shot at.
Dr Sarah Taber

So like this sounds super badass, right? That’s the sentiment we attach to “pioneer” today.

Except it comes from Latin “pedestrian,” as in “not high-class mounted cavalry,” aka broke-ass serf trash.

It’s from the same term as “peon” and “pawn.”

https://etymonline.com/word/pioneer

“Pioneer” means disposable people who pave the way for invasion.

The cannon fodder that goes in before the usual rank ’n’ file cannon fodder.

Indigenous people talk about the growth of the United States as a military invasion.

And, uh, we agreed with them. We openly used military terms to talk about what we were doing.

It’s only later that we romanticized it into forgetting.

This also slots into something I’ve been seeing with how we Euro-Americans settled the US: rank classism amongst ourselves, covered up with rose-tinted glasses.

We openly acknowledged that the earliest settlers in an area were probably gonna get killed & the perks were all going to go to gentlemen coming in later.

And OUR GOVERNMENT WAS MORE THAN OK WITH THAT.

We had inequality that created desperately poor people, willing to do anything for a chance to escape poverty- like invade Native land knowing there was a high & justifiable risk of being killed for it.

We weren’t just ok with that system. We deliberately weaponized poverty.

The US’s refusal to enforce treaties allowed poor whites to squat on Native land. When they were evicted or killed, that was used as a pretense to formally invade Native land (bc we’re “hard on crime” I guess).

And THAT’s when land speculators were able to gobble up vast tracts.

The land speculators couldn’t make money without genocide AND the casual disposability of their. own. people.

I’m not saying this to claim we had it worse than Native people, who suffered actual genocide. White settler deaths never amounted to the numbers Indigenous ppl faced.

But this is hitting a lot of the same notes @DanDanTransient has been talking about with how much settler “technological & logistical superiority” was really more about how it creates poor people & then treats them as expendable. [quoting @DanDanTransient: also here https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:28ba80f5d65f ]
The wheel is great if you want to build and maintain an infrastructure, something pre industrial societies needed cheap or free labor to do the building and maintaining.

Laborers weren’t considered disposable to most Native cultures.

Nothing is impossible when you have hordes of impoverished, desperate peon-eers to throw at the problem.[Quoteing @DanDanTransient: also here https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:28ba80f5d65f ]
A better question than “why didn’t Natives build wheels?” is “why did Europeans spend decades blocking, damming, and covering their natural roadways instead of just discovering kayaks and canoes?”

it’s interesting to me how much Americans fear China for its real and/or perceived willingness to just throw human bodies at a thing until it’s conquered

because that’s exactly what we did to Indigenous people

Anyway, the most impressive piece of engineering to me

is the social engineering we did to convince people that pioneering was awesome. Nowadays the word makes us think strong, virtuous, honorable, badass Paul Bunyan-type shit

instead of, y’know, what “pioneer” really means. An underclass that cuts down trees & gets shot at so other people can ride in and take the goods.

This is just one reason it’s important for white settlers to understand how much we’ve damaged *ourselves* with colonialism.

Every phase of colonialism had its own set of broke colonists paving the way with infrastructure. Cutting down trees, to building roads & ferries, to building railroads.

That work was always done by the dregs of our society.

In other words, colonial society NEEDS DREGS.

The American invasion economy needed broke desperate people.

It still does. Because we still haven’t figured out any other way to live, than by weaponizing poverty to get people to wreck themselves for the empire.

It’s also just one reason “it’s all about class!” brocialism isn’t good enough.

Rich whites didn’t pick on poor whites just for shits & giggles. They did it to weaponize us against other people. And it WORKED.

We can’t repair that- or ourselves- by making it “all about class.” That just keeps rich whites at the center of the universe instead of aligning ourselves with other people that they- and we, through our participation in colonialism- harm.

welp that’s a lot of technocolonialism & thoughts on how if the white working class is serious about living our best lives, we gotta get our heads out of the white upper class’s ass, take responsibility for where we’ve been, & make some better friends

happy Sunday”
sarahtaber  2019  pioneers  words  language  colonialism  technocolonialism  class  inequality  capitalism  gentrification  exploitation  genocide  indigenous  us  classism  race  racism  society  socialengineering  poverty  serfs  peons  speculation  landspeculation  disposability  disposal  poor  labor  construction  pawns  military  government  settlers  settlercolonialism  laborers  work  china  brocialism  weaponization 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Meditations in an Emergency
"In short, climate change presents—among other things—a spiritual problem concerning what we often casually refer to as the end of the world. In another era, one might have expected to find the Jewish community embroiled in theological disputes about the nature and timing of the messiah. Indeed, as leftist Jews living in a period of planetary devastation, we’ve often thought of Walter Benjamin; the best-known Jewish sage to dwell on such questions in the modern era, he imagined history from the perspective of an angel caught in a storm called progress, flying with his back to the future as trash piles up endlessly in his line of sight.

But this association just as soon leads us elsewhere. In 1940, shortly after he wrote his “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Benjamin died while attempting to escape Nazi-occupied Europe; Spanish border guards informed the group of refugees he was traveling with that they would not be permitted to enter Spain, and Benjamin overdosed on morphine rather than risk being sent back to Vichy France. He was obsessed with the ending of worlds—the world of 19th-century Paris, the world of his Berlin childhood—but it is impossible to read him now without thinking in particular of the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry; he is as bound to that catastrophe as Noah was to his flood.

This is often the way it goes, today, when we seek out Jewish ideas about end times: we immediately come upon an actual world that ended just a human lifespan ago. As the angel of history could tell you, Jews have this experience of total loss in common with a great many people and other creatures. Capitalist imperialism has been a particularly effective machine for the destruction of worlds, accompanied by the denial that they were ever there in the first place. Yet at the same time, the Holocaust is never merely an example; it has taken on a uniquely metonymic relationship to apocalyptic catastrophe as the result of both its actual singularity and reactionary attempts to isolate it from history altogether. As new endings approach, we’ve seen a spike in struggles over its memory."

...

"Climate apocalypse will be messy—but what religion imagines the end of the world unfolding neatly? In Benjamin’s Marxist recasting of Jewish messianism as the struggle for a classless society, the persistent salience of meditations on end times emerges from the fact that we’re in them already, and always have been. In the Jewish messianic tradition, as in the Lakota version, history continually threatens to burst into the present. In the course of such explosions, Benjamin’s follower Agamben explains in his book The Time That Remains, olam hazeh (this world) collides with olam habah (the world to come), creating a temporal rupture in which “the present is able to recognize the meaning of the past and the past therein finds its meaning and fulfillment.” In religious terms, this might look like the realization of a prophecy: a moment when ominous signs from the past become newly legible, revealing—as Benjamin puts it in his “Theses”—“a secret protocol between the generations of the past and that of our own.”

But Benjamin represents this claim in en­vironmental terms as well. At the close of the same text, he quotes a “recent biologist” who observes that “[i]n relation to the history of organic life on earth, the miserable fifty millennia of homo sapiens represents something like the last two seconds of a twenty-four hour day.” The biologist’s view is like the angel’s: he pictures time on earth at a radically defamiliarized planetary scale, contracting the “entire history of humanity” into a “monstrous abbreviation.” From a contemporary perspective, we might say that we cease being climate change denialists only when we stop waiting for a sign that the world has begun to end and recognize that the million sites of crisis are the single overarching catastrophe.

Messianic time, here, describes not a particular epoch but the ongoing potential that we will come to see the world in a condition of perpetual crisis, as the angel (or, today, the biologist) does. For Benjamin, the task before us is to transform this de facto state of emergency—he uses the same term as Schmitt, Ausnahmezustand—into a real state of emergency: a revolution. From this perspective, the Ausnahmezustand that Hitler sought to establish was already latent in the experience of everyday life under capitalism. What were the camps, after all, but a vision of the status quo militarized beyond recognition, transformed into the Nazis’ own hideous utopia? And what would it look like to usher in a real state of emergency as the seas rise?"
walterbenjamin  judaism  climatechange  alexandriaocasio-cortez  astrataylor  politics  capialism  religion  mashagessen  nickestes  dakotaacesspipeline  activism  jonathanfranzen  marxism  class  society  socialism  environment  marissabrostoff  zuzecasapa  giorgioagamben  carlschmitt  bretstephens 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Why Libraries Have a Public Spirit That Most Museums Lack
"A broad swath of society seems to feel more welcome in a public library rather than a museum. I examined the Brooklyn Public Library as a model of heightened engagement through collective knowledge creation."

...

"At a time when museums are being held accountable by a variety of publics for every aspect of their operations — from programming and exhibition-making to financial support and governance structures — perhaps it is useful to look at parallel institutions that are doing similar work for guidance on alternative ways of working.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the relationship between museums and public libraries, to understand what makes libraries feel different from museums. Why do they have a public spirit that most museums don’t? Why are there lines around the block at some NYC library branches at 9 am? I’ve been reading about the roots of both institutions in the United States, and they have evolved in similar ways; so how do they diverge? And is this divergence relevant to the ways in which a stunningly broad swath of society feels welcome within a public library and not a museum?

John Cotton Dana, the Progressive Era thinker and radical re-imaginer of public libraries, wrote a particularly important essay in 1917 titled “The Gloom of the Museum.” It includes a section about expertise that is particularly germane today:
They become enamoured of rarity, of history … They become lost in their specialties and forget their museum. They become lost in their idea of a museum and forget its purpose. They become lost in working out their idea of a museum and forget their public. And soon, not being brought constantly in touch with the life of their community … they become entirely separated from it and go on making beautifully complete and very expensive collections but never construct a living, active, and effective institution.


Museums and libraries in the US originated in similar places and via similar patronage models with their foundational collections coming largely from wealthy collectors of books and art objects, sometimes in conjunction with institutions of higher learning. However, the word “public” remains embedded in what we call the library. And while some branches are named for generous funders, these are secondary to the overall system. In fact, the Queens Public Library system, the largest in the nation, boasts of a branch within a mile of every Queens resident."
libraries  museums  public  2019  lauraraicovich  community  brooklyn  brooklynpubliclibrary  society  welcome  johncottondana  corafisher  jakoborsos  kameelahjananrasheed  participation  co-creation  engagement  visitors  participatory  workshops  sheryloring  scoringthestacks  ideas  information 
november 2019 by robertogreco
How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’ - CityLab
““This progress from one of the poorest countries of Europe to one of the most prosperous has not been an accident. It’s based on this idea that when there are so few of us—only 5.5 million people—everyone has to live up to their full potential,” he said. “Our society is fundamentally dependent on people being able to trust the kindness of strangers.”

That conviction has helped support modern Finland’s emphasis on education and literacy—each Finn takes out more than 15 books a year from the library (10 more than the average American). But Nordic-style social services have not shielded the residents of Finland’s largest city from 21st-century anxieties about climate change, migrants, disruptive technology, and the other forces fueling right-leaning populist movements across Europe. Oodi, which was the product of a 10-year-long public consultation and design process, was conceived in part to resist these fears. “When people are afraid, they focus on short-term selfish solutions,” Laitio said. “They also start looking for scapegoats.”

The central library is built to serve as a kind of citizenship factory, a space for old and new residents to learn about the world, the city, and each other. It’s pointedly sited across from (and at the same level as) the Finnish Parliament House that it shares a public square with.”



“Inside and out, the facility is as handsome as Finnish Modernism fans might expect, and it has proved to be absurdly popular: About 10,000 patrons stop by every day, on average (it’s open until 10 p.m.), and Oodi just hit 3 million visitors this year—“a lot for a city of 650,000,” Laitio said. In its very first month, 420,000 Helsinki residents—almost two-thirds of the population—went to the library. Some may only have been skateboarders coming in to use the bathroom, but that’s fine: The library has a “commitment to openness and welcoming without judgement,” he said. “It’s probably the most diverse place in our city, in many ways.””

[via: https://kottke.org/19/11/helsinkis-has-a-library-to-learn-about-the-world-the-city-and-each-other ]

[See also:
https://www.archdaily.com/907675/oodi-helsinki-central-library-ala-architects?ad_medium=gallery ]
helsinki  finland  libraries  citizenship  books  architecture  reading  community  communityspaces  democracy  openness  diversity  2019  design  oodi  literacy  progress  history  civics  society  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  publicspaces  judgement  freedom  inclusion  inclusivity  purpose  fear  populism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Barack Obama thinks 'woke' kids want purity. They don't: they want progress | Malaika Jabali | Opinion | The Guardian
“On Tuesday, in Chicago, former president Barack Obama joined actress Yara Shahidi in a conversation with activists from his Obama Foundation program. Over the nearly 1.5-hour Obama Foundation summit event, the beloved political figure deployed his trademark charm and humor while discussing the challenges of movement politics.

Media attention has focused on a particular part of the conversation – Obama’s criticism of call-out culture and what he perceived as an excessively strident activist left. “We can’t completely remake society in a minute,” Obama said, “so we have to make some accommodations to the existing structures.”

He added, “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids and share certain things with you.”

He then made a separate point about social media activism:

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself. ‘Man you see how woke I was, I called you out.’” But “that’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change.”

On its face, these are fair remarks. During the session, both Obama and Shahidi drew from examples of the nonviolent civil rights movement of the early 1960s, which required enormous faith, patience and compromise from its activists in the face of threats to their lives and livelihood. Today, as social justice activists’ material conditions have relatively improved, they will encounter people in positions of power with wealth and access, and they have to learn to work with them on some level, Obama implied. And no, tweeting about a verb probably won’t bring about change.

However, we can’t look at Obama’s remarks in a vacuum. From 2016 – as he prepared to exert his influence over who would be the next Democratic nominee – to the present, Obama has often aimed his political critiques at youth-led, black and progressive movements. While upholding the necessity of nuance, Obama himself seems to force these movements into a box, cherry-picking anecdotes for a strawman: that these movements expect purity and demand perfection.

In an early instance of this ideological pattern, at a 2016 youth town hall in London, Obama spoke generally of Black Lives Matter while referring to the handful of activists who confronted the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her role in criminalizing black youth:

“Once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention … then you can’t just keep on yelling at them. And you can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position. The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room.”

A few months later in a Howard commencement address, with Chicago protests of the police killing of Laquan McDonald not far in the distance, he told the audience of mostly black students about his criminal justice reform as a state senator:

“I can say this unequivocally: without at least the acceptance of the police organizations in Illinois, I could never have gotten those [criminal justice reform] bills passed … If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want.”

And earlier this year, Obama again raised the amorphous specter of purity politics as people have embraced a leftward policy shift:

“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States … is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be’ and then we start … a ‘circular firing squad’, where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues.”

Obama has offered these platitudes without much evidence that progressives, Black Lives Matter activists or young voters expect purity. Impatience with the status quo is not purity. A consistent political project is not purity. And being patient has its limits.

You can gather from the general direction of Obama’s career, from turning down a route in corporate law to his community organizing, that he has some commitment to social justice. However, his remarks indicate discomfort with more radical tactics in achieving it, reducing them to petulant zeal and not a legitimate strategy among the broad scope of tools needed to dismantle oppressive systems.

While discussing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King as examples of patient progress, he freezes them in time. He failed to note either King’s or Parks’s evolutions. Over time King became more radicalized and questioned integration. When Parks was forced to Detroit to retreat from the backlash against her bus boycott activism, she became a proponent of the Panthers’ self-defense demands and identified Malcolm X as her personal hero.

Obama also failed to discuss how, despite King’s strategies negotiating with Lyndon Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress waffled in passing further civil rights measures until the 1968 riots after King’s assassination, when Congress was forced to swiftly pass the Fair Housing Act.

Or go back further: despite the negotiations and patience of abolitionists in the 1800s, it was a steady stream of black uprisings, and an entire civil war, that gave abolition laws and the Emancipation Proclamation any teeth.

Obama’s fundamental problem is in confusing a strategy of pragmatism with the strategy. Pragmatic approaches can coexist with more radical politics. But Obama’s pattern of dismissing radical demands altogether shows a serious unwillingness to appreciate the times. Obama is committed to a notion of reaching across the aisle that may have seemed necessary in 2012, but not so much in 2019.

Americans in the throes of economic struggle and social oppression have been advised to hold their nose for so long that they’re suffocating. The labor movement is experiencing more worker strikes now than in the past 40 years. We’re in a 1968 moment, not 1963. But Obama has not accepted this evolution.

As people demand universal policies for basic needs of shelter, food, freedom from police terror, and economic security, and when wealth inequality is the worst in a century, Obama has to reckon with his own questions. How is his form of calling out – scolding black, young and progressive movements – bringing about change? Is he part of the solution or part of the problem?

For many Americans, the normalization of genuinely leftwing policies is providing the hope and change Obama campaigned on. This is the time for him to finally help achieve it.”
barackobama  elitism  democrats  2019  politics  us  purity  wokeness  call-outculture  dismissal  outoftouch  policy  malaikajabali  leftism  society  oppression  radicalism  radicalization  progressivism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
The Meaning of Chile’s Explosion
"The ongoing popular upheaval in Chile is the product of thirty years of neoliberal oligarchy and half-hearted democratization. To uproot the existing power structure, the country needs a new constitution."
chile  2019  neoliberalism  capitalism  history  pinochet  constitution  change  camilavergara  democracy  power  inequality  ppotest  protests  economics  society 
october 2019 by robertogreco
how I drew my mental map of politics – Snakes and Ladders
The Reagan years were for me an education in political cynicism. In the 1980s I came to believe what I still believe: That almost no elected politicians have principles that they’re willing to stake their careers on, and those who have such principles typically last a single term in office; that the rare politician who has integrity almost certainly lacks courage, while those who have courage lack integrity; that the extremely rare politician who has both courage and integrity will surely lack judgment; that the members of both major parties care primarily about getting and keeping power, secondarily about exerting that power over the powerless, and beyond that about nothing else whatsoever; that both parties are parties of death, differing only on their preferred targets (though they are equally fond, it seems, of military action in Asia); that the only meaningful criterion by which to judge who to vote for is encapsulated in the question Who will do less damage to our social fabric?

And because they’re all going to do damage, just of different kinds, for the last thirty years I have voted for third-party or write-in candidates. For much of that time I knew that I couldn’t vote for Democrats and debated whether I could vote for Republicans. The answer to that question was always No. But recently I have come to be absolutely certain that I can’t vote for Republicans, and have debated whether I can vote for Democrats. The answer to that question is, so far, also No, and I cannot envision that changing.

I oppose false equivalences as forcefully as anyone. But there are also true equivalences. And so I say, as I have said for three decades now: A plague on both their houses.
alanjacobs  politics  2019  democrats  republicans  thirdparties  us  elections  cynicism  history  ronaldreagan  jimmycarter  integrity  courage  policy  consistency  reliability  falseequivalences  death  destruction  war  harm  society 
october 2019 by robertogreco
The ‘risk to democracy’ in Chile isn’t from protesters. It’s from Piñera and the 1% | Oscar Guardiola-Rivera | Opinion | The Guardian
“The ‘risk to democracy’ in Chile isn’t from protesters. It’s from Piñera and the 1%

Protest criminalised, direct action equated with terrorism: it’s starting to feel like the bad old days of Pinochet

“We’re at war against a powerful enemy,” declared President Sebastián Piñera live on Sunday night TV from the Chilean army headquarters. “Democracy not only has the right but the duty to defend itself using all instruments … and the rule of law to fight those who would destroy it.” You may be forgiven for thinking Chilean democracy is besieged by some terrifying force: a foreign army, or even an invader from outer space. Nothing could be further from the truth. Piñera’s statement is doublethink: a lie travelling the world while truth is still putting on its boots.

But who is the enemy Piñera has gone to war with? One of his government’s own making – namely, the poorer people of Chile. This is the country that is the ground-zero for the neoliberal economic model now in crisis all over the world. From Canada and the United States to Chile and Argentina, the fire this time in the Americas and elsewhere is being fanned by the few. They’ve benefited the most from an economic model that consists of squeezing the many. And now, having nothing else to lose but their bullshit jobs and half-lives, the dispossessed are rising up like an army.

The Chilean people have been robbed of everything. Health, education, water, transport, all basic services have been privatised. Hope has been privatised. What else is there to do? Protest peacefully? Done that.

I witnessed a dance-in a few years back in Santiago. Dressed up like zombies in a 1980s Michael Jackson video, the student movement demanded free public education. They’ve been doing so since 2006. The protests intensified in 2011, during the first Piñera administration: 70% of the population supported their demands, widely seen as part of a general desire to transform the economic and political model established by the military dictatorship that governed the country from 1973 to 1990, after the violent coup against democratic socialist Salvador Allende.

Consider Chile’s privatised education system. It emerged during the Pinochet years in the 1980s, resulting in the 1990 education constitutional framework, signed by the general himself. After the first wave of student mobilisations, Pinochet’s framework was replaced by the 2009 General Education Law, which introduced no significant changes.

Like the rest of Chile’s neoliberal model, it was set in constitutional stone so that its reform or repeal would be nearly impossible. Such provisions became part of a constitutional framework designed by Pinochet’s intellectual collaborators like Jaime Guzmán, who was responsible for drafting most of the constitution that still governs Chile.

Guzmán was inspired by Francoist falangism and Third Reich constitutionalism, revised for a late 20th-century landscape. According to this ethos, respect for the constitution and the rule of law only goes as far “as the situation permits”, as the junta members put it on 11 September 1973, the day of the coup. This qualification has been accepted by all post-dictatorship rulers of Chile, if not in principle at least in practice.

In the dictatorship, meaningful protest and direct action were forbidden. Engaging in such acts meant risking summary execution, torture or disappearance. In the democracy, nominal rights to protest exist but remain severely limited. Social protest is frequently criminalised and direct action often equated with terrorism.

Judging from the videos and testimonies circulated this week by concerned citizens and protesters, engaging in such acts still risks violent reprisals from the authorities.

The Pinochet regime offers us a lesson: a neoliberal model can only be established by a campaign of scapegoating and lies, underpinned by the promise to “take back control”, “restore order and the constitution” and deliver “the will of the people”, plus a modicum of force. It can only be maintained if such force is normalised, shielding the model from the protests of the left-behind, which are inevitable when the dispossessed realise the game was rigged from the very outset. These were the tactics of Chile’s military junta. Clearly, its actions have echoes in the present.

This time, the spark that blew the powder keg came on 13 October, when the transport ministry announced the Santiago underground fare would rise by 30 pesos. Thereafter, school students began organising fare-dodging acts of protest all over the city. Thirty pesos might not sound much. And if you squint, Chile’s economy isn’t doing that badly: it has a GDP of $15,902 (£14,155) per capita, one of the highest in Latin America.

But for the many, Chile’s workers and precariat, the average salary is low: only £350 per month. Commuters coming from the peripheries to work in the capital may have to spend between £50 to £70 a month on transport alone. Try to feed a family with what’s left in a country without universal healthcare or free education. It is the same across the continent – in Quito, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Rio. No wonder the hemisphere is exploding.

After the adults started joining students in fare-dodging protests, economics minister Juan Fontaine, very much of the free-market Chicago school, advised them to get up earlier to avoid the more expensive fares. His colleague, transport minister Gloria Hutt, later implied fare-dodgers were criminals. As protests raged across the city, a video of Piñera partying at an upscale restaurant during his grandson’s birthday went viral. People took to the streets.

Piñera then did what they all do – the Trumps, the Bolsonaros, the Johnsons of this world. He stamped his authority in the name of democracy, law, and the will of the people. In the country of Pinochet, Piñera resorted to the behaviour of a dictator.

The state is now behaving like security for the country’s privatised industries. The crackdown is not about protecting the people. It’s not about 30 pesos. It’s about 30 years of an economic model elevated to the level of constitutional principle for the benefit of those who got richer during the Pinochet years, and continue to get even richer during Piñera’s – while the many suffer. They’re not taking it any more.”
oscarguardiola-rivera  2019  chile  sebastiánpiñera  protest  protests  democracy  inequality  plutocracy  oligarchy  capitalism  neoliberalism  dictatorship  pinochet  precarity  economics  politics  policy  violence  society  jaimeguzmán  constitution 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Chileans Have Launched a General Strike Against Austerity
"Chile is the original home of neoliberalism, first begun after the overthrow of President Salvador Allende in 1973. If you listen closely to mass protests on the streets today, you can hear Allende's last words: “The people must defend themselves.”"
chile  2019  history  neoliberalism  economics  chicagoboys  miltonfriedman  salvadorallende  felipelagos-rojas  franciscagómez-baeza  capitalism  inequality  privatization  precarity  sebastiánpiñera  imf  society  government  governance  dispossession  debt  credit  pinochet 
october 2019 by robertogreco
The Smartest People in the Room? What Silicon Valley’s Supposed Obsession with Tech-Free Private Schools Really Tells Us - Los Angeles Review of Books
“As a case in point, many techies’ conviction that they must monitor and cultivate — with concerted effort — their children’s technology habits is firmly and prosaically rooted in the values and worldviews shared by many non-techie middle-class parents. Private schools almost by definition have to craft stories that appeal to privileged strivers anxious about their children’s futures. Some of these stories recount how their graduates’ creative brilliance was spawned in their school’s tech-free environment. Related ones ply anti-contamination themes, and fetishize the purity of childhood. Techie parents are as susceptible as anyone else. Moreover, the ways in which technology fits into these narratives — or is actively excluded from them — has far more to do with parents’ age-old fears about social change and new media than with any special knowledge vouchsafed to tech workers. Indeed, such stories are similar to widely held beliefs in 18th-century England that novels corrupted the soul. In the latter half of the 20th century, first television and then video games became the sources of this alleged corruption, joined by the internet at the dawn of this century.”



“The more important point here is that believing techie parents have secret insider knowledge about the harmful effects of children’s technology usage reinforces the dangerous myth that techies are always the smartest people in the room…”



“Beliefs in techie superiority are, unfortunately, buttressed by the fact that money confers credibility…”



“As a society, we must see the technology world for what it is: an industry as insular as it is influential, and in desperate need of many more kinds of expertise.”
privateschools  education  siliconvalley  2019  waldorf  vaccinations  elitism  intelligence  society  technology  edtech  media  smartness  credibility  belief  superiority  insularity 
october 2019 by robertogreco
‘Parasite’ and South Korea’s Income Gap: Call It Dirt Spoon Cinema - The New York Times
"Bong Joon Ho’s latest film joins a growing list of movies criticizing South Korean inequality — a problem so pervasive it has given birth to its own slang."

...

"While such inequality afflicts the United States and many other countries, South Korea’s income distribution is remarkably lopsided. In 2015, the top 10 percent of South Koreans held 66 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the poorer half of the population held only 2 percent, according to figures cited by Kyung Hyun Kim, a professor of East Asian studies at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of several books on Korean cinema. In addition, large numbers of South Korea’s elite inherited their wealth.

That inequity, combined with scandals involving corruption among the privileged, have bred so much bitterness and frustration among Koreans that new slang phrases have emerged in recent years, like “gold spoons” and “dirt spoons.”

“People who are born with a gold spoon are the ones who have made it,” the professor said. “The have-nots are dirt spoons. They will always be given a dirt spoon, and it will always be a struggle.”

The lack of social mobility for dirt spoons is at the heart of “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon Ho. The Kims are each smart and talented in their own ways. Yet they are so poor — they crouch next to a toilet just to steal a neighbor’s Wi-Fi — that there is no clear path for them to succeed.

Though economically disadvantaged Americans face a similar plight, in South Korea, job prospects can be tied to family background, as when employers ask about applicants’ parents, a practice that could favor the privileged, Kim, the professor, said. Furthermore, investigations have uncovered nepotistic practices, like private schools’ preference for installing family members in teaching positions.

So why not fake it till you make it? In “Parasite,” the Kims’ son, Ki-woo, fluent in English, uses a referral from a privileged friend and counterfeit college credentials to trick the Parks into giving him a job as a language tutor for their teenage daughter. Ki-woo’s sister, Ki-jung, pretends to be an art therapist and gets hired to work with the Parks’ disturbed little boy. Dad and Mom soon join the subterfuge by posing as a professional driver and a housemaid for the Parks, who are as gullible as they are neurotic about cleanliness."
bongjoon-ho  parasite  film  inequality  koreas  southkorea  2019  class  nepotism  elitism  capitalism  education  society  socialmobility  precarity 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Korean Director Bong Joon-ho on His New Film ‘Parasite’
"Of course, we are dancing around his journey into the carnival that is an Academy Awards campaign, which seems to mildly amuse him from a distance. I ask what he thinks of the fact that no Korean film has ever been nominated for an Oscar despite the country’s outsize influence on cinema in the past two decades. “It’s a little strange, but it’s not a big deal,” he says, shrugging. “The Oscars are not an international film festival. They’re very local.”"
bongjoon-ho  film  korea  southkorea  2019  inequality  parasite  snowpiercer  films  filmmaking  society  academyawards  oscars  thehost  okja 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Eleanor Saitta on Twitter: "As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics." / Twitter
“As technology is deployed at scale and becomes infrastructure, its governance ceases to be engineering or design and becomes (geo)politics.

There are no large technology companies, only non-state actors currently only partially hostile to the goals of the population whose lives they have captured.

This is not a singular accident of the companies we have, but rather a necessary consequence of the programmability of infrastructure enabling scale to convert into social control and a doctrine of continual growth.

The scale of capital involved has bent the entire industry around it. Working at a small company may let you avoid contributing to the problem directly, but programmable infrastructure gains power and scale via interoperability.

As an engineer, a designer, a recruiter, a management coach, a consultant, the geopolitical goals of singular entities will define your work and its meaning.

When infrastructure metastisizes and becomes malignant toward the societies that host it, even maintenance work on functions critical for social continuity becomes in part capitulation and collaboration.

This problem will continue to accelerate until a new model for programmable infrastructure manages to constrain or fight off this current one, or society is unable to sustain programmability.

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned over the past decade is the degree to which the political intent imbued into infrastrucutral systems maintains its meaning and function over time, even if added layers change the meaning of the conjoined system.

As a worker within these systems, your efforts at work must pay the maintenance penalty for the infrastructural system you sit within; this is balanced by the natural force multiplication of infrastructures of control. Outside work, you don’t have the same tools.

However, even if you work to resist the structural damage of the system you sit inside of, you’re still very likely to see the world from inside the same mental frame — of growth, of control, of “technology” as an end rather than a means.

Even if you can shift your thinking from the mindset of “technology at scale as power over” to “technology as formless servant of a community” — or whatever model you choose — you’ll be stuck with tools that want to create parasitic empires.

I don’t know what the mental model we want is. Some properties seem obvious, though — conviviality, power-to instead of power-over, an inherent orientation toward community, governance blended throughout the stack, a bias toward balance not growth, maintenance-centricity.

The challenges of reimagining our world, our professions, and our systems will consume the rest of our lives on earth; we sit at the culmination of generations of power grabs, and this is only the newest.

On the bright side, there is no larger challenge available, no more interesting and rewarding problem one could work on. This is a future as rich, complex, varied, and broad as any other one you’ve been offered.

And if it fails, well, there will always be another billionaire happy to pay you to help him more efficiently dismantle the society you used to call home.

There are other things we can do even without a new model, though — making the current model of exponential growth and metastic control nonviable is also useful. We need a new vision and a new world, but we also need resistance now.

Refuse to work on dangerous products. Unionize and fight for more control over your own work. Work for regulation that makes user data financially poisonous, that enshrines rights to privacy, self-determination, adversarial interoperability, and repair.

Over the next few decades, we will either learn to collectively manage global systems for the common good, learn to weaponize them for the good of a very small elite, or cease to have a globally-organized civilization.

There is only one fully-connected struggle here, and if we succeed, we will do so in the way we always have — piecemeal, half-assed, squeaking by, more bricolage than grand planning, but profoundly human.

Learn your history, and practice hope. History will teach you how little is novel about our position now, and training the muscle of hope will keep you going through all the dark nights we have to come.“
eleanorsaitta  technology  infrastructure  systems  systemsthinking  systemschange  conviviality  2019  society  power  civilization  governance  unions  organizing  labor  capital  utopia  history  vision  canon  interoperability  time  generations  maintenance  community  control  layering  layers  scale  growth  socialcontrol  deschooling  unschooling  capitulation  geopolitics  politics  policy  local  programmability 
october 2019 by robertogreco
/text: A Good Education
"Laws which harm parents for not forcing their children to attend school share a premise. The premise is that making children spend most of their waking hours navigating a numbers-driven bureaucracy will make them competent adults. These laws also beg a shared question: they imply (without evidence) that these bureaucratic skills are good, because living to serve bureaucracies is good.

I’m saying systems of education are miserable. In order to see and avoid this misery, we need only believe the promise of a liberal education: by understanding the workings of the world, you understand yourself. The converse—that by understanding yourself, you understand the workings of the world—is also true.

As a kid I retreated from boredom and social pains by reading. For twenty years, I’ve read books at least a few hours per week. After reading and writing independently for over a decade, I attended a small school in which people habitually read, discussed, and wrote about books. After these experiences, I believe the most reliable method of educating yourself is to regularly read books and talk about them with others. To concentrate and clarify these efforts, it’s good to get in the habit of writing down your thoughts. In conversations and in your writing, communicate as precisely as you can. Finally: you must not to be forced to do any of this.

A person can lift weights in a gym in order to move more capably outside—in a more complex, unpredictable, and exciting environment. In a similar way, one can regularly visit the place created by reading a story, having a conversation, or constructing an argument. What does visiting that place produce? A self-driven education with a small community makes you more capable of social care and political decision-making. If systematized schools make obedient citizens (consumers), a curiosity driven education makes people full. In this fullness—a private, powerful feeling—a person is ready to act and judge according to their chosen ethical commitments. A self-educated person prefigures a free person.

To learn, you don’t need to read books: learning is constant, physical. A peasant farmer without access to written knowledge will be deeply knowledgeable about what is at stake for his living. Yet some skills and habits enrich a person’s understanding of their behavior, as well as their ability to sense and appreciate what’s in front of them—two capacities useful in every situation. This enrichment is optional. In fact, it’s often harmful (think of Simone Weil, motivated by reading, working in an automobile factory to better to better understand—to better feel—the living of the working class). Every good education is a risk, because wholeness is a risk. Industrialized culture abrades people, and undoing these abrasions makes one a threat to the continuing function of cultural machines.

Some encouragement to feel whole:

Books

Read mostly books. They’re burdensome for their authors, demanding more skin in the game. (If you can tell a text was written for money, don’t read it.) If a book has been in print in various forms for hundreds or thousands of years, it’s likely to stay in print just as long; this can be a criterion for what texts you prioritize. Canonical books needn’t be “Great Books”, but they are influential books; they account for much of the society we’re sitting in. And don’t trust critics: influential books are necessarily weirder and more nuanced than they’re represented to be.



Conversations

Conversations are not arguments, though are made of them (and jokes). A good conversation is surprising and helpful for all its participants; don’t leave anybody behind. The most useful move in a conversation is called “the principle of charity”: summarizing someone’s argument, checking with them to make sure you’re being fair. Ideally, you help them make the best possible version of their argument, and then argue otherwise. Ignore claims that what you’re reading is “just” this or “just” that; not one thing is just one thing. A rule of thumb: if you’ve worked together to ask good questions, you’ll have learned something.



Reading

Read what you want to read, not what you should. Though frustration—challenge—is necessary to becoming better. Rereading a book is extremely useful; reading slowly is extremely useful. If you love a book written first in another language, read multiple translations. In general, try to see how a book’s parts connect, using as many parts as possible. Reading aloud is good (for most of history, people automatically spoke the words they read). Finally, quantities—of books and pages read; of points refuted; of authors collected on your bookshelf—don’t mean shit.



Ethics

It’s useful to understand arguments which piss you off and disgust you; understand, then moralize. No life is lesser because they haven’t read what you’ve read. Plus, if you can’t teach it, you probably don’t understand it. If reading about a topic doesn’t seem helpful enough, the quickest and most thrilling way to learn about something is to make it. (If you want to learn about a plant, grow it; if you want to know how a sonnet works, write one; if you want to learn about labor struggles, join in.) Though remember that many people don’t have the means to experiment this; most who self-educate are among the lucky. Do not think less of the unlucky. In fact, wholeness comes with thinking more of the unlucky—since the lucky have deprived them of the power to cultivate their own luck, and this deprivation has defined much of society. Think, too, of the silent.



Why?

Existence is testimony. Make time to listen.



Tools

Library cards are still free; libraries still loan out books; many libraries have computers with internet access; Wikipedia and most .pdf’s are light on data plans. If you can’t afford it, find a way. Asking for help is beautiful."
kenbauman  2018  education  unschooling  learning  howwelearn  libraries  wikipedia  tools  existence  testimony  listening  society  children  parenting  schools  schooling  compulsory  bureaucracy  reading  writing  self-directed  self-directedlearning  self-education  books  howweread  howwewrite  conversation  ethics 
september 2019 by robertogreco
The Meritocrat Who Wants to Unwind the Meritocracy - The New York Times
"In “The Meritocracy Trap,” Daniel Markovits delivers a fierce indictment of a system he says is undermining democracy and making everyone miserable."
meritocracy  danielmarkovits  inequality  democracy  society  misery  capitalism  elitism  2019 
september 2019 by robertogreco
The Coup in Chile
[Also here:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/miliband/1973/10/chile.htm
https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/4016-the-coup-in-chile
https://jacobinmag.com/2016/09/chile-coup-santiago-allende-social-democracy-september-11-2 ]

“What happened in Chile on September 11, 1973 did not suddenly reveal anything new about the ways in which men of power and privilege seek to protect their social order: the history of the last 150 years is spattered with such episodes.

Even so, Chile has at least forced upon many people on the Left some uncomfortable reflections and questions about the “strategy” which is appropriate in Western-type regimes for what is loosely called the “transition to socialism.”

Of course, the Wise Men of the Left, and others too, have hastened to proclaim that Chile is not France, or Italy, or Britain. This is quite true. No country is like any other: circumstances are always different, not only between one country and another, but between one period and another in the same country. Such wisdom makes it possible and plausible to argue that the experience of a country or period cannot provide conclusive “lessons.”

This is also true; and as a matter of general principle, one should be suspicious of people who have instant “lessons” for every occasion. The chances are that they had them well before the occasion arose, and that they are merely trying to fit the experience to their prior views. So let us indeed be cautious about taking or giving “lessons.”

All the same, and however cautiously, there are things to be learnt from experience, or unlearnt, which comes to the same thing. Everybody said, quite rightly, that Chile, alone in Latin America, was a constitutional, parliamentary, liberal, pluralist society, a country which had politics: not exactly like the French, or the American, or the British, but well within the “democratic,” or, as Marxists would call it, the “bourgeois-democratic” fold.

This being the case, and however cautious one wishes to be, what happened in Chile does pose certain questions, requires certain answers, may even provide certain reminders and warnings. It may for instance suggest that stadiums which can be used for purposes other than sport — such as herding left-wing political prisoners — exist not only in Santiago, but in Rome and Paris or for that matter London; or that there must be something wrong with a situation in which Marxism Today, the monthly “Theoretical and Discussion Journal of the Communist Party” has as its major article for its September 1973 issue a speech delivered in July by the General Secretary of the Chilean Communist Party, Luis Corvalan (now in jail awaiting trial, and possible execution), which is entitled “We Say No to Civil War! But Stand Ready to Crush Sedition.”

In the light of what happened, this worthy slogan seems rather pathetic and suggests that there is something badly amiss here, that one must take stock, and try to see things more clearly. Insofar as Chile was a bourgeois democracy, what happened there is about bourgeois democracy, and about what may also happen in other bourgeois democracies.

After all, the Times, on the morrow of the coup, was writing (and the words ought to be carefully memorised by people on the Left): “Whether or not the armed forces were right to do what they have done, the circumstances were such that a reasonable military man could in good faith have thought it his constitutional duty to intervene.”

Should a similar episode occur in Britain, it is a fair bet that, whoever else is inside Wembley Stadium, it won’t be the editor of the Times: he will be busy writing editorials regretting this and that, but agreeing, however reluctantly, that, taking all circumstances into account, and notwithstanding the agonising character of the choice, there was no alternative but for reasonable military men . . . and so on and so forth.

When Salvador Allende was elected to the presidency of Chile in September 1970, the regime that was then inaugurated was said to constitute a test case for the peaceful or parliamentary transition to socialism. As it turned out over the following three years, this was something of an exaggeration. It achieved a great deal by way of economic and social reform, under incredibly difficult conditions — but it remained a deliberately “moderate” regime: indeed, it does not seem far-fetched to say that the cause of its death, or at least one main cause of it, was its stubborn “moderation.”

But no, we are now told by such experts as Professor Hugh Thomas, from the Graduate School of Contemporary European Studies at Reading University: the trouble was that Allende was much too influenced by such people as Marx and Lenin, “rather than Mill, or Tawney, or Aneurin Bevan, or any other European democratic socialist.” This being the case, Professor Thomas cheerfully goes on, “the Chilean coup d’état cannot by any means be regarded as a defeat for democratic socialism but for Marxist socialism.”

All’s well then, at least for democratic socialism. Mind you, “no doubt Dr Allende had his heart in the right place” (we must be fair about this), but then “there are many reasons for thinking that his prescription was the wrong one for Chile’s maladies, and of course the result of trying to apply it may have led an ‘iron surgeon’ to get to the bedside. The right prescription, of course, was Keynesian socialism, not Marxist.”

That’s it: the trouble with Allende is that he was not Harold Wilson, surrounded by advisers steeped in “Keynesian socialism” as Professor Thomas obviously is.

We must not linger over the Thomases and their ready understanding of why Allende’s policies brought an “iron surgeon” to the bedside of an ailing Chile. But even though the Chilean experience may not have been a test case for the “peaceful transition to socialism,” it still offers a very suggestive example of what may happen when a government does give the impression, in a bourgeois democracy, that it genuinely intends to bring about really serious changes in the social order and to move in socialist directions, in however constitutional and gradual a manner; and whatever else may be said about Allende and his colleagues, and about their strategies and policies, there is no question that this is what they wanted to do.

They were not, and their enemies knew them not to be, mere bourgeois politicians mouthing “socialist” slogans. They were not “Keynesian socialists.” They were serious and dedicated people, as many have shown by dying for what they believed in.

It is this which makes the conservative response to them a matter of great interest and importance, and which makes it necessary for us to try to decode the message, the warning, the “lessons.” For the experience may have crucial significance for other bourgeois democracies: indeed, there is surely no need to insist that some of it is bound to be directly relevant to any “model” of radical social change in this kind of political system.”
ralphmiliband  chile  pinochet  salvadorallende  history  1973  coup  power  society  socialism  democracy  control  politics  communism  marxism  1970  1970s  moderation  democraticsocialism  socialorder 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Uber Undone | Noah Kulwin
"Silicon Valley began this decade as the bleeding edge of the American economy, where new technologies were said to be building a better future for the whole planet. By its end, the American tech industry will be largely viewed as the labor-destroying, profit-hungry behemoth that it truly is. While Facebook’s inadvertent election-rigging and Google’s near-monopoly on digital advertising might draw more attention as the culprits behind that pendulum swing, it is Uber’s Randian capitalism that most transparently lays bare Silicon Valley villainy. And even from outside the C-suite, from which he was ejected in 2017, Kalanick remains its smug, unapologetic face."
siliconvalley  californianideology  grifters  us  finance  economics  venturecapital  2019  mikeisaac  noahkulwin  technology  technosolutionism  google  facebook  society  traviskalanick  uber  lyft  gigeconomy  labor  inequality  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  capitalism  neoliberalism 
september 2019 by robertogreco
America Without Family, God, or Patriotism - The Atlantic
“The nuclear family, God, and national pride are a holy trinity of the American identity. What would happen if a generation gave up on all three?”



“One interpretation of this poll is that it’s mostly about the erosion of traditional Western faith. People under 30 in the U.S. account for more than one-third of this nation’s worshippers in only three major religions: Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. This reflects both the increase in non-European immigration since the 1970s and the decline of larger Christian denominations in the latter half of the 20th century. It also reflects the sheer increase in atheism: Millennials are nearly three times more likely than Boomers to say they don’t believe in God—6 percent versus 16 percent. If you think that Judeo-Christian values are an irreplaceable keystone in the moral arc of Western society, these facts will disturb you; if you don’t, they won’t.

A second interpretation of this poll is that it’s mostly about politics. Youthful disinterest in patriotism, babies, and God might be a mere proxy for young people’s distaste for traditional conservatism. For decades, the Republican Party sat high on the three-legged stool of Reaganism, which called for “traditional” family values (combining religiosity with the primacy of the nuclear family), military might (with all its conspicuous patriotism), and limited government.

Millennials and Gen Zers have turned hard against all these values; arguably, their intermittently monogamous, free-spending Republican president has, too. Young voters are far to the left of not only today’s older Americans, but also past generations of younger Americans. Based on their votes since 2012, they have the lowest support for the GOP of any group in at least half a century. So it’s possible that Millennials are simply throwing babies out with the Republican bathwater.

But it looks like something bigger is going on. Millennials and Gen Z are not only unlikely to call themselves Protestants and patriots, but also less likely to call themselves Democrats or Republicans. They seem most comfortable with unaffiliation, even anti-affiliation. They are less likely than preceding generations to identify as “environmentalists,” less likely to be loyal to specific brands, and less likely to trust authorities, or companies, or institutions. Less than one-third of them say they have “a lot of confidence” in unions, or Silicon Valley, or the federal government, or the news, or the justice system. And don’t even get them started on the banks.

This blanket distrust of institutions of authority—especially those dominated by the upper class—is reasonable, even rational, considering the economic fortunes of these groups were pinched in the Great Recession and further squeezed in the Not-So-Great Recovery. Pundits may dismiss their anxiety and rage as the by-products of college-campus coddling, but it flows from a realistic appraisal of their economic impotency. Young people today commit crimes at historically low rates and have attended college at historically high rates. They have done everything right, sprinting at full speed while staying between the white lines, and their reward for historic conscientiousness is this: less ownership, more debt, and an age of existential catastrophe. The typical Millennial awakens many mornings to discover that some new pillar of the world order, or the literal world, has crumbled overnight. And while she is afforded little power to do anything about it, society has outfitted her with a digital megaphone to amplify her mordant frustrations. Why in the name of family, God, or country would such a person lust for ancient affiliations? As the kids say, #BurnItAllDown.

But this new American skepticism doesn’t only affect the relatively young, and it isn’t confined to the overeducated yet underemployed, either.”



“he older working-class men in the paper desperately want meaning in their lives, but they lack the social structures that have historically been the surest vehicles for meaning-making. They want to be fathers without nuclear families. They want spirituality without organized religion. They want psychic empowerment from work in an economy that has reduced their economic power. They want freedom from pain and misery at a time when the pharmaceutical solutions to those maladies are addictive and deadly. They want the same pride and esteem and belonging that people have always wanted.

The ends of Millennials and Gen Z are similarly traditional. The WSJ/NBC poll found that, for all their institutional skepticism, this group was more likely than Gen Xers to value “community involvement” and more likely than all older groups to prize “tolerance for others.” This is not the picture of a generation that has fallen into hopelessness, but rather a group that is focused on building solidarity with other victims of economic and social injustice. Younger generations have been the force behind equality movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #AbolishICE, and Medicare for All, not only because they’re liberal, and not only because they have the technological savvy to organize online, but also because their experience in this economy makes them exquisitely sensitive to institutional abuses of power, and doubly eager to correct it. What Americans young and old are abandoning is not so much the promise of family, faith, and national pride as the trust that America’s existing institutions can be relied on to provide for them.

The authors of the paper on working-class men note that, even as their subjects have suffered a shock, and even as they’re nostalgic for the lives of their fathers and grandfathers—the stable wages, the dependable pensions—there is a thin silver lining in the freedom to move beyond failed traditions. Those old manufacturing jobs were routine drudgery, those old churches failed their congregants, and traditional marriages subjugated the female half of the arrangement. “These men are showing signs of moving beyond such strictures,” the authors write. “Many will likely falter. Yet they are laying claim to a measure of autonomy and generativity in these spheres that were less often available in prior generations. We must consider both the unmaking and remaking aspects of their stories.”

And there is the brutal truth: Many will likely falter. They already are. Rising anxiety, suicide, and deaths of despair speak to a profound national disorder. But eventually, this stage of history may be recalled as a purgatory, a holding station between two eras: one of ostensibly strong, and quietly vulnerable, traditions that ultimately failed us, and something else, between the unmaking and the remaking.”
derekthompson  us  culture  society  economics  generations  change  religion  patriotism  families  2019  suicide  middleage  purpose  meaning  community  anxiety  malaise  collapse  vulnerability  traditions  marriage  parenting  millennials  geny  genx  generationy  generationx  generationz  gender  work  labor  unemployment  hope  hopelessness  activism  skepticism  power  elitism  democrats  republicans  politics  education  highered  highereducation  ronaldreagan  reaganism  belief  diversity  voting  unions  siliconvalley  socialjustice  justice  impotency  underemployment  spirituality  capitalism  neoliberalism  genz 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | I’m a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic. - The New York Times
"Today’s call-out culture is so seductive, I often have to resist the overwhelming temptation to clap back at people on social media who get on my nerves. Call-outs happen when people publicly shame each other online, at the office, in classrooms or anywhere humans have beef with one another. But I believe there are better ways of doing social justice work.

Recently, someone lied about me on social media and I decided not to reply. “Never wrestle with a pig,” as George Bernard Shaw said. “You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” And one of the best ways to make a point is to ignore someone begging for attention. Thanks, Michelle Obama, for this timely lesson; most people who read her book “Becoming” probably missed that she subtly threw shade this way.

Call-outs are often louder and more vicious on the internet, amplified by the “clicktivist” culture that provides anonymity for awful behavior. Even incidents that occur in real life, like Barbeque Becky or Permit Patty, can end up as an admonitory meme on social media. Social media offers new ways to be the same old humans by virally exposing what has always been in our hearts, good or bad.

My experiences with call-outs began in the 1970s as a young black feminist activist. I sharply criticized white women for not understanding women of color. I called them out while trying to explain intersectionality and white supremacy. I rarely questioned whether the way I addressed their white privilege was actually counterproductive. They barely understood what it meant to be white women in the system of white supremacy. Was it realistic to expect them to comprehend the experiences of black women?

Fifty years ago, black activists didn’t have the internet, but rather gossip, stubbornness and youthful hubris. We believed we could change the world and that the most powerful people were afraid of us. Efforts like the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO projects created a lot of discord. Often, the most effective activists were killed or imprisoned, but it nearly always started with discrediting them through a call-out attack.

I, too, have been called out, usually for a prejudice I had against someone, or for using insensitive language that didn’t keep up with rapidly changing conventions. That’s part of everyone’s learning curve but I still felt hurt, embarrassed and defensive. Fortunately, patient elders helped me grow through my discomfort and appreciate that context, intentions and nuances matter. Colleagues helped me understand that I experienced things through my trauma. There was a difference between what I felt was true and what were facts. This ain’t easy and it ain’t over — even as an elder now myself.

But I wonder if contemporary social movements have absorbed the most useful lessons from the past about how to hold each other accountable while doing extremely difficult and risky social justice work. Can we avoid individualizing oppression and not use the movement as our personal therapy space? Thus, even as an incest and hate crime survivor, I have to recognize that not every flirtatious man is a potential rapist, nor every racially challenged white person is a Trump supporter.

We’re a polarized country, divided by white supremacy, patriarchy, racism against immigrants and increasingly vitriolic ways to disrespect one another. Are we evolving or devolving in our ability to handle conflicts? Frankly, I expect people of all political persuasions to call me out — productively and unproductively — for my critique of this culture. It’s not a partisan issue.

The heart of the matter is, there is a much more effective way to build social justice movements. They happen in person, in real life. Of course so many brilliant and effective social justice activists know this already. “People don’t understand that organizing isn’t going online and cussing people out or going to a protest and calling something out,” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, wrote in “How We Fight White Supremacy,”

For example, when I worked to deprogram incarcerated rapists in the 1970s, I told the story of my own sexual assaults. It opened the floodgates for theirs. They were candid about having raped women, admitted having done it to men or revealed being raped themselves. As part of our work together, they formed Prisoners Against Rape, the country’s first anti-sexual assault program led by men.

I believe #MeToo survivors can more effectively address sexual abuse without resorting to the punishment and exile that mirror the prison industrial complex. Nor should we use social media to rush to judgment in a courtroom composed of clicks. If we do, we run into the paradox Audre Lorde warned us about when she said that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

We can build restorative justice processes to hold the stories of the accusers and the accused, and work together to ascertain harm and achieve justice without seeing anyone as disposable people and violating their human rights or right to due process. And if feminists were able to listen to convicted rapists in the 1970s, we can seek innovative and restorative methods for accused people today. That also applies to people fighting white supremacy.

On a mountaintop in rural Tennessee in 1992, a group of women whose partners were in the Ku Klux Klan asked me to provide anti-racist training to help keep their children out of the group. All day they called me a “well-spoken colored girl” and inappropriately asked that I sing Negro spirituals. I naïvely thought at the time that all white people were way beyond those types of insulting anachronisms.

Instead of reacting, I responded. I couldn’t let my hurt feelings sabotage my agenda. I listened to how they joined the white supremacist movement. I told them how I felt when I was 8 and my best friend called me “nigger,” the first time I had heard that word. The women and I made progress. I did not receive reports about further outbreaks of racist violence from that area for my remaining years monitoring hate groups.

These types of experiences cause me to wonder whether today’s call-out culture unifies or splinters social justice work, because it’s not advancing us, either with allies or opponents. Similarly problematic is the “cancel culture,” where people attempt to expunge anyone with whom they do not perfectly agree, rather than remain focused on those who profit from discrimination and injustice.

Call-outs are justified to challenge provocateurs who deliberately hurt others, or for powerful people beyond our reach. Effectively criticizing such people is an important tactic for achieving justice. But most public shaming is horizontal and done by those who believe they have greater integrity or more sophisticated analyses. They become the self-appointed guardians of political purity.

Call-outs make people fearful of being targeted. People avoid meaningful conversations when hypervigilant perfectionists point out apparent mistakes, feeding the cannibalistic maw of the cancel culture. Shaming people for when they “woke up” presupposes rigid political standards for acceptable discourse and enlists others to pile on. Sometimes it’s just ruthless hazing.

We can change this culture. Calling-in is simply a call-out done with love. Some corrections can be made privately. Others will necessarily be public, but done with respect. It is not tone policing, protecting white fragility or covering up abuse. It helps avoid the weaponization of suffering that prevents constructive healing.

Calling-in engages in debates with words and actions of healing and restoration, and without the self-indulgence of drama. And we can make productive choices about the terms of the debate: Conflicts about coalition-building, supporting candidates or policies are a routine and desirable feature of a pluralistic democracy.

You may never meet a member of the Klan or actively teach incarcerated people, but everyone can sit down with people they don’t agree with to work toward solutions to common problems.

In 2017, as a college professor in Massachusetts, I accidentally misgendered a student of mine during a lecture. I froze in shame, expecting to be blasted. Instead, my student said, “That’s all right; I misgender myself sometimes.” We need more of this kind of grace."
call-outculture  shame  lorettaross  politics  society  grace  healing  attention  socialmedia  online  conversation  michelleobama  georgebernardshaw  clicktivism  activism  race  gender  feminism  cointelpro  history  prejudice  kkk  accountability  oppression  whitesupremacy  patriarchy  dialogue  culture  socialjustice  violence  restorativejustice  transformativejustice  organizing  punishment  disposability  cancelculture  2019  discrimination  injustice  publicshaming  purity  hazing  policing  tonepolicing  whitefragility  democracy  pluralism 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Meritocracy Harms Everyone - The Atlantic
“Escaping the meritocracy trap will not be easy. Elites naturally resist policies that threaten to undermine their advantages. But it is simply not possible to get rich off your own human capital without exploiting yourself and impoverishing your inner life, and meritocrats who hope to have their cake and eat it too deceive themselves. Building a society in which a good education and good jobs are available to a broader swath of people—so that reaching the very highest rungs of the ladder is simply less important—is the only way to ease the strains that now drive the elite to cling to their status.

How can that be done? For one thing, education—whose benefits are concentrated in the extravagantly trained children of rich parents—must become open and inclusive. Private schools and universities should lose their tax-exempt status unless at least half of their students come from families in the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution. And public subsidies should encourage schools to meet this requirement by expanding enrollment.

A parallel policy agenda must reform work, by favoring goods and services produced by workers who do not have elaborate training or fancy degrees. For example, the health-care system should emphasize public health, preventive care, and other measures that can be overseen primarily by nurse practitioners, rather than high-tech treatments that require specialist doctors. The legal system should deploy “legal technicians”—not all of whom would need to have a J.D.—to manage routine matters, such as real-estate transactions, simple wills, and even uncontested divorces. In finance, regulations that limit exotic financial engineering and favor small local and regional banks can shift jobs to mid-skilled workers. And management should embrace practices that distribute control beyond the C-suite, to empower everyone else in the firm.

The main obstacle to overcoming meritocratic inequality is not technical but political. Today’s conditions induce discontent and widespread pessimism, verging on despair. In his book Oligarchy, the political scientist Jeffrey A. Winters surveys eras in human history from the classical period to the 20th century, and documents what becomes of societies that concentrate income and wealth in a narrow elite. In almost every instance, the dismantling of such inequality has been accompanied by societal collapse, such as military defeat (as in the Roman empire) or revolution (as in France and Russia).

Nevertheless, there are grounds for hope. History does present one clear-cut case of an orderly recovery from concentrated inequality: In the 1920s and ’30s, the U.S. answered the Great Depression by adopting the New Deal framework that would eventually build the mid-century middle class. Crucially, government redistribution was not the primary engine of this process. The broadly shared prosperity that this regime established came, mostly, from an economy and a labor market that promoted economic equality over hierarchy—by dramatically expanding access to education, as under the GI Bill, and then placing mid-skilled, middle-class workers at the center of production.

An updated version of these arrangements remains available today; a renewed expansion of education and a renewed emphasis on middle-class jobs can reinforce each other. The elite can reclaim its leisure in exchange for a reduction of income and status that it can easily afford. At the same time, the middle class can regain its income and status and reclaim the center of American life.

Rebuilding a democratic economic order will be difficult. But the benefits that economic democracy brings—to everyone—justify the effort. And the violent collapse that will likely follow from doing nothing leaves us with no good alternative but to try.“
meritocracy  danielmarkovits  neoliberalism  capitalism  society  2019  competition  policy  privateschools  taxexemption  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  inequality  redistribution  governance  taxation  hierarchy  oligarchy  parenting  anxiety 
august 2019 by robertogreco
CENHS @ Rice! » 133 – María Puig de la Bellacasa
“Dominic and Cymene indulge a little post-Pruitt glee on this week’s podcast and speculate about the possibility of six foot tall low carbon lava lamps in the future. Then (16:46) we are thrilled to be joined by star STS scholar and emergent anthropologist María Puig de la Bellacasa to talk about her celebrated new book, Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds (U Minnesota Press, 2017). We start with the importance of care in feminist philosophy and how this work, alongside her own activist background, inspired this project. She asks us to consider how we can make knowledge that takes seriously a politics of care without giving ourselves over to the neoliberal commodification of care. And she asks how a commitment to speculative ethics can lead us to imagine and enact worlds different than the one we inhabit now. Later on, María tells us about what led her to quit philosophy and why appropriation might not actually be such a bad thing. Then we turn to her work with permaculturalists and soil scientists, what it was like to study with Starhawk, changing paradigms of soil ontology and ecology, what are alterbiopolitics, speculative ethics in a time of political crisis, and so much more.”

[See also:

“Matters of Care by María Puig de la Bellacasa, reviewed by Farhan Samanani”
https://societyandspace.org/2019/01/08/matters-of-care-by-maria-puig-de-la-bellacasa/

“Reframing Care – Reading María Puig de la Bellacasa ‘Matters of Care Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds’”
https://ethicsofcare.org/reframing-care-reading-maria-puig-de-la-bellacasa-matters-of-care-speculative-ethics-in-more-than-human-worlds/ ]
maríapuigdelabellacasa  care  maintenance  2018  morethanhuman  humanism  posthumanism  multispecies  anthropology  ecology  alterbiopolitics  permaculture  caring  ethics  politics  soil  philosophy  brunolatour  work  labor  activism  neoliberalism  feminism  donnaharaway  academia  knowledge  knowledgeproduction  thoughtfulness  environment  climatechange  individualism  concern  speculation  speculativeethics  speculativefiction  identitypolitics  everyday  pocketsofutopia  thinking  mattersofconcern  highered  highereducation  intervention  speculative  speculativethinking  greenconsumerism  consumerism  capitalism  greenwashing  moralizing  economics  society  matter  mattering  karenbarad  appropriation  hope  optimism  ucsc  historyofconsciousness 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Chilean Economist Manfred Max-Neef on Barefoot Economics, Poverty and Why The U.S. is Becoming an “Underdeveloping Nation” | Democracy Now!
"We speak with the acclaimed Chilean economist, Manfred Max-Neef. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 1983, two years after the publication of his book Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics. “Economists study and analyze poverty in their nice offices, have all the statistics, make all the models, and are convinced that they know everything that you can know about poverty. But they don’t understand poverty,” Max-Neef says. [includes rush transcript]"

...

"We have reached a point in our evolution in which we know a lot. We know a hell of a lot. But we understand very little. Never in human history has there been such an accumulation of knowledge like in the last 100 years. Look how we are. What was that knowledge for? What did we do with it? And the point is that knowledge alone is not enough, that we lack understanding.

And the difference between knowledge and understanding, I can give it as an example. Let us assume that you have studied everything that you can study, from a theological, sociological, anthropological, biological and even biochemical point of view, of a human phenomenon called love. So the result is that you will know everything that you can know about love. But sooner or later, you will realize that you will never understand love unless you fall in love. What does that mean? That you can only attempt to understand that of which you become a part. If we fall in love, as the Latin song says, we are much more than two. When you belong, you understand. When you’re separated, you can accumulate knowledge. And that is — that’s been the function of science. Now, science is divided into parts, but understanding is holistic.

And that happens with poverty. I understood poverty because I was there. I lived with them. I ate with them. I slept with them, you know, etc. And then you begin to learn that in that environment there are different values, different principles from — compared to those from where you are coming, and that you can learn an enormous amount of fantastic things among poverty. What I have learned from the poor is much more than I learned in the universities. But very few people have that experience, you see? They look at it from the outside, instead of living it from the inside.

And you learn extraordinary things. The first thing you learn, that people who want to work in order to overcome poverty and don’t know, is that in poverty there is an enormous creativity. You cannot be an idiot if you want to survive. Every minute, you have to be thinking, what next? What do I know? What trick can I do here? What’s this and that, that, that, that? And so, your creativity is constant. In addition, I mean, that it’s combined, you know, with networks of cooperation, mutual aid, you know, and all sort of extraordinary things which you’ll no longer find in our dominant society, which is individualistic, greedy, egoistical, etc. It’s just the opposite of what you find there. And it’s sometimes so shocking that you may find people much happier in poverty than what you would find, you know, in your own environment, which also means, you know, that poverty is not just a question of money. It’s a much more complex thing."

...

"The Peace Corps, yeah, OK. I was many times in that. I even taught Peace Corps groups, you know, in California and so on and on. Then I found them, you know, in the field when I was there. Lovely young people, you know? I mean, very well-intentioned, you know. And the situations like this.

Well, there you have a woman making a poncho. No, but with another machine, instead of making two ponchos in one week, I mean, she could make 20 ponchos.

So, now, “We will bring you a much better thing.”

“Oh, OK, well…”

They bring it in, you know, and come back a few months later, you know, to see a huge production of this woman. And how our young find?

“Oh, how do you like the machine?”

“Oh, very nice.”

“And how many ponchos are you making?”

“Well, two ponchos a week.”

“What do you mean? You could make much more.”

“Well, but I don’t need to make more.”

“But why do you make just two? Well, what is the machine then for?”

“Well, I make two, but now I have much more time to be with my friends and with my kids.”

In our environment, you know, you have to do more and more and more and more. No, there, instead of making more, they have more time to enjoy themselves, to have a nice relationship with friends, with family, etc. You see? Lovely values which we have lost.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to change? You’re saying it’s obvious, but what do you think needs to happen that they’re avoiding?

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Well, to begin with, a completely new concept of economics. This economy is crazy and poisonous. I am an economist, and I have been fighting against the economy that is taught the way it is being taught and being practiced. I have been fighting it for almost 40 years of my life, because it’s an absurd economy that has nothing to do with real life. It’s all fabrications, no? If the model doesn’t work, it’s not because the model is wrong, but because reality plays foul tricks. And reality is there to be domesticated, you know, and become the model. That is the attitude. And that’s systematic, in addition.

What is the economy that is being taught in the universities today everywhere? Neoclassical economics. Neoliberalism is an offspring of neoclassical economics. And neoclassical economics is 19th century. So we are supposed to solve problems of the 21st century that have no precedent with theories of the 19th century. We no longer have a physics of the 19th century, nor a biology, nor an engineering — nor nothing. The only thing in which we stopped in the 19th century is in the concept of economics. I mean, and that is elementarily absurd. And the main journals and everything, you know — I mean, no, no, that’s the way it must be."

...

"AMY GOODMAN: And if you’re teaching young economists, the principles you would teach them, what they’d be?

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: The principles, you know, of an economics which should be are based in five postulates and one fundamental value principle.

One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

Two, development is about people and not about objects.

Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that further.

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Nothing can be more important than life. And I say life, not human beings, because, for me, the center is the miracle of life in all its manifestations. But if there is an economic interest, I mean, you forget about life, not only of other living beings, but even of human beings. If you go through that list, one after the other, what we have today is exactly the opposite.

AMY GOODMAN: Go back to three: growth and development. Explain that further.

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Growth is a quantitative accumulation. Development is the liberation of creative possibilities. Every living system in nature grows up to a certain point and stops growing. You are not growing anymore, nor he nor me. But we continue developing ourselves. Otherwise we wouldn’t be dialoguing here now. So development has no limits. Growth has limits. And that is a very big thing, you know, that economists and politicians don’t understand. They are obsessed with the fetish of economic growth.

And I am working, several decades. Many studies have been done. I’m the author of a famous hypothesis, the threshold hypothesis, which says that in every society there is a period in which economic growth, conventionally understood or no, brings about an improvement of the quality of life. But only up to a point, the threshold point, beyond which, if there is more growth, quality of life begins to decline. And that is the situation in which we are now.

I mean, your country is the most dramatic example that you can find. I have gone as far as saying — and this is a chapter of a book of mine that is published next month in England, the title of which is Economics Unmasked. There is a chapter called “The United States, an Underdeveloping Nation,” which is a new category. We have developed, underdeveloped and developing. Now you have underdeveloping. And your country is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem."
manfredmax-neef  economics  chile  2010  interviews  poverty  capitalism  development  barefooteconomics  knowledge  understanding  creativity  ingenuity  society  individualism  greed  cooperation  mutualaid  survival  time  work  perspective  peacecorps  colonialism  neoliberalism  ecosystems  humanism  growth  gdp  underdevelopment  accumulation 
august 2019 by robertogreco
T. S. Eliot Memorial Reading: Fred Moten - YouTube
“The first annual T. S. Eliot Memorial Reading honored the work of Fred Moten, who was introduced by Prof. Teju Cole.

Recorded on April 25, 2019, at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University.

Sponsored by the Woodberry Poetry Room and the T. S. Eliot Foundation.“
tseliot  fredmoten  tejucole  2019  towatch  freedom  vigor  love  witness  withness  breakingform  ephasia  art  writing  fluency  transformation  we  uninterrogatedwes  ceciltaylor  language  escape  édouardglissant  tonimorrison  howweread  howwewrite  difference  separability  meaning  meaningmaking  words  poetry  expression  togetherness  liberation  howweteach  lacan  criticaltheory  reading  purity  jamesbaldwin  race  beauty  criticism  self  selflessness  fugitives  fugitivity  work  labor  laziness  us  capitalism  politics  identity  society  belonging  immigration  africandiaspora  diaspora  violence  langstonhughes  looking  listening  queer  queerness  bettedavis  eyes  ugliness  bodies  canon 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Transforming Ourselves to Transform Our Networks - Stories from the Decentralized Web - Medium
"This is why DWeb Camp is so significant. To me, this event is about bringing the people behind decentralized technologies together, and reflect, as peers and co-creators, on how we shape the networks and applications we’re building. It’s about recognizing how personal and interpersonal dynamics need to be explored in the same way we experiment and build new networking technologies."

...

"The great thing about DWeb Camp is that it will be full of fearless experimenters. The event has attracted people who are actively trying things out. These folks can’t wait to see how our digital networks can serve communities better.
Personally, I’m most excited to meet those who approach technological development from a point of individual and collective empowerment. Who strive to liberate themselves from oppressive systems. Who, at the same time, fight for those who are marginalized by society because they would have the most to gain. These are people who challenge themselves to become more “‘human’ human beings” — the types of people Boggs would say are transforming themselves to transform the world.
We think of DWeb Camp as an experiment itself. It’s an experiment in expanding our imagination about what the internet would look like if it were more inclusive, empowering, resilient, and fun. It’s a space for people to play, share, and explore ideas with others who share their curiosity about how “decentralization” is a starting point to build a better Web."
maiishikawasutton  decentralizedweb  decentralization  dwebcamp  2019  p2p  p2pweb  networks  distributed  gracelleboggs  buckminsterfuller  power  hierarchy  society  bitcoin  libracoin  humanism  web  internet  blockchain  commons  online  dweb 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Beware the ethical car - macwright.org
"On Tuesday, Lyft released a dataset for self-driving car development, along with a blog post. Here’s a snippet:
Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.

And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity.

And then the CEO’s quote:
Not only can self-driving tech save two lives every single minute, it is essential to combat climate change by allowing people to ditch their cars for shared electric transportation. Lyft is committed to leading this transportation revolution.

Here’s what’s they’re doing: by co-opting the language of climate change, companies are going to try and make cars ethical.

Evidence so far

We should be wary. First, because ridesharing has already claimed to reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and has done the opposite.

See, Lyft claimed in 2015 that their service harmonized with public transit, rather than competed with it. That didn’t work out. Not only have they stolen trips from public transit, they’ve reduced support for transit and replaced walking & biking trips, too. They’ve increased traffic deaths by 2-3%, while increasing the number of cars on the streets.

Improved cars are a suspiciously convenient change agenda

California, eager to top its subsidy of mansions as blindingly regressive policy, decided to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $7,500 each, in the form of a tax credit. Tax credits, of course, are wealth transfer from some taxpayers to others: and in this case, we’re transferring our money to the deserving buyers of $90,000 sports cars.

That isn’t enough: we also allowed electric cars to drive in HOV lanes for years, until too many did so, traffic built up again, and the perk was removed.

While we subsidize the rich, we subsidize public transit less than almost everywhere else and make a grisly show of cracking down on fare evasion.

Space and selfishness

Lyft links to two articles in their blog post - one to a Washington Post ‘brand studio’ (sponsored, ghostwritten) article, and the other to The Atlantic. The Washington Post article is there to substantiate the climate change claim and here’s the crux of its argument:
Fulton’s analysis found little societal or environmental benefit from driverless vehicles unless they are both electric and shared.

Which brings us to the question of self-driving technology: will it be used for shared, communal transit like public transit works today, or will it be a way for rich people to have private luxury rooms?

All current signs point to the worse scenario. Here’s the carpooling, from the Washington Post article:
Carpooling peaked during the 1970s energy crisis, then dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 1980.

Here’s what Elon Musk thinks of public transit.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Would Musk encourage people to carpool in their self-driving Teslas? Do serial killers own Teslas? This hasn’t been an issue so far, because Tesla owners can drive by themselves in carpool lanes.

Or consider how people reacted to increasing vehicle efficiency, and were given the choice: save the environment, or bigger cars?
The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.

*******

Cars are a broken format. We shouldn’t give them a lifeline, or a new coat of paint, and society shouldn’t find a way to assuage the guilt that surrounds them.

Sure, cars should be electric. There are a lot of places in the world where transportation infrastructure isn’t sufficient and cars are the native transportation medium. Maybe they should be self-driving too, if the technology is safer than human drivers. Right now, it isn’t.

But to a large extent this is a zero-sum problem. Ridesharing already has substantially hurt public transit. The blue sky dream of self-driving cars is spawning galaxy-brain reckons like replacing the subway with underground highways, or replacing the subway with tunnels. These dreams are built around selfishness: they always offer private pods flying through space. Hyperloop promotional material portrays it as an alternative to being on the surface, with all those other people.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is obviously necessary, and we should consider all the options. But it’s hard to believe in car-centric solutions that don’t come with a vision of social and cultural change."
cars  carpooling  carsharing  lyft  uber  elonmusk  electriccars  transportation  transit  publictransit  climatechange  technology  technosolutionism  space  selfishness  society  globalwarming  ethics  ridesharing  california  subsidies  policy  highspeedrail  trains  hovlanes  suvs  emissions  hyperloop  tommacwright 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Why Katamari Damacy's Creator Left Japan
"On March 18, 2004, Katamari Damacy was released on the PlayStation 2. The game was unlike anything else, and a sequel soon followed a year later. In 2009, Katamari’s creator Keita Takahashi released Noby Noby Boy. A year later, he left Bandai Namco and shortly after that, Japan as well.

I’d always wondered why Takahashi up and left Japan, moving first to Canada and then to the United States. As someone who left his own home country to live abroad, I could understand the desire to reside elsewhere. But why would the man behind one of the most important Japanese games of the 21st century leave the Japanese game industry? (CORRECTION 2:55 pm ET: The previous sentence originally said 20th century. Sadly, Katamari did not exist back then.)

During this year’s BitSummit in Kyoto, I asked Takahashi about his decision and about his experiences as an expat. Even though Takahashi speaks quite good English, he and I conversed in Japanese. Takahashi’s manner was relaxed. His sense of humor was dry and refreshingly blunt. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

“After I left Namco, I got an offer in Vancouver, asking if I wanted to work on an online game called Glitch,” Takahashi said. “I thought there was no reason for me not to go.”

Glitch was a 2D browser game that was launched on September 27, 2011, but shuttered a year later in December 2012. According to Takahashi, the game’s developer, Tiny Speck, started focusing more on a real-time collaboration platform that would ultimately become Slack. Tiny Speck has since been renamed Slack Technologies.

Didn’t you think of getting on the Slack team?

“There’d be nothing for me to do, right?,” Takahashi laughed, “I’m a game designer.”



With the project over, Takahashi decided not to return to Japan, but instead move to the US and began work on Wattam. It is slated for release on the PS4 this year.

When you move to a different country, your ideas of what’s typical, standard or even normal are challenged on a regular basis. It’s not just the food or the language, but the deeper you go into a culture, further differences await that strike at the core of your newfound home.

Now living in San Fransisco, Takahashi mentioned how his son goes to the local school. The experience is not only new for his son, but also for Takahashi. It’s a grade school experience that is vastly different from the one Takahashi had as a child: Kids in America doesn’t carry randoseru like in Japan and aren’t required to learn specific kanji characters each year.

Of course, the United States is different, but with another frame of reference for comparison, those variations are fascinating. And Takahashi seems to enjoy the gaps that exist between the two cultures as well as the universality that joins us all as humans.

“I often wonder why America and Japan were so different,” Takahashi said. “Why are they so different? They are different.”

“Take the YouTube clips of the Kingdom Hearts III reveal,” he continued. “I don’t know if they’re staged or not, but the reactions among Americans are so happy. There is really isn’t anything quite like that in Japan—maybe, just one percent of the reactions in Japan was like that.”

“Americans have much more confidence than Japanese people do. I always wonder where that comes from.”

It’s a mystery, I said.

“I don’t know if this is good or bad, but Japanese people seem to lack self-confidence or are worried about what others think,” said Takahashi.

Of course, I said, Japanese people have confidence in themselves, but they just don’t show that to others.

“I think so, too,” he said. “I guess it’s the differences in the cultures. In America, the teachers don’t get mad, unless the kid is really bad. They praise the children to help them develop. They have so much respect for each individual child. So I think this kind of education has a big impact on society.”



These differences manifest themselves in how people live and work.

“In America and Canada, people really put a clear separation between their work lives and their private lives.”

People in Japan say they often feel compelled to be at the office, even when their work is done to keep up the appearance of work.

“The amount of hours people work in the game industry in Japan and the US is totally different. Of course, the hours are longer in Japan.”

When Takahashi was at Namco, he said he was always working, even during the New Year’s holidays, when the entire country is on vacation.

That’s no good, I said.

“No good at all.”

When did you leave Namco?

“When I made Katamari, I was able to go abroad and everyone liked the game, and I was shown all these games that people made. I could really feel their passion, which I did not feel at all from the people at Namco.”

A passion for game creation?

“Right. They love games and so they make them. So, why do I have to make games for these Namco folks who thinking about money? It was a waste of time. The world is so big. I thought I could make different games. That was the biggest reason.”

So, I guess Namco thinks more about games as product?

“When they merged with Bandai...” The two companies merged in 2006, with Bandai bringing a whole host of IP licenses, like Gundam.

And then, was there less creativity?

“Yeah, and there was internal politics, too. It was all a pain to deal with.”

After all these years outside Japan, I asked Takahashi if he ever planned to return to Japan.

“If I returned to Japan, I don’t think I’d be able to find work.”

Wait. What? No. The guy created Katamari Damacy. Surely he could get a job at a Japanese game company.

Takahashi isn’t convinced. “There would be nowhere I could get work, right? Where could I get a job if I returned to Japan?”

Anywhere, I said. He could work in design, art and a whole variety of fields.

“I don’t think it would be possible,” Takahashi said.

You really should have more self-confidence!

“I don’t have any,” Takahashi replied with a laugh. “I think I’m someone who sticks out from the herd, I have a distinct style and I make games that reflect that. So the moment I quit Namco, I thought I wouldn’t be able to work for a big company in Japan again.”

The decision to leave Bandai Namco was brave but leaving Japan was even more courageous. It’s hard leaving your home country, working in a new environment, navigating a different language and culture. But doing so leads to self-reflection about oneself. Your outlook expands, you learn and you grow. Hopefully. But it can be an uneasy decision to take that big first step.

I asked him if he was worried when he quit Namco.

“Yeah...”

About how it would turn out? I asked.

“I was unsure,” he said. “but I knew that the only option I had was to continue moving forward.” And to do that, he had no choice but to leave."
keitatakahashi  japan  us  sanfrancisco  2019  culture  creativity  imagination  schools  education  confidence  children  parenting  society  canada  work  namco  videogames  katamaridamacy  bandai 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Capitalism and the Urban Struggle | Boston Review
“One of the things that interests me is the simultaneity of what goes on in the urban network. Occupy Wall Street was about Wall Street, but Occupy movements sprung up in a hundred odd cities in the United States, and you can find Occupy movements in Europe and around the world. So the urban network is actually a very powerful set of political possibilities. Part of my argument is that we should be thinking about how to use the urban network and how to use the political power that lies with closing cities down or intervening in cities as part of what political struggle is all about.”



“DJ: Mainstream liberals who talk about urbanism focus a lot on environmentalism and culture. Cities promise greener forms of living, since they offer greater density and more efficient energy use. And these liberals obsess over green architecture, high-speed rail, and so on, as well as about cities as centers of “creative culture.” Would you say they’re guilty of a certain fetishism over green living and culture?

DH: Very much so. As I try to point out in the book, the culture industries are very much caught up in the search for monopoly rent. It’s interesting that they’re called “industries” these days, which means that there’s a commodification of culture and an attempt to commodify the cultural commons and even commodify history, which is an astonishing process.

A lot of the green stuff is about planting trees and making things look greener. But I’ve yet to see a really radical reconfiguration of urbanization that would really confront the questions of global warming. So the liberal view does that, but what it doesn’t pay attention to is the tremendous social inequalities that exist. In New York, the social inequalities are dramatic, and we have huge concentrations of what we call precarious and insecure, employed people in these cities. In a way it’s an urban proletariat that is engaging in the production and the reproduction of urban life, and I don’t see the liberals taking any notice of that as being a problem. I mean, the levels of social inequality in New York City are far, far greater now than they were 30 years ago, and I would not be at all surprised to see an urban insurrection going on over those levels of inequality.”



“DJ: There you argue that Murray Bookchin had a more reasonable answer to the problem of how to organize for large-scale reform, given the limits of horizontal, anti-hierarchical political structures.

DH: One of the things I criticize the left for is what I call “fetishism of organizational form,” and it’s not only anarchists. The communist parties of yore used to have a democratic centralist model from which they would never depart, and it had certain strengths and it had certain weaknesses. Now there are certain elements within the anarchist movement that now believe totally in this horizontality idea and will not contemplate anything that is hierarchical. So I say, “Well, look, you’re disempowering yourself by sticking to that as the only organizational form which is viable.”

Again, there are certain anarchists who think that it’s reasonable to negotiate with the state or to try to reform the state and certain anarchists who say they want nothing whatsoever with anything that looks like state power. I have problems with that. My concern would be to say, “Let’s try to think of an organizational form that can confront the nature of the problems that we face,” which include, by the way, the one that you talked about earlier about the global nature of the struggle. You cannot imagine that we could simply have socialism in New York City and nowhere else. We’ve got to start thinking about all of the international relations and international divisions of labor and the like. So I’m more concerned with finding a practical form of organization, which can confront the nature of the problems we face, and I find that these rather dogmatic assertions by the communists, on one hand, and some of the anarchists, on the other, that “This is the only form of organization which is acceptable” get in the way of a fluid discussion over what would be a good form of organization for political mobilization right now.

DJ: Do you think that we’ve come to any sort of promising conclusions about organizational form, or is this a debate that needs to take place over the course of many years?

DH: Oh, I think it’s a debate that’s unfolding, but it can unfold very rapidly. I mean, there are places in the world where people seem to have found ways to pin together both the horizontal and the hierarchical. I mention the case of El Alto in Bolivia, where that seems to have happened. There are other cases; I’ve been very impressed by the example of the Chilean student movement, which is very democratic and horizontal but at the same time accepts that there is a need for decisive leadership. As more and more models of that sort come to our attention, I think that more and more people will start to converge on a practical organizational form. At least that’s my hope. And I think what I was trying to do in the book was to contribute to that process by both critiquing fetishism and then talking about examples where it seems some mixture of organizational forms has been very successful.

DJ: Now that we’re in Spring, people in the Occupy movement are wondering, “Where do we go from here?” Can there be an Occupy movement without occupation—without actually occupying public spaces? It seems as though occupying public spaces is a very powerful form of protest that has succeeded in Egypt and elsewhere. So why not just continuing occupying?

DH: Well, I think there are intermediate forms of it. One example that I was talking about with some people the other day is the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina who, instead of occupying all the time, turned up once a week to a particular space to demonstrate over the question of what had happened to their disappeared children and grandchildren. Of course, they suffered a great deal of police harassment and in some cases violence, but they just kept coming there every week. We could do something like that: we could go to Zuccotti Park once a week and say, “Look, we are still here!” It could be a visible thing. Some weeks, there’d be 500 people there; maybe occasionally there’d be 5,000 people there. But if it became a tradition, that once a week we all went there to reassert the significance of our political movement, then this would be a very good step.

I think that one of the problems we have in New York City is that we have a vast amount of public space in which the public is not allowed to do what it wants. We have to liberate public spaces for these sorts of common political actions, and this is one of the arenas of struggle.

DJ: In terms of changing our politics, are there any steps that you think are promising? For example, some critics, such as Lawrence Lessig, point to money in politics as a central problem. There are others who talk about how we need more participatory democracy in place. Is there a political step that you think will make progress?

DH: There’s a political step that I think that we should take and be very clear about. This is what was so impressive about the Chilean student movement. They recognized very clearly that the situation they’re in was defined by what happened under Pinochet. Now Pinochet is dead, but they’re still living with the legacy of Pinochet. What they are struggling with is what you might call “Pinochetism.” In this country Reagan is long gone, but Reaganism has been doubled down on by the Republican Party in particular, but also accepted by large chunks of the Democratic Party. So we’ve got to go after Reaganism. In Britain, Thatcher is long gone, but we’ve got Thatcherism. In Egypt, Mubarak is gone, but Mubarakism is still there. So we’ve got to go after the systems of power and the systems of appropriation of wealth that have become pretty universalized right now, and we’ve got to see this as a real serious point of confrontation. As Warren Buffett says when asked if there’s class struggle, “Sure, there’s class struggle. It’s my class, the rich, who have been waging it, and we’ve been winning.” Our task, I think, is to turn it around and say, “His class shall not win.” And in order to do that, we’ve got to get rid of the whole neoliberal way of organizing contemporary capitalism.“
davidharvey  2012  capitalism  urban  urbanism  economics  democracy  cities  davidjohnson  henrilefebvre  righttothecity  anticapitalism  neoliberalism  politics  policy  liberalism  class  classstruggle  pinochet  warrenbuffett  chile  inequality  thatcherism  margaretthatcher  activism  murraybookchin  argentina  bolivia  ows  occupywallstreet  culture  society  green  greenliving  progress 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Cybergothic Acid Communism Now • Commune
"To the barricades, through the looking glass.

Once upon a time, way back in 2010, having just read his brilliant book Capitalist Realism, I went to see Mark Fisher speak. I walked in late and he was in the midst of denouncing the one-day strike as a pantomime, a meaningless echo of uprising. (He was right, as he was about so many things.) He moved through the financial crisis, to the soulless thing that neoliberalism had made of the university, to a demand to repoliticize mental health. I sat enthralled, too nervous to go say hello afterward. I wish I had.

Fisher died in 2017, leaving anyone who had read him bereft. I find myself, while reading and rereading, wondering what he would have thought of The Favourite or the new Robyn album; longing for his caustic words on the meltdown of the Theresa May government; wishing he had been here to tear “hopepunk” to shreds; wondering too what he would have made of AOC.

The new k-punk collection, all 824 pages of it, is out now from Repeater Books, gathering a decade and a half of Fisher’s writings on pop culture, politics, and theory. It contains everything from blog comment policies to the unfinished introduction to what would have been his next book. Even a quick skim will remind you that Fisher was a much more audacious, nuanced, and flat-out weird writer and thinker than almost anyone the left can claim these days.

Trying to do justice to a now-gone writer who regularly blew your mind is an impossible task, and yet someone who so regularly took aim at sacred cows — starting a piece with “Orwell is wrong about everything, but especially 1984” — should not become one himself. It’s hard to imagine him having any patience with such treatment, anyway. The combination of humility and raw confidence with which he wrote would prevent, I hope, any enjoyment of sainthood.

The only way to treat him right is to read him with the same eye for ruthless critique that he always brought. The same vitality that makes it impossible to imagine him gone courses through this book, whether he’s writing about the calcification of Glastonbury, the bloodless corpse of New Labour, or the privatization of stress. His long posts often come to abrupt ends; there is no wind-down, everything is full-tilt and then crashes to a halt, winded and satisfied with itself (but never smug, no, Fisher always had the bone-deep understanding that smugness is counterrevolutionary).

Fisher is closest in style to Ellen Willis. Like her, he is a brilliant pop-culture critic as well as political observer and actor whose politics were mostly knife-sharp, but capable like all of us of an odd conservative turn. His insistence on popular media as a terrain of struggle is too rare within a new left struggling for direction; Fisher more than anyone understood that the material conditions that drained the vitality from pop music and art and even TV were the same ones that had sucked the life out of the working class. Instead of the innovation that neoliberalism promised us, we’ve just gotten recycled versions of things we’ve seen a million times before, and all of it under the pretense of anti-elitism, of “giving the people what they want.”

Fisher had no patience for this kind of faux-populist tailing. He had a faith in the creativity of the working class that demanded better for and from it. Change — revolution — would not come from pandering but from the masses understanding their own power in all senses. “[T]here’s nothing ‘elitist’ about assuming intelligence on the part of an audience,” he insisted, returning over and over to a defense of a kind of leftist paternalism. (Paternalism, he knew, was the wrong word, but he didn’t quite land on a better one). “It is about having a wager that there is maybe a desire for the strange in people,” he wrote. “People don’t already know what they want and . . . the things which they really end up most valuing may be things which surprise them.”

Whatever we might call such a position, it’s one Fisher performed well. His love for a song or a film that sparks a feeling is contagious. Within a few pages of beginning the music section in the collection I was pulling up bands I’d forgotten or never known to soundtrack my reading. His hatreds — for Alan Moore, say — are not based in some High Culture snobbery but in a frustration with the mistaking of grimness, perhaps, or some other half-evoked emotion, for depth.

In goth, Fisher saw a subculture that could “teach us that egalitarianism is not hostile to, but relies upon, a will-to-greatness, an unconditional demand for the excellent.” The weirdness of Siouxsie Sioux and other such “painted birds” became, in Fisher’s hands, a feminist desire for bursting the confines of biological reproduction, to speed the destruction of a banal, boring world. It was no accident, he pointed out, that Marx himself was drawn to gothic metaphors for capital: “the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.”

Derrida’s “hauntology” threads through his work, a curious recapturing of a concept developed as part of an extended critique of Marx. In Fisher’s hands it bears the idea of a lost future, of a mourning for a thing that could have been. It’s fitting in a way for his readers now to be haunted by the things he’ll never write. His blog posts still have an immediacy to them, a tang that we’ve largely lost with the rise of the clickbait-fueled “thinkpiece.” Far be it from me of all people to argue that unpaid blogging led to better writing — this is the opposite of what Fisher himself said, insisting that having some security would allow us to produce better — but the shittiness of most of the hot-take era’s writing feels stark when reading a k-punk post on the page. It makes me long for a world where writing could be a form of play. Instead, the lazy bourgeois art that Fisher so despised has only spread; it deserves the tactical nuke he wanted to send down on Glastonbury.

Capitalist Realism exists as a tight little bomb of a book that no one really has any excuse not to read. But in case anyone hasn’t, the concept threads through the k-punk collection; the idea that we live under the shadow of “there is no alternative,” unable to imagine a better way to organize society, let alone to struggle for one. Such “realism,” Fisher explained, was deeply unreal, particularly as we all live in the shadow of climate catastrophe; the tsk-tsking of the centrist ruling class is death drive posing as maturity, and the power of capitalist realism an expression of class decomposition, the fading of class consciousness. Peering through this gloom, Fisher nonetheless glimpsed some endings. After 2008, he wrote, “Neoliberalism is finished as a project, even if it lurches on, thrashing around like a decorticated terminator.”

We might now be able to imagine the death of capitalism, yet one problem of capitalist realism remains: our inability to imagine what comes next. Instead, the left too often gropes for the past, a trend Fisher despised. He insisted that “we must have the courage not to be nostalgic for this lost Fordist world of boring factory work and a labour movement dominated by male industrial workers.” Even communist nostalgia was impossible: “our desire is for the future.” Following Stuart Hall, he pointed out that the left and the labor movement had been too slow to grasp workers’ desire for something better than forty years of forty-hour weeks on the assembly line. The Thatcherites and their ilk had seized the moment to paint their reorganization of the economy as liberation while too many leftists sung (and still sing) paeans to the factory floor. The urgent need now is for a working-class politics that doesn’t love work.

This is where, I suppose, the Vampire’s Castle comes in. Like everything Fisher wrote, his oft-cited “Exiting the Vampire’s Castle” goes hard, but unlike most of what he wrote, the slippage it makes between the nastiness of Twitter pile-ons and the problems of liberal identity politics does his criticism of either issue no favors. Everyone, as Fisher himself pointed out, “has chauvinistic potentials of one kind or another,” yet in the Vampire’s Castle — his name for the social media war of position often conducted via hyperbolic outrage and exhausting, disingenuous engagement — he assumes that only “identitarians” turn social media into traps constructed from the mutual fear of attack, an assumption immediately disproved with a few clicks on rose-emoji Twitter these days. There is just as much of a hipster’s desire to be part of the in-crowd among today’s new socialists, even if they throw the word “class” around more often.

But even when Fisher is infuriating, he is never dull, which is what makes attempts to claim him for normie social democracy so utterly repellent — said reactionary turn in socialist “thought” these days is above all else boring. Though Fisher wrote of the “the luxury of feeling bored” and its potential for sparking new ideas, he insisted upon respect for the intellectual capacities of the working class, insisted that “anti-intellectualism is a ruling-class reflex.” Yet those who see in the Vampire’s Castle a club to whack so-called “identitarians,” or simply anyone to their left, often wind up claiming precisely the opposite: that working-class people are too stupid to be challenged or to challenge our ideas of race, gender, and the fundamental orderings of the world.

We can find a more generous solution for the slash-and-burn tendencies of the would-be left in Fisher’s writings on mental health — particularly on depression, his own and everyone else’s — and his insistence that the left make political demands around it. The “realism” of depression, which “presents itself as necessary and interminable,” with its “glacial surfaces [that] extend… [more]
markfisher  2019  sarahjaffe  communism  marxism  neoliberalism  counterculture  labor  work  organizing  unions  mentalhealth  socialism  socialdemocracy  democracy  identitarians  socialmedia  politics  policy  culture  society  k-punk  liberation  economics  uk  us  fordism  class  realism  future  imagination  glastonbury  writing  howwewrite  subculture  alanmoore  music  criticism 
july 2019 by robertogreco
The mindfulness conspiracy | Life and style | The Guardian
"It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism."
capitalism  meditation  mindfulness  2019  ronaldpurser  economics  society  neoliberalism  activism  mindfulness-industrialcomplex  wellness-industrialcomplex  labor  via:austinkleon 
july 2019 by robertogreco
How mindfulness privatised a social problem
[via: https://hewn.substack.com/p/hewn-no-314 ]

“The £3.4trn industry encourages a preoccupation with the symptoms of mental illness, rather than their social causes.”

“In December 2008, while forcibly evicting tenants from a concrete high-rise in south London, Southwark Council pulled off a remarkable feat of complacency. Though residents didn’t know it at the time, every flat in the development that replaced the Heygate Estate would be sold to foreign investors, despite the council’s repeated promises of new social housing.

Recognising that people were “stressed”, councillors hired life coaches and “spiritual ministers” to run workshops teaching residents how to progress emotionally. The company behind the workshop, the Happiness Project, was founded by the British positive psychologist Robert Holden, the author of Shift Happens! The firm’s motto was: “Success is a state of mind; happiness is a way of travelling; love is your true power.”

That people about to lose their homes were stressed is hardly surprising. The council encouraged residents to look inwards, towards their brain chemistry, and in doing so cast itself as a solution, rather than a cause of the problem. Its response typified the idea of “magical voluntarism”, which the writer Mark Fisher described as “the belief that it is within every individual’s power to make themselves whatever they want to be”.

The connection between stress and economics is well documented. In their 2009 book The Spirit Level, Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson identified a strong correlation between inequality and poor reported mental health. In a report published last month, Dr Dainius Puras, the UN’s special rapporteur on health, stated that confronting inequality would be a more effective prophylactic for poor mental health than excessive therapy or medication.

Yet governments often opt for treatments that focus on the individual rather than social maladies. “Most don’t want to be thinking about how their policies might be contributing to problems in the first place,” says David Harper, a clinical psychologist at the University of East London. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a treatment that focuses on raising awareness of negative emotions and developing coping strategies.

A preoccupation with the symptoms of mental illness, rather than their social causes, is because there’s no “big drug lobby behind prevention”, Harper says. Treatments such as CBT have proved a cost-effective cattle prod for herding the mentally ill off welfare benefits. As chancellor, George Osborne introduced the therapy for 40,000 recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance as part of a back-to-work agenda.

“An industry has formed around the ‘stressed subject’,” says Ronald Purser, a long-standing Buddhist and academic at San Francisco State University. His particular concern is the commercialisation of “mindfulness”, whose original status as a radical Buddhist practice has been almost entirely lost. “The dominant mindfulness narrative is that stress is all inside your own head,” he says. “You can’t separate the individual from the environment. We’re embodied social beings.”

Mindfulness is the psychological practice of focusing one’s attention on experiences in the present moment. It is offered by the NHS, recommended by NICE, and, like CBT, encourages the development of coping strategies. In his new book McMindfulness, Purser takes aim at the lucrative “mindfulness” industry, which was worth an estimated $4.2trn (£3.4trn) in 2017. More than 100,000 books for sale on Amazon have a variant of the word in their title. The US military offers mindfulness training classes. In 2007, Google launched a mindfulness course called “Search Inside Yourself”, which has been spun into a non-profit body. “That’s when I really became suspicious,” notes Purser.

The mindfulness movement took off in 1979 when one of its progenitors, Jon Kabat-Zinn, founded a stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts – the same year Margaret Thatcher became prime minister and a year before Ronald Reagan was elected as US president. Purser argues that mindfulness has become the perfect coping mechanism for neoliberal capitalism: it privatises stress and encourages people to locate the root of mental ailments in their own work ethic. As a psychological strategy it promotes a particular form of revolution, one that takes place within the heads of individuals fixated on self-transformation, rather than as a struggle to overcome collective suffering.

It’s dangerous to generalise about mental health. For some, contemplative practices could be the key to reducing suffering. When I put this to him, Purser cites the American feminist Audre Lorde, who wrote that “caring for myself is not a form of self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”. In McMindfulness, he argues that “reducing suffering is a noble aim and it should be encouraged”. But therapies like mindfulness, as currently practised, perpetuate a form of “cruel optimism”, he warns.

We are told that mindfulness is the path to happiness and security, regardless of our circumstances, and that success, as the Happiness Project piously told Heygate residents losing their homes, is merely a “state of mind”. “
mindfulness  mindfulness-industrialcomplex  wellness-industrialcomplex  society  capitalism  2019  hettieo'brien  economics  neoliberalism  labor 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Community — Real Life
"As Reed wrote, “The less attention is paid to cultivating and protecting the sphere of negotiation, the more the balance shifts to coercion. The rhetoric of community is impatient with the former, and its myth of authenticity rationalizes the latter.” Perhaps what we need now is not more community, but a more just society. Social media is community made easy, which isn’t community at all."
community  coercion  race  2019  davidbanks  online  internet  socialmedia  society  justice  socialjustice  greennewdeal  reddit  culture  adolphreedjr 
july 2019 by robertogreco
What Do People in Solitary Confinement Want to See? | The New Yorker
“Willie Sterling III imagined this: a line of people, bonded by a belief in his humanity, travelling up a hill in southern Illinois to a cross that sits at its peak. The cross was Bald Knob Cross of Peace, a colossus more than a hundred feet tall. It was made of concrete and varnished with porcelain, and wherever you were, within thousands of miles, you strode in its shadow. Sterling saw his believers huddled at its base, praying for his deliverance from solitary confinement and for him to be granted parole after more than three decades behind bars.

Sterling envisioned this scene as part of a program—begun by a group of lawyers, community members, artists, and currently and formerly incarcerated men and their families, and based in Chicago—that fulfills the photography requests of inmates being held in solitary confinement. Tamms Correctional Center, where Sterling was held for several years, and which closed in 2013, was the only supermax prison in the state of Illinois; it housed people who were deemed “the worst of the worst,” as its first warden, George Welborn, told the Chicago Tribune in 1998, and it held the majority of them in what was euphemistically referred to as isolation. Tamms had seven hundred beds, five hundred of them in an all-solitary-confinement supermax facility. Those in solitary spent at least twenty-two hours a day in their cells. Some days, they were not let out at all. For meals, boiled eggs and loaves of congealed food were slid through a thin aperture in the steel cell door. The sink and the toilet were combined into one structure.

In 2006, activists formed a poetry committee to mitigate the sensory deprivation that the prison inflicted on the people held there. They exchanged letters and poems with the inmates. Two years later, the committee transformed into Tamms Year Ten, a coalition that protested the conditions at the prison, with the goal of seeing it shuttered. The group also asked inmates to fill out a form describing a picture that they would like to receive. A volunteer would then create it.

Laurie Jo Reynolds, the organizer of Tamms Year Ten, recently described to me, over the phone, the work that was done to fulfill Sterling’s request: “We got a caravan of sixteen family members. I got an a-cappella singer, one of our volunteers, to sing ‘Amazing Grace.’ And then we had to work it out with the proprietor of Bald Knob Cross that we would have dinner there, because it was dark by the time it was over.” In the wide-shot photo, the cross looms against a colorless sky as a crowd of people, dressed in white and black, huddles nearby, heads lowered. To Sterling, the image was an amulet, a prayer frozen in time. One year after Sterling received it, he was granted parole.”



“According to many human-rights organizations, the prolonged lack of human contact and sensory deprivation that inmates experience in solitary confinement qualifies as torture. The legislative campaign that Tamms Year Ten spearheaded succeeded in closing the prison. The photo-request project continued, in affiliation with the watchdog group Solitary Watch. Now known as Photo Requests from Solitary, it is run by Reynolds, Jean Casella, a co-director of Solitary Watch, and Jeanine Oleson, a professor of photography at Parsons School of Design. According to Casella, in six years, the program has received a few hundred requests for people imprisoned in Illinois, New York, California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.”



“The sensual urges of the incarcerated are often demonized, dismissed as criminal or undeserved, but Photo Requests from Solitary regards them without judgment. Within the parameters of prison rules, the group fulfills requests of an erotic bent. Reynolds told me fondly about a man named Johnny, who asked for a particular screenshot of Jennifer Lopez’s butt from the “Jenny from the Block” music video. She noted that many men’s requests for pictures of women seemed tender, oriented to narrative and tableau—more like what you would see in “women’s porn,” she said. Dan, for instance, requested a modest fantasy: a picture of a “black female with hazel eyes,” with “orange and blue in the sky” and a Mercedes-Benz of “powder blue.” His request was realized via a collaboration between Photo Requests and Vice. The photographer, Jason Altaan, made the image glaringly arty; I wonder how Dan liked it.

Not all of the people who volunteer for these assignments are artists or photographers, per se. Most fulfill the assignments straightforwardly, without interpreting or embellishing, even when the requests are conceptual—men and women asking to be represented as howling wolves, or crying lions, or sad clowns. The volunteers do their best to be another person’s eyes, and to respect the significance of the exchange. (You can visit the project’s Web site and, if you’d like, fulfill a request of your own.) Frank, imprisoned in California, enclosed a photograph of his daughter with his form, asking that she be Photoshopped into an image of the Pyramid of the Sun, in Teotihuacán, Mexico. Jason Mena placed her in the sky above the structure, as if she were the sun. One man requested a new picture of his daughter; a volunteer travelled to her home to take it. In the box, time stands still and it doesn’t. Chris asked to see a photograph of the Barclays Center, in downtown Brooklyn, which had been built while he was incarcerated. “I just want to see it the best way the photographer can capture it. To feel as if I’m right there,” he wrote.

Advocates estimate that eighty thousand people are currently housed in solitary confinement, though the difficulty of tracking confined populations means that the number may be larger. A small exhibition of Photo Requests from Solitary was recently held at the Brooklyn Public Library, featuring banners printed with blown-up copies of some of the prisoners’ requests. I noticed that observers lingered longer on the request forms than they did on the pictures. Regrets, anguish, and hope emanated from the handwriting. The descriptions were abundant and precise, sometimes ecstatic—images that the inmates assembled from language long before they were made visual. “Motion!,” Mark, in Pennsylvania, writes. “I’ve been in solitary for twenty-three years and three days today. It’s like living in a still-life painting;. . . I’d like to see things moving. Perhaps traffic at night, lights shining and the trails from lights whizzing past.”“
doreenstfélix  photography  society  prison  solitaryconfinement  2019  imagery  sensorydeprivation  senses  humanrights  incarceration  solidarity 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Paper Books Can’t Be Shut Off from Afar – Popula
[See also (referenced within):
"Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working""
https://boingboing.net/2019/06/28/jun-17-2004.html ]

“Private ownership—in particular the private ownership of books, software, music and other cultural information—is the linchpin of a free society. Having many copies of works of art, music and literature distributed widely (e.g., many copies of the same book among many private owners, or many copies of the same audio files, torrents or blockchain ledger entries on many private computers) protects a culture against corruption and censorship. Decentralization strategies like these help to preserve press freedom, and individual freedom. The widespread private ownership of cultural artifacts guarantees civil liberties, and draws people into their culture immanently, persistently, giving it life and power.

Cory Doctorow’s comment on Friday at BoingBoing regarding private ownership of books is well worth reading; he wrote it because Microsoft is shutting down its e-books service, and all the DRM books people bought from them will thus vanish into thin air. Microsoft will provide refunds to those affected, but that isn’t remotely the point. The point is that all their users’ books are to be shut off with a single poof! on Microsoft’s say-so. That is a button that nobody, no corporation and no government agency, should be ever permitted to have.

“The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine,” Doctorow said.

At this very moment, governments are forbidding millions of people, Chinese people, Cubans, Belarusians and Egyptians and Hungarians and many, many others all over this world, from reading whatever they want.

So if there is to be a fear of the increasing adoption of e-books such as those offered by Microsoft, and to a far greater degree, Amazon, that’s by far the scariest thing about it. Because if you were to keep all your books in a remotely controlled place, some villain really could come along one day and pretty much flip the switch and take them all away — and not just yours but everyone’s, all at once. What if we had some species of Trump deciding to take action against the despicable, dangerous pointy-heads he is forever railing against?

Boom! Nothing left to read but The Art of the Deal.

I don’t intend on shutting up about this ever, and I’m sure Doctorow won’t either, bless him.”
mariabustillos  books  print  drm  decentralization  2019  microsoft  kindle  china  cuba  belarus  egypt  hungary  censorship  totalitarianism  georgeorwell  society  freedom  corporations  ip  intellectualproperty  ownership  ebooks  libery  power  culture  corydoctorow 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Why is life expectancy faltering? | Society | The Guardian
"For the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in western Europe – and doctors and experts believe that the impact of austerity is a major factor"
us  uk  austerity  economics  health  2019  lifeexpectancy  government  society 
june 2019 by robertogreco
The public is insufficiently educated on how to be a good public – @visakanv
"The public is insufficiently educated on how to be a good public.

I think this is civilisation-specific (ie not an issue for egalitarian hunter-gatherers who live enmeshed lives). And I think appreciating this requires appreciating that civilisation is hierarchical, stratified. The reality of status hierarchies is starker than we articulate.

Nobody introduces you to sexism 101, racism 101 or status hierarchies 101 when you’re a child. This is something you have to learn through fumbling experience and unverified hearsay, the way most people learn about sex.

Circling back. The public isn’t educated to be a good public because it isn’t in the interest(s) of the ruling class, not really. The public is educated to obey, to regulate & be regulated, to work. There are lots of shitty smartbro takes on this, but underlying truth remains

Many (most?) people fantasize about being a king, queen, prince, princess. Many (most?) people secretly know that the public commons is a dumpster fire, and aspire to have enough power to avoid being trampled by the great herd of humanity.

In the short run, for the quarterly report, the public yields the most profits when it is most anxious, fearful, outraged, disgusted. If you advocate for fewer ads, less hyperbole, a better user experience, you’ll probably get replaced by someone else who doesn’t care.

In the earliest conceptualization of “civilised” humanity, there were the rulers and the serfs. The masters and the slaves. The bougies and the proles. The clever trick of late-stage capitalism is selling gold-plated chains as a substitute for liberty.

It’s tempting at this point to point a finger at a mysterious Man who’s Out To Get Us. And maybe some people bear more responsibility than others for kickstarting the profit-seeking hyperdrive. But correcting it will IMO require a planetary effort that has never been coordinated. (Meditations on Moloch feels relevant here.)

I changed my mind about something halfway here. I was going to say “we are all responsible, it’s our collective insecurity” I’m not so sure that’s accurate, apart from in the most superficial sense. The asshole problem is real.

Assholes are the 1% of people that cause 74% of the problems everywhere they go. The challenge is to deal with assholes without becoming an asshole yourself in the process. It’s sadly-funny and true that anti-assholes are some of the worst assholes."
visakanveerasamy  2019  hierarchy  assholes  civilization  society  racism  sexism  inequality  humanism  capitalism  humanity 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Anne Galloway 'Speculative Design and Glass Slaughterhouses' - This is HCD
"Andy: You’ve got quite an interesting background. I’m going to ask you about in a second. I wanted to start with the quote from Ursula Le Guin that you have on your website. It’s from the Lathe of Heaven. “We’re in the world, not against it. It doesn’t work to try and stand outside things and run them that way, it just doesn’t work. It goes against life. There is a way, but you have to follow it, the world is, no matter how we think it ought to be, you have to be with it, you have to let it be.

Then on the More Than Human website, you have these three questions. What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture? What if we deny that human beings are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? The More Than Human lab explores everyday entanglements of humans and non-humans and imagines more sustainable ways of thinking, making, and doing. Anne, let’s get started by first talking about what do you mean by all of that?

Anne: The Ursula Le Guin quote I love mostly because a critical perspective or an activist perspective, anything that says we ought to be changing the world in any way, it always assumes that we need to fix something, that the world is broken and that designers especially are well-suited to be able to solve some of these problems. I like thinking about what it means to respond to injustice by accepting it, not in the sense of believing that it’s okay or right, because clearly, it’s been identify as unjust. I love Le Guin’s attention to the fact that there is a way to be in the world.

As soon as we think that we’re outside of it, any choices or decisions or actions that we take are, well, they sit outside of it as well. I like being embedded in the trouble. I like Donna Haraway’s idea of staying with the trouble. It’s not that we have to accept that things are problematic, but rather that we have to work within the structures that already exist. Not to keep them that way, in fact, many should be dismantled or changed. Rather, to accept that there is a flow to the universe.

Of course, Le Guin was talking about Taoism, but here what I wanted to draw attention to is often our imperative to fix or to solve or to change things comes with a belief that we’re not part of the world that we’re trying to fix and change. It’s that that I want to highlight. That when we start asking difficult questions about the world, we can never remove ourselves from them. We’re complicit, we are on the receiving end of things. We’re never distant from it. I think that subtle but important shift in deciding how we approach our work is really important."



"Andy: Yes, okay. I was thinking about this, I was reading, in conjunction, this little Le Guin quote, I was trying to think, it’s unusual in the sense that it’s a discipline or a practice of design that uses its own practice to critique itself. It’s using design to critique design in many respects. A lot of what speculative design is talking about is, look what happens when we put stuff into the world, in some way, without much thought. I was trying to think if there was another discipline that does that. I think probably in the humanities there are, and certainly in sociology I think there probably is, where it uses its own discipline to critique itself. It’s a fairly unusual setup.

Anne: I would think actually it’s quite common in the humanities, perhaps the social sciences, where it’s not common is in the sciences. Any reflexive turn in any of the humanities would have used the discipline. Historiography is that sort of thing. Applied philosophy is that sort of thing. Reflexive anthropology is that sort of thing. I think it’s actually quite common, just not in the sciences, and design often tries to align itself with the sciences instead.

Andy: Yes, there was a great piece in the Aeon the other day, about how science doesn’t have an adequate description or explanation for consciousness. Yet, it’s the only thing it can be certain of. With that, it also doesn’t really seem to come up in the technology industry that much, because it’s so heavily aligned with science. Technology, and you’ve got this background in culture studies and science and technology and society, technology is a really strong vein throughout speculative design. Indeed, your work, right? Counting sheep is about the Internet of Things, and sheep. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that and why I am talking to you from the picture things to the Lord of the Rings, it basically looks like you’re living in part of the Shire in Middle Earth?

Anne: I do live in a place that looks remarkably like the Shire. It’s a bit disconcerting at times. The science and technology question in speculative design I think is first of all a matter of convenience. Science fiction, speculation, they lean historically, habitually towards science and tech. It becomes an easy target for critique. Not that it’s not necessary, but it’s right there, so why not? There’s that element to it. It has an easier ability to be transformed into something fanciful or terrifying, which allows for certain kinds of storytelling through speculation, that I think people, both creators and audiences or readers really enjoy.

Now, the irony of all of this, of course is that arguably one of the greatest concerns that people have would be tied to technological determinism, the idea that we’re going to have these technologies anyway, so what are we going to do about it? Now, when you speculate using these technologies, what you’re doing is actually reinforcing the idea that these technologies are coming, you play right into the same technological determinism that you’re trying to critique. In fact, one of the counting sheep scenarios was designed specifically to avoid the technology. It was the one that got the most positive responses."



"Andy: With all of this, and I may this pop at the beginning, just before we were recording, that there’s a sense of, because of everything going on in the world, that if only designers could run the world, everything would be fine, right, because we can see all of the solutions to everything. What would you want designers to get out of this kind of work or this kind of perspective?

Anne: Humility. That simple. I am one of those people. It’s because of being an ethnographer as well and doing participant observation and interviewing many people and their ideas about design. I’ve run into far more people who think that designers are arrogant than ones who don’t. This has always really interested me. What is it that designers do that seems to rub non-designers the wrong way? Part of it is this sense of, or implication that they know better than the rest of us, or that a designer will come in and say, “Let me fix your problem”, before even asking if there is a problem that the person wants fixed.

I actually gave a guest lecture in a class just the other day, where I suggested that there were people in the world who thought that designers were arrogant. One of the post-graduate students in the class really took umbrage at this and wanted to know why it was that designers were arrogant for offering to fix problems, but a builder wasn’t, or a doctor wasn’t.

Andy: What was your answer?

Anne: Well, my answer was, generally speaking, people go to them first and say, “I have this problem, I need help.” Whereas, designers come up with a problem, go find people that they think have it and then tell them they’d like to solve it. I think just on a social level, that is profoundly anti-social. That is not how people enjoy socially interacting with people.

Andy: I can completely see that and I think that I would say that argument has also levelled, quite rightly, a lot of Silicon Valley, which is the answer to everything is some kind of technology engineering startup to fix all the problems that all the other technology and engineering startups that are no longer startups have created. It’s probably true of quite a lot of areas of business and finance, as well, and politics, for that matter. The counter, I could imagine a designer saying, “Well, that’s not really true”, because one of the things as human-centred designers, the first thing we do, we go out, we do design ethnography, we go and speak to people, we go and observe, we go and do all of that stuff. We really understand their problems. We’re not just telling people what needs to be fixed. We’re going there and understanding things. What’s your response to that?

Anne: Well, my first response is, yes, that’s absolutely true. There are lots of very good designers in the world who do precisely that. Because I work in an academic institution though, I’m training students. What my job involves is getting the to the point where they know the difference between telling somebody something and asking somebody something. what it means to actually understand their client or their user. I prefer to just refer to them as people. What it is that people want or need. One of the things that I offer in all of my classes is, after doing the participant observation, my students always have the opportunity to submit a rationale for no design intervention whatsoever.

That’s not something that is offered to people in a lot of business contexts because there’s a business case that’s being made. Whereas, I want my students to understand that sometimes the research demonstrates that people are actually okay, and that even if they have little problems, they’re still okay with that, that people are quite okay with living with contradictions and that they will accept some issues because it allows for other things to emerge. That if they want, they can provide the evidence for saying, “Actually, the worst thing we could do in this scenario is design anything and I refuse to design.”

Andy: Right, that and the people made trade-offs all the time because of the pain of change is much … [more]
annegalloway  design  2019  speculativefiction  designethnography  morethanhuman  ursulaleguin  livestock  agriculture  farming  sheep  meat  morethanhumanlab  activism  criticaldesign  donnaharaway  stayingwiththetrouble  taoism  flow  change  changemaking  systemsthinking  complicity  catherinecaudwell  injustice  justice  dunneandraby  consciousness  science  technology  society  speculation  speculativedesign  questioning  fiction  future  criticalthinking  whatif  anthropology  humanities  reflexiveanthropology  newzealand  socialsciences  davidgrape  powersoften  animals  cows  genevievebell  markpesce  technologicaldeterminism  dogs  cats  ethnography  cooperation  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  slow  slowness  time  perception  psychology  humility  problemsolving  contentment  presence  peacefulness  workaholism  northamerica  europe  studsterkel  protestantworkethic  labor  capitalism  passion  pets  domestication 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | Can Californians Still Find a Path to Mobility at the State’s Universities? - The New York Times
"As a counter to staggering inequality, the system needs to be more open to the people who actually live in the Golden State."



"Joan Didion described her alma mater, the University of California, as “California’s highest, most articulate idea of itself, the most coherent — perhaps the only coherent — expression of the California possibility.”

That ethos has endured. The University of California has prevailed as both symbol and engine of opportunity, true to the spirit of the state’s founding constitution, which endorsed an accessible, independent institution of higher learning. From admitting women in 1870 to establishing the nation’s first multi-campus research university, and from its string of world-changing scientific breakthroughs to its embrace of undocumented immigrants, the University of California has reflected and nurtured the state’s core values.

The university plays a critical role at a time when the top 1 percent in California draw almost a quarter of the total income while six in 10 children are covered by Medi-Cal. But to be most effective as a force to counter the staggering inequality, the university needs to reshape campuses so they not only look more like California but also again offer what Carol T. Christ, the chancellor of Berkeley, calls “equity of experience” — equal access to science and technology majors, research opportunities, campus life and study abroad.

Berkeley is one of the university’s nine undergraduate campuses, the top tier of a remarkable tripartite public system that educates a majority of California students. The undergraduate universities consistently rank as the most effective schools in the country as drivers of upward economic mobility. More than 40 percent of their undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. More than half come from families with annual incomes of less than $80,000 and pay no tuition. Berkeley, which enrolls a smaller share of lower-income Pell grant recipients than any other campus, still educates the lower-income students at almost twice the rate of Ivy League schools — and Pell grant recipients graduate at roughly the same high rates as their wealthier classmates.

What has fractured since Ms. Didion graduated in 1956 is the cohesive community, the assumption of shared experience that bound so many generations of alumni, particularly at Berkeley, the university’s flagship and still its best-known brand. Today, Berkeley has cleaved into disparate worlds divided by class, race and major. In its stratification and struggles, it mirrors a complex nation-state with deep divisions and extremes.

The symbiotic relationship between school and state means that Ms. Christ and her counterparts grapple with the consequences of some of California’s most intractable conditions: a housing crisis that forces many students to commute for hours because they cannot afford to live anywhere near the Bay Area; a poverty rate that means some students skip meals and others send financial aid money home; a volatile state budget dependent on the superwealthy and prone to boom-and-bust cycles; and decades of underfunded primary and secondary public schools that strain to educate a diverse student body.

Although Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the state and a majority of the school-age children, they remain underrepresented across the university system, most of all at Berkeley. Only 5 percent of the Berkeley faculty members are Latino. Latino student enrollment has increased to about 14 percent, still far short of reflecting California over all.

Berkeley, the original campus (hence its nickname, Cal), was central to the agreement that shaped California’s system of higher education. The 1960 master plan established jurisdictions for the University of California (which retained its exclusive right to offer graduate programs), California State University and the community colleges. The master plan guaranteed admission to the four-year schools for top high school seniors and envisioned community colleges as feeders for other students. An era of expansion ensued to meet record demand as California passed New York to become the most populous state.

Then came more complicated decades: the Free Speech Movement, which helped propel Ronald Reagan to the governorship; Proposition 13, which slashed state revenues; Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action; and multiple recessions. During the worst years of the Great Recession, the University of California lost a third of its state support, and tuition, once free, rose to $12,000 from about $8,000 per year, for the first time surpassing state aid in total revenue.

For first-generation students, financial obstacles are only the start, especially at Berkeley, where faculty members have long valued research above teaching and the school has reveled in its sink-or-swim culture. Alejandra Tapia, who graduated in the class of 2019 with a major in molecular and cell biology, is both a success story and a cautionary tale. Raised by a single mother who worked in the fields, Ms. Tapia decided to become a doctor after her mother suffered a stroke. She attended four high schools, all in farmworker communities.

Through grit and intelligence, she won a full scholarship to Berkeley. Many days, she wondered if she had made the right choice. She had expected the intellectual challenges; she did not expect to navigate alien academic and social worlds with no support. Often the only Latina in her labs, she juggled pre-med classes, 15 hours a week of work and worries about her family. She came close to leaving. “It has made me better and stronger than what I thought I could ever be,” she said, triumphant that she had persevered. Thinking about the hardships, she began to cry.

The culture of intellectual Darwinism undermines the goal of equity in an era when so many students arrive without the cultural or financial resources once taken for granted. What is needed is more than just an update to the master plan, still the governing covenant. California needs a master plan for equity, a goal that would take a combination of vision, political will and acumen.

“The Master Plan was designed to provide a broadly traditional education to a broadly traditional student body,” the chancellors of the university and the community college system wrote last year in an agreement to formalize paths among the systems. “What is missing is a systemic reimagination of the ends of education in light of 21st-century conditions.”

The unbridled optimism and growth of the 1950s and early ’60s had downsides but nurtured a system that grew based on ideas, with confidence that resources would follow. Decisions now are too often made the other way around. Out-of-state students pay three times as much in tuition as residents; since the financial crises, their numbers soared to 18 percent of the enrollment.

There are signs of progress. One of every three new students at Berkeley is a junior transfer from a community college. They are more likely to be Latino, first generation, from lower-income families and more likely to concentrate in humanities because they lack the prerequisites for science and technology majors. Transfer students will be key for Chancellor Christ to fulfill her goal to make Berkeley a “Hispanic-Serving Institution,” a designation already achieved by six of the university campuses, which requires that a quarter of the students be Latino.

“The University and the State of California are inseparable,” Ansel Adams wrote in the late 1960s, after he had photographed every aspect of the university for its centennial celebration. “The challenge to the University of California today is nothing less than to help bring forth the civilization of the future.” Fifty years later, the future looks very different, but the challenge of its mission remains."
miriampawel  2019  universityofcalifornia  california  communitycolleges  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  socialmobility  joandidion  access  inequality  funding  tuition  anseladams  society  masterplan  uc 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Data for Social Good: Crisis Text Line CEO Nancy Lublin | Commonwealth Club
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRlCX597JhA ]

"Suicide and mental health are hard subjects—so Crisis Text Line leveraged the power of the data it collects to help their counselors determine the best way to talk about the topics with those in need. The nonprofit, founded in 2013 by CEO Nancy Lublin, has provided a free text-based and human-driven service to support those experiencing mental health stress, gathering data points from more than 75 million text messages sent and maximizing the impact of their information to better train counselors and support their community. Its innovative and data-driven methodology for tackling hard conversations can also be applied to more than the mental health space, including to Lublin’s latest venture: Loris.ai. 

Lublin’s entire career has focused on initiatives addressing social issues, and she founded Dress for Success and Do Something prior to Crisis Text Line. With her technology lens on big challenges, she continues to iterate on innovative mechanisms and creative solutions to sticky problems. At INFORUM, she’ll be joined in conversation by DJ Patil, head of technology at Devoted Health and former U.S. chief data scientist in the Obama administration, to dig into the power of data to effect change. Come curious!"
data  mentalhealth  socialgood  crisistext  nancylubin  djpatil  2019  nonprofit  nonprofits  911  socialmedia  suicide  society  government  crisiscounseling  emoji  language  communication  responsiveness  texting  sms  stress  funding  fundraising  storytelling  technology  siliconvalley  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  startups  capitalism  importance  charitableindustrialcomplex  canon  noblesseoblige  humanism  relationship  courage  racism  connection  humanconnection  loneliness  pain 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Perpetual Motion Machines — Real Life
"The social impact could be broader than we expect. When we don’t have to look where we are going, we have to deliberately choose what we want to see. One of IDEO’s more radical visions of how automated vehicles could be used, the WorkOnWheels mobile office, is designed to allow employees to travel to new locations as they work. The pod contains office furniture and pull-down shades over the windows, letting workers choose which aspects of their surrounding environment they want to see, without having to visually process the travel in-between. Cityscapes become optional, consumable on demand rather than by necessity. Meanwhile, the mobile workplace’s controlled internal habitat would remain constant no matter where it was.

Such a vehicle would not have to travel any faster for us to perceive a dramatic reduction in travel time. The time once spent in vehicles inertly waiting to arrive could now be filled with the same sort of activities we’d be doing if we were already there — or had never left.

The opportunity to multitask while traveling could make the journey into the destination. Given the expanded possibilities of what one could do inside a vehicle, our existing distinctions between vehicles and buildings, between transit and destination, between static and mobile spaces, may begin to blur. Imagine commuting while sleeping, or socializing at happy hour while the bar transports you home. Imagine if a garage was also the car. If commuting entails being in a space that is functionally equivalent to being at home, one might eventually skip returning home, and commute perpetually. The journey to work could commence as soon we fall asleep. The idea of having a destination becomes as obsolete as drivers and cars. Highways would host listless roaming bedrooms, meandering through the night.

Our understanding of a house as a stable locus of physical and emotional shelter could become diluted. There would be no reason for homes to not also be vehicles. A range of new options for customizing these vehicle-home hybrids would emerge: Homes could be made up of modular docking pods, and specific rooms could be shared, swapped, rented out, or sent away for cleaning or restocking. Modern conveniences that we currently take for granted — such as being able to use a bathroom without needing to arrange for its presence in advance — could become tomorrow’s luxuries. The homeless would be the only people not constantly in motion, the people closest to retaining a fixed physical location called home. Stasis would become homelessness.

If vehicular interiors can accommodate the activities possible at most destinations — if the vehicle becomes a destination in and of itself, and destinations become other vehicles — the mediating experience of a journey between places would be eliminated. There will be no signs to point us anywhere. There would be no need to know directions, and no sense of what being “on the way” to somewhere looks or feels like. There will be no need to know how to get anywhere once we forget the concept of having anywhere to go."



"Once physical locations are rendered as abstract coordinates in a user interface, they effectively become arbitrary, as interchangeable as the retail spaces of big-box stores. The experience of inhabiting any particular interior space might become decoupled from its existence within a specific place, free from the baggage of associated historical and geographic context. Real estate would no longer need to be valued according to its location, because proximity would always be subject to change. Travel to visit or inhabit buildings still standing in fixed physical locations might join horses and antique cars as nostalgic hobbies for the wealthy.

Our memories of the spatial processions encountered while traveling through urban architecture — approaching the public facade of a building, the transition between the street and lobby, the awareness of landmark reference points on a skyline, the interstices between buildings — might eventually begin to fade. The experience of passing from one destination to another could become akin to watching the progress bar of a software download. Traveling to a different location, or having that location travel to you, would be more akin to updating an app.

The user interface for navigating space would no longer be a map, but a clock or calendar. Distances once traced on a map would be transmuted into blocks of time plotted on one’s daily schedule. Place would be synonymous with occasion, with movement through time corresponding to automatic movements through space. Frequent destinations such as “home” and “work” might transform into abstract zones differentiated mainly by when rather than where they happen. Our motives and desires would be foregrounded over the experience of traveling, shifting our conception of destinations to more closely resemble verbs rather than nouns. Your workout routine might take place in a different gym than it did the morning before, but you wouldn’t know the difference; they would be identically convenient. As soon as our scheduled time within one destination expired, we would be able to walk through a docking port into the next, like a cinematic cut skipping the passage of mundane events that might otherwise have unfolded between selected scenes.

Driverless passenger cars and delivery vehicles will further accelerate our current move to on-demand services that let us bypass those inconvenient interstitial moments of everyday life — walking to a store, standing in line, cooking a meal, and so on. The logistics of scheduling automated vehicles will ensure that even more of our time becomes consciously programmed and structured, optimized for maximum productivity. With each advance, our surrounding environment will become increasingly hostile to serendipity and chance meetings, known sources of creative breakthroughs.

Contemporary urban-planning guidelines are based on assumptions that the rich pedestrian life of a street or a park emerges from adjacencies with surrounding businesses. Driverless cars posit a possible future without street life and without spaces for spontaneity. As with previous planning mistakes in developing automotive-oriented cities, carmakers and technology companies are moving forward with their ideas without reckoning with the full range of potential social impacts. These futures must be imagined before they can be embraced or resisted. Otherwise driverless cars may steer society into a blind cul-de-sac, and we will discover we have nowhere left to go."
chenoeahrt  driverlesscars  2016  cities  transportation  cars  space  urban  urbanism  motion  movement  society  publicpsace 
may 2019 by robertogreco
"The Ideal Education" - Sir Ken Robinson with Sadhguru - YouTube
"Someone said that education is a necessary evil. It is a necessary evil because there is a resident evil in the world. We have very convoluted aspirations. In the sense, largely, most part of the education is trying to manufacture cogs for the larger machine that we have built. Our children are the fuel unfortunately. We have to put them into some slot where they'll function well. And when we say the work, the world is no more about people. The world is about the economic engine that we are driving. It's become bigger than us. We have to keep the engine going. We are scared to stop it for a moment. We have to keep going. Now the problem is this that we have created a world if our economies fail we will be depressed. If our economies succeed we will be damned for good. I feel it's better to be depressed.

Now talking about the school as a way of manufacturing cogs for the machine, there are many ways to do it. Every nation has its own system. If I have to shape you into a particular shape that you must fit into a particular machine, it's a cruel process. But now we can't let the machine fail, it needs spare parts. Constantly it has to absorb and humanity is the spare parts. So our children are the fuel and the machine parts which go into this to run the larger machine. That's one aspect.

So this is why I have addressed education in three different dimensions, which people around me are still trying to grasp why these three different things? There is one form of education which is called Isha Vidhya, I think they might have showed something about that. This is for the rural masses in India where the problem is they are in a economic and social pit which they cannot get out by themselves. The only ladder for them is education. Employment generating education. But there are reasonably well-to-do people where they might have gone through that in the previous generation, but this generation need not think about how to earn my living. They have to look at how to expand who they are. So we have Isha Home School which caters to that. Because this kind of education costs money. So only people who can afford it can do that. Costs money means not like how it costs here, by Indian standards it costs money. And there is another form of education, where people are not interested in serving this machine or that machine, they want individuals to blossom, so we have Isha Samskriti where there is no academic education of any kind. They only learn music, dance, art, Sanskrit language, Kalari, which is a very .. the mother of all martial arts and classical dance, classical music, yoga, English language as a passport of the world.

So these children are a treat to watch. This is how children should have been. Just to give you a glimpse of what it is, at the age of fifteen, for three years, they go into monastic life. Compulsorily they must go and compulsorily they must come out at eighteen. They cannot continue. They'll take monastic life for three years, but after three years, they cannot continue, they have to discontinue that and get back to normal life. This is for discipline and focus. So I was to initiate this fifteen year olds and you know these sixty days, they are going through, from morning 3:30 to 9:00 in the evening, they are going through almost eight hours of meditation, varieties of Sadhana completely silent for sixty days, fifteen year old kids, totally silent. So I want to .. just another five days left for the initiation, I want to see how they are and I go there at 3:30 in the morning to see them. All these kids are just sitting like this unmoving. I just looked at them and they were literally glowing. I sat there and wept because I have never seen children like this in my life. Definitely I was not like this when I was fifteen. I was nowhere near what they are today but you can't make the entire world like that.

This is an ideal to work towards. The idea of this kind of schooling is just to develop human body and human brain without any intention. Without any intention as to what they should become. They can become whatever they want. Only thing is human body and human mind should grow to its fullest capability and attention is the main thing. An indiscriminate and unprejudiced attention is what we're trying to evolve in the children, that they learn to pay attention to everything the same way. That you don't divide the world as something as good and something as bad, something high, something low, something divine, something devil, something filthy, something sacred. No, you learn to pay the same attention to everything. This is the fundamental of this form of education. What will they do, what will they do is the aspiration, so I guaranteed them one thing. Twelve years, if you enter the school, the commitment is for twelve years. You have to.. six if you come, eighteen you can leave. So they asked me what will the children do. I said one thing I'll assure you, we will not give you a certificate at the end.

They said 'Sadhguru, what?' I said, 'Did anybody ask me what is my certification?' Only in the American embassy they asked me, you know when I almost .. about.. twenty years ago, or eighteen years ago when I went to apply for the visa to come to United States, the counsel general wanted to meet me. She was a lady. I went to meet her and she said, "Yes I know what you have done and all this but do you have a yoga certification because in America, you will need this." I said, "If I had asked for a certification from my guru, he would have killed me, so I don't have." So I said no certification because doors in the world may open little slowly for you, but when they open, they stay open. Because not because of qualification, but by competence you open doors."
unschooling  education  society  sadhguru  kenrobinson  2017  learning  children  schooling  schooliness  unlearning  certification  economics  politics  life  living  perfectionism  death  schools  purpose  depression  attention 
may 2019 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 
may 2019 by robertogreco
anton on Twitter: "Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union: - waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it's of poor workmanship and quality - promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in,
"Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union:

- waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it's of poor workmanship and quality

- promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out

- living five adults to a two room apartment

- being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you

- 'totally not illegal taxi' taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet

- everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex

- mandatory workplace political education

- productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites

- deviation from mainstream narrative carries heavy social and political consequences

- networked computers exist but they're really bad

- Henry Kissinger visits sometimes for some reason

- elite power struggles result in massive collateral damage, sometimes purges

- failures are bizarrely upheld as triumphs

- otherwise extremely intelligent people just turning the crank because it's the only way to get ahead

- the plight of the working class is discussed mainly by people who do no work

- the United States as a whole is depicted as evil by default

- the currency most people are talking about is fake and worthless

- the economy is centrally planned, using opaque algorithms not fully understood by their users"
siliconvalley  sovietunion  tesla  uber  lyft  us  2018  antontroynikov  russia  space  utopia  society  propaganda  labor  work  housing  politics  social  elitism  collateraldamage  militaryindustrialcomplex  evil  currency  fake  economics  economy  planning  algorithms  mainstream  computing  henrykissinger 
may 2019 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  relationships  connection  femininity  masculinity  leadership  patience  negotiation  listening  strategy  planning  storytelling  bertoldbrecht  violence  attention  ursulaleguin  williamjames  1906  sanfrancisco  loneliness  comfort  billdelaney  jonathanjones  art  humans  humanism  scale  activism  action 
april 2019 by robertogreco
MIA en Instagram: “Jesus SA D ! I'm called Mathangi. I studied the deity made an L.p. and came close to understanding Hinduism as much as it's in my DNA my…”
"Jesus SA D !
I'm called Mathangi. I studied the deity made an L.p. and came close to understanding Hinduism as much as it's in my DNA my signature for MIA is a Hindu ohm🕉 and to speak truth Jesus is real.

Sri Lanka has banned social media.
Social media is a tool.
Everything stems from how we use our tool. If u do the devil's work you will spread darkness, if you do gods work you will spread light. The religion u believe doesn't matter. Both sides exist

Some people say God can't be proven so They exist on worldly plain and deal with life and times within those parameters and live a social exsistance and put belief in modernization and science .This exsistance is always changing so we have to be more fluid in adapting.

This changing society is getting faster and faster because of technology. Our human minds are trying to keep up because
we 've never had change at this rate. We as society experience growing pains. Simultaneously the tools of change can be used by those in religious exsistance good or bad. The people in the middle will be caught in the middle. Hense confusion.

Thoughts on religions.

I always say religion is like a car on a road.
It doesn't matter the car or the road it's about the fact you are heading to the same place. On this road you can start pointing fingers and laugh at other people's car or complain someone is using too much fule or emmision or someone is on a bike even . Some drive cars they chose for safety some drive ones they choose for speed , but really it's about your car and what gets you there. Path to God is a road that comes from any direction depending on where the person is coming from. The closer you get , when your about 100 miles to God you realise everyone's car is the same in that epicentre. No matter what religion , no matter if you are a monk ,a yogi, a priest ,you all are led by the same energy. This is God. God is in everyone. If you are enlightened which just means you've learnt to cut out lots of carp, you will see Jesus meet Buddha and see Shiva energy they know each other . All of these people at some point came at different times to bring you the message and passage . But it's to the same place."

[Previously:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BwhM5Q-BGXW/

"Trying to stay in the light today. "Inner peace inner peace inner peace .... " quote from kungfupanda ●○ .

I wanted to put a picture of Sri Lanka up but I don't wanna give them what they want.
I wanted to say pary for Sri Lankan but I didn't want to normalise us responding like that.
Events like this just makes me want independent journalism to be more effective in our society and not just an ecco chamber of establishment voices with Google cutting traffic to certain sites.

Jesus is a prophet in Islam too let's not jump to conclusions . May the souls who left today go somewhere greater."

and

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwkZ4kHBNKq/

"#earthday🌍. We are our biggest threat. Stayin connected to the source in solitude.

If u destroy places of worship then know everywhere is a place of worship to worship . What are u gonna do send in your warships to destroy the whole planet? Fuck off.
Keeping an eye on the bigger picture staying humble in the days of the rumble.
Living in the days of the prophercy I don't wanna be no body's property.

Staying naturally #natural #sustainably grateful to God for this amazing universe."]
mia  srilanka  2019  society  religion  christianity  islam  god  buddha  buddhism  christ  shiva  hinduism  change  confusion  socialmedia  earthday  sustainability  universe 
april 2019 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 
april 2019 by robertogreco
dellsystem.me :: Unbundling progress
"Continuing a train of thought from the fragment on day 100: Gratitude is a trap, which criticises appeals to gratitude as a way to shut down criticism of capitalism:
By saying that capitalism is fine and its critics should be grateful rather than resentment, capitalism’s apologists are expressing a barely muted contempt for those who think they deserve more than what they’re currently getting. […]

and, in the end:
‘gratitude’ politics is a means of dampening dissent among those who have been unfairly cheated of their fair share of society’s wealth. As a means of shielding elites from the consequences of mismanagement, it serves to contain calls for structural change. Beyond that, as a political philosophy, it is an inherently backwards-looking enterprise. Spend too much time feeling grateful for what you’ve achieved so far and you’ll become complacent, less inclined to push for what has yet to be achieved. Societal progress is driven by discontent, not gratitude, and if anyone tells you to abandon the former in favour of the latter, you should be very, very suspicious of them: what are they afraid they’ll lose?

Related, but not quite the same, is the idea of appeal to progress. This seems to be a pretty common trope among liberals - see Steven Pinker’s response to Thomas Piketty raising the alarm about economic inequality. (Here’s a Jacobin piece by Jason Hickel responding to Pinker, explaining that poverty is not decreasing as much as he may think, and a Baffler article responding critiquing Pinker as well as Yuval Noah Harari.) Most recently, I came across a tweet by Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic suggesting “comparing young adults now to those in pre-capitalist times” as a way of testing Malcolm Harris’ thesis that “millennials are bearing the brunt of the economic damage wrought by late-20th-century capitalism”. Millennials might be facing a terrible job market and massive debt, but they have iPhones and pizza, so why should they complain?

Capitalism is often defended on account of it being apparently synonymous with progress. But progress isn’t monolothic; when we talk about progress in the abstract we are often conflating several very different things. Sure, humanity may have progressed along certain axes (science, technology and culture, for example), but it’s regressed in others (stewarding the natural environment, distributing resources in an equitable way).

I suspect that the major so-called benefits of capitalism could have been achieved through a fairer economic system without all the numerous downsides we’re seeing today (in terms of ecological catastrophe and exhausted misery for much of the working class). This possibility is ignored when all these highly variegated strands of progress are placed under one giant banner of capital-P Progress, one which is inexplicably reframed as Progress Under Capitalism. Questioning the economic system itself becomes off-limits; if you don’t like inequality, surely you also don’t like refrigerators or Game of Thrones. The terms of debate are presented as a binary choice between a capital-driven ideal of Progress with all its downsides, and a pre-capital state of ignorance.

Actual societal progress is multifarious, and complicated - not everyone would agree on what constitutes progress or not. We should be skeptical of the story told by liberals of a monotonically-increasing Progress. What is the role of this sort of defense of the status quo? Whom does it serve, and whom does it leave out?

We should treat this avatar of liberal “Progress” as the Comcast of capitalist apologia: a disjointed collection of things that have no business being served in one bundle. Surely we can move beyond false dichotomies about sweeping statements like “progress” in order to isolate the specific aspects we want, or don’t."
ideology  inequality  2019  wendyliu  capitalism  progress  gratitude  economics  society  poverty  stevenpinker  thomaspiketty  conorfriedersdorf  yuvalnoahharari  malcolmharris 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Andrew Yang is the most radical 2020 candidate
"Going all the way back to the Roman republic, the owners of wealth have repeatedly sought to maximize their share of the common weal at the expense of those who work for them, leading to periodic crises as the plebes rise up and demand a fairer share. We may be in another such moment. Sanders's theory of political change revolves around a political revolution — a citizenry mobilized by a champion of conviction who wins a sweeping majority to enact his transformative agenda. Warren's theory of political change is less clearly articulated, but her solutions aim to build lasting support by giving a vast array of workers and small businesspeople a stake in a more competitive and less oligopolistic economy. But both imagine a world still anchored by work, and getting workers a fair share.

If that world is passing away, then we ought to be facing the happy problem Marx described, where "society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind." But the rub has always been who that "society" actually is. If a productive interdependency is going to be replaced by an outright dependency, then even if that dependency is as benevolently administered as Yang hopes it might be, we face the prospects of a more profound social revolution than he has bargained for."
politics  californianIdeology  technopoly  andrewyang  technosolutionism  elections  policy  2019  2020  society  wealth  berniesanders  elizabethwarren  karlmarx  interdependency  dependency  universalbasicincome  revolution  radicalism  via:ayjay 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Capitalism in crisis: U.S. billionaires worry about the survival of the system that made them rich - The Washington Post
"Sanders wasn’t a perfect match for Khanna. Sanders didn’t really understand the tech industry — though he wasn’t calling for the breakup of big tech companies like Warren and some other candidates. Warren’s proposal, if executed, would hurt companies in Khanna’s district and alienate some of his wealthiest backers.

Khanna wished Sanders would talk more about the greatness of the American economy and the power of the tech industry, when properly taxed and regulated, to lift people out of poverty. But on that score Khanna believed he could help Sanders.

“We can quibble over his plans to solve this issue or that issue,” Khanna said. “But I have no doubt that if Bernie Sanders was in the White House, he’d wake up every day thinking, ‘How do I solve structural inequality in America?’ ’’

The 77-year-old socialist’s speech had passed the one-hour mark and the crowd was still laughing, cheering, hooting and shouting.

“We’re probably not going to get a lot of support from the one percent and the large profitable corporations,” Sanders said.

A voice in the crowd screamed an expletive.

“That’s okay,” Sanders continued, “I don’t need, and we don’t want, their support.”

The congressman in the gray suit gazed out at the crowd, which stretched to the back of the park. Khanna saw Sanders’s revolution as an imperfect solution to a near-impossible problem. For now, though, it was the best he could find."
capitalism  economics  policy  2019  siliconvalley  rokhanna  society  berniesanders 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Great American Meritocracy Machine – alex posecznick
"Cheating is a thing. It happens a lot. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Gregoire, who ran the testing center at an institution I will call “Ravenwood College.” Although Ravenwood accepted SAT and ACT scores, they also had their own in-house entrance exam which was administered on site. Gregoire was meticulous in proctoring exams, checking paperwork and especially photo identification carefully. He recalled one time, when an applicant claimed to have left her ID in the Office of Admissions and said she would be right back. Later, the applicant returned with the ID and escorted by an admissions counselor, but it was an entirely different person.

She tried to persuade Gregoire that he was mistaken – that they had just spoken and she had come back as instructed. But he responded, with a roll of the eyes and a dry comment: “Okay, who did you get to take your exam for you?”

Sound familiar?

The Operation Varsity Blues admissions scandal has splatted hard in the middle of the media, and already faded from our attention. Several days of non-stop coverage and opinion, followed by fatigue. Our attention is nothing if not fickle. It is outrageous that wealthy elites and influential celebrities and their consultants have falsified documents and bribed coaches so their kids can go to extremely selective universities. And it makes sense that this would catch our collective attention. The story fundamentally undermines our trust in American meritocracy.

Maybe it should. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because the most noteworthy thing about the scandal is not the cheating. There are other important observations to be made. And there have been many who have made important observations about how affluent families already game the system in entirely legal ways. But there is more still to consider here.

I’ve spent a lot of my professional life around colleges and universities and seen wonderful and transformative things happen there. But we have to also recognize that a big part of what colleges do is sort students into piles based on merit. “Going to college” is one sort of meritorious pile that employers pay a lot of attention to; and in some circles the most relevant pile is which college we went to. And even affluent parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure their kids are sorted into the most distinctive pile. There is thus a lot of consequence here.

The contradiction, however, is that the more people obtain degrees, the less distinctive those degrees become. This pushes people to find new ways to be distinctive: a degree from this elite college, or perhaps a master’s degree. But this is an anxiety-fueled, credentials arms race – and although it can benefit colleges and universities financially, I’m not sure it is sustainable. How many loans can the average American family bear?

Elite institutions flourish when demand is high and admission low. Demand is measured by how many people you reject every year. But admission offices need to constantly balance the demands of coaches, wealthy donors, trustees, campus executives, ranking metrics, and alumni. One’s job could be at risk if the wrong donor is unhappy, or if the institution falls in a popular ranking system. We therefore need to acknowledge that colleges and universities are not the ivory towers we like to pretend they are. Not any longer. Colleges and universities are extremely competitive, profit-focused enterprises that must reconcile competing aims: educational mission on one side and market on the other. The big secret is that admission offices are under as much pressure as parents are.

This pressure shifts in less-selective spaces, but does not diminish.

Less-selective institutions flourish based on higher enrollments, because their budgets are so closely tied to the number of students sitting in their classrooms. Such institutions may have some strong standing locally, but like “Ravenwood” College, are not household names across the country. For these colleges, the consequence to a bad year could be layoffs, contractions, budget cuts, or closures. In fact, Ravenwood itself experienced some of these challenges. And this is increasingly a concern: by some accounts, private colleges are closing at the rate of 11 per year!

Public universities are not cushioned from such pressures either; many states have so severely cut funding to public higher education in recent years that they must learn to play the market like private institutions. Colleges and universities want to appear distinctive for the same reasons that we all do.

In short, we have built a massive, comprehensive infrastructure to “objectively” identify, evaluate, measure, and sort us into piles. And this sorting machinery involves high school administrations, college recruiters, College Board test designers, marketing teams, private test prep centers, university administrations, college athletics, federal regulatory agencies, voluntary accrediting agencies, magazine publishers, student loan lenders, employers, faculty, students, and their families.

Attending college does not define our value as human beings, but it would be naïve to pretend that there was no consequence to how we get sorted. When employers take note of a particular name or brand, what they are really interested in is how we’ve been continuously sorted into the right bins across our lifetimes. This scandal (and the many editorials since it broke) has revealed that this infrastructure is not objective. The notion of meritocracy has long been at the heart of the rhetoric of education in American society, but is that machinery broken?

Students of history should know that we’ve never had an objective, merit-measuring machine; this is not the story of national decline that some have been preaching. As many have been pointing out, affluent families systemically use their resources to give their kids advantage all the time – and always have. There are boarding schools, expensive test-prep programs, legacy admissions, private counselors and coaches, private violin lessons and extravagant service trips to other countries that make for a great personal statement. And despite some recent and limited interventions through affirmative action, communities of color have been systematically and appallingly excluded for centuries.

Operation Varsity Blues reveals that although the meritocracy machine is powerful and active, we should not always accept it at face value. Not only in elite space, but at all levels, we must recognize individuals for their achievements while weighing them critically and skeptically. In short, the best measure against a broken meritocracy machine is vigilant, morally-grounded people willing to challenge what they see. As long as we have the credentials arms race, there will be cheats and scammers – and the most noteworthy part of this scandal is not that some cheated, but that the wealthy perpetrators will face consequences.

Unless of course the siren call of some new big scandal distracts us."
meritocracy  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  2019  operationvaristyblues  alexposecznick  markets  degree  sorting  ranking  rankings  society  degreeinflation  employment  elitism  objectivity  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  credentials  scams  corruption  admissions  anxiety  education 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Mike Gravel on Twitter: "Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class."
"Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class.

Professional Democrats and elite journalists are largely in thrall to the cult of meritocracy, which is the solidification and beautification of inequality. It is inequality based on socially-defined merit—but inequality nonetheless. It is “talent” made god.

And because the new elite ostensibly owes its position to merit, rather than inherited privilege, it feels no sense of noblesse oblige that older aristocracies felt; as Christopher Lasch pointed out, there is no valor or chivalry in the new system, just Darwinian triumph.

Ultimately, as Lasch said, “meritocracy is a parody of democracy.” Meritocracy is an idea that allows the ruling class to hold on to power through the illusion that they deserve it because of merit (read Genovese). It tells the underclass—don’t worry, all is just in the world.

The popularity of true leftism seems to augur the return of old class-based politics, when Democrats were populists who fought for equality, not inequality under the veil of meritocracy. Buttigieg is the archetypal meritocrat—he is the perfect one to save the system.

It is the dream and hope of the meritocrats in journalism and politics that Buttigieg’s shininess distracts from the ravaged country that the current system, the one he clearly wants to perpetuate, has created.

The rule of the meritocrats, the “best and brightest,” has given us a country riven by rampant inequality, drug addiction, and endless wars abroad. Whether their name is Wolfowitz or Summers or Rubin, they’ve been in charge for decades—and look how far we’ve come!

To paraphrase Bakunin: “When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called ‘the Meritocratic Stick.’”

It’s time to return to a politics cognizant of class, one that is not obsessed with helping the best and brightest rise to the top, with making our unequal system more diverse, but instead concerned with leveling the system entirely. The promise of a good life for all."
mikegravel  meritocracy  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  inequality  noblesseoblige  society  socialdarwinism  journalism  journalists  education  petemuttigieg  capitalism  liberalism  neoliberalism  class  classism  rankings  success  justification  talent  christopherlasch  chivalry  power  control  self-importance  canon  politics  policy  mikhailbakunin  paulwolfowitz  larrysummers  robertrubin 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Notre Dame Fire and the Invisible Tragedy of the Everyday
"Executive director of the World Peace Foundation Alex de Waal says that almost all the famines that occur today are political decisions, a “matter of system” as Kinsella puts it. In the modern world, hunger, homelessness, lack of proper healthcare, and lack of access to education are all political decisions as well. The simple truth is that we can take care of everyone on Earth, but we choose not to."

[See also:
"The Nazis Used It, We Use It: Alex de Waal on the return of famine as a weapon of war"
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n12/alex-de-waal/the-nazis-used-it-we-use-it

"Reaction of the rich to the Notre Dame fire teaches us a lot about the world we live in"
https://www.joe.ie/life-style/notre-dame-feature-665670

"Billionaires raced to pledge money to rebuild Notre Dame. Then came the backlash."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/billionaires-raced-to-pledge-money-to-rebuild-notre-dame-then-came-the-backlash/2019/04/18/7133f9a2-617c-11e9-bf24-db4b9fb62aa2_story.html ]
health  suffering  humanity  politics  alexdewaal  hunger  healthcare  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  choices  capitalism  policy  education  2019  notredame  society  via:lukeneff  inequality  shame  famine  tragedy  2017 
april 2019 by robertogreco