(1990) by murray bookchin
via kindle version of anarchist library pdf [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/murray-bookchin-remaking-society]
Why This Book Was Written
His use of words like “obey,” “laws of nature,” “subjugate ” and commands” reminded me of the very same language I have heard from anti-ecological people who believe that nature must “obey” our commands and its “laws” must be used to “subjugate” the natural world itself. ..They jointly shared the vocabulary of domination and subjugation.
In a like manner, we can dismiss or explain away hunger, misery, or illness as “natural checks” that are imposed on human beings to retain the “balance of nature.” We can comfortably forget that much of the poverty and hunger that afflicts the world has its origin in the corporate exploitation of human beings and nature — in agribusiness and social oppression.. If one views the human condition this way, such that all life-forms are “biocentrically” interchangeable despite their unique qualities, people, too, become interchangeable with locusts or, for that matter, viruses — as has been seriously suggested in a debate by advocates of this viewpoint — and are equally expendable in the interplay of so-called natural laws.
endnote (p6): i have not penned this ref to viruses lightmindedly.. the ‘unimpeachable right’ of pathogenic viruses to exist is seriously discussed in david ehrenfeld’s the arrogance of humanism..
..people I have recently encountered in the United States who believes that African children — presumably like other “animals” — should be permitted to starve because they are “overpopulating” the continent and burdening the biological “carrying capacity” of their respective countries. Or, what is equally vicious, that the AIDS epidemic should be welcomed as a means of reducing “excessive” population. Or, more chauvinistically, that “immigrants” to the United States from Latin America (often Indians whose ancestors came to the Americas thousands of years ago) should be kept out because they threaten “our” resources.
Presented in so crude and racist a form, with the use of words like “our” to designate an America whose resources are actually owned by a handful of giant corporations, this viewpoint is likely to be repugnant to most Americans. Nevertheless, as simple-minded, purely zoological answers to highly complex social questions, the viewpoint lends to gain a growing following, particularly among the more macho, authoritarian, and reactionary types who have always used “nature” and “natural laws” as substitutes for a study of real social issues and concerns.
naming the colour ness
..The resurgence of a new Malthusianism that contends that growth rates in population tend to exceed growth rates in food production is die most sinister ideological development of all..
The myth that population increases in places like the Sudan, for example, result in famine (not the notorious fact that the Sudanese could easily feed themselves if they were not forced by the American-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund to grow cotton instead of grains) typically represents the kind of arguments that are gaining popularity among many environmentalists, “Nature,” we are arrogantly told by privileged Euro-Americans who parade as “natural law” theorists, “must be permitted to take its course” — as though the profits of corporations, banks, and agribusiness have anything to do with the “course” of nature.
What renders this new “biocentrism,” with its antihumanistic image of human beings as interchangeable with rodents or ants, so insidious is that it now forms the premise of a growing movement called “deep ecology.” “Deep ecology” was spawned among well-to-do people who have been raised on a spiritual diet of Eastern cults mixed with Hollywood and Disneyland fantasies. ..Accordingly, terms like “oneness” and a “biocentric democracy” go hand-in-hand with a pious formula for human oppression, misery, and even extermination.
we cannot achieve such a criticism and vision by swinging mindlessly from one extreme that advocates the complete “domination of nature” by “man” to another, rather confused “biocentric” or antihumanist extreme that essentially reduces humanity to a parasitic swarm of mosquitoes in a mystified swamp called “Nature,” We must remove ourselves from an ideological catapult that periodically flings us from fad to fad and absurdity to absurdity.
problem deep enough ness
In the meantime, the overall deterioration of the environment occurs at a madcap pace. .These are the major insults that are being inflicted on the planet. They do not include the daily diet of chemical pollutants, acid rain, harmful food additives, and agricultural poisons that may be changing the whole spectrum of diseases that claim human and non-human life today.
All of these “compromises” and “trade-offs” rest on the paralysing belief that a market society, privately owned property, and the present-day bureaucratic nation-state cannot be changed in any basic sense. Thus, it is the prevailing order that sets the terms of any “compromise” or “trade-off,” just like the rules of a chess game and the grid of a chess board determine in advance what the players can do — not the dictates of reason and morality.
hari rat park law et al
Finally, liberal environmentalism suffers from a consistent refusal to see that a capitalistic society based on competition and growth for its own sake must ultimately devour the natural world, just like an untreated cancer must ultimately devour its host..The most important difference between them and their Western counterparts is that a “planned economy” renders their efforts more systematic. Any opposition — be it liberal or radical — is more easily silenced by the institutions of a police state.
The narrowing choices that seem to confront us — notably, an unfeeling misanthropic kind of “ecologism” and a queasy liberal environmentalism — require that we look for another way. Is the only response to liberal environmentalism and its diet of failures a “deep ecology” that mystifies “wild” nature and wildlife, important as remaining areas of pristine nature may be? Are we obliged to choose between lobbying, “compromises,” and “trade-offs” and a “biocentric,” antihumanist mentality that tends to reduce humanity to nothing more than a mere animal species and the human mind to blight on the natural world? Is the only response to a technology gone wild a return to a hunting and gathering way of life in which chipped flints are our principal materials for acting on the natural world? And is the only response to the logic of modern science and engineering a celebration of irrationality, instinct, and religiosity?
ie: a nother way
Admittedly, I have simplified the alternatives. But I have done so only to reveal their logic and implications. For one thing, I do not wish to deny that even liberal environmentalism and the value of an instinctive sensibility have their roles in resisting a powerful technology that has been placed in the service of mindless growth, accumulation, and consumption. A stand against the construction of a nuclear reactor, a new highway, an effort to clear-cut a mountainside, or a new condo development that threatens to deface an urban landscape — all represent important acts, however limited, to prevent further environmental deterioration. .. important enclaves of nature and aesthetics that must be preserved wherever we can do so.
However, to carry these compelling facts to a point where humanity is seen either as a blight on nature or the “lord of creation” leads to a very sinister result. Both views serve to pit humanity against nature, whether as “blight” or as “lord.” Humanity (insofar as this word denotes a species rather than highly divided social beings who live in sharp conflict with each other as oppressed and oppressor) is plucked out of the evolution of life and placed on a shelf like an inanimate object. Isolated from the world of life with either curses or praises, it is then dispatched back into a primal world of the distant past or catapulted up to the stars, regaled with space suits and exotic weapons. Neither of these images touches upon an all-important fact: human beings exist in various societies, all of which are profoundly relevant to our ecological problems. As social beings, humans have developed ways of relating to each other through institutions that, more than any single factor, determine how they deal with the natural world.
rather.. in sea world
I submit that we must go beyond the superficial layer of ideas created by “biocentricity,” “antihumanism, Malthusianism, and “deep ecology” at one extreme, and the belief in growth, competition, human “supremacy,” and social power at the other extreme.
Is a well-developed technology necessarily anti-ecological or can it be used to enhance the biosphere and habitats of life?
ie: tech as it could be
Lastly, but by no means finally, what kind of social reconstruction do we need to harmonize humanity’s relationship with nature — ..And by what ethical principles will it be guided?
Hence, more than ever, we desperately need coherence. I do not mean dogma. Rather, I mean a real structure of ideas that places philosophy, anthropology, history, ethics, a new rationality, and utopian visions in the service of freedom — freedom, let me add, for natural development as well as human. This is a structure which we shall have to build in the pages that follow, not simply to collect in pell-mell fashion into a mere rubbish heap of ideas. The unfinished thought is as dangerous as the totally finished dogma. Both yield an uncreative vision of reality that can be bent and twisted in every possible direction; hence the extremely contradictory notions that exist in works on “deep ecology.”
This book was written to address the questions I have raised in the hope that we can formulate the coherent framework to which I have already alluded and develop a practice of which we are in dire need. It has been initiated by an incident, by an encounter with real life — not by reclusive academic reflections and private vagaries.
If the ecology movement which I helped to pioneer some thirty years ago folds its tents for the mountains or turns to Washington for influence, the loss will be irreparable. Ecological thinking, today, can provide the most important synthesis of ideas we have seen since the Enlightenment, two centuries ago. It can open vistas for a practice that can effectively change the entire social landscape of our time. The stylistic militancy readers encounter in this book stems from a troubled sense of urgency. It is vitally incumbent upon us not to let an ecological way of thinking and the movement it can produce degenerate and go the way of traditional radicalism — into the lost mazes of an irrecoverable history.
1 – Society and Ecology
War is a chronic condition of our time; economic uncertainty, an all-pervasive presence; human solidarity, a vaporous myth.
We show signs of losing faith in all our uniquely human abilities our ability to live in peace with each other, our ability to care for our fellow beings and other life-forms. This pessimism is fed daily by sociobiologists who locate our failings in our genes, by antihumanists who deplore our “antinatural” sensibilities, and by “biocentrists” who downgrade our rational qualities with notions that we are no different in our “intrinsic worth” than ants. In short, we arc witnessing a widespread assault against the ability of reason, science, and technology to improve the world for ourselves and life generally.
Admittedly, few antihumanists, “biocentrists,” and misanthropes, who theorize about the human condition, are prepared to follow the logic of their premises to such an absurd point. What is vitally important about this medley of moods and unfinished ideas is that the various forms, institutions, and relationships that make up what we should call “society” are largely ignored. Instead, just as we use vague words like “humanity” or zoological terms like homo sapiens that conceal vast differences, often bitter antagonisms, that exist between privileged whites and people of colour, men and women, rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed; so do we, by the same token, use vague words like “society” or “civilization” that conceal vast differences between free, nonhierarchical, class, and stateless societies on the one hand, and others that arc, in varying degrees, hierarchical, class-ridden, statist, and authoritarian. Zoology, in effect, replaces socially oriented ecology, Sweeping “natural laws” based on population swings among animals replace conflicting economic and social interests among people.
“Deep,” “spiritual,” anti-humanist, and misanthropic ecologies gravely mislead us when they refocus our attention on social symptoms rather than social causes.
The human socialization process from which society emerges—be it in the form of families, bands, tribes, or more complex types of human intercourse — has its source in parental relationships, particularly mother and child bonding. The biological mother, to be sure, can be replaced in this process by many surrogates, including fathers, relatives, or, for that matter, alt members of a community. It is when social parents and social siblings — that is, the human community that surrounds the young — begin to participate in a system of care, that is ordinarily undertaken by biological parents, that society begins to truly come into its own.
your own song ness
..The appearance of a newly born infant and the highly extended care it receives for many years reminds us that it is not only a human being that is being reproduced, but society itself. By comparison with the young of other species, children develop slowly and over a long period of time. Living in close association with parents, siblings, kin groups, and an ever-widening community of people, they retain a plasticity of mind that makes for creative individuals and ever-formative social groups. Although nonhuman animals may approximate human forms of association in many ways, they do not create a “second nature” that embodies a cultural tradition, nor do they possess a complex language, elaborate conceptual powers, or an impressive capacity to restructure their environment purposefully according to their own needs.
is that good or bad?.. so far.. not so good
A chimpanzee, for example, remains an infant for only three years and a juvenile for seven. By the age of ten, it is a full-grown adult. Children, by contrast, are regarded as infants for approximately six years and juveniles for fourteen. A chimpanzee, in short, grows mentally and physically in about half the time required by a human being, and its capacity to learn or, at least to think, is already fixed by comparison with a human being, whose mental abilities may expand for decades. By the same token, chimpanzee associations are often idiosyncratic and fairly limited. Human associations, on the other hand, are basically stable, highly institutionalized, and they are marked by a degree of solidarity, indeed, by a degree of creativity, that has no equal in nonhuman species as far as we know.
If we fail to distinguish animal communities from human societies, we risk the danger of ignoring the unique features that distinguish human social life from animal communities — notably, the ability of society to change for better or worse and the factors that produce these changes. By reducing a complex society to a mere community, we can easily ignore how societies differed from each other over the course of history. We can also fail to understand how they elaborated simple differences in status into Firmly established hierarchies, or hierarchies, into economic classes. Indeed, we risk the possibility of totally misunderstanding the very meaning of terms like “hierarchy” as highly organized systems of command and obedience — these, as distinguished from personal, individual, and often short-lived differences in status that may, in all too many cases, involve no acts of compulsion. We tend, in effect, to confuse the strictly institutional creations of human will, purpose, conflicting interests, and traditions, with community life in its most Fixed forms, as though we were dealing with inherent, seemingly unalterable, features of society rather than fabricated structures that can be modified, improved, worsened—or simply abandoned. The trick of every ruling elite from the beginnings of history to modern times has been to identify its own socially created hierarchical systems of domination with community life as such, with the result being that human-made institutions acquire divine or biological sanction.
ugh.. any form of m\a\p.. compulsory
A given society and its institutions thus tend to become reified into permanent and unchangeable entities that acquire a mysterious life of their own apart from nature — namely, the products of a seemingly fixed “human nature” that is the result of genetic programming at the very inception of social life. Alternatively, a given society and its institutions may be dissolved into nature as merely another form of animal community with its “alpha males,” “guardians,” “leaders,” and “horde”-like forms of existence. When annoying issues like war and social conflict are raised, they are ascribed to the activity of “genes” that presumably give rise to war and even “greed.”
The everyday socialization of the young by the family is no less rooted in biology than the everyday care of the old by the medical establishment is rooted in the hard facts of society. By the same token, we never cease to be mammals who still have primal natural urges, but we institutionalize these urges and their satisfaction in a wide variety of social forms. Hence, the social and the natural continually permeate each other in the most ordinary activities of daily life without losing their identity in a shared process of interaction, indeed, of interactivity.
Indeed, an important result that emerges from a discussion of the interrelationship of nature to society is the fact that human intellectuality, although distinct, also has a far-reaching natural basis. Our brains and nervous systems did not suddenly spring into existence without a long antecedent natural history. That which we most prize as integral to our humanity — our extraordinary capacity to think on complex conceptual levels—can be traced back to the nerve network of primitive invertebrates, the ganglia of a mollusk, the spinal cord of a fish, the brain of an amphibian, and the cerebral cortex of a primate.
oi.. intellect ness.. oi
In trying to show how society slowly grows out of nature, however, social ecology is also obliged to show how society, too, undergoes differentiation and elaboration. In doing so, social ecology must examine those junctures in social evolution where splits occurred which slowly brought society into opposition to the natural world, and explain how this opposition emerged from its inception in prehistoric times to our own era. Indeed, if the human species is a life-form that can consciously and richly enhance the natural world, rather than simply damage it, it is important for social ecology to reveal the factors that have rendered many human beings into parasites on the world of life rather than active partners in organic evolution. This project must be undertaken not in a haphazard way, but with a serious attempt to render natural and social development coherent in terms of each other, and relevant to our times and the construction of an ecological society.
there is a nother way
To “work within the system” has always implied an acceptance of domination as a way of “organizing” social life and, in the best of cases, a way of freeing humans from their presumed domination by nature.
Admittedly, we are substantially less than human today in view of our still unknown potential to be creative, caring, and rational. Our prevailing society serves to inhibit, rather than realize, our human potential. We still lack the imagination to know how much our finest human traits could expand with an ethical, ecological, and rational dispensation of human affairs.
we have no idea what legit free people are like.. let’s do this first
Given this conception of nature as the cumulative history of more differentiated levels of material organization (especially of life-forms) and of increasing subjectivity, social ecology establishes a basis for a meaningful understanding of humanity and society’s place in natural evolution. Natural history is not a “catch-as-catch-can” phenomenon. It is marked by tendency, by direction, and, as far as human beings are concerned, by conscious purpose. Human beings and the social worlds they create can open a remarkably expansive horizon for development of the natural world — a horizon marked by consciousness, reflection, and an unprecedented freedom of choice and capacity for conscious creativity. The factors that reduce many life-forms to largely adaptive roles in changing environments are replaced by a capacity for consciously adapting environments to existing and new life-forms.
Adaptation, in effect, increasingly gives way to creativity and the seemingly ruthless action of “natural law” to greater freedom. What earlier generations called “blind nature” to denote nature’s lack of any moral direction, turns into “free nature,” a nature that slowly finds a voice and the means to relieve the needless tribulations of life for all species in a highly conscious humanity and an ecological society.
2 – hierarchies, classes, and states
Up to now, I have tried to show that humanity and the human capacity to think are products of natural evolution, not “aliens” in the natural world. Indeed, every intuition tells us that human beings and their consciousness are results of an evolutionary tendency toward increasing differentiation, complexity, and subjectivity. Like most sound intuitions, this one has its basis in fact: the palaeontological evidence for this tendency. The simplest unicellular fossils of the distant past and the most complex mammalian remains of recent times all testify to the reality of a remarkable biological drama. This drama is the story of a nature rendered more and more aware of itself, a nature that slowly acquires new powers of subjectivity, and one that gives rise to a remarkable primate life-form, called human beings, that have the power to choose, alter, and reconstruct their environment — and raise the moral issue of what ought to be, not merely live unquestioningly with what is… The fact is that such a tendency can be shown to exist in the fossil record, in the elaboration of existing life-forms from previous ones, and in the existence of humanity itself
These hierarchical distinctions have been developed over the course of history, often from *harmless differences in mere status, into full-blown hierarchies of harsh command and abject obedience. To **know our present and to shape our future calls for a ***meaningful and coherent understanding of the past — a past which always shapes us in varying degrees, and which profoundly influences our views of humanity and nature.
*no such thing.. any form of m\a\p
**ie of forms of m\a\p.. oi
There is a surprising agreement between liberals, conservatives, and many socialists, as I have already noted, that hierarchy is unavoidable for the very existence of social life, and is an infrastructure for its organization and stability.
surprising? so he didn’t believe that?
Social ecology extends, as we shall see, the “social question” beyond the limited realm of justice into the unbounded realm of freedom; beyond a domineering rationality, science, and technology into libertarian ones; and beyond visions of social reform into those of radical social reconstruction.
So deeply ingrained are these bourgeois attributes of our everyday lives and ways of thinking that we find it difficult to understand how much precapitalist societies held to the very opposite images of human values, however much they may have been honoured in the breach. It is hard for the modern mind to appreciate that precapitalist societies identified social excellence with cooperation rather than competition disaccumulation rather than accumulation; public service rather that private interest; the giving of gifts rather than the sale of commodities, and care and mutual aid rather than profit and rivalry.. These values were identified with an uncorrupted human nature.
still red flags.. not uncorrupted..
This organic, basically preliterate or “tribal,” society was strikingly nondomineering — not only in its institutionalized structure but in its very language. If the linguistic analyses of anthropologists like the late Dorothy Lee are sound, Indian communities like the Wintu of the Pacific Coast lacked transitive verbs like “to have,” “to take,” and “to own” which denote power over individuals and objects. Rather, a mother “went” with her child into the shade, a chief “stood” with his people, and, more commonly, people “lived with” objects rather than “possessed” them.. However much these communities may have differed from each other in many social respects, we hear in their language, and detect in their behavioural traits, attitudes that go back to a shared body of beliefs, values, and basic lifeways. As Paul Radin, one of Americas most gifted anthropologists, observed, there was a basic sense of respect between individuals and a concern over their material needs that Radin called the principle of the “irreducible minimum.” Everyone was entitled to the means of life, irrespective of his or her productive contribution. The right to live went unquestioned so that concepts like “equality” had no meaning if only because the “inequalities” that afflict us all — from the burdens of age to the incapacities of ill-health — had to be compensated for by the community.
The respect for the individual, which Radin lists first as an aboriginal attribute, deserves to be emphasized, today, in an era that rejects the collective as destructive of individuality on the one hand, and, yet, in an orgy of pure egotism, has actually destroyed all the ego boundaries of free-floating, isolated, and atomized individuals on the other hand. A strong collectivity may be even more supportive of the individual, as close studies of certain aboriginal societies reveal, than a “free market” society with emphasis on an egoistic, but impoverished, self.
if only.. brown belonging law et al
However, as I have suggested elsewhere, there were rituals — especially group rituals — that may have preceded in time the more familiar, cause-effect magical activities; rituals that were not coercive, but rather persuasive.
oi.. same song
Which is not to say that aboriginal people regarded themselves as “equal” to nonhuman creatures. In fact, they were acutely aware of the inequalities that existed in nature and society, inequalities created by differences in physical prowess, age, intelligence, genetic attributes, infirmities, and the like. Tribal peoples tried to compensate for these inequalities within their own groups, hence the emergence of an “irreducible minimum,” as Radin called it, that gave every member of the community access to the means of life, irrespective of his or her abilities or contribution to the common fund. Often, special “privileges were allowed to individuals who were burdened by infirmities to equalize their situations with respect to more endowed members of the community.
..Thus, in addition to the principles of the “irreducible minimum,” substantive equality, the arts of persuasion, and a conception of differentiation as complementarity, organic preliterate societies seem to have been guided by a commitment to usufruct. Things were available to individuals and families of a community because they were needed, not because they were owned or created by the labour of a possessor.
ecology of freedom ness
It was on the basis of this biological fact of blood ties that nature penetrated the most basic institutions of preliterate society. The continuity of the blood tie was literally a means of defining social association and even self-identity. Whether one belonged to a given group or not, and who one was, in relation to others, was determined, at least juridically, by one’s blood affiliations.
But still another biological fact defined one as a member of a community: whether one was a male or female. Unlike the kinship tie, which was to be slowly thinned out as distinctly nonbiological institutions like the State were gradually to encroach on the claims of genealogy and paternity, the sexual structuring of society has remained with us to this day, however much it has been modified by social development.
Lastly, a third biological fact defined one as a member of a group, namely, one’s age. As we shall see, the earliest truly social examples of status based on biological differences were essentially the age-groups to which one belonged and the ceremonies that legitimated one’s age-status. Kinship established the basic fact that one shared a common ancestry with members of a given community. It defined one’s rights and responsibilities to others of the same bloodline—rights and responsibilities that might involve who one could marry of a particular genealogical group, who was to be aided and supported in the normal demands of life, and who one could turn to for aid in difficulties of any kind. The bloodline literally gave definition to an individual and a group, much as skin forms the boundary that distinguishes one person from another.
oi.. back to p 29.. not ie’s of enough ness
The transition from a largely “domestic” to a largely “civil” society was also conditioned by many less noticeable, but very important, factors. Long before domination became rigorously institutionalized, gerontocracy had already created a state of mind that was structured around the power of elders to command and the obligation of the young to obey. This state of mind went far beyond the indispensable care and attention required for the instruction of children and youths in the arts of survival. In many preliterate communities, elders acquired major decision-making powers that dealt with marriage, group ceremonies, decisions about war, and intracommunal squabbles between persons and clans. This state of mind, or, if you like, conditioning, was a troubling presence that presaged even greater troubles as hierarchy generally extended itself over society.
more.. back to p 29.. not ie’s of enough ness
This graded development of a “big man” into an outright autocrat was leavened by basic alterations in the kinship bond and its importance. The kinship bond is surprisingly egalitarian when it is not twisted out of shape. It evokes a simple sense of loyalty, responsibility, mutual respect, and mutual aid. It rests on the moral strength of a shared sense of ancestry, on the belief that we are all “brothers” and “sisters,” however fictitious these ancestral ties may become in reality — not on the basis of material interest, power, fear, or coercion.. The “big man,” chief, and finally, the autocrat undermines this essentially egalitarian bond. He may do so by asserting the supremacy of his own kin group over other ones, in which case an entire clan may acquire a royal or dynastic status in relations to other clans in the community. .
Only later was this immense system of social domination extended into the notion of dominating nature by “humanity.” No ecological society, however communal or benign in its ideals, can ever remove the “goal” of dominating the natural world until it has radically eliminated the domination of human by human, or, in essence, the entire hierarchical structure within society in which the very notion of domination rests..t Such an ecological society must reach into the overlaid muck of hierarchy—a muck that oozes out from fissures in family relationships that exist between generations and genders, churches and schools, friendships and lovers, exploiters and exploited, and hierarchical sensibilities toward the entire world of life.
need: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature
To recover and go beyond the nonhierarchical world that once formed human society and its values of the irreducible minimum, complementarity, and usufruct, is an agenda that belongs to the closing portions of this book. It suffices, here, to bear in mind that social ecology has made the understanding of hierarchy — its rise, scope, and impact — the centrepiece of its message of a liberating, rational, and ecological society. Any agenda that contains less than these imperatives is obscure at best and grossly misleading at worst.
At the risk of repetition, let me emphasize that the word hierarchy should be viewed strictly as a social term. To extend this term to cover all forms of coercion is to permanently root consciously organized and institutionalized systems of command and obedience in nature and give it an aura of eternality that is comparable only to the genetic programming of a “social” insect. We have more to learn from the fate of our own royal figures in human history that from the behaviour of “queen bees” in beehives.
Accordingly, when Euro-American “educators” of the Hopi tried to teach Hopi children to play competitive sports, they had immense difficulties in getting the children to keep scores. Hopi custom discouraged rivalry and selfassertiveness as harmful to community solidarity.
not yet scrambled ness
But one fact should be clearly noted: a community that does develop along hierarchical, class, and statist lines has a profound impact upon all the communities around it that continue to follow an egalitarian direction. A warrior community led by an aggressive chiefdom compels highly pacific neighbouring communities to create their own military formations and chiefs if they are to survive. An entire region may thus be drastically changed —culturally, morally, and institutionally — merely as a result of aggressive hierarchies in a single community.
oi.. thurman interconnectedness law et al
This historic see-saw of communal institutions between centralization and decentralization, warrior and peaceful communities, expansive and contractive societies, all appeared in the West as well until the rise of the nation-state in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The causes of hierarchy, then, are not a mystery. They are quite comprehensible when we dig into their roots in the more mundane aspects of daily life such as the family, the rearing of young people, the segmentation of society in to age-groups, the expectations that are placed on the individual as a male or female in the everyday domestic or “civil” worlds, and in the most personal aspects of acculturation as well as community ceremonies. And hierarchy will not disappear until we change these roots of daily life radically, not only economically, with the removal of class society.
Minimally, the State is a professional system of social coercion — not merely a system of social administration as it is still naively regarded by the public and by many political theorists. The word “professional” should be emphasized as much as the word “coercion.” Coercion exists in nature, in personal relationships, in stateless, non-hierarchical communities. If coercion alone were used to define a State, we would despairingly have to reduce it to a natural phenomenon — which it surely is not It is only when coercion is institutionalized into a professional, systematic, and organized form of social control — that is, when people are plucked out of their everyday lives in a community and expected not only to “administer” it but to do so with the backing of a monopoly of violence — that we can properly speak of a State.
Educated, knowledgeable citizens become reduced to mere taxpayers who exchange money for “services,” and education surrenders its civic orientation to a curriculum designed to train the young for financially rewarding skills. We have yet to see how far this appalling trend will go in a world that is being taken over by mechanical robots, computers that can so easily be used for surveillance, and genetic engineers who have very limited moral scruples.
if ed/know/citizen.. already reduced.. already not us.. oi
Hence, it is of enormous importance that we know how we arrived at a condition where our preening “control” of nature has actually rendered us more servile to domineering society than at any time in the past By the same token, it is immensely important to know precisely those human achievements in history, however faulty, that reveal how freedom can be institutionalized — and, hopefully, expanded beyond any horizon we can find in the past.
Whether humanity will be irrevocably separated from die world of life by hierarchical society, or brought together with life by an ecological society depends on our understanding of the origins, development, and, above all, the scope of hierarchy — the extent to which it penetrates our daily lives, divides us into age group against age group, gender against gender, man against man, and yields the absorption of the social and political into the all-pervasive State
oi.. exclusionary.. rather no train
to foster dememorization and the loss of our most enlightened ideals.
Hence, never before has it been more necessary to recover the past, to deepen our knowledge of history, to demystify the origins of our problems, to regain our memory of forms of freedom and advances that were made in liberating humanity of its superstitions, irrationalities, and, above all, a loss of faith in humanity’s potentialities. If we are to re-enter the continuum of natural evolution and play a creative role in it, we must re-enter the continuum of social evolution and play a creative role there as well.
3 – turning points in history
A large literature has emerged, today, that mystifies primitivism. It is important to remind thinking people that humanity was not born into a Hobbesian world of a war of “all against all”; that the two sexes were once complementary to each other culturally as well as economically; that disaccumulation, gift-giving, the irreducible’minimum, and substantive equality formed the basic norms of early organic societies; that humanity lived in a harmonious relationship with nature because it lived in a condition of internal social harmony within the same community. However, we cannot ignore that this innocent world, vulnerable to internal tendencies toward hierarchy as well as invaders who placed them in subjugation to warrior elites, had major flaws that kept humans from the full realization of their potentialities.
always have been in sea world
Perhaps for the first time, so far as we can judge, human beings were able to interact with each other with relatively little regard for their ancestral and blood ties. The notion that people were basically alike, irrespective of their tribal and village ancestry, began to gain ascendancy over their ethnic differences. The city increasingly replaced the biological fact of lineage, and the accident of birth into a particular kin group, by the social fact of residence and economic interests. People were not simply born into a distinct social condition; in varying degrees they could begin to choose and change their social condition.
What is vastly important about the new social dispensation created by the city was the fact that the stranger or “outsider” could now find a secure place in a large community of human beings. Initially, this new place did not confer equality on the “outsider.” Despite its avowed openness to resident aliens, Periklean Athens, for example, rarely gave them citizenship and the right to plead their court cases, except through the voices of Athenian citizens. But early cities did provide strangers with increased protection from abuse by the “insider.” In many cases of newly emerging cities, a compromise was struck between tribal values based on blood ties and social values based on the realities of residence in which the “outsider” acquired basic rights that tribal society rarely conferred, while restricting citizenship to the “insider” and giving him a wider latitude of civil rights.
Even more than hospitality, then, the city offered the “outsider” de facto or de jure justice — but it did so in the form of protection provided by a monarch and, in later years, by written law codes. Minimally, both the “outsider” and the “insider” were now seen as human beings with a shared body of rights, not simply as mutually exclusive in their humanity and needs. With the rise and development of the city, the germinal idea that all people were in a certain sense one people, came to fruition and achieved a new historic universality.
Hierarchy, in effect, became embedded in the human unconscious while classes, whose legitimacy was more easy to challenge because of the visibility of exploitation, came to the foreground of an embattled and bitterly divided humanity.
This phrase, once so popular among radical theorists, referred to the fact that “civilization,” despite its many far-reaching advances, has never been fully rational and free of exploitation. To use this phrase more expansively, here, and with a more ethical meaning, one might say that all of humanity’s extraordinary gains under “civilization” have always been tainted by the “evil” of hierarchy.
Human beings were no more aware that they were creating hierarchy when they invested authority in the elders than they were aware that they were creating hierarchy when they invested authority in priesthoods. The ability to reason out certain premises to their conclusion does not come too easily in what is, after all, a largely unconscious primate whose capacity to be rational is more of a potentiality than an actuality. In this respect, preliterate people were no better equipped to deal with the development of their social reality than those who have been tainted by the worst aspects of “civilization.” The “social question” for us, today, exists precisely in the fact that we raised ourselves into the light of freedom with half-open eyes, burdened by dark atavisms, ancient hierarchies, and deeply ingrained prejudices to which we may still regress, if the present counter-Enlightenment of mysticism and antirationalism persists, and that may yet lead us to our ruin.
4 – ideals of freedom
The attempt to equalize unavoidable inequalities, to compensate at nearly every level of life for lacks produced by circumstances over which one has no control — be it a physical impairment of any kind or even a lack of rights because of shortcomings that may arise for a host of inescapable factors — forms the point of departure for a free society. I speak, here, not only of the obvious compensatory mechanisms that come into play when an individual is ill or impaired. I speak of attitudes as well; indeed, of an outlook that manifests itself in a sense of care, responsibility, and a decent concern for human and nonhuman beings whose suffering, plight, and difficulties can be lightened or removed by our intervention. The concept of the equality of unequals may rest on emotional determinants such as a sense of sympathy, community, and a tradition that evokes a sense of solidarity; indeed, even an aesthetic sense that finds beauty in nature and freedom in wilderness. The basically libertarian notion that what often passes for justice “exact and equal” is inadequate — indeed, that it may doom countless people to underprivileged lives or worse, because of factors that can be remedied by rational means — is the cornerstone of freedom conceived as an ethics. To “freely” realize one’s potentialities and achieve fulfillment presupposes that these very potentialities are realizable because society lives by an ethic of the equality of unequals.
but.. steiner care to oppression law et al
It was not very difficult to shatter customs like the equality of unequals and to replace them with systems of privilege that lacked even the notion of justice. Once customary freedoms had been destroyed, the “cry for justice” came to the forefront — a poor but necessary substitute for the unbridled power of nobles and kings. Moral injunctions, later to be formulated into laws, began to confine their power. Biblical prophets, particularly the anarchic Amos, cast not only rhetorical thunderbolts against the privileged and the kings of Judah; they also extended the boundaries of unthinking custom, based on tradition, into the domain of morality.
These distinctions are not merely matters of historical interest. Today, justice has become more entangled with freedom than at any time in the recent past, so that mere reforms are often unthinkingly confused with radical social change. Attempts to achieve a just society that involve little more than corrective alterations in a basically irrational society are becoming muddled with attempts to achieve a free society that involve fundamental social reconstruction. Present-day society, in effect, is not being remade; it is being modified by means of cosmetic alterations rather than basic changes. Reforms in the name of justice are being advanced, in effect, to manage a profound and growing crisis rather than eliminate it..t
yeah.. part\ial ness et al
The fact that the earliest word for “freedom” is amargi, the Summerian expression for a “return to mother” is ambiguous. It may well be as regressive as it is suggestive of a belief that nature in the past was bountiful and freedom existed only in the cradle of matricentric society.
That there was a freedom to be won by activity, will, and consciousness after society had gone beyond mere custom and that hope was needed to achieve a new, rational, and ecological dispensation for humanity and nature had yet to be discovered. Indeed, once the ties between humanity and nature were severed, this became the harsh work of history. To retreat back into myth, today, is to lay the basis for a dangerous quietism that thrusts us beyond the threshold of history into the dim,often imagined, and largely atavistic world of prehistory. Such a retreat obliges us to forget history and the wealth of experience it has to offer. Personality dissolves into a vegetative state that antedates animal development and nature’s evolutionary thrust toward greater sensibility and subjectivity. Thus, even “first nature” is libeled, degraded, and denied its own rich dynamic in favour of a frozen and static image of the natural world where the richly coloured evolution of life is painted in washed-out pastels, bereft of form, activity, and self-directiveness.
There was very little conception of history in a truly developmental sense — merely degeneration, recovery, and continual repetition..t
If there is a single fact which marks the expansion of the ideals of freedom, it is the extent to which they were nourished by reason (cause, explanation, justification)
Like the Renaissance and the Enlightenment themselves, everything is brought up before the bar of reason and is rejected or justified in terms of its value to an emerging secularity and naturalism.
Thus, we can distinguish several great tendencies in the expanding ideals of freedom: first, a commitment to the existing world, to secular reality, not to one that exists in the heavens or lies off the map of the known world.
second tendency they expressed: the need for a carefully structured society that was free of the explosions produced by unruly nobles in England and on the European continent. The Renaissance, particularly the aristocracy of the age, had thrown society into a condition of chronic warfare. . . That many utopists had taken the well-regulated monastery as their model is radical in itself
third tendency ..was the high esteem that was placed on work
Lastly, ..high premium that is placed on community.
The orderly, work-oriented, and literate world they offer is a tight meld between medieval tradition and modern innovation. The social theorists and utopists of the Renaissance were fascinated by the possibilities for human improvement opened by science, as evident in Francis Bacon’s sketchy “New Atlantis” I which strongly emphasized the role of education in remaking society.
These themes — particularly, enlightenment through learning, the application of reason and order to human affairs, a keen fascination with science and a high regard for work — were to extend into the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century.
We have yet to fully assess the meaning of human history, the paths it should have followed, and the ideas that are most appropriate in the remaking of society based on reason and ecological principles.
..The oppressed had to act if they wished to free themselves. They had to make their own history willfully, an incisive concept which Jean Jacques Rousseau, for all his failings, added to the history of radical ideas and for which he deserves immortality. The oppressed had to reason. There was no appeal to powers other than their own minds. The combination of reason and will, of thought and action, of reflection and intervention, changed the whole landscape of radicalism, divesting it of its mythic, mystical, religious, and intuitive qualities — which, regrettably, are beginning to return today in a disempowered and psychologically therapized world.
Liberalism offered the individual a modicum of “freedom,” to be sure, but one that was constricted by the “invisible hand” of the competitive marketplace, not by the capacity of free individuals to act according to ethical considerations. The “free entrepreneur” on whom liberalism modelled its image of individual autonomy was, in fact, completely trapped in a market collectivity, however “emancipated” he seemed from the overtly medieval world commune of guilds and religious obligations. He was the plaything of a “higher law” of market interactions based on competing egos, each of whom cancelled out his egoistic interests in the formation of a general social interest.
hari rat park law et al
The Ophites in the backwash of antiquity reread the Biblical scriptures to make knowledge the key to salvation
(william) Morris’s utopia, in this respect, is a romantic throwback to a world that was gone forever, but not one that was lacking in lessons for his time and ours. .Morris’s values were clearly ecological They advance a message of human scale, the integration of agriculture with crafts, the production of lasting, truly artistic works, and a nonhierarchical society.
In the novel, (by poet william morris) the narrator, William Guest, falls asleep after returning from a meeting of the Socialist League and awakes to find himself in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no marriage or divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems. This agrarian society functions simply because the people find pleasure in nature, and therefore they find pleasure in their work.. In the novel, Morris tackles one of the most common criticisms of socialism; the supposed lack of incentive to work in a communist society. Morris’ response is that all work should be creative and pleasurable. This differs from the majority of Socialist thinkers, who tend to assume that while work is a necessary evil, a well-planned equal society can reduce the amount of work needed to be done by each worker. News From Nowhere was written as a libertarian socialist response to an earlier book called Looking Backward, a book that epitomises a kind of state socialism that Morris abhorred. It was also meant to directly influence various currents of thought at the time regarding the tactics to bring about socialism.
The utopist who was to meld these seemingly opposing traditions — sensuousness with mind, the production of lasting goods with industry, the belief in a bountiful nature with human activity, play with work — was neither a socialist nor an idle visionary, namely, Charles Fourier, who turned (in his view) imagination into a science and Newtonian models of an orderly world into a cosmological fantasy.. His works are riddled with contradictions, hefty prejudices, and are a totally failed endeavour to make his system of “passionate intercourse” into a mathematical system, and to enlist the support of the powerful and wealthy to establish his ideal phalansteries — enormous palaces that could house the minimum 1,620 people of suitable and complementary dispositions who would make for emotionally balanced communities.
What is significant about Fourier’s phalanstery is not its structural principles, but the principles that guided its way of life, many of which were formulated in opposition to the monotony of industrial work, the puritanical values of the time, ..God rules the universe by attraction and not by force. This was a novel viewpoint, indeed, a socially rebellious one. Rule consists of self-satisfaction not of obedience to authority. The answer to industrial discipline is the daily rotation of work interspersed by personal delights for body and mind, magnificent cuisine to satisfy the palate, a gallery of highly imaginative suggestions for easing life, and the all-important belief that irksome work could be turned into play by adding charm, festivities, and the company of complementary passionate natures in the form of co-workers. Fourier thereby tried to efface the demanding “realm of necessity” which held everyone in yoke to toil, and replace it with the artful “realm of freedom” which made even hard work a pleasurable desideratum.
that’s not attraction of cravings of the soul.. which is key.. that’s coercion.. et al
The “Harmonian World” Fourier envisioned, based on attraction rather than coercion, became a social program — certainly for his acolytes who were to give it a distinctly anarchic character after his death.
That this did not occur was due in no small measure to the extent to which the bourgeois spirit began to enfold the Euro-American mixed society of the past century — and, no less significantly, even the revolutionary project of remaking society that had found such rich expression in the Utopians, the visionary socialists, and the anarchists who followed in the wake of the French Revolution.
The contradictions were seen as evidence of a society mired in “evil,” indeed, as a “civilization,” to use Fourier’s word, that was turned against humanity and culture by the irrational directions it had followed up to the time. . Science, in its searching probe of reality and its underlying order, was turning into a cult of scientism, which was little more than the instrumental engineering of control over people and nature. Technology, with its promise of ameliorating labour, was turning into a technocratic ensemble of means for exploiting the human and nonhuman world.
..Imbued with ethical and visionary concepts, they rightly saw their time as one that demanded immediate human emancipation, not as one “stage” among many in the long history of humanity’s evolution toward freedom with its endless “preconditions” and technological “substructures.”
What did anarchist theorists and libertarian utopists did not see is that ideals of freedom were themselves faced with “embourgeoisment.” No one, perhaps not even Marx himself who played so important a role in this infection, could have anticipated that the attempt to make the emancipatory project into a “science” under the rubric of “scientific socialism” would have made it even more of a “dismal science” than economics; indeed, that it would divest it of its ethical heart, its visionary spirit, and its ecological substance.
5 – defining the revolutionary project
It may well be, to be sure, that we still do not understand what capitalism really is. Since the outbreak of the First World War, radicals have described every period of capital ism as its “last stage,” even while the system has grown, acquired international dimensions, .. But this much is clear: it is a system that must continually expand until it explodes all the bonds that tie society to nature — as growing holes in the ozone layer and the increase in the greenhouse effect indicate. It is literally the cancer of social life as such..t
any form of m\a\p.. so cancer in all of history
capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
In this case, nature will take its “revenge.” ..,t it is possible that the breakdown of natural cycles will be dealt with by a completely synthetic substitute in which huge industrial installations will supplant natural processes. It would be utterly blind, today, to overlook such a possibility —
revenge of the real ness
We, in turn, must resolutely and independently re-examine the past and present periods into which the revolutionary project can be sorted out, ..We must explore the answers that have been given in the recent past to the problems that have arisen today and the ones that lie ahead. Until we engage in a critical examination of earlier solutions, we will still be groping in the darkness of an unknown history that has much to teach us. *We will be burdened by a naivety and ignorance that can completely mislead us into meaningless, futile, and even frivolous directions.
*already there.. gazing at history of sea world as energy suck/distraction/cancer
Revolutionary projects have always been rooted in the special features of their period, however much they have tried to universalize their ideas and speak for humanity at all times..t
To use the language that was spawned by proletarian socialism against its own myths, the working class is simply an organ within the body of capitalism, not the developing “embryo” of a future society, a concept that figured so significantly in the revolutionary project of proletarian socialism.. In its “pure” form, the proletariat has never been a threat, as a class, to the capitalist system.
not deep enough.. only perpetuating myth of tragedy and lord
We come, here, to a terribly flawed model of social change that Marx introduced into the revolutionary project of the last hundred years — one that was to be implicitly accepted by non-Marxist radicals as well. This is the belief that a new society is born within the womb of the old and eventually grows out of it like a robust child that commandeers or destroys its parents.
rather.. hari rat park law et al
rise of urbanization and decline of citizenship.. 1987 bookchin book
In this respect, Marx cut across the grain of the authentic humanist tradition of the past, which singled out human beings because of their consciousness, morality, aesthetic sensibilities, and empathy for all living things. Even more troubling, if human beings in the Marxist theory are merely “instruments of history,” the happiness and welfare of the existing generation can be mortgaged to the emancipation of later generations.. t—an immortality that the Bolsheviks generally, and Stalin in particular, were to use with deadly effect and on a frightful scale to “build the future” on the corpses of the present.
Marx also saw that once capitalism emerged, it produced a profound sense of scarcity that no society before had generated in the human spirit Alienated humanity lived in awe and fear of the very products of its own labour. Commodities had become fetishes which seemed to govern humanity through the fluctuations of the market place and their mysterious power to decide crucial matters of economic survival. A free society could only hope to come to terms with its own fears, material insecurities, and artificially generated wants when technology had reached a level development where a superfluity of goods would render scarcity meaningless —after which it could be hoped that, in a rational and ecological society, *human beings would develop meaningful wants that were not distorted by the mystified economic world created by capitalism.
That Marxist studies have retreated into the enclaves of academe is testimony to its death as a revolutionary movement. It has become safe and toothless because it is so intrinsically bourgeois in its overall orientation.
The revolutionary project did not die with the ebbing of Marxism, to be sure, although vulgar Marxian ideas were to taint it for decades after the thirties. By the late fifties and into the early sixties, an entirely new constellation of ideas began to fall into place. The upsurge of the civil rights movement in the United States created a social momentum around the simple demand for ethnic equality, one that was in many ways redolent of demands for equality that go back to the age of the democratic revolutions in the eighteenth century and their sweeping visions of a new human fraternity.
The broadening of the idea of emancipation, indeed, its sanctification by a religious terminology and a prayer-like demeanour, replaced the pseudo-science of Marxism. It was a pointedly ethical message of spiritual redemption and a utopian vision of human solidarity that transcended class, property, and economic interests. Ideals of freedom were now being restated in the vernacular of the pre-Marxist revolutionary project — in language, that is, that would have been understandable to the day-dreaming Puritan radicals of the English Revolution and perhaps even the radical yeomen of the American Revolution. By degrees, the movement became more and more secular. Peaceful protests orchestrated primarily by black ministers and pacifists to bear witness to the infringement of basic human freedoms, gave way to angry encounters and violent resistance against the rambunctious use of authority. Ordinary assemblies ended in riots until, from 1964 onward, almost every summer in the United States was climaxed by black ghetto uprisings of near-insurrectionary proportions.
The civil rights movement did not monopolize the egalitarian ideals that emerged in the sixties. Preceded to a considerable extent by the “antibomb” movement of the fifties, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in England and Women’s Strike for Peace in the United States, several trends began to converge to produce the New Left, a movement which sharply distinguished itself from the Old Left in its aims, forms of organization, and strategies for social change. The revolutionary project was being recovered — not in continuity with proletarian socialism, but with pre-Marxist libertarian ideals.
After World War II, capitalism, far from receding into the chronic depression that preceded the war, had restabilized itself on stronger foundations than it had ever known in history. It created a managed economy based on military production, buoyed by dazzling technological advances in electronics, automation, nucleonics, and agribusiness. Goods in vast quantities and varieties seemed to flow from an endless horn of plenty. This was a wealth so massive, in fact, that sizeable portions of the population could live on its mere leavings. It is difficult from a distance of decades to realize what a buoyant sense of promise infused the era.
This sense of promise was clearly materialistic. The counterculture’s rejection of material things did not conflict with its own consumption of stereos, records, television sets, “mind-expanding” pharmaceuticals, exotic clothing, and equally exotic foods.
By the same token, the radicalism of the New Left became more encompassing and fundamental to the degree that the economic largess that America enjoyed was so inequitably distributed and so irrationally employed — particularly in military adventures abroad. The buoyancy of the counterculture and its claims became increasingly utopian to the degree that a comfortable life for all became more feasible. Young people, the famous “drop-outs” of the sixties, made an ethical calling of the fact that they could live well from the garbage pails of society and with “a little help from one’s friends” to reword the lyrics of a famous song by the Beatles.
I say this not to denigrate the New Left’s radicalism and the counterculture’s utopianism. Rather, I seek to explain why they took the extravagant forms they did—as well as why they were to fadeaway when the crisis management” techniques of the system re-invented the myth of scarcity and pulled in the reins of its welfare programs.
Nor do I claim that ethical ideals of freedom mechanically march in step with material realities of poverty and abundance
No longer need the means of life be distributed along hierarchical lines because technology was rendering these means available for the asking.
..Conventions that stood in the way of pleasure were insufferable under these new conditions, and need could be replaced by desire as a truly human impulse. The “realm of necessity,” in effect, could finally be replaced by the “realm of freedom”_hence the vogue that Charles Fourier’s writings began to enjoy at the time in many parts of the Western world.
In its initial phases, the New Left and the counterculture were profoundly anarchistic and utopistic. Several popular concerns became of focal importance in the projects that began to rise to the surface of their collective consciousness. The first was richly democratic, appeals were voiced for a face-to-face system of decision-making. The words “participatory democracy” came very much into vogue as a description of grassroots control over all aspects of life, not simply political ones. Everyone was expected to be free to enter into the political sphere and to deal with people in everyday life in a “democratic” manner. What this meant, in effect, was that people were expected to be transparent in all of their relationships and the ideas they held..there were also strong impulses toward an institutionalization of decision-making processes that went beyond the level of street protests and the demonstrations that were so common during the decade.
The principle American New Left organization. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and its German counterpart, the Socialists Students Union (also SDS) were distinguished by the formality of their many conferences and workshops. But few limitations were placed on attendance — which left these organizations open to cynical invasions of parasitic dogmatic radical sects. Many of their conferences and workshops, apart from the fairly large ones, acquired an egalitarian geometry of their own — the circle, in which there was no formal chairperson or leader. Individuals yielded the forum to speakers merely by designating their successors from among the raised hands of those who wanted to voice their views.
This geometry and procedure was not simply an idle form of organizational and democratic symbolism. The entire configuration expressed an earnest belief in the ideal of face-to-face dialogue and a spontaneous form of discussion. Leadership was grossly mistrusted to a point where offices were often rotated and an entrenched officialdom was frowned upon as a step toward authoritarian control. New Left conferences contrasted dramatically with the highly formalized, often carefully orchestrated gatherings that had marked conferences in the workers’ movement a generation or two earlier. Indeed, democracy as a radical form of decision-making was seen by proletarian socialism, particularly in its Marxian form, as marginal to economic factors.
oi.. not legit spontaneous
..Precisely because the means of life seemed to be potentially available to all in abundance, the New Left seemed to sense that democracy and an ethical ideal of freedom was the direct pathway to the very social egalitarianism that proletarian socialism had sought to achieve by largely economic and party-oriented means. This was a remarkable shift in orientation toward the role of ethics in an era when all of humanity’s material problems could be solved in principle. The pre-Marxist age of the democratic revolutions, in effect, had melded with pre-Marxist forms of socialism and utopianism under the rubric of a participatory democracy. Economics had now become truly political and the political had begun to shed the patina of statecraft which had surrounded it for a century — a change that had fundamentally anarchic implications.
oi.. sam on freedom et al
Secondly such a democratic disposition of social life was meaningless without decentralization. Unless the institutional structure of democratic life could be reduced to comprehensible, indeed a graspable, human scale that all could understand, democracy could hardly acquire a truly participatory form. New units of social intercourse had to be developed and new ways of relating to each other had to be established. In short, the New Left began to grope toward new forms of freedom. But it never developed these new forms beyond conferences that were usually convened on college campuses..t
need: means to undo our hierarchical listening
Many young people who made up the counterculture were temporary exiles from middle-class suburbia, to which they were to return after the sixties. But the values of many communal lifestyles were abiding ideals that were to filler into the New Left, which established its own collectives for specific tasks like the printing of literature, the management of “free schools,” and even day-care centres.
Indeed, the m ind-expanding “drug culture” of the sixties gave way to the sedating “drug culture” of the seventies — one which has created national crises in Euro-American society with the discovery of new pharmaceuticals and their exotic combinations in more intense “highs” and “lows.”. t
It revived and fully explored the fact — long emphasized by writers like Aristotle — that people had to be reasonably free from material want to be able to function fully as citizens in the political sphere. Freedom that lacked the material bases for people to act as self-managing and self-governing individuals or collectives was the purely formal freedom of the inequality of equals, the realm of mere justice.
deeper.. we have no idea what legit free people would want.. all of us need detox first
But two questions now remained. What specific forms should a future movement assume if it hoped to reach the people generally? And what new possibilities and additional ideas lay before it that would still further expand the ideals of freedom?.. t
means to undo our hierarchical listening so we can org around legit needs
The recognition that particular diseases like tuberculosis — the famous “White Plague” of the nineteenth century — have their main origins in poor living and working conditions became a major issue for socially conscious physicians.. t
revenge of the real ness
Another environmental movement, basically American (albeit fairly widespread in England and Germany), emerged from a mystical passion for wilderness. The various strains that entered into this movement are too complex to unravel, here. American conservationists like John Muir found in wilderness a spiritually reviving form of communion with nonhuman life; one that presumably awakened deep-seated human longings and instincts. This view goes back even further in time to Rousseau’s idyllic passion for a solitary way of life amidst natural surroundings. As a sensibility, it has always been marked by a good deal of ambiguity. Wilderness, or what is left of it today, can give one a sense of freedom, a heightened sense of nature’s fecundity, a love of nonhuman life-forms, and a richer aesthetic outlook and appreciation of the natural order.
or the natural/seeming disorder
As long as it revealed the demeaned human condition that all people suffered, particularly women, it demystified subtle forms of rule that existed in the nursery, bedroom, kitchen, playground, and school—not only in the workplace and the public sphere generally.
An agenda even larger than that advanced by the early New Left and counterculture had been created by the mid-sixties; one that required elaboration, educational activity, and serious organization to reach people as a whole, not merely a particular sector of the population.
required ed.. in order to reach all.. oi
lit & num as colonialism et al
Vague demands for participatory democracy, social justice, disarmament, and the like, had to be linked together into a coherent outlook and program. They required a sense of direction that could be given only by a deeper theoretical insight, a relevant program, and more definable organizational forms than the New Left of the sixties could generate, Rudi Dutschke’s appeal to German SDS for a “Long march through the institutions,” which amounted to little more than adapting to the institutions that exist without troubling to create new ones, led to the loss of thousands within the institutions. They went in—and never came out.
6 – from here to there
Environmentalism, conceived as a piecemeal reform movement, easily lends itself to the lure of statecraft, that is, to participation in electoral, parliamentary, and party-oriented activities. It requires no great change in consciousness to turn a lobby into a party or a petitioner into a parliamentarian. Between a person who humbly solicits from power and another who arrogantly exercises it, there exists a sinister and degenerative symbiosis. Both share the same mentality that change can be achieved only through the exercise of power, specifically, through the power of a self-corrupting professionalized corps of legislators, bureaucrats, and military forces called the State.
Ecology movements that enter into parliamentary activities not only legitimate State power at the expense of popular power, but they are obliged to function within the State, ultimately to become blood of its blood and bone of its bone. They must “play the game ” which means that they must shape their priorities according to predetermined rules over which they have no control. This not only involves a given constellation of relationships that emerges with participation in State power; it becomes an ongoing process of degeneration, a steady devolution of ideals, practices, and party structures. Each demand for the “effective” exercise of parliamentary power raises the need for a further retreat from presumably cherished standards of belief and conduct.
theistic “eco-feminists” have essentially reversed the eminent role patriccntric cultures assign to men by simply inverting the same relationship in woman’s favour. Women are privileged in nature just as men are privileged in history, with the result that male chauvinism is simply replaced by female chauvinism.
binary ness.. oi
The caring father, who often stands in a warm relationship with his daughter by comparison with a competitive mother, should remind us that hierarchy is intricate enough on the familial level to give us pause when we consider it on the social level.
Anarchism, which came fully into its own in the “age of revolutions,” stressed the importance of choice; Marxism stressed the inexorability of social laws. Anarchism remained sensitive to the spontaneity of social development, a spontaneity, to be sure, informed by consciousness and the need for a structured society. Marxism anchored itself deeply in an “embryonic” theory of society, a “science” based on “prerequisites” and “preconditions.”
Nor will a participatory democracy ever be achieved by society as a whole as long as a public life is available only to those who have the free time to participate in it.
so.. not free
Insofar as humanity could make decisive choices about the social direction it should follow, its choices have been largely bad ones. The result has been that humanity has generally been less than human. Rarely has it fulfilled what it could be, given its potentialities for thought, feeling, ethical judgements, and rational social arrangements.
rather.. not choices.. ie: spinach or rock et al
The ideals of freedom are now in place, as I have noted, and they can be described with reasonable clarity and coherence. We are confronted with the need not simply to improve society or alter it; we are confronted with the need to remake it. The ecological crises we face and the social conflicts that have torn us apart and have made our century the bloodiest in history, can be resolved only if we clearly recognize that our problems go to the heart of a domineering civilization, not simply to a badly structured ensemble of social relations.
oi.. not legit freedom
the harmonizadon of nature cannot be achieved without the harmonization of human with human. This means that our very notion of what constitutes humanity must be clarified. If we remain merely conflicting class beings, genders, ethnic beings, and nationalities, it is obvious that any kind of harmony between human beings will be impossible. As members of classes, genders, ethnic groups, and nationalities, we will have narrowed our meaning of what it is to be human by means of particularistic interests that explicitly set us against each other.
Nor can we ignore the recent history of the revolutionary project and the advances it scored over earlier ones. Past revolutions were largely struggles for justice, not for freedom. ..the crassly particularistic interests of the bourgeoisie interpreted liberty to mean free trade; equality to mean the right to contract labour; and fraternity to mean the obedience on an emerging proletariat to capitalist supremacy. Hidden more deeply in this slogan of classical republicanism was the fact that liberty meant little more than the right of the ego to pursue its own self interest; equality, the principle of justice; fraternity, taken literally, a male-centred society of “brothers” however much some men exploited others.
Popular assemblies are the minds of a free society; the administrators of their policies are the hands.
Nor can populations be so large or the number of assemblies so numerous that they cannot be coordinated in a manner that perpetuates their integrity as face-to-face policy-making bodies.
oi oi oi
But by no means is this goal even desirable. It is a hidden tyranny based on unthinking custom, in fact, an atavistic throwback to times when public opinion was as coercive as outright violence (which, at least, existed in the open). A tyranny of consensus, like the famous “tyranny of structurelessness,” demeans a free society. It tends to subvert individuality in the name of community and dissent in the name of solidarity. Neither true community nor solidarity are fostered when the individual’s development is aborted by public disapproval and his or her deviant ideas are “normalized” by the pressure of public opinion.
public consensus always oppresses someone(s)
Underlying the development of self-managing, face-to-face assemblies are a number of ethical, even educational problems that enter into developing competent individuals.
Self-restraint, dignity, courtesy, and a strong commitment to civic decorum were part of the psychological attributes that many precapitalist cities, structured around assemblies, actually translated into institutions in a system of checks that fostered harmony, however tentative they may seem.
oi.. any form of m\a\p.. oi.. not harmony
Taken together, this ethical ensemble was personified in a new kind of individual — a citizen. Citizens, in turn, were created through training, a process of character-building that the Greeks called paidaia. which is not quite properly translated by the word “education.” One had to learn civic responsibility, to reason out one’s views with scrupulous care, to confront opposing arguments with clarity, and, hopefully, to advance tested principles that exhibited high ethical standards. Additionally, a citizen was expected to learn martial arts, to work together with fellow citizens in militia detachments; indeed, in many cases, to learn how to command properly during military engagements.
The citizen of a precapitalist democratic city, in short, was not the “constituent” of a parliamentary representative, or a mere “taxpayer,” to use modern civic jargon. He was, in the best of cases, a knowledgeable, civically dedicated, active, and, above all, self-governing being who exercised considerable inner discipline and made the welfare of his community — its general interest — his primary interest to the exclusion of his own self-interest.
This constellation of ethical precepts formed a unified whole, without which civic democracy and popular assemblies would not have been possible. Rousseau’s remarkable statement that citizens make cities, not merely buildings, cannot be restated often enough. Without citizens, viewed in this classical sense, cities were mere clusters of buildings which tended to degenerate into oligarchies or become absorbed into nation-states.
oi.. any form of democratic admin
endnote: .. yet barely a word of acknowledgment is made by the ill informed wags who particularly in the shelter of the academy, have recycled so man eco anarchist ideas in the name of ‘deep ecology’ and ‘eco feminism’.. apparently, nothing exists in american and european thought until it has first been duly registered as a ‘paper’ and, to be sure, by a professor or an aspiring one..t
lit & num as colonialism et al
Let me emphasize again that such a change cannot be made without doing the same for our interaction with each other and formulating a general interest that outweighs the particularized interests of hierarchy, class, gender, ethnic backgrounds, and the Stale. The precondition for a harmonious relationship with nature is social: a harmonious relationship between human and human. This involves the abolition of hierarchy in all its forms — psychological and cultural as well as social — and of classes, private property, and the State.. t
The move from “here to there” will not be a sudden explosion of change *without a long period of intellectual and ethical preparation. The world has to be educated as fully as possible if people are to change their lives, not merely have it changed for them by self-anointed elites who will eventually become self-seeking oligarchies. Sensibility, ethics, ways of viewing reality, and selfhood have to be changed by educational means, by a politics of reasoned discourse, experimentation, and the expectation of repeated failures from which we have to learn, if humanity is to achieve the self-consciousness it needs to finally engage in self-management.
No longer can radical movements afford to plunge unthinkingly into action for its own sake. We have never been in greater need of theoretical insight and study than we are today, when political illiteracy has reached appalling proportions and action has become a fetish as an end in itself. We are also in dire need of organization—not the nihilistic chaos of self-indulgent egotists in which structure of any kind is decried as “elitist” and “centralist,” Patience, the hard work of responsible commitment in the day-to-day work of building a movement, is to be prized over the theatrics of prima donnas who are always willing to “die” on the barricades of a distant “revolution” but who are too high-minded to engage in the humdrum tasks of spreading ideas and maintaining an organization.
This vision must be stated clearly so that it can never be compromised. The vagueness of socialist and Marxist ends has done irreparable damage in degrading these ends by the exigencies of a “pragmatic” politics and by manipulative compromises — ultimately, the surrender of a movement’s very reason for existing. A movement must give a visual character to its ideals so that it enters into the imagination of a new politics, not merely present its ideas in programmatic statements. Such attempts have been made with considerable success in the past by groups like People’s Architecture, which took the pains to replan entire neighbourhoods in Berkeley, California, and visually demonstrate how they could become more habitable, communal, and aesthetically attractive.
That organic gardening can meet our basic requirements for chemically untreated food, provide us with a superior inventory of nutrients, and improve our soil rather than destroy it are the conventional arguments for shifting from agribusiness to ecological forms of food cultivation. But organic farming does much more than this. It brings us into the cultivation of food, not merely its consumption. We enter into the food chain itself that has its beginnings in the soil, a chain of which we are a living component and play a transformative role. It brings us closer to the natural world as a whole from which we have been alienated. We grow part or all of our food and use our bodies artfully to plant, weed, and harvest crops. We engage in an ecological “ballet,” if you like, that greatly improves upon the current fad for jogging on asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks. As one occupation among many that the individual can practise in the course of a day (to follow Fourier’s advice), organic gardening enriches the diversity of our everyday lives, sharpens our natural sensibilities to growth and decay, and attunes us to natural rhythms..t Hence, organic gardening, to take only one case in point, would be seen in an ecological society as more than the solution to our nutritional problems. It would become part of our entire being as socially, culturally, and biologically aware beings.
The same is true if we engage in aqua-culture, .. use of solar power, ..windpower, the presence of livestock in a community, mixed farming, composting techniques that recycle a community’s wastes into soil nutrients; indeed, an entire ecological ensemble or pattern in which one component is used to interact with others to produce a humanly modified ecosystem that meets human needs while enriching the natural ecosystem as a whole.. It would make use of local resources, many of which have been abandoned because of mass production techniques.
As citizens, they would function in such assemblies at their highest level — their human level — rather than as socially ghettoized beings. They would express their general human interests, not their particular status interests..t
Communal intimacy would be consciously fostered. No municipality would be so far from another that it would not be within reasonable walking distance from its neighbours. Transportation would be organized around the collective use of vehicles, be they monorails, railroads, bicycles, automobiles, and the like, not single drivers who clutter huge highway systems with their largely empty vehicles..t
Between a here that is totally irrational, wasteful, based on giant industrial and urban belts, a highly chemical agribusiness, centralized and bureaucratic power, a staggering armaments economy, massive pollution, and mindless labour on the one hand, and the ecological society I have tried to describe on the other, *lies an indefinable zone of highly complex transitions, one that involves the development of a new sensibility as well as new politics. There is no substitute for the role of consciousness and the support of history to mediate this transition. No deus ex machina can be invoked to make the leap from “here to there,” nor should we desire one. **What people cannot shape for themselves, they will never control. It can be taken away from them as readily as it is bestowed upon them.
Ultimately, every revolutionary project rests on the hope that the people will develop a new consciousness if they are exposed to thoughtful ideas that patently meet their needs and if objective reality — be it history, nature, or both—renders them susceptible to the need for basic social change. Without the objective circumstances that favour a new consciousness and the organized means to advance it publicly, there will be no long-range change or even the measured steps needed to achieve it. Every revolutionary project is, above all, an educational one. The rest must come from the real world in which people live and the changes that occur in it.
An educational process that does not retain contact with that real world, its traditions as well as everyday realities, will perform only a part of its task. Every people has its own libertarian background, to repeat a claim I made earlier, and its own libertarian dreams, however much they may be confused with media-generated propaganda and the images that distort them.
What also makes the human animal a product of nature is not only the voice it gives to nature, but the fact that it can intervene into nature precisely as a product of natural evolution; indeed, that it has been organized over aeons of organic development to do precisely that, insofar as it has any place in the natural world. What is warped about the human condition is not that people actively intervene in nature and alter it, but that they intervene actively to destroy it because humanity’s social development has been warped. .
Social ecology advances a message that calls not only for a society free of hierarchy and hierarchical sensibilities, but for an ethics that places humanity in the natural world as an agent for rendering evolution — social and natural — fully self-conscious and as free as possible in its ability to make evolution as rational as possible in meeting nonhuman and human needs. I am not advancing a view that approves of “natural engineering.” The natural world, as I have stressed repeatedly in earlier writings, is much too complex to be “controlled” by human ingenuity, science, and technology. My own anarchist proclivities have fostered in my thinking a love of spontaneity, be it in human behaviour or in natural development. The imagination has a major place beside the rational; the intuitive, aesthetic, and a sense of wonder for the marvelous, belong as much to the human spirit as does the intellectual. Natural evolution can not be denied its own spontaneity and fecundity any more than can social evolution.
fromm spontaneous law et al
But we cannot reject the place of rationality in life and the extent to which it is no less a product of natural development than it is of human development We stand at a crossroads of conflicting pathways: either we will surrender to a mindless irrationalism that mystifies social evolution with myths, deities, and a crude particularism in the name of gender or hidden elites — one that renders social evolution aimless, with grim results for human and nonhuman life alike — or we will regain the activism, that is denigrated today, and turn the world into an ever-broader domain of freedom and rationality. This entails a new form of rationality, a new technology, a new science, a new sensibility and self — and, above all, a truly libertarian society.
only if we let go enough.. of any form of m\a\p