a homecoming (of sorts)

November 23, 2016

112316

i see powdery lines of people
trapped inside the white lies of their inherited insanity
gazing through the looking glass on the wrong side of a mirror
glazed in fear
with every reflection inflecting infections of corrupted correction
like entitled sardines packed in between stacked rows of covetous tin can houses
jostling with futility for optimal “as good as” or “better than” position
by the sea: a homecoming.

the tide laps gently at my feet and rises with calm confidence
teasing and teething, while one of them says to me
“this, once a day, makes it all okay”
as if saying it out loud could make it more real than a surreal pipe dream
prompting the OC anarchist arising within me…


Community Liberation and Defense

November 15, 2016

aka, a strategic context for community rights in anti-militia planning
aka, the militia movement as a public health crisis of male-pattern violence

OUTLINE

  1. Militia overview
  2. Public Health Overview: Trauma and Crisis
  3. The role of the government
  4. Crisis Intervention
  5. Risk Reduction
  6. Primary Prevention

This essay looks at the militia movement as a public health rather than legal crisis, and similarly adopts the public health model of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention (also called prevention, risk reduction and crisis intervention, respectively) to help understand and prioritize intervention strategies for application in the appropriate context.  Community Rights work is an important component of long-term, primary prevention efforts, but must occur alongside secondary and tertiary efforts or else it will tend to falter needlessly.  The purpose of anti-militia planning is to identify both the core problems contributing to militia movements’ targeting of communities, as well as comprehensive short-, medium- and long-range remedies.  Lastly, the planning process will explore and pursue strategies for implementation of such remedies in solidarity with those most negatively impacted by the militia movement and federal interventionism.

Militia overview

Despite the well-meaning intentions of many of the rank and file among them, militia movements consist of armed groups of primarily-white men with roots in white supremacy and ties to corporate interests who use fear, intimidation and force (including the threat of force) to infiltrate and co-opt communities as part of an aggressive doomsday settler-homesteader mentality.  The aggressive approach leverages the “bystander effect” to create a sense of isolation among people who do not necessarily agree with their ideology to maintain silence and passive compliance.  Over time, the community begins to accept and identify with the militia, in a process mirroring Stockholm Syndrome.  Militias combine these negative tactics alongside aid tactics, such as emergency preparedness training, that address real material needs of the community.  In this sense, militias exploit longstanding community vulnerabilities stemming from intersecting class, race and gender oppression in order to impose themselves on said communities.  The combination of aid framed by brutality has a longstanding history of use by right-wing groups throughout world history in order to gain a foothold within a population (including, more recently, by Islamic extremists, but also Christians and other world religions, political movements and, perhaps most notably, nation-states including the US).

Public Health Overview:  Trauma and Crisis

Many communities remain mired in crisis.  In these frequent and common cases, people trying to offer long-term solutions targeting the corporate basis of exploitation meet considerable resistance.  Militia invasion of communities can resemble a large-scale domestic violence situation in its complexity, intractability and trauma.  Effective, longstanding and resilient results and evaluation and triage of liberation strategies requires a coordinated responses among all tertiary (crisis response), secondary (risk management) and primary (proactive) prevention strategies in order to acheive .

To ground the discussion further, prematurely proactive discussions of corporatocracy often create an unappealing abstract sort of disconnect for many communities mired in crisis of a current militia invasion (especially one involving a federal response) or do not yet feel (or acknowledge) the public health threats and trace the ultimate agents pulling strings to extract profit from them at their expense.  Such communities tend to exist and self-locate on a day-to-day, sometimes even hour-to-hour basis of survival, and cannot begin to fathom let alone pursue a fifteen or twenty year campaign to seize democratic control of their health, safety and welfare and that of the natural communities within their jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, it remains a goal for more fundamental work to move communities toward a level of readiness where they can consider, plan and sustain such a campaign, if they so choose.

The work begins with tertiary prevention, consisting of crisis intervention and abatement.  This is tricky work, as it requires supporting a community and its ability to survive through and respond to a crisis without enabling, escalating or prolonging the crisis itself.  Once a crisis can be abated to give a community some space, or in communities not currently experiencing crisis, it makes sense to move toward secondary prevention to build the community’s “immune system,” decreasing its vulnerability to corporatocratic or militia targeting and attack in the first place.  This work involves empowering communities to effectively identify and respond to such threats, and is equally tricky in that much internalized oppression creates a bait-and-switch where community members misidentify and blame symptoms of the problem for the problem itself.  In such cases, classism, racism (including anti-immigration) and sexism (including homophobia) rear their ugly heads.  Militias and corporations jump on these as opportunities to “divide and conquer,” even deliberately confusing the promotion of internal conflict with “community self-defense,” whereas actual effective community self-defense involves developing the capacity for and then building solidarity with and between the marginal populations that such invaders so often exploit for political and economic gain.  When solidarity proliferates, such populations “disappear into” the community and no longer become marginal, which eliminates some of the most significant community vulnerabilities and also helps identify the actual threats among the people and institutions who seek to break solidarity (or who do so as a matter of course as they seek to extract value).  Solidarity also helps identify and address outstanding economic and ecological vulnerabilities by eliminating the complication of socially-constructed internal weaknesses, allowing focus on external and imposed threatening forces, institutions and processes.

Only when crisis abates and solidarity proliferates within a community can a community begin to consider primary prevention, which includes proactive campaigns to claim democratic control over the health, safety and welfare of both human and non-human communities within a given jurisdiction, and place decision-making power in the hands of those ultimately affected the most (esp. in material as well as economic terms) by such decisions.  It involves giving everyone — including non-human entities — a political and legal voice, especially with equal say to “not in my back yard,” (NIMBY).  Once everyone has equal access to NIMBY, then only fair decisions can occur, focusing the remaining concern on effective implementation.  Such proactivity often occurs only when communities bump up against external, imposed political and legal institutions and processes that either directly threaten their health, safety and welfare or limit their ability to defend themselves or pursue their best interests.  Many communities mired in crisis have yet to get to this point where they “meet” and acknowledge and confront the powerful interests at the root of many of the crises they face.  Crisis abatement and risk reduction can help communities shift focus to longer-term risk management and prevention work, but so can crisis escalation.  As a result, some heavily-exploited communities may make some of the longer-term work a higher priority.  It is important to support that work with decolonization and other capacity building work in order to maximize its sustainability and chance for success.

The role of the government

Thus far, communities have depended heavily on the federal government for support in fighting militia infiltration.  This can be problematic on many levels.  First, it makes communities a continuous battleground between militia and federal law enforcement, which plays into the militia strategy to provoke and escalate conflict, intensify anti-federal sentiment and create martyrs of federal violence to recruit more people into the militia movements.  In addition to strategic folly, the siting of this conflict within communities has a disempowering and traumatic effect on the community that long outlasts the end of the conflict itself, as any inhabitant of a warzone can attest.  Third, dependence on federal intervention does nothing to resolve the underlying problems that militias target for exploitation, such as poverty, food insecurity, housing costs, infrastructure, and other material needs; class oppression (esp. few living wage jobs) and longstanding racism and sexism.

Resolving these long-term issues is far outside the scope of the intervening federal agencies, barring some sort of coordinated interagency homeland security plan that includes long-term community economic development and empowerment work, but more likely would manifest as temporary or permanent philanthropic dependency or corporate trojan horse.  At best, government intervention is like playing a game of whack-a-mole.  More often, it’s like spraying poisons over a land to control a pest problem:  as long as the niche the pest exploits remains open, and the pest has no predators or competitors, it will continue to proliferate, requiring more spraying and resulting in toxification of the landscape.  We can say the same for frequent and prolonged federal intervention.  The authoritarian remedy can negatively impact communities far beyond ground zero.

Fourth, authoritarian interventionism supports the continuing militarization of domestic police forces — the increasing technical capacity for excessive use of force against peaceful populations, nonviolent civil disobedience activists, and activists targeting property and infrastructure of the elite and their exploitative institutions.  Likewise, it lays the foundation for justifying the actual use of such excessive force by leveraging the “climate of instability” that militias create or intensify as a need for excessive authoritarian measures, and by equating nonviolent movements who challenge the federal regime with militias, even though the former do not use the latter’s tactics of intimidation and fear to terrorize populations into isolated passivity.  Militias and government repression feed off each-other.

Crisis Intervention

Many of the tactics of brutality fit well within familiar parameters of male-pattern violence:  domination, bullying, stalking, harassment, threats, sexual violence, coercion, appeals to authority.  Militias recruit from the ranks of white working men frustrated with the economic climate and the erosion of gender and racial privilege, who feel their place in the world is threatened, tend to overcompensate and as such are ready, willing and able to lash out in order to reassert white male privilege in the social hierarchy to make up for intensifying class oppression.  They often target and “make examples of” women and gender and other minorities as a “defense” tactic, especially those seen as leaders of an opposition.  This has a circular logic to it, as the opposition includes anyone who resists or stands up to their bullying and coercion, including countering sacred myths of white male supremacy, e.g., that “white men built the modern world.”

Effective counters to militia infiltration must disrupt their use of the bystander effect by connecting and activating bystanders in the short term to create a strong voice of accountability and moral contrast.  A small part of this short-term approach may include defensive countermeasures, which in turn include armed self-defense as a backup to nonviolent self-defense tactics, such as de-escalation or redirection, among others.  Physical self-defense remains an important last resort tactic when attempts to de-escalate aggression fail to stop an attack.

Outside support can be critical to jumpstart this process in a given community subject to militia pressure and control, so long as the “outsiders” don’t mimic militial co-optation of communities as an ideological battleground for their own agendas.  Many left-wing responses to right-wing presence often provide a “kinder, gentler” form of coercion rather than a fundamental contrast.  Survivors of domestic or intimate partner violence have encountered a similar situation when they meet an advocate who thinks they “know better” than (and thus try to make decisions for and impose upon) the survivor.  While the decisions may appear different and “more progressive” in substance, the power dynamic of domination and control remain eerily familiar.  Instead, it is important to embrace an empowerment model for community liberation from militia control, which may also mean supporting communities in making their own decisions that the outsiders don’t necessarily agree with in order to build a more fundamental relationship of trust and solidarity.  In this way, radicalized left-wing outsiders often provide solidarity and support for conservative members of communities under siege by militias, even through they may vote very differently.

Risk Reduction

In the medium term, communities need additional options for enhancing their material welfare and meeting basic needs that have no transactional conditions attached to them (e.g., “we’ll help feed you, but in return you need to attend religious service or read our pamphlet, or otherwise join or aid our cause”), as such conditions replicate the militia behavior in question.  Alternatives for material welfare may range from substantive similarity to radically-different in form from militial aid, especially where militia aid depends upon or is mediated by corporate profit or consumer activity (e.g., expensive and often ineffective consumerist “turnkey” solutions).  Appropriate technologies factor largely into counter-aid strategies, as do mutual-aid networks within and between communities.  Included in this medium-term approach is a strategic need to disrupt the corporate funding and support that militias receive, to disrupt their capacity to leverage aid as a compliance and coercion tactic, e.g., providing effective aid options without the attached burden of coercion.

In the long term, anti-militia efforts must address the intersecting race, class and gender oppressions that create the conditions that make communities vulnerable to militia/corporate infiltration and exploitation in the first place.  Ideally, the short-term strategies of bystander activation, empowerment toward trust and solidarity, and alternative aid provision will build a foundational capacity that better allows communities and their members to address difficult questions about their place and role in the existing economic order of society that leaves them both dependent on and vulnerable to division and exploitation.  Only through an intact social fabric — network of strong, mutually-supportive and empowering relationships — can a community begin to address such fundamental issues and increase its resilience.  This means decolonization work, identifying and eliminating internalized oppressions that leave a community divided, and also enhance social capacity to rebuild the social fabric of horizontal relationships.

Such relationships themselves remain possible only with immense human development work to increase the social capacity of community members.  In the context of patriarchy, men remain particularly vulnerable to stunted development of social “soft skills” whereas patriarchies tend to target women for stunted development of technical “hard skills,” creating an artificial bifurcation of capacities and gendered co-dependence on a centralized authority figure to connect and mediate.  In the history of urbanization, the rural survival need for horizontal interdependence has provided a buffer effect for rural communities (simply put, men learn how to “get along” with others out of necessity, and women learn to use hammers out of necessity, etc), whereas urban populations historically consist of ex-rural populations ironically moving out of survival necessity to the city after elements of urban economic and political institutions (e.g., bankers, corporations, etc) have laid waste to the rural land and community, rendering them increasingly susceptible to social atrophy, gendered bifurcation and dependence on centralized institutions.  As elements of urbanization and centralized institutions infiltrate rural communities and interject themselves amongst horizontal social ties, or as rural communities grow in scale and complexity, they begin exhibiting this gender bifurcation again.  Men remain particularly susceptible to antisocial behavior as a byproduct of how patriarchies define the narrow range of masculinity and “masculine behavior.”

Making balanced human development a goal will ultimately lay the foundation for solidarity between diverse autonomous liberatory struggles against centralized authorities and other arbitrary, persistent and imposed social hierarchies.  Men in particular who refuse to do “soft skills” social capacity work (however it manifests) quickly become liabilities rather than assets to liberatory struggle and form the core population that militias target to join their ranks.  Men may dismiss the importance of such work without seeing how it impacts race and (especially, for white men) class struggles.  Even if they do acknowledge it, most won’t engage in the difficult (and often painful and embarassing) personal work until strong peer networks and social norms are already in place. This requires organizers to identify and activate “organic leaders” within the community to break the status quo and build critical mass toward that end.  As the oldest and perhaps most deeply-internalized and ubiquitous oppression, people often dismiss, minimize, marginalize or abandon gender justice.  Rather than fight this tendency, it may be easier to “connect the dots” inevitably back to gender justice, for example, by using more accessible and acceptable economic and racial justice struggles as an entrypoint.  “So we agree we need to do the class work, but we can’t do that without the race work, and here’s why.  And we can’t do either of those without the gender work, and here’s why…”

Primary Prevention

This last strategy focuses on the external threats to community security, such as economic exploitation, political manipulation, legal impositions, environmental destruction, outsider intervention whose interests do not align in solidarity with the welfare of the community or land (e.g., absentee landlords and speculators).

Corporate profiteers use militias and the individual men therein as pawns in furthering the agenda of the merger of state and corporate interests to further accumulate and secure wealth and power into the hands of a ruling elite.  Militias are in one respect unofficial corporate armies who exploit oppressions and their attached identities to ensure people remain divided, in fear of and in conflict with one-another rather than united in their mutual interests.  Neutralizing militias also strengthens the community against corporate control and exploitation.  The final strategy of a counter-militia campaign will target the corporate roots of the US political and legal system — such as the US Commerce Clause, corporate personhood, Dylan’s rule, and pre-emption — that enable corporate rule through a top-down legal hierarchy and effectively neutralize or eliminate the legal capacities of people to protect themselves and their inherent rights from harms incurred in the unaccountable pursuit of corporate profit.  Such harms leave communities further susceptible to militia infiltration and subsequent corporate exploitation and control, producing a positive feedback loop.  This long-range work must occur alongside the short and moderate-term work, otherwise it will struggle unnecessarily not only against internalized oppressions but also the people’s own priorities and interests.

Additionally, if specific threats can be identified, work may target that threat (e.g., a corporate bottling facility or a pipeline).  The community rights framework provides an organizing context with room for both direct action against specific threats as well as a larger vision of freedom from harm and exploitation, and democratic control over community health, safety and welfare, and even combines these two sometimes-conflicting activities.  It can be a useful tool for organizing communities toward a constructive vision of collective liberation and solidarity that does not include scapegoating and other forms of horizontal violence that so often occur in oppressive “remedies” (e.g., “deport the Mexicans”), in part because the fundamental remedy includes recognizing the inherent worth and autonomy of everyone — including the non-human landscape.  But this can be very difficult for people to grasp unless they are in dire need of a remedy and have tried everything else to no avail (CELDF works with many of these communities), or they have gone through many of the crisis intervention and risk reduction activities mentioned above.

The militia movements are highly coordinated and organized and often well-funded, with some wealthy, powerful and influential sponsors. While effective resistance needn’t mimic or match the organizing tactics and strategies or structures of militia groups and movements, it does need to coordinate across various time and spatial scales.  In other words, resistance to militias needs to provide a means for ongoing coordination between communities and allow for both proactive and reactive measures across short, medium and long time frames.

To learn more about the militia movement in Oregon, visit http://www.rop.org/up-in-arms
To learn more about community rights, visit http://celdf.org

In our society, statistically-speaking, guns don’t kill people.  Men kill people.  #malepatternviolence

I am not in any way affiliated with CELDF or ROP.  I appreciate the work they do.


Civilization or “human nature?”

November 13, 2016

View story at Medium.com

This article contains interesting political analysis that I don’t disagree with. The way this article is framed, however, makes it complete bullshit, and it’s a shame that it’s getting shared widely like an expert opinion. Social darwinism and aside, it’s also a great example of the narcissistic chauvinism inherent in the historiography of civil society:

“So zooming out, we humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self imposed to some extent or another. This handy list shows all the wars over time.”

Nope, it only goes back to 1200 BC, well within the scope of colonizing, bloody, brutal exploitative civil society, which is the same failed model of human culture that modern civil societies use. This article says nothing about human nature, but chauvinistically projects one specific, bloody human culture that tends toward exploitation, belligerence and ecological collapse upon all humanity and human cultures. Civil society says very little about humanity as a “species” through time and space (and very little of that is anything good).

Let’s go back 6,000 or 10,000 or 15,000 years (still a blink of the eye), or look at contemporary cultures who do not base themselves on the insane model of annual agriculture and patriarchy, and compare notes. Anthropologists also describe this divide as “desert” and “forest” cultures. Toby Hemenway makes this point in his summary analysis “How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth but not Civilization” (lecture given at Duke University Nicholas School of Environment): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nLKHYHmPbo.  The Alice Walker poem “Democratic Womanism” makes the same point: we have been mired in patriarchy and civilization for thousands of years, and have been working as long to evolve past it, with increasing sophistication and effectiveness (even as civilization spreads its tendrils to threaten every corner of the planet).

In general, Toby Hemenway’s work on the problem of civilization provide a much better “birds’ eye” zoomed out perspective on the problem than the article that prompted this post, which talks about civilization as if it’s the only form of human social structure that has ever existed or will ever exist. In addition to the above lecture, you can listen to Toby’s talk on Liberation Permaculture (http://www.permaculturevoices.com/liberation-permaculture-with-toby-hemenway-pvp100) for a bit more of a constructive, actionable (vs critical and disempowering) analysis.

Maybe a Trump presidency isn’t that bad.  If it took a Trump presidency to slap all these comfortably numb white and/or male and/or middle class folks awake, activate them and leave them without much of an excuse to fall asleep again, then maybe some net good can come out of all of this compared to a Sanders or Clinton presidency.  It won’t be pretty.  Already kids are getting attacked at their school simply for having Spanish-sounding names and darker skin, and male supremacists are calling for death squads and concentration camps.  If you aren’t satisfied with Trump, then the best way to protest his presidency is to get active and involved with the working class, gender and race struggles within your community, in solidarity with those who have struggled long before Trump ever got elected.  And start building a different system.  Starting with you and your relationships.


Pictoral and Poetic Perspective on US Politics

November 10, 2016

Perspective of Picture:

reality_check

Perspective of Poetry

“Democratic Womanism” by Alice Walker, from http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/28/democratic_womanism_poet_and_activist_alice

You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.
There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.
Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
somewhat fatuous.
A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
very dear
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
with it.
One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.
I want something else;
a different system
entirely.
One not seen
on this earth
for thousands of years. If ever.
Democratic Womanism.
Notice how this word has “man” right in the middle of it?
That’s one reason I like it. He is right there, front and center. But he is surrounded.
I want to vote and work for a way of life
that honors the feminine;
a way that acknowledges
the theft of the wisdom
female and dark Mother leadership
might have provided our spaceship
all along.
I am not thinking
of a talking head
kind of gal:
happy to be mixing
it up
with the baddest
bad boys
on the planet
her eyes a slit
her mouth a zipper.
No, I am speaking of true
regime change.
Where women rise
to take their place
en masse
at the helm
of earth’s frail and failing ship;
where each thousand years
of our silence
is examined
with regret,
and the cruel manner in which our values
of compassion and kindness
have been ridiculed
and suppressed
brought to bear on the disaster
of the present time.
The past must be examined closely, I believe, before we can leave
it there.
I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
Socialist, Womanism.
For who else knows so deeply
how to share but Mothers
and Grandmothers? Big sisters
and Aunts?
To love
and adore
both female and male?
Not to mention those in between.
To work at keeping
the entire community
fed, educated
and safe?
Democratic womanism,
Democratic Socialist
Womanism,
would have as its icons
such fierce warriors
for good as
Vandana Shiva
Aung San Suu Kyi,
Wangari Maathai
Harriet Tubman
Yoko Ono
Frida Kahlo
Angela Davis
& Barbara Lee:
With new ones always rising, wherever you look.

You are also on this list, but it is so long (Isis would appear midway) that I must stop or be unable to finish the poem! So just know I’ve stood you in a circle that includes Marian Wright Edelman, Amy Goodman, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Mary McLeod Bethune. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, John Lennon and Howard Zinn are there. Happy to be surrounded!

There is no system
There is no system
now in place
that can change
the disastrous course
the Earth is on.
Who can doubt this?
The male leaders
of Earth
appear to have abandoned
their very senses
though most appear
to live now
entirely
in their heads.
They murder humans and other
animals
forests and rivers and mountains
every day
they are in office
and never seem
to notice it.
They eat and drink devastation.
Women of the world,
Women of the world,
Is this devastation Us?
Would we kill whole continents for oil
(or anything else)
rather than limit
the number of consumer offspring we produce
and learn how to make our own fire?
Democratic Womanism.
Democratic Socialist Womanism.
A system of governance
we can dream and imagine and build together. One that recognizes
at least six thousand years
of brutally enforced complicity
in the assassination
of Mother Earth, but foresees six thousand years
ahead of us when we will not submit.
What will we need? A hundred years
at least to plan: (five hundred will be handed us
gladly
when the planet is scared enough)
in which circles of women meet,
organize ourselves, and,
allied with men
brave enough to stand with women,
men brave enough to stand with women,
nurture our planet to a degree of health.
And without apology —-
(impossible to make
a bigger mess than has been made already) -—
devote ourselves, heedless of opposition,
to tirelessly serving and resuscitating Our Mother ship
and with gratitude
for Her care of us
worshipfully commit
to
rehabilitating it.

Final Thoughts

Alice Walker wrote Democratic Womanism about the 2012 election.  But considering its large-scale, long-term scope on the Six Thousand Year (and maybe longer) Struggle against the patriarchal basis of civilization, that’s really just a blink in time.  Trump, Clinton and Bernie don’t change things much, for a lot of reasons — not in the least that change has to come from us, the people.  We have to manifest it in the way we think, act and relate to the rest of the world.  Electing figureheads into an inherently corrupt system won’t do much, one way or the other.  The advent of civilization saw a sudden and drastic move far to the right, to the patriarchal roots of corporatocratic society.  We have been moving little bits and pieces left back toward real democracy since then, slow and steady.

Democracy:  rule of the people by the people for the people with the people.  “People” includes but not limited to all humans.  Without an inclusive definition of “people” it’s not democracy.  Democracy requires an intact social fabric.  If we don’t have the capacity to listen, empathize, understand, talk to, love and support one another, to the entirety of the world around us, then we can’t have democracy.  If we have horizontal violence, we can’t have democracy.  As long as property exists, we will have horizontal violence.  As long as we have objectification, we will have property (and horizontal violence).  If we can’t relate to one-another of mutual trust, love, respect and solidarity, then we can’t have democracy.  Democracy requires of humans an animistic, process-based worldview.

Regardless of how they voted, how many people voted out of fear, anger or hatred as their driving motivation?  How many people vote(d) out of love, solidarity and courage as their driving motivation?   That matters more to me than any electoral result.  Likewise, what we do and how we act before or after the election matters more to me than how we vote.  So, let’s get to the root of it, and get back to the work that needs to happen regardless of who gets elected — the long Thousand Years’ Struggle for Liberation.


Civil war isn’t coming

November 5, 2016

Cracked posted an article about the “coming” civil war:  http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2403-6-reasons-why-new-civil-war-possible-terrifying.html

#6. The Beginning Looks A Lot Like Where We Are Right Now

#5. The Violence Could Start With Farms Choking The Cities

#4. The Revolution Will Plagiarize ISIS’s Tactics

#3. There Will Be Hundreds of Sides

#2. Decades of Military Spending Will Bite Us In The Ass

#1. The Internet Will Make It Even Bloodier

All good points, and yet completely missing the point staring us all in the face:  how many of the pictures show women?  How many of our public terror incidents have involved women?  Clearly, this is an issue specifically affecting men and masculinity.  It’s not the only cause, but it’s definitely a bottleneck.

We are talking male-pattern violence, a product of patriarchy and masculinity.  Men are not inherently loose cannon hyper-violent control freaks.  I can’t take much more of this ignoring the obvious.  We need to get to cut to the main points, and one of them is masculinity and patriarchy.  Another huge one is control. If we crack down on institutions and norms that control others’ thoughts and behavior, much of this goes away.  Because it levels the playing field:  without the power dynamic of control, you have to engage and negotiate on equal footing.  That requires social skills.  And if you use controlling physical violence, manipulation, coercion, etc instead, and get punished, then it’s a form of meta control that forces you to adopt pro-social behavior, like emotional maturity and self-care practices.

This is eerily reminescent of how we ignore domestic and sexual violence as early-warning signs of more public acts of terror to come.  The public terrorists (whether independent or state-sanctioned paramilitary) commonly draw from a pool of people who terrorize others in their private lives. (http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/07/mass-killers-terrorism-domestic-violence.html; http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/world/americas/control-and-fear-what-mass-killings-and-domestic-violence-have-in-common.html)

Men shoot people.  Men plant bombs.  Men make public terror threats.  Men kick the shit out of people.  Men exert control.  Men rape. 99.9% of these things occur because men do them, most of the time.  Sometimes women do them (and often because they “toughen up” and start “acting like men”).

I don’t blame men.  I blame the system of behavioral control and masculine identity into which men are indoctrinated.  Men are even more often the victims of non-sexualized forms of male-pattern violence than women.  And we need to start engaging with the boys and men in our lives to change this.  Stop holding signs and shouting at random strangers.  Start having difficult conversations with the people you already know.

Because you know perpetrators of controlling violence.  And you also know victims and survivors.  You.  All of you.  All of us.  No one here does not know a survivor of male pattern violence.  I guarantee it.

I walked passed a church parking lot yesterday and was surprised to see several armored vehicles and few dozen cops (no women) prepping assault gear for something.  No “training exercise” signs, no lights.  Just quiet prep work.  A few of the guys looked downright blissful.  How you can get to the state of bliss prepping for murder is beyond me.  Except for the “Salem Police” labels I could not tell them apart from our imperial military forces.

When we bring masculinity in the discussion, we end up modifying the discussion:  the civil war isn’t possible.  It isn’t coming.  It’s already  here.  It’s unfolding right now.  In our midst.  At the most intimate of levels.

Packs of militarized, heavily-armed men roaming our cities (cops and gangs) and countrysides (militias and military) is only the most recent outgrowth, the cherry on top of the patriarchal sundae, peppered with little sprinkles of public bombings and shootings.  Whether we can stop or even reverse it depends on our ability to confront painful, difficult and terrifying truths about the most intimate aspects of our lives and relationships.


So You Wanna Be a Harp Player?

October 22, 2016

BACKGROUND

From that classic intro lick to the now-iconic and cliched followup, “So you wanna be a harp player?” Scott “Harpo” McCloskey’s “Harpin’ It Easy” taught many of us to suck and blow our way to some semblance of musicality on the harp.  I remember asking the Guy Behind the Counter at my LMS about learning the harp as a preteen.  Without hesitation, he took out the package, ripped it open, threw down the cassette tape and booklet, held up the included plastic “toy” harmonica, and said, “this is crap” then threw it in the waste basket with a clang.  Then he pushed the tape and booklet over to me with a C Marine Band and continued, “But I wish I had this little instruction course when I was learning to play.”  He charged me for the harmonica, which was the more expensive of the two items.  So he basically gave me the tape and booklet for free.

PURPOSE

This package has disappeared from the face of the earth.  But it’s a good tutorial for a beginner or even intermediate harp player to brush up on.  So in the interest of historic preservation, I am providing:

  1. The original booklet, scanned and processed for both print and computer display
  2. Both sides A and B of the cassette, conveniently broken into short subject-oriented tracks

PROCESS

Equipment: I recorded in stereo mp3 at 192kpbs on a small handheld Sony ICD-PX312, played through an old but fantastic handheld Panasonic Stereo Radio Cassette Player RQ-V164, with EQ set to middle on treble, mid and bass, and XBS set to “off” and volume on full.  No additional processing, except renaming the files on the recorder after splitting them into tracks, which is honestly where I sank most of my time and work in this project.

The tape broke on my first attempt to record.  I had to take the cassette apart and reattach the magnetic tape to the mylar tape with tiny little strips of scotch tape. Fortunately, it held up through recording both sides.

I did the scan work on ElementaryOS Luna (based on Ubuntu 14.04) using open source software Simple Scan at 600dpi from lossless copies using GIMP and LibreOffice Draw.

Get it here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BwEbnp8jewZdbm5LczRwQ1I0bTg?usp=sharing

C harp not included.

MORE

If you want your mind blown with the potential of the “diatonic” harmonica, look up Howard Levy (“Bela Fleck and the Flecktones”).  He plays the diatonic harp like a chromatic instrument for all musical styles and idioms.  For great blues and extra instruction, look up Adam Gussow (“Kick and Stomp,” Satan and Adam, and his Youtube channel “Modern Blues Harmonica,” full of helpful information for beginner and intermediate players).  Adam Gussow pays homage to his mentors, such as the great early black players his personal mentor, amazing street musician Nat Riddles.


101816 real deep

October 21, 2016

Alright, so I got this situation
When I take a look at the roots of what we call “civilization”
It’s an indication of a complication with no vindication
So this is me, expressing indignation
Deliberately, exploring intersectionality

No liberal tendencies exist, no cliche
nor laundry list to hide behind
(fellow activists raising fists high above disintegrating pride
like an angel of mercy come less-than-gently to remind:)
uncheck that box beside “peace of mind”
“rough” doesn’t even begin to describe
the road ahead, in look, feel and ride
and underfeet quicksand surrounding
like an ocean rising tide.

No lifeboat, ship sinking by design
drowning elite stay afloat climbing islands in the sea
rising from the bloated bodies of my kind, piled miles high.

At what point exactly do we take the hint,
turn the other cheek, and read the lines between the signs to see
the tentacled beast, ponzi scheme society
expanding, no escape, drag us all down to its dinner plate
one choice in fate determines how we relate:
activate to starve the beast, or roll over and participate.

Beware the offers of silver-tongued sycophantic sloppers to navigate
with guidance given through fear and hate, the choice seems easy:
stay the course, reproduce control of life by force
fractionating solidarity, divide and conquer remains the creed
rob Peter, pay Paul, making enemies of us all
armed to the teeth with stiletto knives
saddle up, stabbing backs, shiving sides, cut real deep
with that lateral animosity, we get by
inside a warzone monster of our making
over ten thousand years ago, taking
its sweet time to grow, optimize and learn its set
…does any of this sound familiar yet?

¿ʇǝʎ ɹɐıןıɯɐɟ punos sıɥʇ ɟo ʎuɐ sǝop˙˙˙