A Curious Course on Conduct and Crapulence

by Andrew Bell

I have finished the requirements for my history degree and this semester I am completing my minor requirements in classics. Because of the mechanics of the minor requirements I am afforded the chance to take some 100-level (freshman) classes. I had steered clear of these classes since returning to school a few years ago but I signed up for two of them this semester. One of them is a giant lecture class on Sparta (500 students). This class has provided me with a very disheartening yet enlightening experience. The professor is using Sparta (in particular Xenophon’s account of their constitution) for the basis of the class. So he broke everyone into groups on day one by last name. The idea is to make the class mirror the agoge (the famed Spartan military training school).

Each group must sit in the same spot every day, each group has a graduate teaching assistant (TA) who is their leader, TAs call random names for attendance from each group, every absence causes the group to lose points, the TAs and elected students patrol the isles and groups get points taken off for bad behavior of any sort, if your name gets called for attendance you must show a photo ID, there is a secret police group of students that reports directly to the professor, and on and on. The carrot dangling in front of you is, of course, your grade, of which a letter is completely at the mercy of your group. Groups can challenge another group and take away points if successful. It is a soft military dictatorship based on soft repression and competition.

The disheartening part is the vigor that all 500 plus students displayed while going along with the class rules. It is kind of like a Stanford Prison Experiment. After a few weeks I wrote the professor an email message to relate my reaction to the class structure. A portion of that message follows:

I find the class structure to be infuriating, dangerous and disheartening. I often find my mind wandering during lecture pondering ways one might “break” the structure. I often think about not giving my id if my name is called for attendance. I find myself wanting to stand up and leave at times or yell something (I have done this twice). I have thought about self exile or trying to start a self exile group, the purpose of which would be to disrupt class or other groups. I find that I do not pay any attention to the material but rather to the structure. I look up and see students patrolling the isles and I try to catch their eye. I find the condescension stemming from the TAs to be unwarranted and unwelcome. All of these things occupy my mind during lecture and it has less to do with me being a troublemaker and more to do with my deeper feelings of disappointment in my fellow students and anger at the ease in which a simple structure has seemingly claimed everyone’s desire for direct action, independent thought and empathy. I have yet to find anyone who is more concerned with how they or others are being treated than their grade. However I also feel you are making a point with the structure and I do see worth in that, but at what cost? The cost for me has been a tenuous grasp of the material in exchange for a plethora of “ponderings” on rigid structures (soft repression, soft military dictatorship, social stigma etc), how they work and how they could be broken or avoided.

The most disheartening aspect by far is to watch young people fall in line. The immediate acquiescence to a higher authority is defeating to independent thought. It provides no incentive for the individual or the group to think outside the lines. The reasons for this acquiescence can only serve to deepen the feeling of despair. One reason is people don’t seem to care … about much. Another reason is people are only concern with their individual grade and anything beyond that seems cursory. Another reason might be that people simply like structure and authority. I cannot seem to find an acceptable reason to go along obeying the class structure yet I continue to go along with it.

Needless to say, I exiled myself from my group at the cost of a letter grade in exchange for completely opting out of the structure (this might sound familiar to many doomers). I have to sit alone in the back of the class now. The whole experience has been surreal. Many people seem to desire structure and have no problem with authority. It is shocking to be in class during the short group debates and hear every group refer to Sparta as a utopia, when Sparta is clearly a society built on slavery and warfare (one account has the slave to Spartan ratio at 7 to 1). Almost every single student has expressed admiration of the Spartan way of life. In fact during a debate on “what aspects of Sparta should be implemented in today’s society” here were some of the group answers (many groups had the same answer and it should be noted that it was a thought experiment posed to the groups):

Government control on what we are allowed to eat.

Public mockery of “out of shape” individuals.

Mandatory military service.

This one is the best: every person should be allowed one free kill, that is to say everyone gets to kill one person with no punishment during their lifetime.

I do not place much importance on the answers themselves but rather the implicit authority required for each to be implemented. Every answer is already assuming a strong authority capable of controlling the masses. The last answer (one free kill) was justified as soft repression; if everyone knew they could be killed if they wronged another than no one would wrong another. In that case the authority is fear of death.

To make matters worse, or better, depending on your worldview, the professor has received much adoration for the syllabus. He is flown around the country to do small versions of this syllabus with businesses in the attempt to create better and more efficient work environments, so I am told. The professor also teaches an Athens class which is run in the same way but structured as a democracy. He has informed me that, without fail, the Sparta class gets better grades and is able to get through more material. The Athens class, so he says, is always incredibly unorganized and undirected.

The performance difference between the two structures will pose something of a problem for many. When stepping back, the Sparta structure gets better and bigger results. However, as many of the readers have probably come to understand, the problem(s) we are facing today have more to do with bigger, better results of human action than undirected or unorganized human behavior. Taking the idea a bit further there is an assumption that coordinated human effort can solve the problems brought about by coordinated human effort.

I feel the need to express that I am quite fond of the professor even if I disagree with some of his views. However the quickness and ease with which the students followed the Spartan structure is cause for alarm. The adoration the professor received for creating the class is cause for alarm. While I do appreciate a unique approach to learning, the cause for alarm has nothing to do with the class itself. The alarm that should be ringing in your head right now is indicating a few overarching human aspects that can easily be nurtured into shortcomings. The how and why, as I see them, are described below:

We have strong desires to follow.

We can easily be led by carrots of our own creation.

We reward competition and discourage co-operation.

Our institutions have many cracks that individuals can slide through gaining undeserved social identities and stigmas.

Above all, this class has added, for me, much more weight to the argument that we are FUBAR. The further you stick your head up your ass the more applause you will receive.

I share this experience with you for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with the class itself. The class did not hold a gun to my head nor a whip at my back. It did, however, provide me the opportunity to practice situationalism.

There are different definitions of situationalism so I need to clarify how I am using the word. Situationalism, crudely, is a revolutionary thought that posits the idea that every situation has an authoritative path and a non-authoritative path. I find situationalism to be helpful when I can remember it and apply it. I applied situationalism to the Sparta class and feel comfortable with the outcome. Moreover, I have piqued interest in some students who did not even know they had the option of self exile. Thus by choosing a non-authoritative path I have illuminated an option that others did not know existed. I am not claiming to be some revolutionary but rather that anyone at any given time has the ability to walk a non-authoritative path and that non-authoritative paths have a way of sparking independence in action and thought.

If we look at the situation of recycling, we can see a chance to practice situationalism. In my town we have two different-colored trash bins, one for waste and one for recycling. Every week both bins are put on the side of the road and the city comes to take the contents away. Recycling in this manner is the authoritative path, one is still handing the situation over to an authority. In order to take the non-authoritative path one would need to find a way to deal with the “trash” without using an authority. This would probably mean composting, which would probably lead to gardening. Having a garden in 2012 is not only logical and healthy but it’s downright revolutionary when viewed through the eyes of situationalism and that should also raise an alarm.

Andrew Bell is a human born prior to the advent of the internet. He has been with wealth and without wealth. He has been married and divorced. He has been in and out of school. He is quite fond of alternative historic narratives. He has always enjoyed music whether listening or playing. He aims to live in a community based on mutual aid and contractual obligation entered and exited by the free will of the individual. Above all he tries to hold a vision of his two nieces living in a better world than that of today.

With considerable help from Jennifer Hartley, McPherson will be speaking throughout Massachusetts and environs approximately 25 November 2012 through 5 December 2012. If you’d like to join the fun, send an email message to Jennifer at hartley_jennifer@yahoo.com.

With help from folks living near North Battleford, Saskatchewan (about 90 minutes’ drive northwest of Saskatoon), McPherson is planning to speak in that area in late January 2012. If you’re interested in hosting me in Saskatchewan or Alberta, please send a message to Christine at lakeannares@gmail.com.

Comments 317

  • Daniel,
    @October 29th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I tend to agree with you about trolling vs COINTELPRO, however, I think the end result related to NBL is the same–a suppression of input and readership, which for me is very discouraging.

    Note that the response to your comment was almost immediate and very hostile. Interesting. If I view this as some kind of game it becomes very interesting indeed Who will side with whom today? Who will be singled out for attack? Do today’s mortal enemies become tomorrow’s allies? It seems not unlike an episode of reality TV.

    No, I take that back. The “interest” was only fleeting. This is exactly why I got rid of my TV.

    Michael Irving

  • Morocco Bama,

    There is enormous distinction, culturally, politically, economically, socially, religiously, between whites and non-whites in America. One place the distinction is painfully obvious is in permaculture. Permaculture is an almost exclusively “white thang”. In the U.S., you can literally count the number of non-white permaculturists on one hand.

    And yes, Jewish-Americans are quite different from white Americans. In some cases, a Jewish-American may be able to pass for white, but that doesn’t mean he IS white.

    As for playing the “Race Card”, the U.S. cut its eye teeth on racism. Which means that everything in the U.S. has a racial component to it. It’s best to recognize it, bring it out in the open and at least try to deal with it, rather than pretending that “all that went away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act”. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I have not read “The Help”. From the brief description at Amazon, it sounds a lot like the movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. Sentimental, in other words. But perhaps I’m wrong. I will see if I can check it out from the library. While we’re on the subject of “Help”, have you read “When Affirmative Action was White”?


    A very good read, and not sentimental.

  • But Daniel falsely accusing me of denying climate change and evolution isn’t “very hostile?” LOL! Kinda weird how that works….

    MI, you’re trying to dance around the issues others have brought up, and my counter-argument to them, because you simply don’t want them discussed.

    You, Michael, are trying to suppress discussion. How’s that working for you?

  • Michael Irving, Daniel, others, I hope you don’t include ME in the category troll, psyops, whatever, because I have been saying the same thing – which is very much what Guy has been saying – on the internet, for the past 15 years, and through other channels for the previous 15 years, and more.

    Whether the people that I regard as trolls on this blog are actually getting paid, or whether they are just satisfying some perverse mental derangement, I do not know, but this isn’t the only forum where this has happened. I think the most effective strategy is just to scroll straight past comments which you know will be a waste of time to read.

  • Ivy Mike : You, Michael, are trying to suppress discussion. How’s that working for you?

    No, he’s not. He’s weary of people wrecking any intelligent conversation here. I don’t see anybody supporting you in your argument re Kathy C. and Daniel. You just keep repeating the same thing. It’s boring.

  • Michael Irving :By the way, did I comment on your grass fed beef comments?

    Yes, BC Nurse Prof, second that. Well researched and interesting.

  • Who says arguments are a popularity contest, ulvfugi? Ya think this is fucking high school?

    Nobody has yet even tried to argue against my observation that Kathy C is conflating a woman’s choice over her reproductive function with child abuse, they just hurl insults.

    If ignorance (in the most literal sense) is popular, then count me in the out-group.

  • Ivy Mike,

    You misunderstand. I don’t think their efforts are pointless or meaningless, even as a hobby. There’s real value in preserving traditional, organic or low-impact methods for growing fruits, veggies and nuts, and raising animals for food in a humane manner that respects their natures. You need to be more broad-minded about what constitutes a hobby. Hobbies aren’t limited to stamp-collecting, or running those little model trains around and around on tracks.

    Nevertheless, these are not revolutionary acts in themselves. Unless and until they become part of a broad-based mass movement dedicated to fundamental change, they just feed right into the Imperial power structure. The Empire thrives on this kind of individualistic, voluntary thing. It helps Imperial apologists deflect attention away from the very real oppressive political structures integral to the Empire’s function.

    Voluntary simplicity, or, living well on very little money, kicks evil people in the nuts and gouges out their eyes…When people in wealthy countries opt out, the action causes major economic damage to the machine.–Kevin Flaherty

    Please. This kind of voluntary, individualist thinking led to the systematic, doorjamb-by doorjamb dismantling, over the past 40 years, of all the political and social structures underpinning the mass movements that secured and ensured basic political, economic and social rights for broad segments of ordinary people living in Western societies. And once they were dismantled, nothing stood in the way of the cooptation of society by the 1%.

    The mass movements now have to be rebuilt again, unfortunately from the ground up. For that we need new thinking. For starters, the thinking of people like George Monbiot and Naomi Klein.

  • Arthur J. : The mass movements now have to be rebuilt again, unfortunately from the ground up. For that we need new thinking. For starters, the thinking of people like George Monbiot and Naomi Klein.

    Much as I like and admire those two, I don’t think it is realistic to expect a new mass movement based on their thinking, in… well, what time period is available ? mass movements of previous periods, like, say, UK Labour took half a century…

    I don’t see it. I think the Spartan model is far more likely. It’s arrived already, really. An elite, based around the military and its corporate ancillary services, which siphon off all available tax revenue, and who receive a multitude of privileges. And the ‘Myceneaens’, the slave caste, who live in destitution and are kept servile by surveillance, random terror, violence, and have to remain subservient if they want to eat.

  • ulvfugl,

    No way we have a Spartan model right now. We’re not even close yet. We have a plutocratic republic, with the acquisition of great wealth its animating principle. The Spartan system had a completely different animating principle. But if you said that a Spartan-like model may appear as a political alternative to plutocratic republicanism in the near future, I would agree.

    As for rebuilding mass movements, well, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It may still be a worthy pursuit, even in the face of possible extinction due to catastrophic climate change. I think we can both agree that individualist, “each one teach one” thinking has been a catastrophe for the Left, on so many levels. There’s an old African-American saying: “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. Individualist thinking is part of the problem. It’s time to turn the page.

  • Arthur J. : No way we have a Spartan model right now. We’re not even close yet.

    Who is ‘we’ ? Where are you drawing your boundary ?

  • If “mass movement” is how you define “revolutionary,” then I accept that what Guy and Kevin are doing (voluntary simplicity + smallholding horticulture) doesn’t meet your criteria of revolutionary.

    Art, in your view, can gardening ever be revolutionary, and if so, how?

  • ulvfugl,

    Sorry for the confusion. By “we”, I mean, specifically, the U.S. Other Western societies, I think, appear to be moving in the direction of plutocracy (“we” in the U.S. are basically already there), whether their formal political structure is constitutional monarchy or democratic republic. But most of those societies still have fairly robust democratic institutions and political/social groups/structures which are capable of blunting the drive towards plutocracy. That is no longer true in the U.S., and 40 years of individualist thinking by the American Left is a big reason why. At the moment, it’s also virtually impossible for a member of the American Left to think outside the individualist box, which makes rebuilding mass movements all that harder.

  • Individualist thinking is part of the problem.

    If so, then why do anthropologists describe in the following identical way how people in Band and Tribal sociopolitical typology lived, before “the problem:”

    “autonomous and sovereign”

    Boehm, Christopher. (1999) Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    “autonomous and sovereign”

    Service, Elman. (1975) Origins of the State and Civilization: The Process of Cultural Evolution. New York, NY: Norton. [excerpt here: NON-STATE AND STATE SOCIETIES

    Furthermore, as Service puts it:

    “Historically, people in non-state societies are relatively autonomous and sovereign. They generate their own subsistence with little or no assistance from outside sources. They bow to no external political leaders. Nor are they routinely exploited by outsiders.”

    I say rather than hierarchical thinking, which is necessarily group thinking, is the whole problem: a few individuals who sit at the top of the hierarchy gain benefit from the bottom of the hierarchy; however, that’s not individualism, it’s the way any sociopolitical typoligy in numbers over Dunbar’s Number organizes itself.

  • ulvfugl,

    IMO, the most eloquent spokesman and spokeswoman for moving the U.S. towards a more Spartan-like society is Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Ironic, perhaps, but there it is.

  • Morocco Bama,

    Polish-Americans and Irish-Americans are indeed white, as a consequence of choices those communities made in how to deploy their political and legal capital in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. They consciously chose to fight tooth-and-nail for the legal right to be declared “white”, in a series of court cases. And they succeeded, broadening the legal definition of “white” from just northwestern European to include themselves. Their version of “the civil rights struggle”, I suppose.

    I agree that everyone living in America, being saturated with consumerism, will be influenced by it. But operationally, the ability of consumerism to provide non-whites with the kind of material “good life” whites have come to expect as a birthright is extremely fragile, to whit:


    In short, the modest increase in wealth achieved by African- and Hispanic-Americans over more than four decades since 1964 was all wiped out in the Great Recession. Asian-Americans lost an equal amount of wealth on a proportional basis (55%), and in the coming double-dip, I think you can count on at least half, if not more, of their remaining net worth to be “pruned back”, so to speak. In terms of net worth, African- and Hispanic-Americans, once again, are on the verge of destitution. Consumerism, like everything else in American, is all tied up with race.

    As far as Barack and Michelle Obama go, obviously their personal political perspectives are more complex than a simple “Sparta’s the bomb!” But his respect and admiration for traditional warrior and military virtues (the supreme value of a life lived based on duty, honor, courage, fortitude), and disdain for “base commerce” and “entrePREYneurs”, is a matter of public record, both in his books and public speeches as President, and Michelle’s sincere and heartfelt concern for the well-being of military families, as well as those who endure great personal sacrifice in service to the poor, is also a matter of public record, in her public remarks and speeches as First Lady. These virtues, which the Obamas admire, most certainly are not those that a plutocrat respects, or even recognizes as virtues. However, they are virtues that a Spartan would immediately recognize as worth having, even from 2,500 years removed.

  • Thanks for explaining the ‘we’, Arthur J.

    So the ‘Myceneaens’ are those outside the imperial boundary, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, Cambodians, Bangla Deshis, etc, etc. living in squalor on a dollar a day, a never-ending supply of human bodies aspiring to be middle class Americans.

    But the new global elite, who own the corporations and the banks, don’t need the nation state ( as established by Treaty of Westphalia ) anymore. Nor do they need a middle class. As I see it, middle class only arose because it was the easiest way to subvert the Left. Buy off the leaders, and the masses, with health care, pensions, etc.

    The Left you’d hope to organise in USA is still in the top 10% globally. The elite can go elsewhere for anyone it needs. So then the US middle class joins the global Myceneaens…

  • A. J. : These virtues, which the Obamas admire, most certainly are not those that a plutocrat respects, or even recognizes as virtues. However, they are virtues that a Spartan would immediately recognize as worth having, even from 2,500 years removed.

    Yes, but the plutocratic elite, just like second or third generation mafia bosses who have got themselves ‘class’ and ‘culture’, still need their enforcement arm. So I see it as an alliance, between the mega-rich, the military/CIA, and the corporations which supply the tools for the jobs. They all interlock.

  • Ivy Mike,

    Gardening can be revolutionary as part of a mass movement dedicated to (1) the break-up of the large, fossil fuel-intensive, corporate landed estates in the U.S. in favor of family-owned farms limited to between 40 and 160 acres in size (small enough to be conveniently managed with a combination of horses or oxen, and people), and (2) the revival of urban agriculture in U.S. towns and cities, with particular attention paid to the revival of agricultural knowledge and skills in the African-, Hispanic-, Asian-, and Jewish-American communities.

  • Incidentally, the Spartan ‘virtues’, of courage, self-discipline and so forth, can probably find wide respect and admiration worldwide, from zen monasteries to Apache warriors. What’s rather less endearing is the death squads to murder the slaves at random, to keep them terrified, which was not unlike the KKK lynchings. Reading the history of Sparta, I was always rather glad that they lost out in the end. But I suppose the USA could always reject the Spartan model and go for the Aztec model, if they really want to emulate and revert to the most cruel and barbaric culture… I grew up under the misapprehension that we were supposed to be going in the opposite direction, seeking the most enlightened culture that we could find….

  • A.J. : Gardening can be revolutionary as part of a mass movement dedicated to…

    What’s the difference between that and permaculture ?

  • Wonder if Brian Williams of NBC News knows about this site. On their extended coverage of Hurricane Sandy this evening, he interviewed Governor Christie on the evening news and asked the governor about plans for rebuilding along the New Jersey shoreline, considering this was the new norm and “Nature Bats Last”. The following segment discussed the likely connection with global warming. Perhaps a wakeup call. For whatever that may be worth.

  • Ivy Mike,

    I think we both know what I mean by “individualist thinking”. It has nothing to do with the thinking of hunter-gatherer bands and tribes. It’s the kind of thinking that each individual person, by virtue of his or her personal choices on how to live their lives, can serve as a “point of light” that can inspire revolutionary change in society, one person at a time. From one point of light to a thousand points of light. The Hundered Monkeys Hypothesis. In the U.S., the Left shifted in earnest to this kind of thinking around 1974, shortly after Watergate. We’ve now had about 40 years to test its veracity against the seductive charms of hyper-consumerism and the ferocious organizational abilities of the modern American Right. The results are in, and as a Millenial might say, “it’s been an epic FAIL!”

    It’s time for new thinking. Perhaps the Millenials can provide some of that. The rest may have to come from the coming non-white majority, now children.

    It’s time to turn the page. In all kinds of ways.

  • Permaculture, in its current form, is not a mass movement. It’s hamstrung by the same individualistic, “each one teach one” philosophy that has neutralized the American Left over the past 40 years. This thinking no doubt explains the fetish permaculturists have for “self-reliance” (“if I just didn’t have to be dependent on anyone for anything, I would be safe”).

    But security is not about self-reliance. Security is about being part of a network. Like a network of modestly-sized, interdependent family farms, or a network of modestly-sized, interdependent cooperatives.

    Permaculture as a vehicle for self-reliance is a quixotic quest which, ultimately, leads to a dead-end. It just feeds into the mythology of the Empire (“be all that you can be!”). But permaculture as a vehicle for mutual dependence, THAT is a path with revolutionary potential.

  • …the ferocious organizational abilities of the modern American Right.

    I don’t think that is the key factor, at all. I think the critical factor is who owns the money machine. So long as the bankers ( who are basically fascist ) control the supply and distribution of money, they will always win.

    All they have to do is to create a recession, and desperate people will beg for some of that paper crap, just so they can stay alive and feed their kids. And the central banks can create an infinite supply of the stuff out of thin air. They’ve been playing that trick for centuries and it never failed yet.

    So any ‘Left’ would have to seize control of money and return it to the people, in some form so that it can never be regained by bankers. Not an easy thing to do….

    But I think this is all dreaming. As is the idea of idyllic family farms ( which I very much favour ) because climate change will set everything in disarray…. faster than anything can be fixed.

  • ulvfugl,

    I should also point out that in the U.S., permaculture is, for all practical purposes, exclusively a “white thang”. To date, permaculturists have shown essentially ZERO interest in reaching out to any of America’s non-white communities. In a country like the U.S., this is the very DEFINITION of a dead-end movement.

  • I thought John Seymour’s Self-Sufficiency was about self-reliance, whereas permaculture has always focussed upon community and networks. I believe it says as much in the Design Manual. That said, examples of permaculture often leave much to be desired, so I do accept the general criticism, to some degree, but my neighbours have been doing it for more than 15 years, in a form which fits both your family farm model and permaculture principles, so there’s a hundredth monkey example to follow….


  • Yeah. Elitist is probably a fair criticism. Most educated middle-class privileged folk. But I don’t think at all racist in UK, very internationalist.

  • ulvfugl,

    Did you know that bankers do not always behave in the way that you describe, even in the U.S? Their behavior depends on how money and banking is both perceived, and therefore, regulated, in society.

  • ulvfugl,

    That is not how permaculture has played out (networks, interdependence) in the U.S., though sometimes those trappings are there.

    And then there’s the whole racial component to it in the U.S. Not particularly surprising, given American history, but still…

  • Art, you’re conflating gardening [Jennifer’s term, which I’ll use below, alternately, horticulture (the scholarly anthropological term,) permaculture (my favorite term to describe my activities)] with common agriculture. Differences are key, as listed:

    1. Relationship with Succession
    Gardening: Promoter
    Agriculture: Catastrophe

    2. Emulation of catastrophe (e.g., tilling, flooding, fire)
    Gardening: Rarely
    Agriculture: Always

    3. Monocropping
    Gardening: Rarely
    Agriculture: Always

    4. Crops
    Gardening: Wide variety of various successional species
    Agriculture: Small variety of early successional species

    5. Role of native plants
    Gardening: Essential to garden health
    Agriculture: DEATH TO WEEDS!

    6. Place in society
    Gardening: Mixed with various forms of foraging
    Agriculture: Sole (or nearly sole) food source

    7. Wilderness
    Gardening: Precious resource; valued hunting grounds
    Agriculture: Wasted cropland; home to vermin

    Source: Jason Godesky, June 2007, Agriculture or Permaculture: Why Words Matter, http://www.rewild.info/anthropik/2007/06/agriculture-or-permaculture-why-words-matter/

    Changing land ownership details with liberal “agrarian reform” (Paine, 1795), while attractive to many to flatten hierarchy and create a more egalitarian society, does nothing to mitigate the historic horrors of agriculture to the biosphere.

    Remember, Jared Diamond called Agriculture The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.

    I agree with Diamond. It’s why I quit doing agriculture, and am still undoing the effects of it, on my own acreage——of which I do hold within your optimally defined ownership limitations, so that could perhaps give you some consolation! :)

    Art, have you ever heard of Geoism (alternatively, Georgism,) a land-reform ideal? I ask just because it sounds in line with your ideas, and I’ve stated the same concerns about agriculture to a few Georgists I know.

  • Yes, banking was once perceived as incredibly dull and boring, done by very cautious individuals frightened of any risk. Then came Milton Friedman and Reagan and Thatcher, CIA, and the strategy to not just destroy the left, but also the Soviet Union, Allend’s Chile, via de-regulation, and thus bankers became spivs, gamblers, fraudsters…

    But there’s documents from early last century, and the century before, that mention strategies to get control over nations. I mean, it’s pretty easy and obvious. We know who controls the money. And it’s not ‘the people’. It’s not surprising that bankers use their power to serve their own interests, especially when they have become trans-national organisations.


  • Yes, well, this is Wales, which has a very different culture to England, and certainly completely different to USA.

    Mollison said at the time that he did the Designer’s Manual, that nobody had ever met anyone who got Seymour’s Self-Sufficiency to work. But he did his experiment in this same locality, so they now have a complementary relationship, or so I understand.


  • ulvfugl,

    Banking needs to be strictly regulated as a profession, like medicine. When it is, its destructive potential is checked. So is its constructive potential, to some extent. But the trade-off for society is worth it over the long-term.

  • A.J. : But the trade-off for society is worth it over the long-term.

    I think that is highly questionable. We could design a currency form, such as Bitcoin or LETS, that dispenses with banks altogether…. but I think this is all utopian fantasy… and anyway, I must sleep. Thanks for the exchange.

  • I know many of us are of two minds, if not more. In any given hour, we might still be holding onto old inspiring ideas from the past, like permaculture, somehow being the road to our caloric nirvana–even though that idea, in all practicality, has always been A Bridge too Far. And where only moments later, we again, reconsider the reality outlined by Guy’s last several essays, and accept that even if we did live in the best of all permacultural worlds, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference at this point. The same goes with banking, politics, housing, transportation, civil infrastructure as well as everything that constitutes our industrialized society. One minute, we’re still imagining the seeds of revolution somehow taking root, as “the worst the better” works it’s dire magic, amidst continued waves of austerity, only to later recall, that the Occupy movement died a spectacular death right out of the gate.
    I believe it was Kunstler who most popularized the phrase “vested interests”, and I have yet to discover a better expression, which describes each of our impediments in coming to terms with what we know to be true, yet still can’t accept. What a strange duality we must bear these days, neither being able to fully let go of the past, nor being able to embrace the future, or even the present for that matter.

  • exclusively “white thang”…permaculturists have shown essentially ZERO interest in reaching

    Whitey ain’t God but we are held responsible for everything that happens like we were.


    …Workshop in Costa Rica for the Spanish-speaking world…John Jeavons was asked to help develop the Pan-African 5-Day GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming Workshop and 4-Day Pan-African Symposium…

    Permaculture teacher Geoff Lawton…300 Year Old Food Forest in Vietnam

    How to Feed the Hungry in Africa (Bill Mollison)

    Urban Roots…the urban farming phenomenon in Detroit

  • ‘Crapulence’…?

    I’m assuming this is not only intended to further the rhyming with the previous words in the title, but a comment on the relative worthiness of the Sparta course.

    Perhaps many here, or at least me, feel people are less willing to be herded and ruled over than otherwise is the case?

    Perhaps Andrew Bell’s experience is indicative of what happens when people get in largish groups(500+) and any process or structure is offered as a fate accomple?
    Or would it be something unique to university life of 2012 that it is all about just jumping through hoops, fulfilling your assessment critria by the due date, with references, regardless of real transformative learning (humanities)?
    At almost fifty I am of the generation that had to look for the references in an actual library to complete essays, and that contrasts to the 1990’s where the subject reader emerged as king – a thick photocopied and bound group of set core readings for tutorials and essay references which was offered by each faculty, costing about $8-$12, per semeester, per subject.
    This was to accomodate overuse of books and monographs that were in short supply given the swelling numbers in 1st and 2nd year courses, and the cost to university library budgets of expanding readings as post 60’s publishing went through the roof. It was also because many readings were coming from outside the mainstream as academics from other traditions brought their own titles to a course, in part with the aim to get big 1st year numbers into a course to get funding fro that faculty.
    Now it is pretty well a demand of students to have everything online or downloadable from a faculty web page, and delivered to the student’s screen device. My 20 y/o daughter in second year humanities cannot submit work in any other form than electronically. If the power is out, or the internet goes down, too bad.
    Having worked in university libraries, as well as using them in the old fashioned way as a student, the reduction in browsing and searching the actual shelves has meant a corresponding reduction in serendipidous finding of related research material, and encountering other relevent material by just wandering and finding.
    Not wanting to seem like an old fogey here, I can’t over emphasise the meaning of finding old books and material, that intimately communicates its content also by the way the book is bound, set out and published. Sometimes this is lost on a microfiched or electronically copied manuscript.
    The mass marketing of first year terminating courses came home to me in the 1990’s when at Sydney University the first year Botany lectures were video projected to a lecture hall screen, to an audience of 400, given by the professor of Anatomy, who had given these lecture series in person for the previous 20 years or so. Here the content had perhaps not changed radically, as opposed to the changes in historical post colonialism treatment, as an example, over the same period.
    Education is now a comodity, and universities are simply businesses, and that means, sadly in my view, a window on open enquiry of what it means to attempt to find the truth of a matter,or at least as many views on it as can be found, and open egalitarian discussion is going to be lost, to the market place economics, like everything else we treasure in public institutions, notwithstanding their support for Empire.
    BTW, some of the strongest protests and critiques of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and Empire, have come from those who walked those halls of learning, and even taught there, E.G. Guy!

    Over to you Guy…

  • I think it is pretty cool that I can watch Robert Sapolsky lecturing at Stanford for free in my living room… amongst so much else…

  • Daniel, What a strange duality we must bear these days, neither being able to fully let go of the past, nor being able to embrace the future, or even the present for that matter.

    Yes. Exactly.

  • The 2013 scramble for food intensifies . . .

    Australian Wheat Exports Plunging Most in Six Years: Commodities

    The deepest slump in Australian wheat shipments in six years will exacerbate the biggest contraction in global exports in a generation after droughts withered crops around the world.

    Sales by Australia, last year’s second-largest supplier, will tumble 31 percent to 17 million metric tons in the 12 months through Sept. 30, based on the median of seven analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The prediction is 1 million tons lower than forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The most widely held option on the Chicago Board of Trade gives holders the right to buy the grain for delivery in December at $10 a bushel, or 15 percent more than now, bourse data show.


  • scramble for food

    Now the preachin’ is over and the lesson’s begun (¯`v´¯) Now the lesson is over and the killin’s begun ♪ ~ЩІレレУ ИԐレЅФИ

    SENSE OF CONGRESS ON NEED FOR RUSSIAN OPENNESS ON THE YAMANTAU MOUNTAIN PROJECT, House of Representatives – June 19, 1997 Congressional Record

    “The only potential use for this site is post-nuclear war.” Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, June 2000

  • http://fairewinds.com/content/fairewinds-podcast
    Update on Oyster Creek Nuclear plant – the one most impacted by Sandy. Looks like we dodged a bullet on this one this time….

  • Superstorm Sandy shows signature of human-induced climate change
    Nathan Currier, senior climate advisor for Public Policy Virginia

    After the second presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley said, “Climate change — I had that question, all you climate change people. We just — you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing, so you knew you kind of wanted to go with the economy.” And the media’s been talking about low information voters?

    Now, along comes Sandy, who says to Candy, “Okay, then, take that!” See, Sandy doesn’t get into debating these things, either. Now, let’s see what Sandy’s bill ends up being — anyone taking bets? — then let’s sit down and talk some economy. In fact, there’s an idea: Maybe a new American pastime could be organized ‘disaster gambling,’ with states collecting revenue as everyone bets on the tab for each new upcoming climate change disaster in their respective states?

    Perhaps some still take issue with the suggestion that a superstorm like this is caused by our human-engendered climate change. But cigarette packages say things like, “cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.” This, of course, is just shorthand, a monumental simplification, because in fact causation in complex systems is always a vastly complicated affair, and tobacco companies spent lots of money blowing smoke in the face of all that complexity: but the likelihood of getting lung disease is so greatly increased by smoking that eventually they gave up and we all agreed to go ‘low-info’ by just saying cigarettes cause fatal lung disease. As I’ll demonstrate, in much the same way, we might as well keep it simple and just say this superstorm is caused by our human-made climate change

    Rest at https://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/

  • Michael “My sentiments exactly. As I’ve noted, it has become more and more difficult to follow NBL as the majority of the comments have little to do with anything other than oneupmanship”

    My sentiments too. I come back from a few days away from the computer and I can barely find any wheat for all the chaff. BC Nurse thanks for posting that link on cointelpro techniques which I will post again if any of the people who care about this site want to bone up on what to watch for – http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-10-28/cointelpro-techniques-dilution-misdirection-and-control-internet-forum the article’s conculsion is:

    Remember these techniques are only effective if the forum participants DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THEM. Once they are aware of these techniques the operation can completely fail, and the forum can become uncontrolled. At this point other avenues must be considered such as initiating a false legal precidence to simply have the forum shut down and taken offline. This is not desirable as it then leaves the enforcement agencies unable to track the percentage of those in the population who always resist attempts for control against them. Many other techniques can be utilized and developed by the individual and as you develop further techniques of infiltration and control it is imperative to share then with HQ.

  • cointelpro=Kathy C!

    You’re the control freak who conflates a woman’s choice of her reproductive function with criminal child abuse — “…the unborn…no choice…get dragged…forced…” — exactly like the other right-wing anti-choice zealots like Todd Akin and Randall Terry.

    So what are they paying you to push that agenda here? Or are you just a dupe doing it for free?

    (see, stupid paranoia is a game the whole family can play, but really, can you address my critique of your position instead of ineptly evading like a coward?)

  • The intellectual cowardice displayed here is astounding.

    I’ve complimented Kathy C on her posts several times, with no thanks or response (which is absolutely fine, but just to set the record straight.)

    Just as soon as I critique a position of hers, she and her friends try to run me off with wingnut conspiracy theories, blatant lies, amateur psychological diagnosis, and other assorted sophomoric chicanery.

    Such is the behavior of a power-hungry control-freak who acts as if she’s lost control of her comment section.

    So it’s no surprise that we’re tangling on a human reproductive issue stance that even ulvfugl identifies as a power thing.

    I just put a little kink in your power trip, Kathy.

    • If you want to bury the hatchet and make amends, and never discuss it again, I’m fine with that. We have plenty on which to agree.

    • If you want to discuss rationally your position that a woman’s choice of her reproductive function is equivalent with criminal child abuse — “…the unborn…no choice…get dragged…forced…” — then let’s discuss it like adults.

    • If you want an flamefest, bring it on. That’s sorta fun in it’s own way too.

    Your choice.

  • “…..the essence of this human-driven tragedy: to know that a given course of action will lead to disaster but to pursue it nevertheless.”

  • Ivy Mike :So it’s no surprise that we’re tangling on a human reproductive issue stance that even ulvfugl identifies as a power thing. I just put a little kink in your power trip, Kathy.

    Just to be clear about that, I wasn’t lending you any support in your dispute with Kathy C., Ivy Mike.

    My comment was intended to be neutral in that regard. I don’t see Kathy C. as having any power comparable with the Pope or the other religious institutions that interfere with people’s sexual conduct. I said as much. I doubt her remarks make any difference at all, considering the billions of people out there, and the suffering they will go through if/when the numbers crash.

    I find your constant insistence upon raising this issue is extremely tedious. I already skip all Morocco Obama comments, I suppose I’ll be skipping yours if this goes on.
    I suppose you’ll accuse me again of limiting discussion here.

  • “A fake fortune teller can be tolerated. But an authentic soothsayer should be shot on sight. Cassandra did not get half the kicking around she deserved.”

    ~Robert Heinlein
    Notebooks of Lazarus Long

  • “I find your constant insistence upon raising this issue is extremely tedious” to be extremely hypocritical. Why don’t you chide Kathy for “tediously” bringing it up – again and again?

  • 2 Refineries, 3 Nuclear Sites, And 6.25 Million Residents Still Dark
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/31/2012 11:18 -0400
    Department Of Energy New York State
    The US Department of Energy has just released their latest storm damage report for Sandy and it does not make for good reading. Over 50% of New Jersey residents remain without electricity and almost 2 million people in New York state alone. Port Reading (Hess) and Linden (Phillips) refineries remain shutdown (about 308,000 barrels per day or 26% capacity offline), and 3 nuclear sites (Salem, Indian Point, and Nine Mile Point) remain offline and many of the others are at dramatically lowered output (only 52% of capacity online!). Not good…
    report at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-31/2-refineries-3-nuclear-sites-and-625-million-residents-still-dark

  • Why don’t you chide Kathy for “tediously” bringing it up – again and again?

    Because it was days ago, and nobody mentioned it since except you.

  • “Nobody mentioned it since except you.”

    That’s a damn lie, ulvfugl.

    While she evades the issue as an intellectual coward, she continues to flame with her bullshit conspiracy theories.

    If you’re honest, chide her on that, ok? Otherwise, you’re being as evasive and intellectually dishonest as her.

  • I don’t think it is ‘bullshit conspiracy’, is it, Ivy Mike. People make inflammatory statements and insult others, which blocks conversation and discussion. It’s completely predictable.

    As G. McPherson takes what some people see as an extreme position, I’d expect this blog to attract people who want to disrupt it.

    But if you think you must, stick to your position. I don’t care. I look at the name at the head, and skip on to the next comment, assuming it’s not worth reading, until I get to someone who has something interesting to say, that’s worth thinking about.

  • Ivy Mike,

    I’m afraid you’re just the latest in a long line to have a row with Kathy C. There were at one time commenters here who had participated on this blog long enough to have noted a pattern of abuse against Kathy C. On the occasion of one such argument by someone called Jaron (I think) a commenter came to Kathy’s defence, making the I think reasonable point that it is always men who get annoyed with Kathy C, because of her forthrightness, perhaps, and that maybe they should maybe consider if their “patriarchy clockwork” hadn’t been set in motion and was the real cause of their irritation.

  • Robert Sapolsky!

  • Very interesting link to Zero Hedge, BC Nurse Prof and Kathy C. Gave me a lot to think about.

    OzMan, I’m a former academic reference librarian, and your words about universities rang really true to me. Yes, so much of it is now about commodification and jumping through hoops, not genuine inquiry. There are still a few holdouts and mavericks but they get mercilessly hounded.

    You wrote the reduction in browsing and searching the actual shelves has meant a corresponding reduction in serendipidous finding of related research material, and encountering other relevent material by just wandering and finding.
    Not wanting to seem like an old fogey here, I can’t over emphasise the meaning of finding old books and material, that intimately communicates its content also by the way the book is bound, set out and published. Sometimes this is lost on a microfiched or electronically copied manuscript.

    If you’re an old fogey, then so am I. I think students are woefully misguided into regurgitating resources that are handed to them, rather than opening their eyes to cross-disciplinary insights. They are almost never encouraged to browse, mull over the connections between what they’re studying, come to new conclusions– they aren’t given the time or the tools to really think, but led to believe that all they need is a diploma and a job. I’m not against electronic media at all, but when I was doing bibliographic instruction sessions in academic libraries, I made a point of highlighting their limitations and encouraging students to explore the full range of materials, in or out of the library, describing concepts such as “gray literature” (which I suppose made it seem more legitimate, having a name), and never downplaying the importance of primary research. Of course, while I presented about these things, most of the students were texting.

  • Martin you are right that it had been suggested that a strong forthright woman who speaks her own mind might be bringing out the men who can’t stand that. But one of the people I had a long row with was Resa, who was sure she was going to run me off crying because she was so tough and I was weak. But I am still here. Seems like she left when I blew a hole in her statements that glaciers were actually growing in the US and not shrinking. She mentioned the NSIDC as supporting her and I posted the link to show that they did just the opposite. She was always downplaying global warming.

  • Hasbara has been disrupting blogs and forums with propaganda from apparently ‘innocent’ commenters for years. I don’t know who else is doing it, but I imagine it would be anybody who is making a great deal of money from the status quo and who sees ‘environmentalists’ as a threat.

    From what little I know, the system is highly automated, bots collect keywords overnight and present the relevant posts on the desk top screens the next day, so that they can be ‘neutralised’ with opposing views, or just by creation of mayhem and discord so that supporters are driven away.


  • her forthrightness LOL!

    Kathy C is being everything BUT forthright.

    She hides. She evades. She snipes with wingnut conspiracy theories. She lies. She proffers idiotic amateur psychological diagnoses.

    But she refuses to defend her position that a woman’s choice of her reproductive function is equivalent with criminal child abuse — “…the unborn…no choice…get dragged…forced…” — which is the identical position of right-wingnut anti-choice zealots.

    I wouldn’t have that kind of “forthright” up my ass if I had room for Texas.

  • Kathy C: I am still [evading].

    Kathy how can you construe a woman’s choice of her reproductive function as equivalent with criminal child abuse“…the unborn…no choice…get dragged…forced…” — which is the identical position of right-wingnut anti-choice zealots.

    Do you have the intellectual honesty to defend you assertion?

  • Don’t mention hasbara, ulvfugl. Ivy Mike might think you mean him! :)

  • With wingnut fundamentalists, you might get get called Satan’s little helper. With other winguts, you might get called a bot, or cointelpro, or whatever they can conjure.

    Same reason: a wall of bullshit to avoid defending their assertions.

    Intellectually dishonest all.

  • Morocco,

    Perhaps you should reread our email exchange. I said that I bullied ulvfugl because he was bullying you, to see if he could take a dose of his own medicine. I didn’t say I don’t like the guy.

  • “conviction of a Fundamentalist”

    I concur.

    “Convictions create convicts.” —Robert Anton Wilson

    Kathy C’s convictions are so strong that, ironically, she’s gone down the same dogmatists path as any other fundamentalist who hold strong convictions in her mistaken notion that A WOMAN’S CHOICE OF HER REPRODUCTIVE FUNCTION is equivalent to criminal child abuse“…the unborn…no choice…get dragged…forced…” — which is the identical conviction of right-wingnut anti-choice zealots.

    But challenging her on this one thing isn’t my only offense.

    I think my main offense is that I’m not a shriveled shell of dour pessimism. I’ve got a plan, I’ve got hope, and even —the hags of hell forbid!— am a fully sexually reproductive, and happy about it, human.

    That is what I speculate they cannot tolerate. I may as well have walked onto the Bob Jones University campus with a couple of hot babes with bikinis in each arm.

    There’s a reason envy is considered one of the seven deadly sins, as Helmut Schoeck explains in his text Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour (Der Neid: Eine Theorie der Gesellschaft), which I have in my personal library.

  • You know, Morocco, before today I’d never considered the possibility that paranoia might spring from vanity.

  • MB – check out Dmitry’s site for my other comments. You didn’t see a comment on that essay because I rarely comment on his blog – like once in 6 months. When I post I rarely read the other comments on his blog and I don’t think I have ever responded to other commentators there or if so it was a long time ago. But damn he is cute….too bad I am a married old hag and he has a wife.

    My dog there are a lot of fragile male egos floating around NBL.

    Meanwhile the world continues to burn, the winter wheat crop in the US is in danger, the wheat crop in Australia is low, 3 nuclear power plants are without outside power which challenges their ability to cool the reactors and fuel pools. Can we talk about that.

    MB OK I am sorry about rules – you win I will agree to anything you say on the matter
    Ivy Mike – OK I am sorry about vasectomies, keep your little tubes intact

    Anyone else I have offended I am sorry and apologize profoundly

    Now how about everyone apologize to everyone else and we have a nice little chat about when we are going to go extinct?

  • Everybody dies. Every species goes extinct. Keep your hands and feet inside the car and enjoy the ride.

    “Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament–it is possible to be both. How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can’t avoid. This permits you to play the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome.”

    ~~Robert Heinlein
    Notebooks of Lazarus Long

  • Did you ever consider that paranoia might be pleasurable, can be delicious, Martin Knight ?

    “I’ll tell you. You’re young, but you’re one of us, and I’m one of us, so I’ll tell you. Everything. Now, say someone’s one of us. . . but he’s also—you know—you can tell, right?”
    “He’s not—one of us,” I said.
    “Right! You can tell! But sometimes—you can’t tell. You think someone’s one of us, but they got to him and then he wasn’t any more—and then we got to him, and he was—but he still has to look like he isn’t, that is, like he only looks like he is! But they get wise to him and—now he isn’t again, but he has to look like he isn’t—or we’ll get wise—and that’s a triple!”

    Memoirs Found in a Bath Tub, Stanislaw Lem.

  • Ivy Mike,

    Whitey ain’t God but we are held responsible for everything that happens like we were.

    Are you familiar with the academic phenomenon “whiteness studies”?


    I’m aware of the urban agriculture movement, a very exciting development. But it remains to be seen whether the engagement of permaculturists with it is merely ephemeral, or the beginning of something more robust.

  • No. I don’t have the ontological security. At least, not more ontological security than can be had from taking care of the basics, such as wearing comfortable underwear.

  • Guy,
    I would think, that on many days, after checking the latest activity on your blog, and reading the spectacular viral idiosyncratic off-topic rants, you must ask yourself, “what’s the fucking point?”.
    Granted, it’s probably foolish to think that you (or anyone) could express the probability of such a catastrophic future scenario, and not spur a microcosm of opposing subjective fetish. However, your intent, time and energy in facilitating this blog, is being greatly undermined by an endless parade of narcissism and playground games of one-upmanship. And given the acerbic tenor of one in particular (who clearly disagrees with the subject of your blog, and very well could be obsessively posting as two people), it is effectively holding your blog hostage, whereby, preventing sincere and genuine dialog from materializing.
    I will assume that for anyone who has put in the time over the years, in intellectually bracing ourselves for the moment when we realize we’ve intractably sealed our fate, that many of us, have long had to suffer through the infuriating circuitous denial of others at every turn. And where now, given we’ve most likely reached that dire climatic moment , we might be looking for something different. We may not know exactly what that might be, but it’s definitely not having to continue to wade through the triviality of those who still refuse to accept the dire implications of the near term impact of a none-linear climatic shift.
    I will also presume that there are, or were, many others, who are very much wanting to commiserate on the myriad of raw emotions that stem from the quasi-acceptance, that we very well could be looking at less than twenty years, before we’re either all extinct, or life simply is no longer worth living. And given that many of us, have probably ostracized ourselves from family and friends as a direct result from our own acceptance, there really aren’t a whole lot of places to turn.
    I think I can probably speak for others, who very much wish to see the threads on this blog, stop descending into such needless displays of unrestrained egotism, which is effectively squelching others sincere input. And whether it’s intended or unintended obfuscation, it is quickly rendering NBL a pointless resource.
    In a ragtag quorum of Anarcho-libertarians, if even the simplest rule of “be good or be gone”, isn’t somehow enforced, then one person, is only going to continue to undermine the reason “we’re” turning to NBL in the first place. I am by no means implying that we’re all going to agree, but the nature and intent of that disagreement, stems from our base acceptance of your blogs basic narrative. If certain contributors fundamentally disagree with this, then they will find ample reason to run amok.
    Yes, at times, it’s difficult to resist the urge of engaging in petty name calling, but I don’t think this is really what most of us–at least those whose lives aren’t spent in front of a computer screen–are really looking for at this point. I’m not going to mention this person by name(s), given it’s very easy to conclude who I’m referring to, given the sheer bounty of his acrimonious input.
    With that said, given the jaw dropping implications of your last several essays, whatever you could do, to steer the locus of NBL back to the contention of the possibility of near term extinction, would be mightily appreciated.

  • Isn’t it a practical matter, as much as a matter of principle, Daniel ?

    Somebody would have to moderate, which is quite a lot of work.

    I’d prefer a forum without moderation, but perhaps a case can be made against agents provocateurs, whose aim and intention is to ‘stop the blog from growing’ as someone said recently.

  • Morocco Bama,

    Take a chill pill, man. This is still a friendly conversation. :)

    If you want to rap Race Logic and the inter-relationship between whites and non-whites wrt to permaculture, gardening, and other matters of revolutionary import, no problem, dude. But it seems to me that you need to come up to speed on the fundamentals:

    “Souls of Black Folk”, by WEB DuBois (esp. “double consciousness”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_consciousness)

    “Black Skin, White Masks” by Frantz Fanon(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frantz_Fanon)

    “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bluest_Eye}

    “The Chickencoop Chinaman” by the playwright Frank Chin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chickencoop_Chinaman}

    and finally,

    “Dreams From My Father, A Story of Race and Inheritance” by Barack Obama (review: http://ejas.revues.org/9232)

  • “whiteness studies”

    I’m aware, and concur with them in many ways.

    However, are you aware that I have 2 German ancestors sold on the slave block in Philadelphia, who fell in love on the Atlantic, and got married after they worked off 7 years of their indenture to a Pennsylvania farmer? I want my reparations for slavery too, for that, and for the wage slavery I’ve done in my life, which is no different than chattel slavery according to Noam Chomsky.

    Myself, I’m not into mass social movements, which you advocate. I’m not against you being involved, and wish you well. But I’m a cantankerous half-Neanderthal savage (from the latin word silva, meaning forest) who lives as “autonomous and sovereign” (Service 1975, Boehm 1999) as I can—like Band and Tribal Non-State folks historically lived—within the hellish bounds of this thing we call agricultural civilization, all without getting shot by the POLIs’ (city-state or civilization’s) POLItical enforcers, the POLI(bread/donuts)-eating POLIce.

    Best way to do that, other than not driving while black, is to avoid “excessive social interaction” which lead to “social pathologies” and to “control space” so as to lead “relatively normal lives,” as John Calhoun observed in his studies on crowded rats.

    ‘Behavioral Sink’: Medical Historian Examines NIMH Experiments in Crowding

  • Daniel: “Anarcho-libertarians, if even the simplest rule of ‘be good or be gone’, isn’t somehow enFORCED…”


    LoLbertarians can NEVER get away from hierarchical authority’s FORCE. They only try to obfuscate their love of FORCE.

    It’s Funny. Every. Day.

    It’s like the Randroids who talk of Rand’s “benevolent rape” in Atlas Shrieked, or this halfwit lawyer:

    “We libertarians do not oppose hierarchy or command or authority…” ~Stephan Kinsella

    LOL! Anyway, keep ’em coming Daniel, ya pissant whiner. The laughs, that is. :)

  • Mayor Bloomberg’s latest press conference (just ending now) had several spirited exchanges on climate change, extreme weather events, and the need to “harden” NYC public infrastructure because of them.

  • Ivy Mike,

    Have you considered spending a few thousand bucks to have your genome sequenced, to confirm what percentage of Neandrathal admixture you might be?

    P.S. Are you a redhead?

  • That 1987 article by Jared Diamond is fantastic. I’ve read almost everything he’s published for the lay audience and I am always impressed. He says the move to agriculture was a terrible mistake in every way, but it was a deliberate response to having


    and most societies chose quantity of food over quality. They chose to increase poor quality food production instead of limiting population growth.

    “… with the advent of agriculture and elite became better off, but most people became worse off.”

    In other works, Diamond has described societies that lived in balance with the amount of food their environment could produce through the practice of infanticide.

    So we’ve made the wrong choice and now we have


    and we’re killing the planet. I don’t mind that all the humans will die. But it’s immoral that we are killing all the other species, as well. Immorality is a human concept and has no meaning outside human discourse, but it’s the only word I can think of for what we’re doing. We’ve passed the point of no return. Yeast in a vat. As someone here said,

    We’re fucked. So how do we live until the end?

    This is the only question now. Most individuals of our species will die without knowing why. Is this good or bad? I don’t know. I have this semester and next semester to teach, and then I’m gone. Out of here. I’m going to sit at home, grow food, and try to (somehow) apologize to every other species on the planet for what we’ve done to them before my time comes. Reminds me of that immortal being in the works of Douglas Adams whose goal it was to insult every living creature in the universe. Alphabetically.

    “Dent? Arthur Dent?”
    “You’re a jerk, Dent.”

    The problem of


    will be solved, but not by us. Turns out we’re too stupid. It will be solved by planetary ecosystems. Gaia. The old hag. Indeed.

  • BC Prof: “Gaia. The old hag.”

    She’s clearly a Medean hag.

    Peter Ward (2009) “The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?” Princeton University Press.

    “Immorality is a human concept and has no meaning outside human discourse”

    I dunno. I’m an animal, a squirrel is an animal. I’m a moral being, they’re a moral being.

    Frans B. M. de Waal (1997) Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. Harvard University Press.

    I’ve got both books on the coffee table to “troll” house guests. Talking of that, I’m heading out to the barn to rather snobbishly roast some more coffee beans.

    At any rate, that was a good essay from Jared, BC.

  • Ivy Mike,

    Regarding Kathy C’s comments on whether or not it is ethical to procreate in the face of near-term extinction, I’m not particularly surprised that such a view would bubble up, under the circumstances. In fact, I expect it to bubble up. Part of what NBL is about is talking about ethics within a extinctionist framework, now that Guy has concluded that it’s “Game Over for the Climate…and Life”.

    This being America, though, everything, even the issue of ethics in the face of extinction, is all tangled up with race. IOW, RESPONSES to near-term extinction will tend to be race-specific. Voluntary sterilization is one such example. To the extent that any women of child-bearing age respond to it, those women will almost exclusively be white.

    Non-whites will, of course, respond to the concept of near-term extinction in their own way. Voluntary sterilization will not be one of them, though.

    “VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION?! No, I don’t need to voluntarily sterilize myself. What YOU need to do is take that crack-pipe out of your mouth!” :)

  • Morocco,

    Well, I suppose I am vain. I like what I see when I look in the mirror and I hope I always will. Just a pity about that painting in the attic.

  • Ivy Mike,

    “Sun of Intellectual Life and Liberty, stand ye still, in masterly Inactivity, that the Nation of Pennsylvania may continue to hold Germans to milk Dairy Cows, until the Day of Judgment.”


  • Morocco Bama,

  • Morocco Bama et al.,

    Y’all need to chill with a tall cold one:


  • Arthur,”ethics in the face of extinction”

    To clarify my point, which is is not broad but rather precise, is the realm of “informed consent” in medical (or extinction) ethics.

    Kathy C is good-hearted in her campaign to inform, that is, to teach people of the risks of giving birth. It’s done all the time in the medical field when parents find out they carry a certain gene. Do you want to risk having a child with that defect? To inform is good, and Kathy C does well to inform.

    My primary contention was the strong legal language (“no choice, forced”) used to describe any parents’ decision to reproduce, eliminating the possibility of any consent in a woman’s reproductive choice. Denying people the ability to consent is to turn informed consent on its head.

    Every single medical professional here should know better, and didn’t support me, but that’s sociopolitical status keeping and groupthink at work, which makes ethics so difficult, not only to implement, but even discuss.

    So that’s my contribution to “extinction ethics.”

    P.S. Art, I haven’t got tested, although I’ve considered it. Any European or Asian has some Neanderthal, guaranteed, so it’s only a matter of percentage, and from the Neanderthal theory webpage referenced above, I meet enough criteria to assume I’d be pretty high. Yeah, I’m used to being beat like a red-headed stepson. ;)

    P.P.S. Neanderthals are extinct. How can that subject contribute to “extinction ethics?”

  • Art: Germans to milk Dairy Cows

    Are you accusing me of being a lactose tolerant English mutant? LOL! I did churn 4 lbs of [lactose free] butter today here in my ‘lectric Amish paradise!

  • To Daniel, BC Nurse Prof and Kathy C-


  • Morocco Bama,

    Not at all. I’m simply saying that non-whites will not respond to the concept of near-term extinction by voluntary sterilization. My comment is descriptive, and predictive, not judgmental.

    Jewish-Americans also will not respond to the concept of near-term extinction by voluntary sterilization.

    As for ethical judgments, it may very well be that a lot of whites will consider such a response by non-whites to be unethical, and condemn them for it. Garrett Hardin certainly would have, that seems clear. I had no idea that his views on race mirrored those expressed by the National Socialist German Workers Party, btw.

  • and then a few days later, I have ol Marty implying I’m a chauvinist because I’ve taken exception with Kathy C

    I didn’t. My comment was directed at Ivy Mike and I was simply relaying what had been said by others before, but that I endorsed the general sentiment. In any case I have not been following the thread properly because I’m busy.

  • Morocco,

    Specifically, what I had in mind was tilting at the criticism levelled by Ivy Mike and other in the past that Kathy C is too proprietorial towards the blog comment section. Unfortunately, my comment did not reflect this sufficiently well. Or not at all, as it happens.

  • Morocco Bama,

    Prejudices abound in every nook and cranny, and what it ells me, is that many people are hateful, spiteful and malicious, and it makes them feel great to paint others as something they’re not in order to gain status and feel superior.

    The minute they see me, fear me
    I’m the epitome, a public enemy
    Used, abused without clues
    I refuse to blow a fuse
    They even had it on the news

    Don’t believe the hype
    Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
    don’t believe the hype–Public Enemy

  • ‘My primary contention was the strong legal language (“no choice, forced”) used to describe any parents’ decision to reproduce, eliminating the possibility of any consent in a woman’s reproductive choice. Denying people the ability to consent is to turn informed consent on its head.’

    mr. mike, are u familiar with my claim that instead of being called homo sapiens our species ought to be called idiot savants? when i read some of your posts (i don’t read all because of both the volume and uneven quality of them), this concept is brought home forcefully. u’re obviously brilliant (which u also love to demonstrate as often as possible, exposing an ego that may be even bigger than your intellect), but then, quite often u’re an idiot too, like u are with this obsession of making kathy out to be a sex fascist wanting to deny reproductive freedom. so u twist and misinterpret her words. when she talks about FORCE and NO CHOICE, she’s referring to the unborn, the unconceived, who have no say in their own conception. she’s not saying that women should be forced or anyone should be forced to not have children. she’s saying that it’s the children who have no choice, who are forced into this surreality at such an inopportune time. she’s displaying empathy for the unborn, for as long as they remain un-conceived, they never have to suffer, never have to experience the nightmare of a dying species struggling to hold on in a dying world.

    it may not be an attempt by agents of the establishment to choke this blog with a lot of crap; it might just be idiot savants being idiot savants. imo there’s still plenty of savant to go with the idiocy, plenty reasons to keep reading and posting here. simply be selective what u read, if u find certain posters here to not be worth the time, disregard their posts. it takes 2 to tango. those who are quick to take and give offense, just ignore ’em if necessary. if one doesn’t respond to provocations to engage in a contest of insults, there isn’t any contest.

    ivy mike, thanks for the recent link to bill hicks. believe it or not, although occasionally exposed to his work in the past, i’d never read up on him before, or taken the time to listen to much of his stuff on utube. didn’t know what i was missin’.

  • The matters of what’s right or wrong (morals), good or bad (ethics) and beautiful or ugly (aesthetics) is framed in the culture specific to the person, place and time. Federal Fugitive Slave Laws in America (criminalising any assistance to runaway slaves) was an example. However, crime is what’s right or wrong under the law, and only in that frame of reference. A crime is not immoral because it is a crime.

    Even what is deemed moral can be made to vary with the era. Massacres of civilian populations in military conflicts were an accepted norm from antiquity and despite the Geneva Conventions and even the 1967 amendments, expedience condones “collateral damage” to this day.

    What is considered child abuse may can vary with the times. In what was referred to as Christendom, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was the standard under medieval mores. Today many European states have laws against spanking.

    Criminalising child abuse cannot exist in a context anteceding children. Nor does an opinion on morals or ethics equate to an advocacy of legislation.

  • instead of being called homo sapiens our species ought to be called idiot savants? – the virgin terry

    Once again, insightful. Compared to non-domesticated animals we have much to most of the ability to function and survive in out original forest and grassland habitats bred out of us for instinctual and excised for the cultural. The excision was ruthless with the advent of hierarchy and authoritarianism because the culture that promoted horizontal interactions and community constrained vertical hierarchical control of society. Yet some rose above the average of what was left of humanity. And among these, some stood out like giraffes in a herd of wildebeest.

    Historical figures sometimes considered autistic.

  • @ Daniel

    I will assume that for anyone who has put in the time over the years, in intellectually bracing ourselves for the moment when we realize we’ve intractably sealed our fate, that many of us, have long had to suffer through the infuriating circuitous denial of others at every turn. And where now, given we’ve most likely reached that dire climatic moment , we might be looking for something different. We may not know exactly what that might be, but it’s definitely not having to continue to wade through the triviality of those who still refuse to accept the dire implications of the near term impact of a none-linear climatic shift.

    I think it is difficult to cope with the dissonance between what we know ( from climate science and elsewhere ) and the direction of mainstream cultures, all around the world. There’s blogs that focus on ‘optimism’ and alternative technology and ‘transition’ and ‘resilience’, permaculture, etc,. I’m not against people doing that stuff, but I think that it’s a delusion to think that it will fix the problems. Like Nicole Foss said ( in the link, I think form BC Nurse Prof ) :

    “…turning around the world’s fossil-fuel-based energy system is a truly gargantuan task. That system now has an annual throughput of more than 7 billion metric tons of hard coal and lignite, about 4 billion metric tons of crude oil, and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. And its infrastructure—coal mines, oil and gas fields, refineries, pipelines, trains, trucks, tankers, filling stations, power plants, transformers, transmission and distribution lines, and hundreds of millions of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil engines—constitutes the costliest and most extensive set of installations, networks, and machines that the world has ever built, one that has taken generations and tens of trillions of dollars to put in place. It is impossible to displace this supersystem in a decade or two—or five, for that matter. Replacing it with an equally extensive and reliable alternative based on renewable energy flows is a task that will require decades of expensive commitment. It is the work of generations of engineers.”


    So there goes our climate and our biosphere and everyone’s future.

    We don’t have decades. If it is hard for some of us here to get our heads around extinction and what that really means, how much harder for business men and engineers and accountants and politicians who never cared about a bird or a fish or a tree in their lives, who’ve devoted all their thoughts to careers and money and families and houses and cars… the shock of coming to terms with the fact that all that they had believed in is garbage, must be equivalent to being told that one has a fatal illness and only weeks to live. I think they will keep denying and pretending it is not true, and so will all their friends, and all the people in the MSM, for a long time yet…

    The insane cultures and ideologies that have squandered and despoiled the Earth are the stories that are in our heads. It’s hard to get them out. I found it was helpful to write down major fragments that troubled me. It’s a sort of psychic re-integration exercise. I also found it was helpful to write down all my peak moments, epiphanies, insights, of my lifetime, as I remembered them over the course of a few weeks, so that they didn’t get lost and forgotten. It’s just a way to be happier and more at peace with one’s deeper self.

  • Robin : Even what is deemed moral can be made to vary with the era.

    We can reflect upon the thousands of humans and wild animals brutally killed for regular public entertainment in ancient Rome, as a strange and immoral practice, but was ‘normal’, for them, at the time.

    And we can reflect upon the humans and animals sacrificed by the Aztecs as barbaric and horrible, but it was ‘normal’ at the time. And yet we are unable to see our own contemporary beliefs and cultures with the same objective eye.

    I mean, we are destroying the only place where we, as biological creatures, can live. And we are doing it as fast as we can. As if our lives depended upon trashing everything as rapidly as possible…

    Somehow, this weird destruction, ecocide, is considered ‘normal’. Which is very, very strange. It’s far more horrible and final than anything the Romans or Aztecs did. And yet most people do not see it. At all.

    I say ‘we’ as a collective representation of the human species, although I know it is not each individual person that is responsible, so much as a small percentage of the global population, and the industrial machine that they control… but whichever way you look at it, to force species which have taken many millions, hundreds of millions, of years to evolve, into extinction, must be immoral. To eliminate whole ethnic groups must be immoral. And to rob our own species, everyone’s children, of a future, must be immoral.

    To stand by and passively let this occur must be immoral.

  • tvt : …simply be selective what u read, if u find certain posters here to not be worth the time, disregard their posts.

    Sometimes I come across old threads on forums that have thousands of comments. If I was to read every single word by everyone, it would take days, weeks. If it’s a topic that interests me, I soon discover who has something valuable to say, and I speed read, noticing the names at the top of the comments and scrolling down, skipping all the dross and crap.

    I do the same here. I doubt that anybody here thinks that Morocco Bama has anything to say that’s worth hearing, about anything. I think he is a confused ignorant idiot. That could be cured with a bit of humility and learning. But he’s proud to be an ignorant idiot. I don’t know of any cure for that. It’s some sort of mental derangement. So I ignore his posts and keep on scrolling. If others think he’s got valuable insights, then good luck to them. I don’t care.

    Ivy Mike seems to think that being Neanderthal-ish and having a girl on each arm has something to do with what Kathy C. was saying about avoiding pregnancy and the suffering that appears to be imminent… I don’t see any connection, doesn’t make any sense to me, so I keep on scrolling…

    Arthur Johnson seems to place hope in a revival of the Left in U.S. politics. I can’s see that as realistic either, I’d say that Dmitry Orlov’s vision of irretrievable collapse seems far more likely…

    And so it goes… keep on scrolling… sorting wheat from chaff…

  • SES : “…..the essence of this human-driven tragedy: to know that a given course of action will lead to disaster but to pursue it nevertheless.”

    Yes. Like WW1. Send 10,000 troops to their deaths, mowed down by machine guns. And then, the next day, send 20,000… and keep on doing it…

    And every year the have a romantic, sentimental, ceremony at the Cenotaph to remember all those killed ‘fighting for their country’… but they never seem to get the insight, that if they stopped meddling in other people’s affairs and stopped starting new wars, they wouldn’t need to mourn the dead and cope with the bereavement…

    But war has become a British habit, over many centuries, part of British culture, as one commentator said once ‘It’s what we do’.

    The bankers and arms suppliers love it, because they make lots of money. The upper command loves it because they can test out new tactics and systems. The aggressive young men love it because they can show how hard they are. The ‘patriots’ love it because they can indulge themselves in romantic nationalistic jingoism and ‘glory’. Politicians love it because it can distract the voters from the embarrassing messes they made. And so it goes…

    And then there’s weirdness like this ‘core text’, used by Joint Services Command and Staff… which talks about ‘soul’ and ‘spirituality’ and ‘Truth’… to people whose job is the effective application of controlled violence and death…