Monday, December 23, 2013

A letter to "Ask a Hutterite"

I have had curiosity about communitarian sects for a long time, because
I admire the commitment to the common good demonstrated by them. Sadly
for the world, individualism abounds and the effect is the systematic
destruction of the planet by enterprises and governments seeking wealth
for the wealthy over health for people, life and the planet. Sadly for
the world, establishment of communities which embrace the communitarian
ethic is difficult beyond utility.

The individualist formula doesn't work for me. I have cognitive
disabilities which makes keeping a job in the extremely competitive
employment marketplace difficult. The result is employment instability
and perpetual insecurity. I am troubled by the idea that, not in the
Hutterite world but mostly otherwise, we are each individually exposed
to the raw vicissitudes of nature. While the fate of an individual is
subject to so much randomness, we are expected to somehow manage without
help. I have Social Security Disability, but the amount paid to me is
contingent on the wages I managed to earn in my tortured, unpredictable
work life, and is in no way sufficient. What if I had not worked at all?
What if I had been so learning disabled that I didn't have any social
security wages? Could that be the actual story of so many homeless
persons? Why is it that it is only those able to power up into the
privileged class through the merits of their own accomplishments, like
ducks who survive the blasts of hunters' shotguns, while others fall
around, who are valued and deserving of a decent life? Does it make
sense to expect every person to be perfectly adapted to the world as it
is? Is there even enough room in the privileged class for everyone?

The irony is that, even as I longed for community, before I began to
feel the insecurities of maturity, I doubted I could give up my
prerogatives as an individual. I wanted the chance that white North
American culture offers to learn, travel, meet strangers, achieve, and
perhaps acquire status. I worried too of being captured in a
dysfunctional communalist experiment. I still want to get a degree and
make my personal contribution to knowledge. Now as I struggle to create
meaning in the latter third of my life, I long for the comfort of a
community, of acceptance and embrace.

I would, in simple terms, like to have a life couched in community. As
an atheist, I am keenly aware of the religious framework which makes
your communities possible. I tend to doubt, in the present rich stew of
individualist powers, and without the discipline imposed by "the word of
God", that such communities can survive. The record of communal
experiments favors this conclusion. What would I and my comrades have to
say to each other if someone were to be tempted to follow an
individualist path? That we have a social contract? That we have
committed to the ideal of a shared fate? That they'll never have friends
again? That other individualists will not trust them? That that
individualist opportunity is worth less than the life with the group?
These appeals to self-interest just don't seem to provide the bulwark
necessary to maintain group boundaries. In the world we live in, with
the opportunities it offers, the boundaries of community must be
entirely internalized, and that may take a religious mind, a zealous
mind, a mind not captured by modern objective critical individualistic

My story is not just my story. The quest for the goods and luxuries
bestowed upon the privileged of the west, which is so common in the
world and pits all against all, suits the super rich just fine, because
that hunger for stuff and status keeps so much of humanity enslaved to
their economic system. The Native Americans had to be removed from the
land because they were too independent. Indigenous people today in North
and South America are being killed and marginalized, because they are
not beholden to the global economy and are uncooperative when the miners
want to dig up their land. Many elsewhere in the world are just trying
to eat. But the vision they have is consumerist. So get on board with
consumerist enslavement, or get killed.

My vulnerability is what they demand when they say "People need to be
motivated to work.". But we are all motivated to work if it means eating
and being housed and having dignity! No, that reason is a lie. The real
purpose of that vulnerability is to keep the poor poor, so the rich can
continue to control the economy and manage it for their own wealth. They
know we cannot all be rich. And they who have will do what ever they
need to to keep what they have, no matter what destitution results for
the others. Individualistic personal gain is a promise which, for most
of us, cannot be kept, and it is by hiding this impossibility that the
super-rich endeavor to control us. Only your communitarian societies
have enough force to succeed against the tide of individualism.

The trenchant question of the coming ecological crisis is whether human
beings are capable of self-restraint. Evidence from psychology,
sociology, anthropology, behavioral economics, and so forth indicates
that we are. But these evidences describe individual behavior. Now the
question is whether humanity has the means to restrain itself
collectively - whether as a group we can manage ourselves as a group.
The rate of destruction of the planet and the impending demands of
impoverished peoples to the privileges of abundant food, cars and air
conditioners would predict that there is too much at stake for too many
people for them to join in the reversal of that destruction through
communal self-restraint. My guess is that some people will survive, and
that many, perhaps most, will not. There will death and destruction
across the planet because humanity could not muster its powers of
self-restraint on the level of group interests.

I have never visited a Hutterite community, nor an Amish nor a Menonite.
I am unnerved by the degree of social control and loss of creativity.
But I admire deeply that you would aspire to a common good. The world
needs what you do. You may be among the survivors of the next great

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Myth of Thanksgiving

I received this "e-card". Be sure to open it in a new tab, and then come back here to read my comments.

If I suppose that this is a colonial-era scene, the family gathering is set against the slaughter of Indians and the expropriation of land. So I live outside of the myth. If I bring myself into this scene, I am the laborer, bedding in the barn, the vagrant still tramping the road looking for a place to live and prosper, I am the slave who brought the grain the previous spring for the farmer to plant.

Do I yearn for such a home? Of course! If the Earth were infinite, growing as we grow, if I could have had ten children and fed them all on the bounteous landscape? Of course! As I live today, I take advantage of unsustainable systems such as gasoline fueled transportation, electricity on demand, and food shipped in to central locations where I harvest my international dinner with minimal labor at minimal expense. Do I wish it were so? Do I wish I could unwind the illogic, the wastefulness, the violence? Yes, of course. What do I really want?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Personal Philosophy, with Emphasis on Employment.

I am not more important, and not less important than anyone else. If I
want to be safe in the world, I must work for the safety of all. I
choose to respect others with the hope that I will be respected. I can
maintain my dignity only where the dignity of others can be maintained. My
prosperity depends upon the health and prosperity of all and the whole
of all, including the Earth.

My well-being depends upon the well-being of the community. The well
being of the Community depends upon the well-being of its members,
including my own. When the community makes the well-being of its members
its highest priority, and we each pursue our private well-being in ways
to support and not hurt the collective well-being or of other
individuals, we have created the most healthy community that is
possible. (The purpose of law is to facilitate the expression of these
truths, but is a sub-optimal mechanism. The most effective and healthy
arrangement is for the values of mutual accountability and mutual
well-being to be internalized in every person and every relationship.)
When the community takes care of its members, the members individually
have a vested interest in the well-being of the community, and
enlightened members will reciprocate with the care of others and the

The workplace is a structured community in which resources and
productivity follow mutually agreed expectations. Its contract specifies
what work needs to be done, and the terms of exchange. When I sign up for a position, in exchange for respect and pay I want to do the best I can for my employer. Performing well the duties assigned to me is how I affirm the relationship I have with my employer. I want my work to satisfy my employer and I am willing to work to improve my work to meet the hopes and expectations of my employer. I will do everything needed and possible to take care of the needs of my employer in exchange for the compensation and dignity afforded to me as the employee.

The work I do has several dimensions: to communicate information between
persons, to assist in the resolution of conflict between persons, and to
guide or foster the development of persons and-or the community. Clearly
from this formulation, I am very focused on people, and their collective
and individual condition. As a technologist (I am a carpenter), the
supervisor becomes the primary person I need to satisfy. As a writer I am
often left to imagine the persons I am interacting with. As a researcher
the audience is usually defined by the supervisor. As a member of a
collective, I frequently interact with the other members and we are able
to discuss and agree on a course of action. The synthesis and
articulation of information, in ways to assist and move other persons,
and the community, is the essential component of my work.

From what I have said, my work can be important on multiple levels. As a
homeless persons outreach worker, the possible value is in the
improvement of individual lives, and the health of the community which
results from that personal improvement. As a policy analyst, the value
could be seen in the possibility of improving other peoples' lives and
the sustainability of the community. As a teacher, the value of my work
would be to help my students understand the world better and enhance
their ability to survive and prosper, and contribute to a healthy
community. As a carpenter the value of my work is in providing a quality
product for the enjoyment of my client or my employer's client.

As a professional in any of the fields I might pursue, accomplishment
for me follows from having a positive impact on other people's lives.
The largest organizing principle of my life is pursuit of a healthy
planet, to benefit everyone and every form of life. I make the
difference I make by facilitating social process, whether this is in the
form of communicating information, leading a meeting, or contributing a
new vision of what is possible. The apex of my art is in synthesis of
ideas, the coherent and evocative expression of those ideas, and the
grounding of those ideas in the ultimate drive of life, health and

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Re: [OCV Core] Re: What's OCV?

On 11/12/2013 8:31 AM, Brian wrote:
> I agree. There are always too many issues for any one group to deal with.
> We try to bring a unique perspective to all these activities, and
> sometimes succeed at that, but a more proactive focus would make it
> all more coherent. What might that look like (given limited energies)?
> I also agree w/ Steve re: OCV's positive role as a community of support for
> what we all try to do individually. I've not been able to make it to >
everything lately, due to many other commitments, but it's important >
to know we're still doing what we do.
> B.

Thanks Brian for commenting on my answer to Sue's question.

I'd like to emphasize that (I feel that) "as a community of support for
what we all try to do individually", our individuality is enhanced by
our community, just as our community is enhanced by our individuality.
It's important to me that I feel less alone in the world because I have
a community in which I can act on my values as much as on my concerns,
that there is this clutch of human beings who remain engaged with each
other as much as with the issues we share, that when I show up I feel
like people are happy to see ME. Our active dialog and the continuing
willingness to show up is really special and important to me. I didn't
have that before Occupy. Before Occupy we could all volunteer for
organizations, but they all had that hierarchy thing going and I felt
like an object, like only the labor part of me was important. Through
Occupy we are able to act, together, as an expression of our values and
of who we are individually.

(I want to multiply the number of Occupys, to conceive and birth them
across Vermont.)

I don't want to separate what we do (our activism) from how we do it
(the culture and community of Occupy). To me they are entwined. I guess
my point is that, if the actions we execute are the extroverted part of
who we are, and the community is the introverted part, it's all part of
one thing and that the inside is as important as the outside. Doing
things the way we do them, the commitment we have to the cultural
values, is as important as the things we do. It is the inside of what we

How can we be more coherent? I would like to avoid the pitfall of
defining ourselves, in specific terms - The wisdom of the original
Occupy still holds. We stand for justice and democracy, for the
participation of all with equal opportunity. We fight the battles that
come to us, or we choose battles and go to them. Here is what I think:

The world is sick and getting sicker fast. The disease is a cancer often
called capitalism, alternately consumerism, materialism, selfishness.
But the defenses of the organism, people seeing what they are doing
wrong and acting to do things better, are activating. In the real world,
we are no longer asking "How long can things keep getting worse?". We
are asking "Can we make things better fast enough?" The tide is turning,
the forces of salvation are rousing from their natal slumber, but they
are stimulated by the crises, which means that the bad must be very bad
before the good will be activated. We may not have enough time. But we
don't know and we must plan, reach out, join our brethren, be strategic,
keep our eyes focused on the long-term goal: Survival.

There are many groups already functioning in the state of Vermont to
promote a sustainable and just society. Why are we not linking up with
them and building solidarity? Attending their meetings and discussing
our mutual goals? Here is my vision: A Vermont that is dedicated to
building the first Steady State economy in the United States. The First
Steady State Republic of Vermont!

Let us devote ourselves to visioning that community of Vermont, and
finding our partners, and engaging with them on how to create the First
Steady State Republic of Vermont, and then do that work. Let us build
the world we would like to see and live in, rather than spend all of our
time resisting the evils of the world we live in. Let us go to the
battle we wish to fight! (decrescendo on "Republic")



Monday, November 11, 2013

Re: [OCV Core] What's OCV?

On 11/11/2013 2:31 PM, Sue Morris wrote:
> Can we clearly define our mission and describe how it applies to Vermont? Can we zero in on a particular aspect of our mission that can inform our activities? In addition to addressing issues that come up, such as supporting Gwen, can we focus our activities in a particular direction? I feel that presently we are meeting a lot, which is fine—I don't mind meetings—but I don't have the sense that we have a particular direction for activities and I would like to do so. Should we focus on workers' rights (low wages, corporate policies, Mcdonald's, WalMart, food stamps, etc.)? Should we focus on increasing Vermont's ability to move toward a truly democratic state? Should we withdraw from the state and form our own truly democratic society? As an umbrella group, we have been a diverse crowd with diverse interests. I believe we no longer have the staffing to be content with our diversity and I would like to see us focus on a particular aspect and make a difference.
> Sue

I would like to argue that Occupy is an assembly of persons with a
culture which is committed to democracy and justice, and which functions
as a community. We are not an organization, and we function as much
through our bonds with each other as by our commitment to change, thus
we are a community. The message or meaning of that assembly continues to
evolve and respond to our shared and private growth. None of which
interferes with choosing a focus. To me, we are living the world we want
to see, demonstrating how egalitarian is done. To me, Our mission is to
challenge power where ever it crops up and where ever it undermines

Brian said something about widening our base. I would like to talk about
giving other people an opportunity to enjoy our community and to be
active with us. I think there are nascent Occupy groups all over
Vermont, and we could be growing them in our bellies and birthing them
into the wild, just by showing up in different towns and giving people a
chance to be part of a community of solidarity.

The fate of OCV since the inception of Occupy is an example of a
necessary process - groups which are too large cannot contain all of the
energy available from all of the members. They will shrink to some most
effective size, a size at which people can see their own contribution
having an impact, which depends on some externalities like the distance
people have to travel to participate. Thus I do not believe we want to
be big, I believe we want to empower people. Help people to see they are
part of a community of solidarity, and that as members they can have an
impact in the world. Thus we help people learn the true meaning of
democracy and help them to reclaim their power in the world. Then, as
our numbers increase, our impact will increase. Because we are working


Friday, November 8, 2013

GMOs and enslavement by Technology

> GMO Food-labeling supporters say fight is moving to statehouses

Initiative 522's defeat in Washington won't stop the fight to require
labeling of genetically engineered foods, proponents say, and even foes
predict more success with legislators than voters.

More than 20 states are expected to consider legislation in 2014 to
require labeling, and some of those bills are likely to pass, said
Scott Faber, executive director of the national group Just Label It!

"Regardless of the outcome in Washington, the long-term trend is
consumers demanding to know more about what's in their food, how food
was made and where food was made — and GE labeling is part and parcel
of that," he said.

But as in California, the "Yes" campaign was heavily outspent.
Opponents, including Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle and other food
companies and agribusinesses, raised a record-setting $22 million —
compared with 8 million donated by labeling supporters.

"When you're outspent 3-to-1 — or 5-to-1 as we were in California — you
cannot win the media war," said Rebecca Spector, West Coast director of
the Center for Food Safety, and a member of the I-522 steering committee.

Matthew wrote:>
I'm disappointed that corporate advertising can turn public opinion on a
popular referendum question like this. It demonstrates that most people
are not savvy media consumers. They don't ask the most basic questions,
"Who is paying for this ad and why? Do they share my interests?" Yet
what do campaigners hope to accomplish with labels? Do we expect voters
to be any more savvy when they shop? There are already extensive food
labeling laws to tell people about calories, cholesterol, fat,
trans-fat, sodium, etc. Yet walk into any major grocery store (or
worse, gas stations and convenience stores where many poor and working
people must shop) and you'll find few healthy options, if any! One of
the myths of capitalism is that we have free choice. It would be much
more accurate to say that people eat what the system feeds them. They
give us lots of brands, but under the packaging it's all the same crap.
So long as we have poverty and food is distributed with markets, lots of
people will eat GMO foods. My concern is less about unforeseen health
effects than what we are doing to the genetic diversity of agricultural
products. The food diversity we have inherited from small farms around
the world makes us rich, but it cannot be easily commodified so
agribusiness is destroying it. GMOs are destroying sustainable
agricultural practices, setting us up for environmental catastrophes and
crashes in food production. The stuff doesn't need to be labeled, it
needs to be banned! ~Matt A.

Steve Marshall wrote:>

The ironic twist in this analysis - which I agree with - is that
advocates of labeling are counting on the ignorance of the American
consumer to substitute for knowledgeable purchasing. Why are the food
giants fighting labeling so hard? because they reason that uninformed
buyers will look at the label and see a warning. We don't need a ban if
people don't buy the food, but what kind of strategy depends upon ignorance?

There may be problematic health effects associated with GMOs. I haven't
seen the science. But what worries me is - like you Matt - the ecology
of technology which is being built and promises to further entrench the
privileges of capital. We need the natural ecology of our planet to be
healed and nurtured, and the diversity of food plants with it.

I was trying to understand how technology interconnects with capital and
wealth accumulation, when it struck me that technology constitutes an
entire new category of economic forces. Until recently, technology was a
form of capital: those who could afford it could produce goods and
services and earn income from ownership. However, with the cost of
technology declining with every new generation of computing power, cost,
and therefore capital, is less of a factor. Much more important will be
what the technology does. For example, 3D printers, DNA analysis, and
livestreaming. What matters more is access to the knowledge of that
technology and how to use it. This is a nascent idea and I wonder what
others think.

In the case of GMOs, the point is that the seed companies don't have
monopoly control relative to each other, but they create a monopoly
class whose interests drive them to construct an entirely new ecology of
technologies. If they can displace the natural ecologies with their own,
they have found a way to tax sunlight. To say it another way, When
farmers can save their seeds, Those seeds are not entirely free, but the
cost is merely that the farmer doesn't get to sell them. When farmers
cannot save their seeds, and must buy from technology companies, the
farmers are paying much more for their seed, and the profit goes to the
owners of the technology. "No", they are saying to the farmers "You
can't use that storehouse of knowledge and energy which is the seed you
have produced. Only ours can be used, and you will pay extra for the
privilege!" Somewhere along the line, such as when the air is too dirty
and everyone is compelled to live in houses with filtered air and can
transit from one place to another only by wearing gas masks, they will
have commodified air.

It isn't true that nothing is free. Sunlight is free. Sunlight is the
source of all of the energy we use and the power which drives the
anti-entropic engine of life. Only water, that ubiquitous solvent, and
the Earth (the substrate on which all life roots) itself, is as
important. And as long as the ecologies of the Earth are operating, the
air is free and many of the services we depend upon are free or cheap.
The cost of water is climbing, but is still fairly cheap.

But we are contemplating technology which can commodify these services
and convert them into wealth diversions. In simple terms, technology
such as GMOs can enslave us. Technology will put a price on all of these
ecological services.

When the American pioneers were fighting off the indians, even the land
seemed free, and to European eyes equality (the opposite of slavery)
between people (those sharing the settler culture) was the natural and
necessary relationship. But the land got filled, and stopped being free.
When land is not free, open to all, we are domesticated, and if we do
not have the power of capital, we learn to live within fences and barns,
we are simply forced into any economic slot that happens to be nearby -
for aboriginal Americans it became genocide - for whites it was
destitution, poverty or, for the lucky, labor, factory work, the
merchant class or the professions. (African Americans began as property,
remained oppressed, so not to belittle their plight, do provide insight
into the complexity but not the nature of this trajectory.) The point is
that what is given to us by the cosmos can be taken away; an ecology of
forces is set upon us as we struggle to live and thrive and to control
and manage our lives, and we are already familiar with the effects of
the first great theft, the theft of place and soil. With technology and
GMOs in particular, we begin the final great theft, that of a great
self-perpetuating engine of life.

What I still wonder is whether the human-managed ecology can in any way
replace nature's. With any comprehension of Earth's ecological
complexity, we would need to think "NO, we are too uttterly inept and
ignorant." More important, I think, is that when we let nature manage
nature, it does not require our attention. No maintenance is required
(just not overburdening it with waste). In every instance where we
insert ourselves into the ecological system (by producing GMO seeds
which allow herbicides to be used, replacing ecological solutions to
pest control) we acquire a new burden which requires the expenditure of
energy and resources to maintain, with all of their consequent effects.
Imagine a technological ecology which is responsible for clean air and
the production of oxygen for the entire planet! Consider the existing
problems of producing enough clean water for all of the people and
creatures of the planet!

This perhaps is the deep ecology definition of unsustainable. The use of
technology and energy to solve problems which nature alone has already
worked out. These solutions - being created and managed by people -
define our relations with each other, and enslave us first, and then
extinguish us.

We won't need to prevent this from happening. It is after all
unsustainable. But if we love life and want to heal the planet, we do
face an epochal struggle.

On 11/8/2013 9:07 AM, Brian Tokar wrote:
> This was a big debate 10 years ago: would labeling spell the end of GMOs? Many of us argued in the negative, saying that it could mainly just solidify a GMO-free niche market, and likely an elite one. We argued for a more holistic movement vs. GMOs, focusing on the core issues, including protecting farmers, both in the global North and South from the increasing dominance of agribusiness -- especially Monsanto and other chemical companies' now virtual monopoly over commercial seed sales.
> We passed 120 town resolutions in New England and demonstrated agst. the biotech industry wherever they had their then-huge annual conventions. Several Calif. counties and some ME towns banned them outright, something our towns were legally prohibited from doing. Because of that, most activists here in VT shifted focus toward the legislature, and after a couple of symbolic victories and a gubernatorial veto, that movement fizzled out, both in VT and nationally.
> So now interest in GMOs is growing again, and those who've taken the initiative (mainly natural food companies and groups funded by them) have chosen to focus on labeling and the right to know. At first, it seemed like they might succeed where we didn't in getting some legal restrictions on the books. But now that the power of corporate lobbying and disinformation to defeat labeling has been clearly demonstrated (to the tune of almost $65 million in just CA and WA), I think we need to think about more holistic strategies again.
> That's my rant for this morning…
> Brian.

Monday, November 4, 2013

diane's blog

Diane, I loved your essay. Thank you for voicing so much that is so
important to Occupiers.


Cultural Value 5: Greed is bad. At the heart of Occupy culture is a
rejection of the worship of wealth. When Occupy talks about CEOs making
billions of dollars, they aren't talking about the need for a new law
that takes away rich people's money and gives it to poor people as some
sort of convenient way to move money around and solve the problem of
poverty. They are talking about morality, that people who make that much
money should be ashamed, that this is a kind of pathological hoarding
behavior and that people who have this problem don't need a new law,
they need an intervention. Real humans care about other humans, feel
empathy and realize we are all in this together.

[Occupiers] are team players. Occupy groups, though they themselves have
little resources, are involved in a lot of activities at the community
level that involve giving things away---free food, free stuff, free
services. This isn't because they think that people shouldn't have to
work for things, it's an educational and spiritual exercise in letting
go of materialism and valuing people over profit. Occupy groups are
working hard to educate people that life is just not all about money.

Go there:

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I think of you and feel of you
an adolescent obsession,
a gleeful retreat,
to something near forgotten.
Lovely woman, make it last so long
it is ne'er ever forgotten again.

What then the hooks what then the snags,
What then the truths of life,
the money the house the friends and not-friends,
the families the sons,
the aging and looming horizon,
the slow numbing of sensation,
the pains and ills,
the plans unfulfilled,
the intentions unwaxed?
Am I so flawed somewhere inside,
you will someday despair of me,
Are we so wrong in the interweaving of wants,
that the day shall come we look at each other and breathe,
"No, this is not what I want"?

Slowly we circle, looking in to each other,
ignoring sub-orbits and calls from afar,
stepping lightly over or even tripping at rocks and roots,
As closer we come, as quicker we spin,
Finally we embrace,
In oneness again.

I'm In Love With You

suppose for a moment there are no words
and we listen with our eyes
suppose for a moment our speech is made of motion
and being is in our skin
would truth be easier to know or more intractable yet?

Did I listen well enough when you leaned into me,
touched my hand and entwined your fingers in mine?
Echoing throughout that touch "I'm in love with you."

Oh Yes
Oh yes.

To what shall I aim,
Of what shall I seek,
to whom shall I devote,
The energy of life,
The gift of my time?

There is fruit grown in richly humused soil,
and fruit grown with chemicals in dirt, not soil not fertile;
There is fruit yielding flavor and nourishing,
and fruit making us poorer by the eating;
which is I to you what we feel?

Come and sleep with me,
secure our bond,
love me in waking,
give to me yourself,
in the morning the giving,
before claims else take you away,
come sleep with me,
give me your love,
make me one with you,
and you with me.

From Her to me

I would love to see you tomorrow; I could meet you sometime after 7.
What time do you want to leave on Sat? I'm meeting a friend in the
early am but free after that.
I'm wild about you.

What She Read In The Personals

Remember this? Today It is removed from the internet.
4/4/2013 7:36 pm

Sun and Rain

So what is life about? Smelling of smoke from a woodfire, shoveling
snow, laughing with friends, washing dishes, seeing the milky way and
chasing yellow jackets. At 57 I'm not looking to have a family (with
children), so I can afford to just live. Well, I can afford the time. So
yea, I have a busy life and I am not unhappy. I like my life.

Some people describe me as intense, but actually I love to laugh. I like
to play, have intense intellectual conversation, go out once in a while,
share books, movies, other interests. I tend to be very in-the-moment,
yet ground myself in shared humanity, which means I value eye-level
sharing. I am a good friend (my friends tell me so). I occasionally
write poetry, like to make things work, have research and writing
interests. I divide humanity into those who care about others and want
the world to be safe for everyone, and those who think someone has got
to be top dog. Sorry, I have an issue with selfishness. Not that I never
am. A taste of my work! Shall I go on? Let me know....

I believe that serendipity is the blood of life, and I will enjoy
talking to and getting to know everyone I meet, I will accept you for
who you are. So relax… No Stress. Have fun. Be yourself.

I am for real. I want new friends who bring humor and gentleness to
their relationships, who bring empathy with strength, have found the
light in the darkness that comes with the hurts in life. If your
aspirations comport with these, please introduce yourself!


4/3/2013 1:12 pm
My dearest

You are to me a stranger, and I to you am a stranger, yet I love you and
you love me. How is this possible? Two souls transiting the physical
plane, living and loving as much as possible, after the nature of being
human, with only this one choice: to be, richly or else poorly; taking
the risk of poverty over wealth; in love, or in loneliness. We are both
solitary lonely souls whose lives are concluding, wishing with profound
sincerity to BE, to be in connection, to be in holdingness, to be, in
each other, holding, loving, feeling, real, true.

I may yet refuse you, I cannot predict myself. But I know this: we are
together on this path which is our fate, not mine, not yours, but ours.
I am so glad to discover another, a woman, whose being complements my
own, a man, in the striving for complete humanity. I love you.

We have so much attending our intercourse. There is bonding and being,
the last, possibly, lusting relationship which reminds us of our human
beingness. (I am in love with you.) There is the bonding of two people
who have hoped for love their entire lives, whose restless wanting has
broken bond after bond (I should speak for myself). Are you the love I
have ever wanted? Am I the love you have craved for these many decades?
I am not 27 and I do not want a woman whose cravings remind me I am not
27. I want you, 52, to love me for who I am, to grow with me to the END!

What if I am not the love you have wanted? Then the temple of being is
burned to the ground and we die not satisfied but despaired. Oh sadness.
Profound sadness. Would I know I am broken if the world proceeds
unaffected? (Yes!) I love you now and if you will love me totally I will
not abandon you. Let us be in love, let us love totally, and forget
totally youthful ambitions of perfect love.

I give you leave to think I am crazy and without substance. In that case
just tell me. But if my being in these words is your being, and you are
in these words, love me now, and my love you need never doubt.

Stephen .


After such a day I am not afraid
but torn between loving you and not
Would that I could give you love uncomplicated by these doubts But
I don't want to be loved half way, Uncertainly,
nor loved in any particular way, just entirely.
Is this just another almost moment, that became not?

I am so flawed if you persist with me
I won't always be so generous,
but what do we join for?
If you love me, if you make love with me,
will I know the secrets you have withheld from me?
Will you know secrets of myself I have yet to tell you?
I am so crazy. I want nothing I want everything.

The Great Pioneer Culture

           Being selfless means tolerating frustration and absence, accepting that time is
           limited, and recognizing that life goes on without us. I don't think these ideas are
           valued in the USA, and I wonder how this could change. [her words]

In the terms of this conversation, I imagine the great pioneer culture, built up over four centuries, having in its possession a great mass of humanity which was formed by that culture and which cannot be separated from that culture. We are the people for whom patience has not been a virtue, for whom immortality seemed possible, for whom absence could be traded for candy or whiskey. Slow grinding poverty is the fate of humanity almost everywhere else, and it is to America that people come to escape - to try to escape - hopelessness. Americans will not accept hopelessness, and the dark side of their determined optimism is their inability accept modest conditions. That is my thought! To install change in the great American Enterprise, to install deference, thoughtfulness, care, empathy, would seem a reversal of that character. Woe is to the world if we cannot be constrained. And retrained.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Links to Perigrinations

More links, to another blog, Peregrinations.

On the connection between government, community, and the police power:

Conversation with a compassionate christian

Sustainability is a moving target, cross posted with Sustainability Awakening

About relationships

The idea (though not the execution) of this blog

Bridge to Blog "Sustainability Awakening"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To Me The Age

(I wish to not entangle the reader with details boring to any but those closest to me, but here is a product of my personal life I think will have broader appeal. Susan and I have been talking and I wrote this in reflection to her.)

I dreamed to change the world to fight the revolution that would move the Earth
to stop global warming save the ecosystems stop injustice
I dreamt from anger and fear, from futility and impotence,
I dreamt to reclaim power for the liverworts and the modest,
I dreamt of an artist's community with studios and shared meals,
I dreamt of a school where humanity could be taught.
And during the day between dreams I asked "Why?" and "How?"
Why and how don't I make a difference and what difference is in reach for me?
Thus I have searched and struggled.

I dream now of a porch with a few comfortable chairs, a table, a lamp, windows and a wood,
    through which to watch the Sun silhouette the lanky leafless forms of nature;
I dream now to consult my love about eggs and toast;
I dream now to look in her eyes with memories of the days we had energy to make love;
I dream now to see my book of poetry published,
    To see the novels I have started finished,
    To have written the essays that would guide future revolutionaries,
    To have thought the thoughts which, and taught the students who, would make the new world,
    To have my house built,
    To have a garden tilled, weeded and harvested.
With sadness I remember I lost my son and his children won't populate my home,
But perhaps, I dream, we can populate the house with the love of friends and their children and their children's children.

With nothing I am alone do I believe I will accomplish this dream.
At its center is love.
And the products of love are the bodies of other minds and hearts.
At its center is another.
Thus I dream of you.


To End Privilege

> On Oct 24, 2013, at 7:25 AM, Margaret wrote:
> What puzzles me is how so-called fiscally conservative Republican presidents (esp.
> Reagan and Bush took so high into debt. 
> On 10/24/2013 9:56 AM, Brian wrote:
> Some argue that the Reagan/GW Bush debts were intentional on 2 levels:  First to bolster the military industrial complex, but also to eventually force the kind of austerity we're seeing now.  The right has long known they couldn't legislate austerity (domestic structural adjustment) openly, so perhaps they deliberately created conditions to make it seem necessary.  I"m not trying to suggest a conspiracy, in the typical sense, but rather that the 2 goals meshed so well that it gave both administrations a sense of license and political cover to bust the budget.
> Brian.

(Then I wrote:)

Such is a sober assessment, with avoidance of delusional thinking so rampant in the conspiracy vein of mind. But the conservatives have been planning and working since the end of world war 2 how to swing our economic system to the right. That the result undermines democracy is part of the point. It isn't coincidence that the Repubs have poured the nations resources into defense and starved the programs that help people, while the Dems have tried to steer the state toward solvency. (Did everyone see the commentary by Chris Hedges "Let's get the class war underway"?) It could have been merely sympathetic emotions guiding the Repubs, but the Conservatives know very well what they are doing. What they did not do was plan every cog slip and gear turn, but they were ready with big picture analysis, narratives and operatives when the opportunities came up. I believe both explanations. I believe the Economic Conservatives have had a single guiding vision - to preserve their wealth - and  the wealth to act - from the very beginning. With the simplicity of their goal and the brilliance of the people they could hire, they used the opportunities presented to them. These are people who understand power and understand how to use it (while the Dems and the left rely on the power of people, who have not understood the game or the stakes), and they have. Very effectively.

There is no smooth continuum of interests between the super rich and the people. There is no middle ground. The Earth, the people, and life, are given care, or we descend into an Armageddon in which the rich hope to live in glass bubbles. This is real. It was told to me by someone who expected to live this way.

The super rich are autistic monsters. They may have the native capacity for empathy, but it is stunted and poisoned. The privilege of privilege must be ended.

Our priorities have tended to come from scarcity. We think "the atmosphere must be saved!"  "People must be fed!" "We can't let nuclear bombs be used!". Our energies have been absorbed by our emotions. End sexism. End racism. Stop rape. Save the creatures which are threatened by extinction. Clean the air. People! All good things, but we are not fighting the battle we are given.

I have faith in the wisdom of the crowd. Given a chance, the people will choose to have fewer children, to consume less, to build ecologically sound food systems, to treat each other well, but we are trapped by the game as defined by the super wealthy. It is wealth and it is mal-distribution that we must fight. With all of our might. We must restore true democracy, in which the wisdom of the crowd is allowed to operate.

When wealth cannot be accumulated, it will be available to maintain the health of the systems we depend upon. It can be used to repair ecosystems, remove carbon from the air, fight the diseases that no antibiotics can kill. When wealth cannot be accumulated, the privileges of health care, education, healthy food, clean water and decent housing will be available to all, and all of the problems we face will decline. Everything will be easier. Health will be possible.

The gears and machines (to borrow the metaphor from the machinations of the super-wealthy) are being built by us and by academics and community organizers. Occupy is right. We are doing some of the right things. We must change the rules of the game. We must build the world we wish to live in.

Stephen Marshall 10/24/2013

I would like to add to this comment made by Rose Lazu:

This makes great sense to me, Brian. Only I would say the weakening of the family's purchasing power (domestic structural adjustment) is intertwined with the militarization of society intentionally. I remember sitting in a military industrial economy course ( a rad professor ) as an undergrad (back in the 80s) and understanding that the military was America's "new" economy.. The US was no longer interested in production of useful items such as it had been when America's families were being shaped by "progress" following WWII. I always figured it was because the US lacked any interest in diplomacy ( as compared with Europe, or other seemingly less war-mongering nations), preferring a military policy like selling the weapons that backed the coups and larger wars that are rampant nowadays. During the 80s one also began to see government efforts to control public funding that benefited the poor. As a poor student I was grateful for the PELL grant in NY (and elsewhere -- I don't know) which gave money to very poor students needing to go to college. Throughout the 80s, 90s efforts were made to undo PELL and now I believe you can only receive one if you sign up for military service. Student loan lenders, similarly, have followed suit by not lending to persons who owe child support or who have committed a crime. Well, if you're poor nowadays it's probable that you have a criminal record (because you stole to eat, or used drugs to help cope), or you may owe child support because you ran out of money or just don't earn enough. And, many programs, in addition, were being slashed that prevent the poor from losing hope or from winding up homeless or in prisons. It's why the prisons and shelters are teeming. Militarization and the destruction of the poorest families was and remains intertwined to my mind. "Austerity" as we know it since the 80s, 90s, and today, is nothing more than what some have called the "new racism" ( an idea holding that racism has become more covert). Actually, racism since Obama has reached some pretty all time highs and it hasn't been very covert and I guess that's why it's called the New Jim Crow." Anyway, the austerity pitch can get racist, like Reagan calling mothers who rely on public assistance "welfare queens." We all know who Reagen was really talking about and they mostly weren't white mothers who found themselves temporarily out of work, but a great number of poor Blacks, Latinos and many others who had not been able to "progress" in part at least because the support that had been there in the 60s and 70s was now missing. Today, because our economy assumes households can adjust or weather any unexpecteds --like John H said at the Cafe--and banks were more stable-- poor people of color figure in crazy numbers in our prisons and in our shelters. And that is exactly where some mean repubs had hoped and planned they would wind up. My two cents--Rose

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review and Reflection


Over a year and a half has passed since my last posting to this blog. It was a time during which the Occupy movement sugared down to its most ardent and determined members, during which the Burlington Occupy dispersed and I affiliated with Central Vermont Occupy, during which I moved to a farm and out again, and to a room in Burlington, during which I began to work as a carpenter; during which a chronic injury brought my pending senescence close to mind; a time during which I have struggled with impotence and depression, and I learned the profound possibilities of love with a woman who could not be mine; during which I rejected Susan Bourne with finality, and came to question that choice; during which I have attended seminars and a class at UVM, and began my application to UVM for a master's degree. I have attended my therapy with regularity, and acquired discipline I had forgotten since I went on disability. It is a time during which I have learned how dependent I am on other people, and how much I want to not live alone.

In some few words, it has been a tumultuous, busy, productive, existentially stressful year. I have continued to write but fell out of the habit of putting that writing here. There is much I would like to share and if I do, if you care, you will need to sort the chronology for yourself. 

Here is my response to an article I read today. The context is the showdown in Congress over the budget and the debt ceiling. First the article, then my response:

Review of The white man's last tantrum  by Robert Parry

The Author Robert Parry offered the first cogent analysis that explains the desperation of the Republican Party that I have heard from the media. Kudos.

That said, he neglected to integrate the explanation offered by some commenters and the explanation I have been giving to my friends, that the real driver is the incompatibility of wealth and democracy. ("Mittens Romney", Maria OConnor & Chromex). Democracy is a system for the distribution of power. With the franchise legally almost universal, the principle of "One person, One vote" is by definition contrary to the ideology which asserts that the rich deserve to get richer while the poor do the work.

I think the Robert Parry article explains much of the mass movement on the ground, how it is possible for wealthy oligops to convince poor white guys that they are on the same team, but it does not integrate the radical anti-social message from the right that the right to be wealthy must be preserved, and that many middle and lower-class folks - of all races - want to believe: That they can climb out of poverty and become comfortable in America, not from luck but by working and playing by the rules. HA!

The conflict in Congress is first Colosseum scale class contest we have seen, riding a dragon of racism with some ideologies of individuality and state's rights thrown in for costume effect. No more waiting for the revolution to begin. But the question remains: Can we make the pain worthwhile?