STARTING THE REVOLUTION WITH….GOURMET HOT CHICKEN?

12 08 2018

My attention was attracted by a headline in a recent Nashville Scene:

H*t Chicken Sh**t Addresses Gentrification in North Nashville

The event, which I’m not sure how to pronounce—“Hot Chicken Shoot”? “Hit Chicken Shi..”….well, never mind–was an effort by Nigerian-American gourmet chef Tunde Wey to call together some movers and shakers to not merely discuss gentrification over a “gentrification priced” $55 dinner, but to actually start funding a community land trust that will “allow residents to buy affordable homes while the land is owned by a non-profit in the community.”

I think this is really good news. I’ve been one of those beating the drum for community land trusts as a way to address gentrification  and was happy to see it featured so prominently at the Co-op Nashville conference a few years back. Recently I’ve been wondering what happened to all the positive energy that was generated at that gathering, so it was very sweet to get an answer without even having to go look.

I wish Tunde Wey and his friends every success in this venture. I hope to send some money  their way, and I hope you will, too. But, being a “deep green perspective” kind of guy, I also have some further thoughts about this project, and that’s what I want to share with you.

This story kind of reminds me of the peace activist slogan “”It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” Here in Nashville, we just went through a massive campaign to pass additional taxes for a public transit system that was widely, and correctly, perceived as a tool for further gentrification of the city. “I’ve already got developers calling me about property (along the proposed light rail route)” one advocate of the plan said, on camera.  (Oops!) This plan was defeated, largely by those who realized it was going to gentrify them right out of town. Something that does seem to be going through, on the other hand, is a “major-league soccer stadium” that will undoubtedly raise property values in its neighborhood, which happens to be one of the remaining pockets of affordable housing. The good news is that the soccer stadium plan is structured to listen and respond to input from the surrounding community. The relevant part of this story, however, is that Metro Nashville is issuing $275M in bonds to pay for the project, with the expectation that the stadium will do well enough financially to pay that back.

Read the rest of this entry »





GREEN FUNDAMENTALISM, GREEN REALISM, AND NASHVILLE’S BUDGET

8 07 2018

The Green Party originated in the pro-environment, anti-nuclear power, anti-war movement in Germany in the early 1980’s. That movement, both in Germany and elsewhere in the world, both then and now, has two distinct and somewhat contradictory dynamics.

The first is radically, fundamentally, and uncompromisingly revolutionary. “All these apparently separate problems spring from a common source–corporate capitalism’s determination to monetize–and own–everything. The only way to solve these problems is to end corporate capitalism.”

greens-nudes-300x199

Green “fundis”……

The other “wing” of the Green Party says, “Let’s be realistic. Do we have to wait until after the revolution to shut down this polluter or give people the better life that comes from better wages or stop governments from indulging in military adventures? Reforming the way all these things are done might just be an important step in that revolution in values that we both agree needs to happen. Our revolution won’t be a true success if there are people who feel that they’ve been ‘vanquished’. There’s no point in being confrontational and alienating our fellow human beings who happen to be supporters of corporate domination from acting in what, ultimately, is their own best interest.”

germany-greens-kretschmann-

…and Green “realos”

To that, the fundamentalist Green responds, “If you try to change economic conditions without altering who has the power, those with the power will find a way to snatch back whatever you take from them. Look at what happened in the US in the 30’s. Roosevelt implemented many of the economic demands of the Socialist Party–easier recognition for unions, Social Security, the eight-hour day, a federal public works/employment program, and some other things–but left business in the hands of private owners, who were coerced, not persuaded, into making changes, and who, over the last eighty years, have worked steadily at undoing all those gains. At this point, they’ve all but succeeded. It’s time for a revolution!”

Then the “realist” Green asks, Read the rest of this entry »





DISRUPTION

8 07 2018

prettyswiftThis is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s 2013 book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” Due to this chapter’s length, I am only reading part of it this month. The beginning of the chapter, and the end of this month’s reading, are reproduced below. You can find the whole chapter here.

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

—Jonathan Swift

The world as we know it is built on a story. To be a change agent is, first, to disrupt the existing Story of the World, and second, to tell a new Story of the World so that those entering the space between stories have a place to go. Often, these two functions merge into one, since the actions we take that are part of the telling of a new story are also disruptive to the old.

This is how I see my work, the work of activists, and even on some level the work of artists and healers. Many of the stories I have told in this book exemplify the disruption of the old story: Pancho’s interaction with the policeman, for instance. I will share some more examples soon, but let’s start by considering a class of people that is the source of the greatest despair for many people I know. It is the class of “people who just don’t get it.”……

…..I believe the conversation must go deeper still. What that Nestlé VP did to justify her company, others can do to justify our whole civilization, as long as we grant them certain premises about the nature of life, self, and reality. For example, if we grant the premise that primitive life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” then any doubts about the overall beneficence of technology run into a brick wall. Similarly, if we grant the premise that nature bears no inherent tendency toward organization and that life is just a random collocation of lifeless, generic building blocks bumped around by purposeless forces, then clearly we need have no scruples about seeking to conquer nature and turn it toward human ends. And finally, if we grant the premise that each of us is a discrete, separate self seeking to maximize genetic self-interest, then ultimately there is no arguing over the broad legal and economic parameters of our society, which seek to overcome that wanton nature and channel it toward pro-social ends.

The Nestlé VP’s views are more or less sound within the framework I have described above, the framework of “making life better through technology,” of the progressive conquest of inner and outer nature. Her views will not change until that framework crumbles. They are completely at home within the Story of Ascent.

I have to note that I take issue with what I regard as Eisenstein’s overly generous characterization of climate change deniers, since we now know, much more clearly now than when this book was written, that the big oil companies became aware of the profoundly dangerous consequences of their business back in the 70’s, and chose to hide what they knew and dispute the revelations of others in the interests of short-term profits. Back then, it would have been much easier to change course than it is now, both because so much polluting infrastructure has been built and because we are now running out of time before the changes wrought by our use of oil and coal send the planet’s climate too far out of control for anything but a crash landing.

I suspect that many corporate executives like the one Eisenstein writes about in this chapter may likewise be well aware that the one percent is quite consciously sucking the rest of us, and the planet, dry. Be that as it may, however, they are human beings like us, and if we are going to create, as I said earlier in this show, “a culture that is equitable, ecological, responsible, visionary, and tolerant,” it is going to have to find a way to include these people. That is exactly the issue Eisenstein is addressing here, so tune in next month for the next exciting instalment–or read the book yourself, if you can’t stand to wait.

music: “Pulled Up,” Talking Heads

Am,” Umar Bin Hassan

On the August “Green Hour,” I began reading with this, and concluded with the end of the chapter:

I heard another smart guy one morning on The Diane Rehm Show, an energy industry consultant. One of the topics was the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, intended to transport Albertan tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The consultant made the following point, which I will paraphrase: “Look, if we don’t build the pipeline, the refineries on the Gulf Coast are just going to refine heavy crude from somewhere else, and the tar sands will send their oil to Asia instead of the United States. Stopping the pipeline won’t have any impact on climate change or ecosystem destruction. That oil is going to be extracted and refined anyway, so it might as well be done in a way that brings jobs to the United States.”

Philosophers of ethics would have fun demolishing these arguments, which would apply just as well to selling body parts from the Nazi concentration camps. Whether I sell them or not, the camps are still operating, so I might as well put those body parts to good use, right? The point here, though, isn’t to expose the logical flaws in the justifications for the Keystone XL pipeline or plastic bottles, but to show how the things we take for granted determine our moral choices. In the reality bubble they inhabit, their arguments make perfect sense. If it is indeed an unalterable fact of the universe that the tar sands will be extracted, then it would be vain and counterproductive to disdainfully refuse to engage that fact. If our current petroleum-based civilization is unalterable, then we might commend Nestlé for putting its waste to good use. If we take the growing busyness of people’s lives for granted, then we must welcome the conveniences that make modern life tolerable. Within their operating paradigms, both these smart people are doing good……..

…..

Years later, he says, he still gets emails from those participants, telling him that their lives have never been the same since. “Tell me when you give another seminar,” they say. “I don’t care what the topic is.”

The power of that act of generosity was far beyond the mere economic impact on the working-class janitors. Its power lay in its violation of the laws of reality as the janitors, their supervisor, and the seminar participants had known them. The impossible happened, that day. Experiences like that tell us, “The world doesn’t work the way you thought it did. The realm of the possible is greater than you believed it was.”

Music: “Money” — Pink Floyd

Waiting for a Miracle” –Jerry Garcia Band





LATE BREAKING NEWS

17 06 2018

Three big stories have been in the headlines as I wrote this week’s main blog post. The possibly good news was from the N. Korea summit, where for the moment, at least, one of the world’s ticking time bombs may have been defused. When I first heard this , the cynic in me wondered when Trump will screw this up, or if the Democrats would have to screw it up for him. Since then, the Dems have done all they can to point to this as a dangerous, radical move that conclusively demonstrates that Drumpf is in Putin’s pocket, and that we absolutely must continue our policy of regular practice bombing runs and invasions of North Korea which, the North Koreans have repeatedly stated, is why they feel the need to develop nuclear weapons. What this uproar actually “conclusively demonstrates” is that the Dems and the media are firmly in the pocket of the Neocons and the hawks who want to show the Russians and the Chinese who’s boss, even if they have to vaporize Pyongyang to do it. Could somebody please tell me what threat North Korea poses to the continental United States, beyond the fact that if we nuke them, the fallout will end up here?

The Supreme Court decision allowing Ohio to kick people off the voter rolls if they haven’t showed up for a while and don’t respond to a written inquiry mostly reminds me that it’s important to vote in every election, not just in Presidential years. I think that the more local the election, the more important it is to vote, because we the people have a lot more control over local officials than we do over the big players. Here in NW Nashville,, we have a Metro Council runoff between “a local businessman” and a woman involved with Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, a local social justice organization. No question which one of these two I want representing my interests in Nashville. The “businessman” even boasted about keeping low-income housing OUT of our district. How’s that for “Christian values”?

Speaking of “Christian values,” Jeff Sessions really showed us all how much he lives by his faith when he declared that people fleeing domestic or non-state violence will no longer be considered candidates for asylum in the US. Take “the least of mine” and stick ’em where the sun don’t shine, eh, Jeff?

And, speaking of Christian values and stickin’ ’em where the sun don’t shine, how ’bout if the Egyptian equivalent of ICE had separated Joe and Mary from their Baby when they crossed the Egyptian border? Wonder how baby J’s Real Dad woulda resonded to that? You think the Mosaic plagues were bad? Whohoo! :-)

music: Terry Allen, “Southern  Comfort





PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE OLIGARCH(S) BEHIND THE CURTAIN

17 06 2018

In 2014, a pair of highly respected political scientists at Princeton and Northwestern Universities jointly researched and published a study on the influence of the extremely wealthy in American politics, which confirmed what a great many of us political activists knew in our guts: the United States is an oligarchy, a country whose political process is controlled by, and largely benefits, the wealthiest Americans, be they flesh-and-blood or corporate persons, or whether they are American or Saudi citizens. It was kind of a “duh” moment for most of us. It’s been obvious for decades that corporate capture of our government is fairly, or should I say unfairly, all-encompassing.  It takes money to win elections, and the corporate sector’s ability to accumulate money, and use the power of that money to change the laws and enable them to accumulate even more money and exert even more influence just keeps growing, like the balance on your credit card debt. As I said last month, accumulating money tends to be extremely addictive.

Another way the corporations have sought to consolidate their hold on the country is through ownership of our news media. All those big corporations that advertise on TV? Those ads are like the brand on a cow, telling the world “we own and control this station.”

And then, there’s the “brands” they advertise. Brands of cars, or beer, or whatever, are a little different from brands on cows. The difference is, the cow brand is seared onto the cow, while the product brand is seared into your mind, if you are exposed to it often enough. But I digress….  When the news sources most readily available to the average citizen spout nothing but approval for the corporate agenda even though they may report critically on some of the effects of the corporate agenda, but never question the validity of that agenda, it becomes difficult for those average citizens to imagine that there might be any more equitable alternatives. You know, like what the US says North Korea does to its people.

I discovered an example of concealed corporate propaganda while researching this story. One of the articles that showed up near the top of the list when I did a search on “Princeton oligarchy study” was on Vox, claiming to rebut the Princeton study. I read the Vox story carefully, and noted that it seemed to kind of nibble around the edges of what the Princeton-Northwestern study had claimed, seemed to use its statistics somewhat disingenuously, and it ignored the voluminous real-world evidence that corroborates the Princeton statistical study. I recalled that Vox is part of the same media conglomerate that puts out Daily Kos. This conglomerate, with its many faces, is widely regarded as the voice of the corporate Democratic Party, and one of those “reliable sources” frequently recommended by those who caution us against the kind of “fake news” that does question the validity of corporatism and/or advocate serious alternatives, like cooperative democratic socialism, AKA The Green Party, among others. That Vox should be so eager to rebut the reality of American oligarchy only emphasizes what I have to say in this post. Read the rest of this entry »





STORY

15 06 2018

This is another chapter in our continuing reading of Charles Eisenstein’s 2013 book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can buy or read the whole book here. I hope you will choose to buy it.

 

One day Confucius was walking along with some disciples when they came upon two boys arguing. Confucius asked the boys what the dispute was about. They told him they were arguing about whether the sun was nearer at dawn and farther away at noon, or farther away at dawn and nearer at noon. One of the boys argued that the sun appeared larger at dawn and smaller at noon, so it must be closer at dawn and farther away at noon. The other boy argued that it was cool at dawn and hot at noon, so the sun must be farther away at dawn and closer at noon. Confucius was at a loss to determine which one was correct. The boys jeered at him, “Who said you were so smart?”

This story is from the ancient collection of Taoist allegories known as the Liezi, as rendered by Thomas Cleary in Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook. Cleary explains, “[The story] illustrates the limitations of discursive reasoning, thus hinting indirectly at a more comprehensive mode of consciousness. Presented as a joke at the expense of Confucius, it illustrates how logic can be coherent within the bounds of its own postulates yet be ineffective or inaccurate in a larger context.”

…..

The reason that the defiance of the Shuar moves us isn’t that they are willing to kill for their cause; it is that they are willing to die for it. This is, in pure form, service to something greater than oneself. This is what we must emulate if we are to cocreate the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. It is also a way to transcend the separate self, since to bow into service is to merge with something greater, something whose power to precipitate change extends beyond our understanding of causality. Then, the unexpected, the improbable, the miraculous can happen.

The more firmly we stand in a larger Story of Self, a Story of Interbeing, the more powerful we become in disrupting the old Story of Separation. I think questions of violence and nonviolence, ethics and principles, right and wrong, lead us into a conceptual maze. See, the sun is nearer at noon. No, it is at dawn. Every evil deed and every cowardly inaction that has ever been perpetrated on this earth has been justified by principle—the logic of a story. As we sober up from our long intoxication with the Story of Separation, we have the chance to enter a “more comprehensive mode of consciousness”—the consciousness of story. In it, we ask ourselves, “What story shall I stand in?”

(I was unable to find the music in this video in a form that I could play on the radio show, but the video and music are definitely worth watching. Instead, I played “Hungama Hai Kyun,” by Ghulam Ali. The link goes to a different version of the song than the one I play, but just as good.)





A SECOND AMENDMENT FOR THE STONE AGE

13 05 2018

the original founders of a certain modern arms manufacturing company…..

When you get right down to it, a firearm is, indeed, an extension of the human arm. With the aid of a very small fire–the explosion of the gunpowder in the bullet–it enables a person to throw a very small rock, aka a bullet, much faster and farther than would be possible manually. The result is that a rock so small that it would be unlikely to do any damage if thrown by hand can seriously wound or kill a person, or any other animal that it hits.

The great-great……great granddaddy of the AR-15

I thought it would be interesting to translate current concerns about firearms into equivalent statements about stones. Here’s what I came up with, followed by some commentary.

Remember—The Constitution supports your right to keep, carry, and throw stones!

The best way to stop a bad guy from throwing stones is for good guys to carry stones and be ready to throw them.

School teachers should have a drawer full of stones and know how to throw them, in case some kid starts throwing stones.

Whether you are considered a mass murderer or a war hero depends entirely on the circumstances under which you throw stones.

Don’t let the stone control crowd cut your rocks off!

Remember, your Constitutional right to keep and bear stones is protected by the NRA (Neolithic Rock Association).

The first three statements are similar enough that I’m going to comment on them all together. What would it say about society if some percentage of the people in it only felt safe if they were carrying around a bag of rocks, out of fear that somebody else who was carrying a bag of rocks would just randomly start throwing rocks at them? Read the rest of this entry »








%d bloggers like this: