Category Archives: Social Ecology

How we move forward

My group of local friends share a Slack group. This morning one of them asked:

(What the is the matter with the @$&-“.! Democrats)

No doubt a response to the recent maneuverings in regards to legislation for Covid relief and raising the minimum wage.

Here’s the response I posted and upon posting decided it should be a blog post here.

Oh, I’d say nothing is the matter. They seem to be doing EXACTLY what they always do. There’s absolutely nothing out of the norm with this.

This is who they are. On the whole are just a slightly less fucked up version of the Republicans. Add to that the politics of getting reelected, blah, blah, blah and all the other garbage of this filthy fucked up system and this is exactly what we have had for decades.

While the Trumper folks are unhinged and racist and seeping in conspiracy, the anger and rage and frustration seems to be a fairly common trait amongst much of the population… hence Occupy Wall Street. The 99% – which is why the whole system really does need to be uprooted

All we’ve accomplished is temporary removal of an idiot, arrogant, fascist wannabe dictator.

The dysfunction of the 2 party system is still in place. It will function well enough for the 1% as it has for decades. And that’s all that matters.

I’d guess that the democrats will remain split, progressives and establishment… they’ll fumble around for 2 years then 2 more years. Meanwhile, the republicans will do what they can to suppress the vote in future elections. It’s a clusterfuck that won’t end until the polite liberals of the U.S., step out of their apathy and get a bit angrier, more agitated and more willing to engage. That said, seeing the lunacy of the angry right, I don’t know what an energized liberal population would really look like. How would it, could it, actually engaged with the “other half” of the 99%?

It would seem to me that the way forward, if there is a way, is to chart some new social territory.

Which is to say, the structure has to be rebuilt. And, which is to ask, are the people that would need to work together to do this capable of doing it? Can common ground be found and trust established so that the 99% can figure out a way forward? Personally, trying to not veer into pessimism but to remain honest, and I don’t know what it would take in this current culture for people to begin that move. Is it possible for us to just be neighbors, to view one another as people and step past the labels, emotions, distrust, fear, etc?

Which brings me to the way forward. I’ve spent the past couple weeks dwelling again in thoughts of Social Ecology and Murray Bookchin’s ideas for how humans might organize society more democratically, more rationally. In short, building local, community based democracy as the foundation and working up from there. It would mean turning everything we know about government and economy on it’s head.

So, what’s possible? Is this kind of radical change possible in the U.S.? It’s interesting that we, as a nation, have become so pessimistic about the possibility of change. And yet, we can look elsewhere on the planet and see such examples. Most recently and very inspiring is Rojava. Why would this not be possible here? Of course it would be possible.

Thinking about what is possible or not possible. Somewhere along the way we, as a national culture, fell into a deep rut of pessimism. The idea that we might turn things on their head seems an impossibility! Why, why, we couldn’t do that! We just can’t! Direct, participatory democracy?? No, it’s simply not possible! We collectively seem to have lost (or given up) our ability, our will, to experiment, to problem solve and to really work towards solutions.

Tumbling and Exploring

First, a couple weeks ago I fell down a rabbit hole. It was chance really but the kind of thing that happens when you’re in the right mental mode for it to happen. I visited an Apple oriented forum that I used to frequent but rarely visit these days. Not sure why I decided to pay it a visit but by chance found a thread that led me to a wiki-style information management application, Obsidian, which was just the thing I needed to begin a tumble into a new project. I think I’d already been considering something, I just had not allowed it to condense into anything solid.

So, I tumbled and the cloud began to condense. The idea is to write more, primarily for my own personal wiki. About what? Well, mostly, just a chronicle of sorts. A daily log about life. An exploration of my life lived. Ideas, people, events… life up till now. The idea being to reinforce memories and perhaps rekindle interests of my past. Or at the very least to revisit them.

Tumble, tumble. As I began putting this project into place I began writing which is, of course, the point. Writing and remembering. Writing and reflecting. Writing and exploring. And on and on.

I’m not sure how often my posts there will cross over to here as that’s not really the goal. But I suspect it might happen. Or it might be that a post there will turn into a post for here. But I have to say, it’s been rewarding to spend more time writing. Nothing fancy as nothing that I write ever is. But just taking time to mull things over via the written word. And to make it a daily routine. I’m not sure how long the practice will last.

The first big tumble this first couple of weeks has been a revisit to social ecology. I’ve enjoyed it and am just beginning that re-exploration really. Social ecology is not the sort of thing that is explored casually. Developed by Murray Bookchin over several decades, it’s a broad and deep exploration of human history, specifically the human development from nature into human culture based upon hierarchical social systems of command and control, of domination. Bookchin offered analysis of this historical development, he explored it with great depth and from this he developed the beginnings of a movement for pushing beyond what we have today. I’m not prepared yet to write at great length because this will require more time. I’m starting with a re-read of his foundational work, The Ecology of Freedom which is one of several of his books that I read in the late 1990s while working on my Masters thesis via the Institute for Social Ecology.

So, the past few weeks have been the beginning of delving back into these books and ideas. Not that I ever left them but having them stew in the depths of mind is not the same as active consideration. So, there’s that and for now it’s enough for this post. More soon and more on a regular basis I hope.

We are the power

I've not said much here about recent goings on in the U.S. But like anyone not living in a cave, I've been paying attention. I am aware. I am frustrated. And angry. And sometimes frightened. Several weeks ago many folks were posting on Twitter in support of Elizabeth Warren. And then I saw two tweets:

@danielpunkass: The Senate may be surprised how many previously apolitical people are awakening to the reality of our shameful representatives.

@danielpunkass: I consider myself politically astute, and I'd been relatively tuned out. Now, many who never game a damn are active daily. New democracy.

I responded with:

@dennyhenke: @danielpunkass I would suggest that it is shameful that our citizenry allowed itself to become apolitical. That should NEVER happen in a healthy democracy.

@dennyhenke: @danielpunkass We have this thing we refer to as activists which is an indicator. There shouldn't be “activists” as all citizens should be active.

But then, a little bit later I got on a roll, what do the youngsters call it? A thread. And realized after that really it's the sort of thing I should have posted here. So, I've edited a bit.

I'm not a fan of the 2 party system in the US. I'd love to see it fracture into many. I'd love to see Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders start a new party. Which is to say, begin the break-up of the Democratic Party into several parties. We need stronger progressive politics and the Democrats won't do it as they are beholden to capital just as the Republicans are.

Not that party politics is the answer. We need US citizens to remember they are meant to be in power. All citizens should be “activists”. And it's not just about politics in D.C. or our state gov. It's our counties and cities and neighborhoods. And it's not even just politics but community. Active citizenship should encompass how we live our lives, which is to say, how we meet our physical needs. How we work and purchase. Democracy, if it is meaningful, should encompass economy and community. It's all interwoven like a tapestry. A participatory tapestry.

Politics isn't something owned by a group of predominately white guys in D.C. It is our food supply and our electricity and transportation. We make choices everyday that contribute to our problems. We should stop waiting for solutions to be provided by a broken system. We should be the solution in our communities empowering ourselves with green technology and healthy relationships with our neighbors.

The world is what we make it and for too long we've been silent and complicit. We've waited for solutions to come to us, to be delivered.

So, what does it look like, this community-built life, this tapestry? It looks like every kind of co-op you can imagine. People working together to recycle bikes and teach each other how to repair them. People growing food together in neighborhood gardens. Community resource centers in garages and un-used spaces with shared tool libraries for check-out. Educational workshops for everything. Each one teach one. It's people taking care of one another. It's meals together. It's bartering and sharing. In other words, it's a life with reduced consumption of resources and energy that is better for the planet and very likely better for all of us. It's reducing the role of middle men we call capitalism. It's a reduction of he profit motive in exchange for greater fulfillment and health.