Volatility

December 25, 2009

Holiday Wish

 

“The only way to save Highland Park is to pave the way for subsistence farming”.
 
So declared a Detroit pastor contemplating the destruction of his city, and of all America’s manufacturing cities. These places seem broken and forsaken beyond redemption. Gutted vehicles and houses, deserted blocks covered with weeds and piles of gravel signifying infill where basements used to be, the remaining houses and buildings boarded up, or sporting endless broken windows.
 
The very graffiti cries out for help, as the wasted landscape testifies to a wasted soulscape, the abandoned and starved hopes of the people left to forage among broken promises and the vaguely understood intimations of monumental crimes.
 
A place like Detroit is a leading indicator, as they call it in biology. Globalization’s scorched earth has been coming home for some times now. The consumer could ignore it while it was only ravaging the manufacturing communities and while they could still gorge at the bubble trough. The middle classes had the sugar plums of asset inflation and the hype of the “information economy” dancing in their heads.
 
But since there is no economy but the real economy, since there is nothing but real work, and since in the end the world’s supply of slaves is finite, so globalization’s slave wave must engulf the homeland as well.
 
Today how many people must look under their Christmas trees and see not the labor of Mexico, China, Sri Lanka, but the emptiness signifying how their own labor reposes under the trees of the banksters, and of corporate executives, and corrupt politicians, and the rich of China as well?
 
Subsistence wage labor, like oil, is finite, and just as the Global War on Terror seeks to prop up the oil supply for as long as possible, so America’s domestic campaign against the position of the worker seeks to prop up the extraction economy for the benefit of the rich.
 
Middle class Americans have long been among the cosseted passengers, but on a sinking galley there’s simply not enough room for them anymore. They must join the slave rowers if there’s to be any hope to keep the heads of the rich passengers and all their luxury cargo above water.
 
American cities like Detroit are the future for almost all Americans.
 
 
Beyond the nightmare, what redemption can there be? And what can we start doing right now?
 
Can the abandoned land be reclaimed for farming and husbandry?
 
There’s the obvious political and legal obstacles, as the system will try to resist bottom-up claims of authority over large tracts of land. But the system has abdicated. If we’re to save ourselves, we mustn’t worry about the niceties and forms that were set up to enable fraud, larceny, and disavowal of responsibility.
 
I wonder what it would take to get organized on the level of moving into economically condemned, abandoned neighborhoods as organized squatters.
 
People who are economically beleaguered, tent city people, unemployed, but who are ready and able to work hard to build a community.
 
How to:
 
1. Get people in contact with one another, how to assure one another that they’re all willing to work hard and treat it as a community project.
 
2. Form liaisons with groups already in place in the community; how to coordinate farming and crafts education for locals and newcomers.
 
3. Organize restoration of the houses, gardening, an assertive neighborhood watch.
 
4. Legal services vs. possible political and absentee vulture resistance.
 
5. And also affirmative negotiation and publicity: with the city, with police, with the alleged nominal “owners”, where these even exist at all. The pitch: it’s a blighted neighborhood. A vacuum for crime. Property values moribund anyway. So how about instead of trying to run people off, legalize everything through long-term rent-to-own status. They’ll get zero otherwise. (And always the goal would have to be to prevent their running people off once the improvements had been made and the price might be higher, the way landlords normally like to do.)
 
There’s still the issue of soil contamination. There’s conflicting reports on how bad the soil of most of the city might be. The heavy industry was mostly concentrated in the southwestern part of the city, but particulate fallout could be more extensive. Here’s some links on the study of urban soil.
 
It may be necessary to start out with raised beds for food production (in which case procuring the soil is another challenge) while other kinds of plants, especially good at sucking out contaminants, are grown in the poisoned soil, to purify it.
 
What kind of long term, post-oil physical future does Detroit face? The city’s location, on a river between two Great Lakes, remains logical for any level of commerce. More broadly, the vicinity has lots of land redeemable for farming and foraging.
 
Needless to say, none of this could ever sustain any kind of “growth” economy. But of course America, or the globe, cannot sustain growth either. So one way or another we are going to have a steady-state economy.
 
As for the broader social and legal philosophy here, here again we have anarchy where the law has abdicated. The “authorities” have abdicated and have no legitimacy. So we need a legal transcendence. Power always lies with the people, and here by default it returns to the people.
 
This shall be the renewal of the American pioneer spirit. All the challenges: weather, soil, “Indians” (people who want to resist America’s rebirth) as well, are all part of the state of the new nature, the temporary anarchy, the conscious will to go beyond the old collapsing system and stick together venturing toward the new environment. That’s the mindset, the sense of challenge.
We shall reinvigorate the law by forming a new law through constructive action on the ground.
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7 Comments

  1. “Globalization’s scorched earth has been coming home for some times now. The consumer could ignore it while it was only ravaging the manufacturing communities and while they could still gorge at the bubble trough. The middle classes had the sugar plums of asset inflation and the hype of the “information economy” dancing in their heads.”

    Man, Russ… I learn so much from you. Great stuff. And this,

    “This shall be the renewal of the American pioneer spirit. All the challenges: weather, soil, “Indians” (people who want to resist America’s rebirth) as well, are all part of the state of the new nature, the temporary anarchy, the conscious will to go beyond the old collapsing system and stick together venturing toward the new environment. That’s the mindset, the sense of challenge.
    We shall reinvigorate the law by forming a new law through constructive action on the ground.”

    Beautiful. And now I know a bit more about “steady-state economy” too. Very interesting.

    Of all your blogs here, what are some you would say I just have to read? Also, which one is your all-time favorite? Eventually, I’ll get to them all, but I’d like your view on faves and recommendations.

    Comment by Bloodgroove — April 14, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

  2. Wow, I’m flattered. Thank you.

    I haven’t really thought of a particular all-time favorite.

    This was the first piece where I laid out my basic prognosis for what I called “resource fascism”. I think it still holds up as a good start, though I’ve refined the idea since then.

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/resource-fascism/

    Offhand (and also because I have the links conveniently pastable 🙂 ), I do think I did a decent job on my strategic defaults series

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/analysis-of-strategic-defaults-1-of-5/

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/analysis-of-strategic-defaults-2-of-5/

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/analysis-of-strategic-defaults-3-of-5/

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/analysis-of-strategic-defaults-4-of-5/

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/analysis-of-strategic-defaults-conclusion/

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/more-on-strategic-defaults/

    And here’s a basic description of my view on top-down illegitimacy and bottom-up prerogatives.

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/the-pious-lie/

    Comment by Russ — April 15, 2010 @ 3:10 am

  3. Russ, I mean what I say, and if it comes out wrong or weird, it’s just me fumbling around with my heart on my sleeve. I’m real though, and I’m after truth and when I sense someone is a truth-teller, then I immediately desire friendship with that person.

    Thanks very much for the links. I shall get to them as time permits.

    Comment by Bloodgroove — April 15, 2010 @ 5:33 am

  4. Cool. It’d be great if all seekers of truth became friends.

    Comment by Russ — April 15, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    • Russ, are you just totally against e-mail at this point? If so, I sure do understand and won’t take it personally. There’s a lot I’d like to ask you that I’d rather ask privately. My real, honest-to-goodness e-mail is attached to this message [where it asks for “E-mail (will not be published) (required).”]

      Comment by Bloodgroove — April 15, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

      • I just tried sending you an e-mail at that address and it was returned as undeliverable.

        Comment by Russ — April 16, 2010 @ 4:51 am

  5. That’s odd. I just double-checked. It is correct. I get notified of all your posts and comment replies at that address, and that is working fine. How odd.

    Comment by Bloodgroove — April 16, 2010 @ 5:31 am


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