October 22, 2010

Jubilate! Mortgages and Property


The Street Enters the House - Umberto Boccioni

The implications of the Land Scandal keep rippling out to ever more distant shores of political possibility. By now it has sunk into the public consciousness: Your alleged bank may not have the note on your mortgage. It may only be posing as the real owner of your house. It may have no legal right, even according to its own bank-friendly laws, to foreclose if you stop paying the mortgage. Show Me the Note!
People understand that the reason they’re losing their homes is not because of any moral failing on their own part, but because the banks have systematically destroyed America’s jobs through their program of forced globalization, outsourcing, offshoring, downsizing, and consolidation. The main goal of all of these, other than direct looting on the part of banksters, was to destroy all decent American jobs. At the same time the banks undermined the economy and all social protections to the point that losing one’s job or having a medical emergency is likely to trigger a personal mortgage crisis. (As is often pointed out, only in the banksters’ America does losing one’s job mean losing one’s health insurance. This system of a double-hit was intentionally set up by the corporatists as a form of socioeconomic terrorism. It’s meant to quash dissent among the work force.)
The people understand that the same banks who presided over the massive bubble propaganda then willfully burst that bubble, dumping overboard and underwater many of the housedebtors they induced into extravagant mortgages they can now no longer afford, on houses worth far less than they borrowed. These bloated loans were all predatory loans. The bubble was a fabrication, the bloated housing prices were a fabrication, the loans and municipal taxes and bonding based upon them were fabrications. Every lender and every government was guilty of massive, willful fraud. Now that the bubble has burst, prices are seeking their real economic level. So by definition anyone who’s underwater is the victim of lending fraud.
The fraud extended to the federal government. The only priorities of both kleptocratic parties are to reflate the bubble, prop up the zombie banks, and help them continue looting. This has forced the government into all sorts of policy contortions, trying to navigate the contradictions of a situation where everyone wants to keep prices up but also wants to foreclose, which would bring more housing stock onto the already grossly oversupplied market. (And we’re learning about the conflicts of interest between the servicers, who have an incentive to foreclose, and the MBS investors who do not, since the phony “value” of their toxic assets depends upon extending and pretending with everything including the mortgages.)
Facing these paradoxes, the administration launched its HAMP scam. The goal was to lie to distressed housedebtors, telling them if they keep paying for the time being they’ll get a permanent mod. In reality Obama never intended to give anyone mods, but only to string people along, forestalling any ideas they were having about walking away, inducing a few more payments out of them, before the servicer lowered the boom once and for all.
If there were ever any doubt about this, the fact that Obama, as per his normal corporatist procedure, put the servicers themselves in charge of the mod application process, in direct contradiction of their own interest, should dispel it. That proved right from the start what the real plan was.
The people are learning how the banks, in their rush to securitize these fraudulent loans, separated the note from the lien and didn’t convey title along the Rube Goldberg chain of sponsors and depositors and trustees, thereby rendering the trusts themselves illegal, the MBS as nothing but unsecured loans now of zero value (so the banks we already knew were insolvent are now known to be in far worse shape than previously thought), the liens as phony “liens” that are also fraudulently referring to unsecured loans, and the houses themselves in legal limbo.
We know how once people started to wise up the banks simply set up Taylorist conveyor belts to churn out fraudulent affidavits. When judges started getting suspicious of all these lost-note affidavits, the fraud progressed to actual fabrication of documents. One company presented a price list.
We know that the banks are worthless, useless, criminal, parasitic, insolvent, obnoxious, and stupid. We know they have no right to exist at all, that every cent they’ve stolen (including the “bonuses”) has to be taken back in restitution, and that what’s supposed to be our government is really an illegitimate rogue kleptocracy which has committed itself not only to refusing to put a stop to the crimes of the banksters, but to helping them continue these crimes. The core policy of Bailout America is to steal taxpayer money and hand it over to the banks, in order to prop up their insolvency and enable them to continue gambling and looting. This is the essence of what this government does, and all other policy is defined by it.
We the people know all this, and when it comes literally to our homes we’re confronted with it in the starkest, most questionable form, and it is indeed causing us to start to ask some hard questions.
The three questions of the relationship of the banks and the land are these:
1. Does your particular bank own your particular mortgage? Or is it just lying about that?
2. Should banks – parasitic, insolvent, criminal, and since the Bailout the property of the people – be allowed or considered to own land at all? Isn’t this illegitimate on its face?
3. Does the very concept of unproductive ownership of land make any sense? Shouldn’t that be done away with as a counterproductive, immoral practice which only breeds the kind of criminal parasitism which so afflicts us today? Weren’t the “American Dream” and the “ownership society” nothing but scams to cover up bank looting? (Let’s recall how “ownership society” was the Bush slogan for his big push to privatize Social Security.)
I know that I’m still an outlier in asking #3. But it seems that the banksters have gratuitously, out of sheer idiotic greed, caused #1 to become a question in the first place, perhaps the central political question of the day. And having voluntarily, in an unforced error put #1 in play, they’ve reinforced the still-small but existing trend toward people starting to ask #2. And if #2 comes widely into play, #3 logically follows.
Just as the pro-bank scum try to keep the debtor-bashing propaganda going, but with less and less success, so they also keep saying, “even if the bank can’t produce the note, you still owe the debt.”
Here’s a typical example I found funny:

Joseph R. Mason, a finance professor who holds the Louisiana Bankers Association chair at Louisiana State University, said that concerns about proper foreclosure documentation were overblown. At the end of the day, he said, even if the banks botched the paperwork, homeowners who didn’t make their mortgage payments still needed to be held accountable.

“You borrowed money,” he said. “You are obligated to repay it.”

(I think it’s funny that LSU has a “Louisiana Bankers Association chair”. Actually I appreciate the honesty of that. Most of corporate academia is more deceptive about its prostitution.)
I keep asking the same question in response to this and never get an answer. Assuming I granted that “you are obligated to repay” a debt like this, to whom would you owe it?
The banks are criminal organizations. Morally no one should feel the need to owe them anything. Legally there’s also no obligation to pay off a “contract”, written by a loanshark, based on fraud. Granted, the disposition of such a legal claim would depend on how bank-friendly the judge was, but we’ve already seen judges willing to follow the spirit and letter of the law here.
Similarly, if we think it’s the government, as owner of many of the mortgages through the GSEs, as well as the real owner of the banks themselves, who owns the debt, the answer has to be that this is not the people’s government but a rogue criminal organization serving really as the banks’ flunkey and thug even though it’s actually their owner. So paying the government would be similarly immoral.
No, I think that if the debt exists, its an orphan debt owed to no one in particular, and therefore payable to no one in particular, which is as good as saying it doesn’t exist.
To put it another way: While the debt is not owed to the government, it is owed to the people. And since there’s no direct way to pay it to the people, the right way to discharge it is to stop paying the banks, and stay in the house. That’s the way one practices citizenship under these bank-created conditions. The good citizen resists the banks in any way possible. This is the most direct way of striking at them. Refusal to pay the fraudulent debt not owed to the banks is the way to pay the true debt we owe to ourselves and to one another as citizens.
I’m not the only one thinking this way. Read these excellent pieces on “the coming middle class anarchy”. Here’s just one of the snowballing anecdotes establishing how the words, Show Me the Note, strike terror in the hearts of the banksters. This is something for which their goon government has no fix. Not if a critical mass of people find the will to do it.
And how fortuitous! We decry how Americans are unwilling to leave the comforts of their homes to get out in the streets to protest, but here the Street has entered the House, the arena of protest has literally come home, and it’s the home itself which is at stake, in a fight to the finish with the banksters.
Compare today to where we were a year ago, when Brent White’s excellent paper on “strategic defaults” said you have to credibly threaten to walk away in order to get a mod. Now the debtor is in a much stronger position, if he’s willing to take advantage of it. He can credibly threaten to stop paying completely and stay in the house.
Nor is it just some radical bloggers saying this. These ideas are percolating closer to the mainstream. Chris Whalen is certainly no firebrand. Yet even he is saying that as the federal government continues to coddle the banks, state governors may end up calling upon people to “keep paying property taxes, stop paying the mortgage, and stay in your home”.
I don’t agree that Obama is unconscious in the sense Whalen means. I think he’s very intentionally dedicated to serving the banks and consciously doesn’t care if this dooms America to a Second Great Depression (although he probably thinks it won’t be that bad; but he certainly doesn’t care about impoverishment and suffering).
But I love the implication that this will have federalism ramifications, as state governments will have to take up some of the power the federal government has abdicated. Whalen thinks we’ll end up with mortgage moratoria in fifty states, but on a state-by-state basis, and implicitly in defiance of the federal government, at first.
So he sees power devolving in the right direction, downward, as a result of this “cancer” as he calls it. (Of course he thinks that’ll just be a temporary stopgap until “democracy does the right thing”. But we know he’s wrong about that part.)
Every housedebtor, distressed or not, underwater or not, should:
1. Stop paying the mortgage;
2. Stay in the house.
If America jubilated that way, it would be a good start toward our desperately needed Land Recourse. America needs two million small farmers. Feeding ourselves post-Peak Oil will require all land to be put into food production. The elites want to do this on the basis of feudal enslavement, but political freedom and moral integrity require that it be done on a democratic food stewardship basis. A bottom-up mortgager jubilee can be a great first step toward this.
And it can provide the base for a wider, greater debt jubilation. Other system debtors need to consider their positions. Here’s just one example: We have a growing legion of unemployable student debtors, burdened by massive indentures which cannot be discharged even in bankruptcy. These victims of a bank/government/university propaganda scam were swindled into taking out massive undischargeable loans for an “education” meant not to humanistically educate but to provide a credential (a Stamp) certifying that one jumped through a formal hoop and paid an exorbitant toll. This extortion payment, it was promised, would guarantee one a lucrative “career”.
But then those same banks intentionally crashed the economy, unilaterally reneging on the system’s side of the student debt deal. Now those college degrees are worthless. But the debt remains, for as long as the victims of this fraud choose to let it remain. Some are suing their universities for fraud, and that’s a good start.
But here as everywhere else where a debt to the big banks or government (where in a case like this the government simply socialized the exposure to the debt while privatizing the lender profit) exists, the real action is to strike at the senior criminal. That’s always the bankster. In the case of student debt, where the banksters’ rigged law has foreclosed even bankruptcy as an option, where the bank has placed its relationship with the debtor into the state of nature, the debtor has NO system recourse. The only option of student debtors is to form a default union and default as a bloc.
So there’s one example where the problem is harder to solve, but where the spirit of debt revolt can find a way. Ground zero for the spirit of jubilation, and for the general Revolt Against the Banksters, is the mortgage crisis.
Demand to see the note, and resolve not to pay one cent more until they show the note or give you a real modification. A real mod, meaning a principal writedown; the people in Lira’s example still look like they’re going to let Wells Fargo off too easy.
Better yet, demand to see the note, but resolve to stop paying period. If enough people did this, we’d break the banks over our knee. The government’s malice would sputter out in impotent fulminations. This one small step for an individual debtor would collectively be a giant leap toward taking back our country.


  1. Show me the Note !!!

    We need t-shirts, buttons, placards, outdoor signage, neon lights in Times Square –

    Show me the Note !

    You are doing such a great job Russ. And sticking to your position as it is increasingly proven correct morally, politically, spiritually, and psychologically.

    We all have to think of all the people suffering because of the behavior of these banksta gangstas.

    I know one generous nice guy with a Columbia U PhD who loves teaching and hasn’t had a full time job in years. He teaches computer courses here and there and some other IT private tutoring while trying to keep up his natural good spirits and worrying about unemployment insurance and health insurance, considering moving in with his elderly mother, and honest enough to admit he thinks of suicide.

    Comment by LeeAnne — October 22, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    • Thanks LeeAnne!

      Tell your friend my thoughts are with him.

      Comment by Russ — October 22, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  2. There are others out there pushing similar ideas today.

    “Arise, Ye Homeowners of America, You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Mortgages!”


    “Free House? Maybe.”


    Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 22, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

    • Thanks, Tao. Those are both good. I especially like Lindorff’s point on what a huge stimulus it would be. A permanent mortgage strike would redistibute vast amounts of wealth from the banksters to the real economy.

      Comment by Russ — October 22, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  3. Off-topic, but did you see the latest hack job on Julian Assange?


    They give us a lot of unflattering quotes without context, allegations without the opportunity to respond, and really the whole thing is a “throw shit at the wall and see what sticks” sort of exercise.

    Comment by jimmy james — October 23, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    • Yeah, that’s tabloid stuff which is beside the point even if any of it is true.

      This morning I was working on a post about transparency which includes discussion of Wikileaks. I’ll be posting it tomorrow.

      If you didn’t see it, here’s a much better piece, with some excellent stuff on Wikileaks’ principles and organizational structure, although it too has some nonsense.


      As for the “authorities” cited in that NYT piece, here’s a different kind of piece on collaborationist NGOs.


      Amnesty International does a lot of good work, but let’s never forget that they’ve always systematically whitewashed the neoliberal basis of murder and torture, always at least implicitly, and often explicitly, abetting the “bad apple” lie.

      There’s more about that in Shock Doctrine.

      Comment by Russ — October 23, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  4. Russ,

    The financial model is breaking down, so the next question is how to build a replacement. Capitalism and free markets are not synonymous. A market needs a medium of exchange in order to function and when a private party controls that medium, eventually the rest of the market will become the property of that private party. Control of the money is not just a function of the government. Control of the money is the basis of the government.
    The problem with money is that we believe it to be a store of value, but it is actually a medium of exchange. We possess the money we hold, in the same way we possess the section of road we are driving on. You own your car, house, business, etc, but not the roads connecting them. Money is a similar medium. It is drawing rights on the community’s productivity, for which we trade our surplus resources.

    Believing money is a store of value encourages people to hoard it and cause excess supplies to form, above the productive capacity of the economy. Since capital is subject to the laws of supply and demand, with the lender as supply and the borrower as demand, this surplus needs demand in order to maintain value, so more demand is required to maintain the value of the supply and it gets loaned out to those unlikely to pay it back, the government becomes borrower of last resort and the financial industry creates enormous transactional bubbles to keep it afloat.

    If people understood money constituted a form of public commons, than they would be far more reluctant to drain value out of their social networks and environment to put in a bank in the first place. We all like having roads, but there is little inclination to pave more than we need. In this situation, the same would apply to monetizing our lives. Other avenues of trust and reciprocation would have the space to develop, which would strengthen communities and their relationship to the environment. Money is a powerful tool of society, but it cannot be allowed to define every relationship, or those who manage it will control all of society.

    Political power started as private initiative and eventually grew into monarchy. Monarchists railed against mob rule, but we eventually learned how to make politics a public trust by allocating power where it was most responsive. Why not do the same with the banking system? As the currency is a public utility, so profits from its administration could be public income. A public banking system would not be one huge behemoth, but consist of institutions incorporated at every level of governance, so individuals could bank with the ones which funded the services they are most likely to use. Different communities would seek to provide the best services with these funds, otherwise they would lose business and citizens to other communities. Regional consortiums could band together in currency unions to facilitate broad economic exchange and for large economic projects. It would result in a far more organically integrated society that didn’t need as much government support, since those controlling the financial process wouldn’t be draining as much value out as possible. It may not be as globalized a system as we have now, at least to start with, but it would provide a solid economic foundation for a more sustainable global economy to develop.

    Politicians are inclined to inflate the money supply to create support, while bankers like stable money, but are inclined to overextend credit to increase profits and the collapse of bad credit causes deflation, so banking does have to be somewhat isolated from political whim. In biological terms, the political system of a community is analogous to its nervous system, while the monetary system is analogous to its circulatory system.

    As any ten year old on an allowance knows, to budget is to list your needs and desires in order of priority and then spend on what can be afforded. The Federal government doesn’t actually do this, though. They put together these enormous bills encompassing everything they think must be absolutely necessary and then tack on enough extras to coerce enough legislators to vote for it and then the President can only pass or veto the entire package. This is like negotiating with a fat kid over how many candy bars he can have for eating the apple. The consequence though, is that it creates enormous amounts of government debt, which is the basis of our monetary system. So the next time you see a politician railing about government debt, he may be being disingenuous, but it’s more likely that he is just one more clueless drone.

    In the spirit of actual budgeting, a possible solution would be to break the spending bills down to their constituent items and have every legislator assign a percentage value to each item and then re-assemble the bills in order of preference. The president would draw the line at what would be funded. This would divide responsibility, allowing the legislature to prioritize, while giving the president final authority over total spending. Since making the cut would be graded on a curve, there would be much less incentive to trade favors and the percentage system would allow legislators to fine tune their granting of favors to other legislators and lobbyists. As the particular items at the cutoff line would have a far smaller constituency than those being asked to fund them, there would be limited political motivation to overspend. Of course this would totally collapse our current monetary system, but it is doing so anyway. A local public banking system would cover much of the lost federal funding of local projects.


    Comment by brodix — October 23, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    • Thanks, John. We do need to head toward public banking and local currencies. That’s part of the key to any transitional and even post-capitalist markets.

      Comment by Russ — October 24, 2010 @ 7:36 am

      • Russ,

        There is a certain inevitability about it, but the road isn’t entirely smooth. Actually the fact that the fraud has become so overwhelmingly blatant may serve to both speed the process and increase the potential for more change than would otherwise happen.

        Comment by brodix — October 24, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

      • Yes, I think their stupidity and brazenness, as well as their overextension, their apparent inability to exercise any triage at all, to deny themselves any gratification, will help trip them up.

        Have you read Orlov? Are you familiar with his doctrine of “boondoggles to the rescue”?


        He’s semi-facetious, but the basic idea is that their own stupid ponderousness will bring them down all the more quickly and with less aggregate damage.

        Comment by Russ — October 24, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

      • Russ,

        I tend to view economics through the prism of the laws of nature and since this economic model is designed to exploit every reserve as efficiently as possible, it becomes ever larger and more complex at the very expense of its own redundancies and reserves, so when it does collapse, it will be close to total a implosion. Now that the value of currencies and the validity of the government based on them are being thrown on the fire now, it obviously isn’t long in coming.
        I think though that our fundamental conceptual fallacies run much deeper than economics.
        Here are some examples of what I see as to why we seem at odds with nature:

        We have time backwards. The present doesn’t move along some dimension from the past into the future. The changing configuration of what is, turns the future into the past. The earth doesn’t travel the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates. This is a topic I spend a good bit of time debating. Lately mostly on the physics blogs at FQXi. A recent sample thread: http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/658

        Suffice to say it only gets some grudging consideration, but the extended feedback is too diverse to encapsulate. It has more philosophical meanings for me, though. The basis of our rationality is the cause and effect sequence and so the linear progression from past to future is the foundation of our intellect and it is also the basis of our sense of individuality, since we become the point of reference, moving through our particular context. The problem is that this paradigm doesn’t allow the concept of free will, since we exist at the point of the present and the past cannot be changed, while the future cannot be affected. On the other hand, if we view time as the wholistic process of change replacing one event with the next, we and our actions are integral to this process, as future potential turns to past circumstance. So we affect our context, as it affects us, since we are fully part of it.

        Space is not just three dimensional. Three dimensions are just the coordinate system of the center point and the world is full of interlocking networks of such coordinate systems. Our left and right eyes are a good example of two coordinate systems functioning as one. What If the Israelis and Palestinians viewed their shared space as networks of multiple perspectives and not just as opposing absolutist set pieces?

        Essentially geometry mistakes the center point as zero, when it should be the blank space. Space is nothing, so it cannot be created, or expanded or bent. It can only be filled. It is both absolute and infinite. (Long extended physics discussion here.)

        God is also backwards. The concept of god originated as a plural. Polytheistic deities were what we would currently describe as memes. Basic concepts to which the larger group accepted, such as the singularity and status of the group one is immersed in. Geographic and astronomical features. Seasons of the year. Group and cultural activities, such as celebrations, war, death, sex, sleep, illness, etc. All the myriad connections between these concepts naturally lead to a pantheistic network with a mythology of allegorical relationships. This pantheistic unity was difficult to describe conceptually, so it was natural to have this state defined as a unit and then to give it some form, the adult human male being the logical default option.

        As we understand today, unity and unit are two profoundly different concepts. Unity is a state of connectedness, while a unit is a set. Effectively it is the difference between zero and one. While we think of zero as nothing, as an equilibrium state, the absolute, it is also everything. The pivot around which polarities revolve, whether yin and yang, or matter and anti-matter. A potential spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. The problem is that human knowledge originates from the focal point of the individual and after attempting to peel away all the details and complexities of life, we have settled on this idealized conscious knowledge as our God and in a fit of megalomania, projected it onto the entire universe. To the extent there is a spiritual absolute, no matter how far into the abyss it extends, it is this raw consciousness to which we give form, while knowledge is a feedback loop with physical reality. (Some would argue biology pre-exists consciousness, but that makes two large questions, rather than one. If we consider consciousness as the motivating element of biology, it goes a long way to explaining the biological imperative.) Projecting an intellectual and moral ideal as the absolute overlooks the process of regeneration by which this structure is constantly reseting itself, as the old dies and is replaced by those shaped by what came before, but not limited by it. (Total effects of any event can only be determined at the point of occurrence, so causes are in the future and effects recede into the past.)

        Monotheistic theology assumes a moral theory of good and bad as a metaphysical duel between the forces of light and darkness. Actually they are the basic biological binary code, the attraction of the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental. This elemental relationship is a polarity out of which exponentially complex relationships develop. What is good for the fox is bad for the chicken, yet there is no clear line where the chicken ends and the fox begins. Life is a process of creation and consumption as it bootstraps itself upward. We may all be branches of the same tree, but the result is we all point in different directions. Morality is a complex code, similar to language, which groups of people develop in order to coexist and obviously differ in detail from one group to another, but serve the same basic function. Between black and white are not just shades of grey, but all the colors of the spectrum.

        It should also be noted that polytheists invented democracy, possibly because a pantheon requires a process of negotiation and resolution seeking. Monotheism has often been a logical bulkhead for validating monarchy and other forms of top down rule.

        Comment by brodix — October 24, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

      • Polytheism had the advantage of having made sense in its context and being potentially a power-dispersing force.

        Monotheism never made sense from any point of view other than organizing and centralizing power.

        It won’t be a surprise if, as part of energy descent and the total discrediting of all aspects of the age of centralization which is bound to eventually follow upon its total failure and revelation as having been a fraud, polytheism makes a comeback. That’ll probably be a healthy development.

        I suppose the fad of believing in angels might be an early manifestation of that.

        Comment by Russ — October 25, 2010 @ 12:37 am

      • Russ,

        It’s not really an issue of theology, but physiology and psychology, as well as physics. Our minds function by organizing ideas into thoughts and we are very good at making distinctions, but not so good at putting them back together as larger whole processes. Consider the idea that 1+1=2. If you actually add two things together, you get one larger thing. At some larger level, things are always running together. Now our earliest ancestors functioned very well as groups, because when individuals spend their lives together, they are very good at reading each others minds and functioning as a larger whole, but as our populations have grown and intermingled, we have become much more emotionally atomized. So it’s not so much a question of going back to polytheism, but understanding it all as an evolutionary process and trying to climb up the next step. The problem with communism/socialism, is that it doesn’t clarify the dichotomy between discreteness and the continuum. How we are both individuals and parts of the larger whole. People are very one track minded, but nature is a function of opposites and we need to better understand how our actions relate to our context, so we don’t keep blowing up enormous feedback loops that blow up on our faces. Good and bad are relative. A little bit of something that’s good, doesn’t always mean a lot is that much better and bad things often have their silver linings.

        Comment by brodix — October 25, 2010 @ 6:11 am

      • Theology, psychology, whatever works. Theology once worked but hasn’t in the modern era (ergo Nietzsche’s “God is Dead”), while philosophy seems to only be accessible to a small elite. Mass ideology certainly got things done, but presided over our spiritual destruction, which we now must struggle to overcome.

        I don’t believe in “progress”. History mostly cycles, and has now experienced the one-off fossil fuel heritage drawdown. This, and all that was typical of it, was an ahistorical blip. Soon we’ll be returning to the normal run of history, normal food production (which has absurdly been given an exotic name in the interim, “organic”), normal energy consumption.

        Meanwhile, throughout these cycles, the people do the best they can, and maybe do learn something once in awhile, as Heine hoped.

        So I suppose that one little piece of progress is possible – that the modern experience has at least taught humanity that we can live and produce for ourselves, and don’t need hierarchies and elites, and won’t allow them to continue to crush us in the old ways once their oil-fuelled weapons and structures cease to function.

        For now, for today, we can only do the best we can.

        Comment by Russ — October 25, 2010 @ 11:55 am

      • It’s pretty much a here and now thing. I think our learning curve from this will be a bit steeper than many think. In the history of humanity, I think we are more like at the end of the beginning, than the beginning of the end. It really wouldn’t take that much of an intellectual leap for most people to understand that notational wealth is a function of community responsibility and thus amounts to a form of community property. This doesn’t mean tangible assets, but the financial structure depends both on responsible savers and responsible borrowers, such that the broader economy can only store as much notational value as can be effectively invested in productive enterprises. So it is an economic detriment for a few people to have vast amounts of wealth, as it reduces the ability of everyone else to effectively save and invest. Since it is those with the most wealth now, who are most actively campaigning to destroy the value of this wealth, by destroying the system of contracts on which it is based, the viability of those who might borrow it and excess liquidity to cover all the bad loans, when it does collapse, they will no longer be able to logically argue that monopolizing this wealth was of any greater use to the larger community, or even that useful to themselves, given the amount of wealth destruction a total debt collapse will bring about.
        So, if we learn that wealth has to be productively recycled back into making a healthy economy and society and not just encouraging either economic or societal fat deposits, we might have, not just more organic food, but a functionally organic economy as well.

        Comment by brodix — October 25, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

      • when it does collapse, they will no longer be able to logically argue that monopolizing this wealth was of any greater use to the larger community, or even that useful to themselves, given the amount of wealth destruction a total debt collapse will bring about.

        They haven’t been able to logically argue that since pretty early in capitalism’s history.

        Certainly they haven’t been able to argue it since wages stagnated in the 70s.

        I just wonder if the people will ever snap out of their pro-elitist brainwashing. The worst is simply the congenital unquestioned assumption – there have to be elites, and all one can ever do is “reform” the elites. So many even among otherwise smart people who deplore the economic and political tyranny still seem literally incapable of even comprehending a world with no elites at all.

        Comment by Russ — October 26, 2010 @ 4:09 am

      • Russ,

        People like leadership because it points the larger society in one direction, because the alternative is often social conflict. What they don’t like is a stagnant upper crust, parasiting off the rest of society. The problem is that stagnation is what stability becomes, when it gets old and people like stability more than anything. (Especially women of childbearing age.)
        Society put up with monarchs for a very long time for that reason, because the meritocracy basically revolved around who was best with a weapon and who could lead those who were. As society became more complex, other attributes acquired status and eventually a hereditary leadership became more trouble than it was worth and was shed like dead skin.
        Central banking was a creation of this collapse, as private bankers took over control of the economic medium from kings. Now they think they are God and are becoming more trouble than they are worth.
        There are no perfect answers, because if things were perfect, there would be no problems and no questions. There are only good enough answers.
        I also think this coming collapse would be a good time to review our top down theology. It mostly serves to empower those at the top beyond what they are good for. If it became the religious understanding that life and the spirit that motivates it, is a bottom up phenomena, those at the top would understand they are only there because society puts them there.

        Comment by brodix — October 26, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

      • Bottom-up theology, I like that. If there were such a thing as mystical forces, they clearly do arise from the simple to the more complex, and in turn entropy “wants” the simple.

        So it follows that any complexification draws its vitality from below, and from something more basic, and exists only at the sufferance of that holy simplicity.

        So people who are spiritually inclined who are looking for ways out of our labyrinth, trying to get back in touch with our humanity and the universe, need to think in terms of the basic, the simple, what’s seemingly the most dissolved power (under forcibly complexified, top-heavy, elitist conditions), but what’s really the source and essence of all power, which is only temporarily in the shadow, but which must once again blaze forth in its own light.

        Comment by Russ — October 26, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

      • Not to say it isn’t utterly primal. I have no problem with complexity and emergent order, especially since I’m a multicellular organism. It’s just that if people understood reality a little better and not be totally brainwashed by anyone promising them the moon, they might have a little more respect for the basic fact of life on this planet and not just obsess over some of the inconveniences involved. The price for being able to feel, is that some of it is going to be pain.


        Turning and turning in the widening gyre
        The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
        Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
        Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
        The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
        The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
        The best lack all conviction, while the worst
        Are full of passionate intensity.

        Surely some revelation is at hand;
        Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
        The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
        When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
        Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
        A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
        A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
        Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
        Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
        The darkness drops again but now I know
        That twenty centuries of stony sleep
        Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
        And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
        Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

        William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

        Comment by brodix — October 26, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

      • That’s a great poem, one I often have cause to think about.

        But perhaps even more appropriate for our discussion is his most Nietzschean, Dionysian poem of which I’m aware, “Lapis Lazuli”.

        I have heard that hysterical women say
        They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow.
        Of poets that are always gay,
        For everybody knows or else should know
        That if nothing drastic is done
        Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out.
        Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
        Until the town lie bearen flat.

        All perform their tragic play,
        There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
        That’s Ophelia, that Cordelia;
        Yet they, should the last scene be there,
        The great stage curtain about to drop,
        If worthy their prominent part in the play,
        Do not break up their lines to weep.
        They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
        Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
        All men have aimed at, found and lost;
        Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
        Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
        Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,
        And all the drop-scenes drop at once
        Upon a hundred thousand stages,
        It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce.

        On their own feet they came, or On shipboard,’
        Camel-back; horse-back, ass-back, mule-back,
        Old civilisations put to the sword.
        Then they and their wisdom went to rack:
        No handiwork of Callimachus,
        Who handled marble as if it were bronze,
        Made draperies that seemed to rise
        When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;
        His long lamp-chimney shaped like the stem
        Of a slender palm, stood but a day;
        All things fall and are built again,
        And those that build them again are gay.

        Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
        Are carved in lapis lazuli,
        Over them flies a long-legged bird,
        A symbol of longevity;
        The third, doubtless a serving-man,
        Carries a musical instrument.

        Every discoloration of the stone,
        Every accidental crack or dent,
        Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
        Or lofty slope where it still snows
        Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
        Sweetens the little half-way house
        Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
        Delight to imagine them seated there;
        There, on the mountain and the sky,
        On all the tragic scene they stare.
        One asks for mournful melodies;
        Accomplished fingers begin to play.
        Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
        Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.


        And although it ain’t Yeats, I was trying to say something similar in this poem:


        Comment by Russ — October 26, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

      • Yours is actually better. Yeats’ tries too much and it doesn’t fit as well.

        I like to think of myself as a philosopher;
        Knowledge is information. Wisdom is editing.

        Without motion, nothing exists. With motion, nothing exists forever.

        Comment by brodix — October 26, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  5. In more emotionally accessible terms, you could say the child is the purest spirit and age only tempers it.

    Comment by brodix — October 26, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

    • Thanks. The child is the “self-created and self-creating wheel”, as Nietzsche put it. He meant the child not biologically, but spiritually.

      The motion motto sums up life and the universe admirably. Until the thermodynamic end, motion is all that really exists.

      Comment by Russ — October 27, 2010 @ 5:54 am

      • I don’t think it ever ends.
        It’s a bit of a complicated topic, but I think the Big Bang cosmological model is wrong and we exist in a spatially infinite and temporally eternal reality. In such a situation, energy is never lost, but simply traded around. Remember entropy only applies to closed sets.
        According to the best measurements, by WMAP and COBE, space is flat on its largest scales. In other words the expansion is balanced by gravity.
        In ’89, dark energy had to be added because measurements of the redshift of distant galaxies showed it was not slowing at the steady rate predicted by BBT. In fact is was calculated that this additional factor matched what Einstein predicted as a Cosmological Constant. What got flushed down the memory hole is that Einstein formulated the CC to balance the effect of gravity and keep it from collapsing the universe. So there is both theory and observation to support a stable universe, but it gets ignored.
        When it was fully understood that redshift is directly proportional to distance and there was no obvious lateral motion to these distant galaxies, cosmologists realized it made us appear to be at the exact center of the universe, so the theory was quickly changed to say this expansion was of space itself and not within a larger geometry of space. The flaw that I keep pointing out about this, is that the theory still depends on a stable speed of light. So what geometry of space determines lightspeed? If it’s external to the expansion, we are at the center of the universe, but if space expands with the universe, than the most constant measure of interstellar and galactic space, the speed of light, should increase as well. Though that would blow the theory up, because there would be no way to describe space as expanding, if it always takes the same amount of time for light to cross the same proportion of the universe.
        Now if redshift is an optical effect of light crossing distance, then what we observe would be logical. Sources would be progressively redshifted the further away they are.
        Why do cosmologists think that only the actual recession of these other galaxies could explain redshift? Because light is viewed as an irreducible quanta of energy and the only way it could lose energy and slow down would be because of actual interference and since the light from distant objects is so clear, it could not be interfered with.
        So why is light considered to exist as a irreducible quanta, ie. photon, that travels billions of years, undisturbed. Basically because physicists forgot the difference between counting and measuring.
        If I want to know how many apples are in a basket, I count them. If I want to know how much the basket weighs, I measure it. We count the discrete and measure the continuous.
        In order to increase the amount of energy in an atom, it must essentially be broken. This requires a set amount of energy. A quanta. Physicists consider quanta to be these non existent particles which only pop into existence when they are measured, such as when they click on a photon detector, or push an atom to a higher energy level. There is no way to predict when they will come along, but they just appear when they do.
        Now if you measure something, you are not counting the marks on the gauge, but the spaces in between. A foot isn’t the little foot line. It is the space between one foot line and the next. Same for clocks, thermometers, etc.
        Now about ninety years ago, various legendary physicists got together and decided that only what could be measured existed. So they said a photon only existed when it was observed, ie, when the counter clicked. What they forgot was that a measure isn’t the mark, but the space between marks. In other words, the photon, the quanta of light, is the build up of energy required to trip the counter. The point it trips is only the straw breaking the camels back.
        Now back to cosmology: Consider a dripping faucet and when you tighten it, the drips slow, but they don’t get smaller. It just take longer for the water to collect before surface tension and gravity combine to make it drip. Now compare this to light expanding out from a source. The energy is not lost, but it becomes more diffuse the further it travels and the more volume it has to fill. So the further away you are from this source, the longer it takes for this light to build up the necessary energy to trip your detector. It not that the specific quanta of light that does it is less, just like the drip of water is the same size, but that the space between one click and the next is larger. This expands the wave patterns that lots of these quanta form and thus it is redshifted.
        Safe to say, if you’re not talking multiverses and Inflationary cosmology, you don’t get anywhere in discussing these topics, least of all questioning the basics, but there is my interpretation of the universe and everything in it.

        Comment by brodix — October 27, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

      • Thanks, John. I used to read books about that stuff, but I haven’t followed it for a long time. I did hear they’re trying to rehabilitate the cosmological constant, but to me the whole thing’s redolent of faith in “growth”. We’ll never be free of that monstrous idea under this system. I bet corporatist cosmology, at least as theory, is just as ideologically tendentious as e.g. Stalinist physical theory, which disparaged quantum physics even as Soviet physicists used it in practice to work on the bomb.

        Energy isn’t ever “lost” according to the second law. It can’t be, according to the first. But it’s supposed to dissipate to the point that it can never combine again into structures larger than subatomic particles. At least I think that’s how I remember it.

        Comment by Russ — October 27, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

      • Russ,

        It can only dissipate if there is a finite amount of energy in an infinite space, but if space is infinite and energy is pervasive throughout space, than it’s just being traded around.
        Energy expands. Mass contracts. In a way, they both “lose” energy, but they are opposites, so they give it to each other. Energy is always expanding, whether it is being absorbed by growing mass and expanding it, or by radiating away from mass that is breaking down. This energy eventually is absorbed by other mass, or it expands so far it eventually cools to the point of being background radiation that binds to plasma and interstellar/galactic gases. Which would explain why the background radiation is only stable to 3.7k. Then it falls into gravitational vortices.
        Think in terms of Complexity Theory, where levels of non-linear energy build up to the point of creating an energy gradient and as this falls back to equilibrium, it creates the linear order, such as our rational thought processes perceive. When this linear process collapses, like mass falling into a gravity well, it pushes/radiates its energy back out again and all this energy from all the points of the universe crash into each other and build up energy gradients again and they fall, creating more linear order.
        Now put this in the context of the two directions of time; The present moving from past to future and the events moving from future to past. The energy is the present, always moving from one event to the next, much like the sun moves from the day in one longitude and into the day in the next. While the order and structure of these events we see are the mass and events that are first seeds in the future, then absorb the energy, to then shed it again and fade into the past.
        This is getting a bit off topic, but all of reality is that balance between energy and order. Motion forming and moving on.
        Money is a form of energy and all this liquidity is a form of high blood pressure that is breaking down the very structure it first created.

        Comment by brodix — October 27, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

      • Yup. Finance is breaking down the very structure it created. That sums up the FIRE sector’s predation and parasitism on its own rigged system. Like is happening with the collapse of the mortgage-based land distribution.

        It’s also destroying the functionality of the real economy, but there finance didn’t create anything, but was only ever a predator and parasite right from the start. E.g. land should only ever have been distributed on a food production stewardship basis, never a debt/mortgage system. That would’ve been both the most fair and productive.

        Comment by Russ — October 28, 2010 @ 5:15 am

      • Fair is something of a relative term. Indians, gypsies and other nomads don’t seem to think the idea of land ownership is fair in the first place, but we have what we have and the question now becomes, where do we go from here.
        A lot of ideas that would seem incredibly radical a few years ago are becoming increasingly mainstream. The question, is when the dust starts to settle, what ideas will be considered the new norm.
        I think it safe to say that when this financial atomic bomb does go off, much of the banking structure will devolve to the states, if not to the communities. This has happened enough in the past and the usual response is that eventually the banking cartels either strong arm, or weasel themselves back into positions of control, by using the systems and states they still control to undercut and overpower grass roots banking structures.
        The problem is that money, banking and finance are fundamental to any economy above the barter level and those controlling it are in effective control of the rest of the economy.
        Now “government” has been given such a bad name over the years, even though a good deal of its profligacy is a consequence of having a budgeting process specifically designed to overspend and produce debt, that arguing for public banking has negative connotations for many people and it’s safe to say the current cartel would fan those fears, should a movement toward public banking start.
        So, in this sense, the fact that the destruction will be as overwhelming as it is, will enable room for deep examination of how money, banking and finance really function, that might not have occurred under less extreme conditions.
        The fact is that the laws of supply and demand apply to capital and the amount of notational wealth the economy can hold is ultimately determined by productive borrowers and those who wish to lend to them cannot be allowed the more powerful political hand, or the economic process gets strangled. The creation of wealth is a community effort and it cannot be allowed to accumulate at the top, but has to precipitate back down as effectively as possible. Money is the blood and banking is the circulatory system of the economy and it cannot afford vampires sucking out as much blood as they can.
        So it’s a situation of directing the conversation as it develops and not allowing all terms to be dictated by those with clearly vested interests.

        In the biological context, it should be noted that circulatory systems are more fundamental than central nervous systems. Ecosystems have circulatory systems, while only fauna have central nervous systems.
        Control of the money is not just a function of the government. It is the basis of government.

        Comment by brodix — October 28, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

      • That’s very similar to several trains of my own thoughts. Milton Friedman of all people got one thing exactly right – you push the ideas out there so that when people are flailing for something, anything to grab hold of, there’s the best chance possible your idea will be grabbed.

        So that’s what I’m trying to do – push ideas like direct democracy and land reform as far as I can.

        And how right you are about radical ideas getting more sunlight. Before the crash I sometimes thought of starting a blog, but always figured there was no point.

        And since then, I notice how as the months pass, more and more crazy ideas start getting hearings, at least in the blogosphere. A year ago I felt like an outlier openly advocating walkaways by underwater housedebtors. Now that’s almost taken for granted. A few months ago I barely dared to advocate that people should not only stop paying but stay in the house. Now others are saying it, and as the video above shows, a moderate like Whalen thinks governors will soon be telling people to do that.

        How long will it be before the current land distribution itself becomes more widely questioned? Especially as people become more aware how critical it is that we start producing our own food on a mass basis – but for that we need the land. The land that’s rotting under the fat, putrescing zombies of the banks and developers.

        You’re right about the difficult ideological two-step of condemning and rejecting the central bank and federal government while supporting state public banking. But maybe it shouldn’t be that hard. We’re arguing for true federalism. That simply means everything at its proper level.

        According to that frame, anarchism just recognizes the proper level for most things, and for all real power, as being the level of the soil. So federalism as a concept ought to be smoothly applicable. If we can’t devolve everything at once, we can still head in the right direction, piece by piece.

        The idea you concluded with – that only the government, and eventually the community, can legitimately issue and control money (if we’re to have money at all) – is one of the key pieces.

        Comment by Russ — October 28, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

      • I don’t know that land distribution is as much a problem as it has been in other times, when control of the land was the essence of power. When this banking structure does implode, lots of people will have their suburban house on its lot and there will be lots of increasingly innovative gardening ideas floating around. Lots of those mcmansions will be communes, surrounded by gardens and workshops in the garage.
        What I think will really be THE compelling idea is that life on this planet is one super organism. That’s why its so important to break down that top down monarchist/monotheistic paradigm and fully explain and understand how life works from the bottom up. Remember nature developed far more complex biological organisms than our societies, hundreds of millions of years ago and many of our social and economic functions are mirrored in biological processes. It’s just that today we are building far too many fat cells and have high blood pressure from all the liquidity, but our arteries are clogged, so it isn’t getting to all the places it needs to be.
        While people are not likely to consider this idea in its full scope, they will be open to aspects of it that seem obvious and necessary. Which is why I keep coming back to this idea of money and banking being the blood and circulatory system of the economy. In that way, it can be presented as a fundamentally public process that is fully organic and even more fundamental than the central nervous system of government.
        Think of it in terms of this paragraph from my earlier post;
        “If people understood money constituted a form of public commons, than they would be far more reluctant to drain value out of their social networks and environment to put in a bank in the first place. We all like having roads, but there is little inclination to pave more than we need. In this situation, the same would apply to monetizing our lives. Other avenues of trust and reciprocation would have the space to develop, which would strengthen communities and their relationship to the environment.”
        This abstraction of wealth has metastasized onto such a cancer because everyone wants lots of it and the bankers just ride the wave of our greed and desire. The only way to really put that genie back in the bottle is to really make it a fundamental tenet that money is a form of public commons, the value of which depends on everyone and anyone hogging it wouldn’t get respect, but serious attention and better be putting it to the best uses. Just like you can drive a truck on the highway, but you pay more in taxes. Savings would still be a necessity, just like some fat is healthier than no fat, or too much fat, but since investment is limited by borrowing, taxes on savings would start above a certain level and increase. People would learn to invest in other things, from better personal relationships, to healthier environments, to their own businesses, since the purpose of savings is security and a healthy environment and supportive community are much more conducive to real security than numbers in a bank account, when you can’t walk out on the street.
        I’ve thought about starting a blog, actually did a couple of times, but mostly I’m just playing around with the same few ideas and trying to improve them, so I tend to just say the same things. It works better to find people who also like to discuss ideas and try them out to see what works and what needs work. I’ve had a few essays published in various places, but haven’t got much feedback from them. Obviously a lot of what I’m saying still falls in the pretty radical category, but I like to think it will become more relevant.

        Comment by brodix — October 28, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

      • These ideas are already the most relevant ideas of all. I think they’ll become more and more accepted as the disease metastasizes.

        I agree that it will be far easier than in ancient or medieval times for the people to take back the land and put it into food production as soon as they find the will to do so.

        So the real hurdle to land reform is psychological.

        Psychologically, maybe it won’t be as hard with money, since I think most people think the government issues money as it is. (I’ll admit I thought that myself for more years than I’d care to say.)

        I still haven’t written a post yet about MMT and money as a public commons, though I’ve often promised it and have gathered a pile of scattered remarks and other materials by now. I’ll get to it, sometime in November.

        It’s good that you’re going to keep working on your ideas, John, since they’re good ones. A blog is a good place to work on ideas. That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing, and little by little they’re cohering.

        Comment by Russ — October 29, 2010 @ 6:47 am

      • These ideas run around the head for years before they decide to come together.

        The fact is that I don’t have much of a formal education, having grown up in the horseracing and farming business and avoided school at all possible cost. I always like to read though, so it’s been a process of self education. It allowed me to see civilization and culture from a slightly feral perspective. Not terribly appreciated by my people, as they’re the landed gentry, gone slightly to seed variety, but I’ve long felt a crash coming, so there was little desire to climb the ladder.

        The two insights which caused me to examine economics was, first; Trying to figure out how Volcker cured inflation by raising interest rates.

        Yes, it’s caused by loose money policies, but higher rates only reward supply, those with money to lend, while harming demand, those wishing to borrow it. So how did he cure an oversupply of capital when his method caused a recession and directly reduced demand for it?

        Now ask yourself; What’s the difference between the Fed selling bonds and the Treasury issuing new ones? The Fed retires the money they collect, while the Treasury pumps it back into the economy, often in ways which encourage further private sector investment. The Treasury is usually selling far more bonds than the Fed ever does. Volcker didn’t cure inflation. David Stockman did.

        By the Fed’s own logic of reducing the money supply by selling bonds, if there is a surplus of capital in the economy, than it is in the hands of those with a surplus of wealth. Not a politically convenient point to make for those with lots of money. So they blame it all on workers and producers for running up prices and wages, while draining it out of the large pools of surplus capital and pumping it back into the economy, all the while paying more interest to these with those pools of capital, from the public purse, which only adds to the problem in the long run.

        The second insight was in 1996, Bob Dole had a campaign slogan; “We want you to keep more of your money in your pocket.” The first time I ever heard it, my first thought was; Thank God it’s not my money, or it would be worthless.

        That thought stuck with me and evolved into the observation that money really is a form of public commons and it is the belief propagated by those in control that it is a form of personal property that is the hook by which we are all controlled and taxed by the banking system and their political minions. People have been taught to hate their government, but love its money! How F–king stupid is that?

        The problem I see though, is that the PTB understand this system far better than we appreciate and are ready to beat back or drown out any arguments against it and have educated most of the people to believe their reasons, so a frontal assault isn’t going to work in normal times and somehow the ground has to be prepared for the opportunity after it crashes. The problem is that most people are being misdirected to blame their problems of other groups and pick fights. After a certain amount of bloodshed and passions have run their course, the PTB will step back in and like a good parent, stop the fight and tell everyone to go to their rooms, while they selflessly clean up the mess.

        This is why I’m really only discussing physics these days, as there is an enormous amount of fantastical theorizing running rampant in it and if I could get credit for making just one small point, ie, that time actually is the events going future to past, not the present moving past to future, it might give me some cred to make a few well reasoned and simple arguments against this private banking structure.

        Then I go after monotheism.

        That’s my plan for taking over the world, what’s yours?

        Of course, the fact that I barely graduated high school might work against me, but then this is mostly about keeping myself sane, since the world is such a mess anyway.

        Comment by brodix — October 29, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  6. Sounds like a good plan, John. It looks like we have the same basic idea about money, although the way I’ve phrased it is that the “store of value” so-called function has no legitimacy.

    Rather, only when money is in motion does it have any social value and therefore legitimacy as “personal property”.

    After all, its existence really is predicated on society, the “government”, even though that’s one of the many core functions government has illegitimately privatized.

    It looks like you and I are trying to head in opposite directions where it comes to farming. You came from farming and gave it up (if I infer correctly), while I came from nothing at all like that but would love to get into it. Something to do with local food production and distribution, at any rate.

    I have some ideas about that, but so far all I’ve done is grow a small garden and volunteer at a farmers’ market.

    My plan, like I said above, is to try to do what I can to put the ideas of direct democracy and economy out there, to do my best to help those ideas spread and be put into practice.

    Meanwhile, in writing the blog and the volunteering I do, I feel like in my own small way I’m living a life of democratic participation, which is what I really want from life. From here it’s just a matter of rendering that life as vibrant as possible.

    Comment by Russ — October 29, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    • Russ,

      A good article from Ellen Brown. http://seekingalpha.com/article/233307-time-for-a-new-theory-of-money
      Looks like she is going from pushing the idea of public banking to really examining money. Let there be real hope.
      Actually I’m back living on the parents old farm and riding for one of my sisters. Farming is largely specialized these days and mostly it’s a bunch of horse people in this corner. Growing up, Pop was a dairy cattle auctioneer and we usually had a few dozen around, mostly fresh, ie first calf cows that would get sold, keep their calves, raise the heifers and steer the bulls. Usually one old cow that we’d hand milk for fresh milk. When the price supports that had been built up through the seventies got yanked in 86, half the dairy cattle in the country went to the butcher and Pop basically retired from the business. So we basically grew up with the horses as the main business and it’s been collapsing now. Might have to go to vegetables and chickens at this rate. My brother in law has a few beef cattle, but it’s been a bit of a running joke for various reasons. Farming is a community effort and it will have to start back at the bottom and develop as a community function. Specialization has its advantages, but is very subject to cycles.
      Fact is that, at fifty, after I get done riding in the morning, sitting at the computer for a few hours lets the brain collect itself. The girlfriend has a garden but it usually gets neglected towards the end. Lots of pumpkins that need collecting.
      Earth is a garden. It just goes through cycles.

      Comment by brodix — October 29, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

      • Thanks for the link. Ellen Brown’s always been the go-to on public banking.

        That’s an interesting account of your family’s farming experience. I agree about the cycles (ever read Vico?). What a bummer that we had to live in such a down time. Oh well, just because history’s cycle and the global ecological cycle are in turbulent, destructive phases doesn’t mean each of our lives has to be.

        You fight as hard as you can to render life as fruitful as possible. That’s all anyone can do, and if you do that, you’ve already won, no matter what else happens.

        Comment by Russ — October 30, 2010 @ 3:45 am

      • A better description might be “interesting times, ” with all its connotations. Can’t have up without down and perfect equilibrium would just be a big flatline on the universal heart monitor. One of the main reasons the potential downside is so great is because the build up has been so stable and effective.
        The reason I put up with all these nuts in my life is because they are the ground I’m planted in, not because it’s world I would have picked.
        The American paradigm is to keep traveling until you find the right spot, but society has become so atomized, there is little strong social connectivity left and we are at the mercy of banks, governments, corporations, etc. To a certain extent, we have to vegetate, rather than move ever faster, even if it seems boring on occasion….

        Comment by brodix — October 30, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

      • Maybe not “vegetate”, but look at the virtues of “slow”, for example:

        Slow Money.

        Slow Food.

        (Although slow money would circulate with the greatest “velocity” of all, since it would remain constantly in motion, but stay in the same region.)

        And energy descent is going to restore historical norms of physical travel whether restless Americans like it or not. There too we ought to make a Thoreauvian virtue of necessity.

        “I have travelled a great deal in Concord.”

        Comment by Russ — October 31, 2010 @ 6:56 am

  7. The slow movement does presage the future.
    Hopefully the bumps getting there will not be too bad.
    I guess by vegetate, I’m thinking in terms of equilibrium between one’s self and situation. Sort of like maintaining an energy balance. Think in terms of a batter hitting a fastball. Total presence and total reaction. So in a sense, it isn’t about slow vs. fast, but a combination of focus and total awareness.
    I’m not quite sure how to explain it exactly. I guess its also a bit about simply living long enough not to be too surprised by anything.
    I had a cousin who speed skied and described it as going into the egg. In that situation, it was both a mental and physical description, in terms of the aeronautics.

    Comment by brodix — October 31, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

    • I know what you mean. I’ve heard the way hitters describe how, when they’re on a hot streak, the ball looks really big and slow, while when they’re in a slump it’s so miniscule as to be barely visible, and zips by instantly.

      So yes, perhaps we can try to conceptualize political consciousness that way as well.

      Comment by Russ — November 1, 2010 @ 8:31 am

      • I grew up in a fairly contentious situation and it seemed the voices in my head were my siblings fighting. I kind of learned from an early age to just fade into the background and tune alot out. In a sense, I learned to become one with things and places and situations, rather than with other people. So I tend to be more observer than participant. We think and rationalize in terms of distinctions, but when we actually add things together, it’s one of something larger, not still two things.
        We can build electronic devices that can communicate at lightspeed around the world. I think we have subconscious abilities with the potential to do the same, but in all the chaos and conflict, all that come through is static.
        I think after a few more evolutionary stages, we won’t look back on these as the good old days, when there was plenty of oil to burn, but the dark ages.

        Comment by brodix — November 1, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

      • I’m sure we won’t look at it as the good old days, but as a horribly squandered opportunity.

        The only question now is whether humanity can take the lessons learned at the cost of so much blood and misery, and transform them into active wisdom going forward, or whether the pointless exertions and enervations of the age have so kicked the tar out of the human spirit that humanity will simply submit to the terminal enslavement in store. That would be the end of humanity, of course, no matter how long the hominid thing still staggered along through more meaningless years.

        Did you see this optimistic cartoon?


        Comment by Russ — November 2, 2010 @ 4:48 am

      • It’s going to be a mess, for as far as we can see. What emerges is another question.
        Especially pessimistic article in last weeks New Scientist:
        The title says it all.

        Comment by John Merryman — November 2, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

      • Hi John,

        Yes, there’s the multiple environmental disasters looming as mega-storms above the political storms gathering. And there’s evidently nothing citizens can do about those than prepare to endure them.

        Interesting times.

        Comment by Russ — November 3, 2010 @ 5:34 am

      • Oh, well. The party of the oligarchs and the knownothings scored one on the party of the corporate shills and the rest of us suckers pulling their wagon. That and the 600,000,000,000 in new play money for the banking cartel should make for more interesting times. Isn’t it nice to know that we live in a time the history books are not likely to gloss over in a few paragraphs?

        Comment by John Merryman — November 3, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

      • I ruefully grin and say “Yeah”.

        But then I cheer up and say, what the next chapter will say is up to us. So let’s write it ourselves.

        Comment by Russ — November 4, 2010 @ 5:42 am

      • I don’t know that it’s cheery, but I’ve had a sense of the inevitability of this for a long time, so when Bush started the war to destroy the house of cards that is the Middle East and when Obama let the banks continue raping the country, there was a rather deep, dark part of me that has just been saying, “Bring it on.” The outside part of me, having read history, is still fully cognizant of just how much death and destruction this could entail.
        If you’ve aLways been a radical, having the powers that be destroy their own world cracks the eggs. Now how do we make the omelet?
        Mostly I discuss the physics at FQXi, because they are the sort of people involved in physics, not the big names, but professors, engineers, etc, who do see something very wrong with the way theory has completely abstracted itself into some very strange contortions. The physics world is a relatively small amount of people, compared to those invested in political, economic and religious causes, so there is some possibility of starting a small rock slide and having it turn into an avalanche.
        The problem is that when I try bringing up points in economic discussions and start to get some traction, people want to know my background and so I have to be honest and try to present the larger philosophical framework and how the economics fits in, since I don’t have the academic background they were assuming. It usually proves to be a complete turn off. I keep doing it though, because, just as very few people took the economic ideas seriously to begin with and that I’m actually getting some traction in the physics discussions, there is the sense that these threads will eventually come together at a time when things really are in upheaval.
        The fact is though, I grew up in horse racing and so gambling is in my blood. You might say, I’m putting down a small wager, essentially my life, on a large bet, that this entire edifice of nonsense can be brought down. Not that I’d expect to live it see it happen, since either these things just take so darn long to happen, or that I’d get enough attention to really irritate those who don’t take kindly to being irritated. Therefore I’m just being patient. There is no sense beating my head against the wall anymore than necessary.
        You’re allowed to think I’m crazy. I think I’m crazy. It keeps me sane though.

        Comment by John Merryman — November 4, 2010 @ 6:38 am

  8. That’s pretty close to the way I see my own life. Anarchists view the goal as a dual one: There’s the final goal, the anarchist society. But there’s also the goal of living a day-to-day anarchist life as much as possible. Doing that, one is already succeeding.

    I don’t really see it as a wager, since I don’t have any better alternatives. When I was younger I suppose I had the opportunity to sell out and probably achieve some level of comfort and perhaps even wealth/power within the system, as some kind of flunkey. But whatever opportunity I may have once had is long gone by now. I’m definitely a terminal peasant, so I see my best bet as being to invest in the possibilities we’re talking about. And I try to convince others that this is their best bet as well.

    Is the cult of formal “expertise” still pretty solid on physics threads? Since the crash I haven’t felt at all intimidated about participation at econoblogs even though I have zero formal credentials or professional expertise. I’ve laughed at the few idiots who even tried to pull credential-rank. I’ve done the same thing with some scientists on Peak Oil boards. I suppose if I were to participate among physicists on dedicated physics threads I’d still insist without embarrassment that all credentials have been discredited, and that everyone has the clear right to be judged according to the quality of his ideas, period.

    We do know for a fact that this system is crazy. So while I can’t guarantee that I’m not crazy in my own way, I do know that in opposition to the system I’m on the side of sanity.

    So I have at least that Socratic assurance.

    Comment by Russ — November 4, 2010 @ 7:20 am

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