May 9, 2011

Philosophical Basis of a Constitutional Convention


The mostly unspoken basis of the 1787-88 Constitution, in the minds of its framers, was to establish a monopoly on political and economic power by elites: Landed, merchant, creditor elites. Their success depended mostly on their having a coherent ideology and plan.
In the same way, if we envision a New Constitutional Convention, it won’t do to be scattershot, starting on an ad hoc basis, speculating about how this or that sounds good. That’s sort of what I did in this post, proposing a list of possible amendments. Let’s review: 

* The enshrinement of Food Sovereignty as a basic right. (This would certainly have been the First Amendment if anyone in 1788 could have contemplated a day when the federal government would explicitly deny we have a right to grow and eat the foods of our choice. But even the opponents of the centralized government who demanded the inclusion of a Bill of Rights, as suspicious as they were, never contemplated such an obscene assault on our liberty and dignity.)

* Corporations are not persons and have no constitutional rights. Only humans have rights.

* If corporations are to exist at all, an amendment could explicitly limit them to the purposes and constraints which would have been familiar in the 1780s.

* The Full Faith and Credit clause shall not be construed to include corporate charters. All corporate activity shall be subject to the chartering laws of the state, except as restricted by one or both of the two previous amendments.

The point of these would be to prevent races to the bottom (since e.g. Delaware’s not all that big a market, and outside Delaware a corporation chartered in Delaware would be subject to the provisions of those other states, not those of Delaware)

* The federal government power shall be strictly construed according to the explicit letter of the Articles.

* “Interstate commerce” is only commerce which within a discrete transaction crosses a state line.

* Some way to declare that globalization “treaties”, i.e. contracts of adhesion, are most definitely not “the Law of the Land”, overriding federal, state, and local law.

* Clarify Article 1, section 8, to specify that the government may not alienate the sovereign power to coin Money. That is, the Fed and all private bank money is unconstitutional and to be abolished. 

But we should start with a unifying principle. For example, let’s say that a critical mass of people agreed upon Food Sovereignty as this principled anchor. What follows from that? Let’s look at Via Campesina’s Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty, and consider what constitutional basics follow from them. For each of these, one can either support it or not. But if you will the end, you must will the means. (Reformists and “progressives” pretend to will certain ends, but their flinching from the means gives the lie to their alleged will to the end.) 

1. Food: A Basic Human Right. Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.

2. Agrarian Reform. A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people – especially women – ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it. 

This denies property in land, since it says land cannot be rationed by wealth. 

3. Protecting Natural Resources. Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agro-chemicals. 

The same denial of property in natural resources. It also implicitly rejects globalization, commodification of food, and explicitly rejects the current intellectual property regime. 

4. Reorganizing Food Trade. Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices. 

An explicit attack on globalization and commodification. Food is food first. Combining Principle 4 with some of the others, it’s also primarily a means of a fulfilling work life. Only when these basic needs have been satisfied can we think of trading food for profit. 

5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger. Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for TNCs is therefore needed. 

An explicit attack on globalization in general and its totalitarian bureaucracies in particular. 

6. Social Peace. Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, repression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated. 

Again, this can be achieved only by the overthrow of commodification and illegitimate property regimes. 

7. Democratic control. Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision-making on food and rural issues. 

While written in anodyne language, willing the means here implies farmer-based democracy. The “equal participation” clause cannot be fulfilled except through the constitution of direct economic and political democracy and bottom-up confederation. Since post-Peak Oil food production will again be the primary occupation, it follows that this democracy has to be a grower-based democracy.
So now let’s look at those amendments again and what their unified goal would be.
The formal enshrinement of some aspects of Food Sovereignty as a Constitutional rights is obvious from any non-corporatist point of view. As I said in the quote above, even the framers would have rejected the tyrannical presumptions and arrogations of this government where it comes to food. If they’d had any inkling of what was to come, this would have been the First Amendment.
The anti-corporate amendments would strike a severe blow against the system’s ability to organize food commodification and globalization. It’s not that domination of food is impossible in the absence of the corporate form; history provides examples of other modes of domination. But this system is based on the corporate form, and it can’t fundamentally change itself in mid-flight. A mortal blow to this tyranny would kill it, and any subsequent tyranny would have to start from scratch. (Our vigilance against that eventuality shall be our subsequent citizen responsibility. But that discussion’s for another time. Right now our priority is liberation from this tyranny.)
An amendment declaring treaties to be Constitutionally binding only directly between governments, while agreements to abdicate sovereignty to rootless globalization cadres are Constitutionally invalid, would directly attack globalization’s ability to impose direct corporate tyranny. Again, while coercive “trade” can and has existed in other ways, the corporate globalization regime is the mode to which this kleptocracy is committed. It stands or falls with it.
On the domestic front, breaking the tyranny of the commerce clause would strike a direct blow on behalf of the rights and freedom of local and regional food production and distribution. Let’s recall, the seminal case Wickard v. Filburn centered on wheat production. The recent Food Control bill (taken in tandem with the health racket Stamp mandate) threatens to greatly expand this federal assault on food freedom. The anti-constitutional abuse of the commerce clause is the core tactic for all of it.
Above I mention Article 1, section 8. Another provision of this section is the Constitution’s view of intellectual property: 

To promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries 

It’s obvious that today’s IP regime does not fulfill these two strict conditions, and in fact assails both. By now corporate copyrights, patents, etc. aren’t used to promote progress but to smother it. Oligopolies by nature don’t want innovation or entrepreneurialism. They want stagnation, with high rents enforced by nothing but market muscle and government looting and thuggery. Any innovation anywhere threatens to upset the balance of monopoly. As for the “limited Time”, this was originally just a few years. So while the Constitution doesn’t explicitly define a time period, anyone who subscribes to originalism, strict construction, or simply to the normal usage of the English language and common sense, would agree that this time period must not be very long. It certainly mustn’t exceed the lifetime of the inventor.
That’s a general condemnation of the corporatist IP regime. The specific application to Food Sovereignty involves primarily the alleged right to patent plant germplasm and the seeds from those plants. No matter what one’s view of patents in general, any sort of patent in a plant is illegitimate. Plants are first of all the produce of nature. Second, plant selection and breeding has been the project of tens of thousands of years of cooperative work. All modern selection, including genetic modification, has merely added tiny increments to the vast collective accomplishment. For a corporation to usurp a patent here is as if someone came into your house, changed a light bulb (which didn’t even need changing), and declared that he now owns your house.
To restore the integrity of the Constitution and to enshrine Food Sovereignty, amendments could clarify the useful inventions clause in general, and specifically declare humanity’s seed heritage off limits.
So there’s some potential jobs for the Convention, as they’d apply specifically to the enshrinement of Food Sovereignty. We can develop similar analyses toward other goals of principle and practice.


  1. Another educational post!

    While the following video doesn’t relate specifically to a Constitutional Convention… I believe it does reflect some shared ideas:

    Derrick Jensen – Endgame

    Comment by Tom Crowl — May 9, 2011 @ 8:09 am

    • Thanks, Tom. I’ll check that out.

      Comment by Russ — May 9, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  2. Good afternoon,

    You’re right to attack the globalists as they try to combine land purchases and intellectual property rights to gain an effective monopoly on food (not to mention the lobbying that you have brought up before which is also disgusting). When you bring these things to the forefront of my mind I have a problem reconciling my sense of injustice toward the topic with the fact that there are people in the world trying to accomplish exactly what we must fight against. The audacity of their ambition to own everything and to be powerful in an ‘amoral’ world knows no bounds it seems (apart from token indulgences, er sorry, donations to charity to ensure that they get into heaven).

    I am reminded of many of my business school friends who seem to have good hearts and intentions and nevertheless engage in willful blindness to further their careers by engaging in dubious career choices such as marketing soda. When I speak with them, there are two main motivations that seem to arise;

    1. I want to be powerful/good at what I do/be under pressure/run important aspects of society – complete amorality

    2. I know what I’m doing isn’t my passion or what is important but I want to earn a living and pad my resume and later in life I’ll do what is important – more complacently, maybe even a more noble path should they follow through

    I’m quite interested to hear your ideas on what we could do to ‘strike a mortal blow’ as you say, because aside from trying to buy land for ourselves and growing on it and thereby rejecting the scraps that otherwise would come to us from corporate food, what can be done?

    Thanks for the post as always,

    have a good day

    Comment by Strieb Roman — May 9, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    • I don’t believe there is a “mortal blow” to be struck. There is merely a long, thankless guerrilla struggle of subversion and sabotage on one hand, and community activism and “waking up the masses” on the other.

      The Corporatist Megalith will not lay down in the face of net negative returns on production and in fact as it’s ability to leverage cheap energy degrades it will likely lash out aggressively at those who oppose it’s former hegemony.

      For an example, witness the United States conduct over the last decade as it lashes out globally to secure critical resources and prop up it’s dead empire.

      Was 9/11 the “mortal blow” al-Qaeda believed it would be? Hardly.

      Comment by Ross — May 9, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    • Thanks, Strieb. I think Ross is right that this will be a long, grueling struggle to keep our heads above water as we relocalize our economies and polities as much as possible while the kleptocracy endures.

      The point of an exercise like this, and eventually trying to have a bottom-up convention, is to propagate a new vision for politics and work, get it out there as much as possible where more and more people can see it, think about it, recognize it as an answer to the afflictions which beset us.

      A movement requires its typical chronic actions, but it also requires an idea. So the first goal of suggestions like the ones I made in this post is to get people thinking about waht we reallt affirmatively want. It’s not enough to hate the kleptocracy and fight to help degrade and destroy it. We need to be fighting for something.

      Comment by Russ — May 9, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    • I am reminded of many of my business school friends who seem to have good hearts and intentions and nevertheless engage in willful blindness to further their careers by engaging in dubious career choices such as marketing soda.

      This is something I personally struggle with, though my work doesn’t involve anything as clear-cut as marketing or corn syrup. We live in a kleptocratic culture. It imposes real constraints on us by design. Everybody must decide for themselves what is possible for them to do. Like a lot of people, I’m not the only one I have to support. There’s no guarantee I’d be able to find similar employment elsewhere. And for all I know any new employer would not meet the ethical standards of my current one.

      Of course, participating in the kleptocracy because you want power or prestige just makes you one of the thieves. And self-serving excuses (I need to pad my resume first) aren’t pretty.

      I remember sitting in class one day while a professor told us about a contract he had with the DoD for some new weapons system they were developing. And he made the decision to back out. He told us about it because he said there were moral decisions involved in the work we do. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but as I’ve progressed through my career I’ve seen many former classmates forced to make similar decisions. Your conscience or your daily bread? They don’t make it easy to decide.

      Comment by reslez — May 10, 2011 @ 6:26 am

      • It’s difficult. The basic rule is to renounce directly malevolent action, like your professor did, and otherwise do the best you can.

        For example, anarchists strive to live as anarchistically as possible amid governments and capitalism. Of course it’s almost impossible to withdraw completely from those frameworks, and lots of compromises are necessary. But you do the best you can while trying to change the world around you so that fewer and fewer compromises are necessary, for you personally and for the community as a whole.

        Toward the end of this piece by Erika Allen


        she describes how Growing Power was offered a Monsanto grant with no strings attached. They wouldn’t even have to display the name or logo anywhere.

        But they knew they’d be named in Monsanto’s greenwashing propaganda, and there would be the simple fact that they took such tainted money, which would caus everyone to look at them differently.

        After some deliberation (they sure could have used the money), they rejected it. So there’s one case study in this.

        Comment by Russ — May 10, 2011 @ 6:42 am

  3. I would like to consider a constitutional amendment that forbids contractual abrogation of civil rights between private parties*. I personally marvel over the ability of corporations to preempt and nullify universal rights. How is it possible to sign away your right to a jury trial just because the other party drew up a complicated contract that says you did? Why should we tolerate a non-disclosure agreement that silences a corporation’s victims in exchange for a pittance of compensation? Why do employees have no civil rights in the workplace — no freedom of speech, no right to privacy? (Doesn’t basic human dignity demand these rights?) Why is it that government can so easily bypass its few restrictions by hiring private corporations to do the spying and intelligence mining?

    Maybe you can think of societally useful reasons for someone to “voluntarily” restrict their own rights. I am dubious of such claims. Just as a contract in which someone agrees to be a slave is null, so should be a contract in which someone agrees to give up fundamental rights.

    * I imagine the language would include corporations non-exclusively, in case some new form of private tyranny should arise.

    Maybe such an amendment is superfluous if other amendments regarding corporate charters are enacted. However, the Bill of Rights was also called unnecessary and yet we see how narrowly it has been interpreted. Furthermore, even if we succeed in banning them here, we should consider that some countries will continue to harbor corporate cesspools. And they would try to act locally via intermediaries of some sort.

    Comment by reslez — May 10, 2011 @ 5:59 am

    • Yes, those are all examples of unconscionable contracts of adhesion, which are supposed to be legally invalid, but our corrupt courts seldom enforce the concept any longer. (Although in the case of AT&T v. Concepcion the assault was so egregious that the lower courts did throw out the “contract”. But the SCOTUS reversed that. Just the latest proof of the SCOTUS’ illegitimacy.)

      You know how schools have often been allowed to inflict corporal punishment? Did you know that until the latter 19th century it was also legal for an employer to inflict corporal punishment on workers?

      If a contract is a consensual agreement, then by definition you can’t have a contract where there’s a significant power imbalance between the parties. That’s just one example of how society doesn’t work where significant power inequality exists, economic or political.

      A truly democratic society would provide equality of opportunity for citizen participation and human fulfillment. But a prerequisite for this is material equality.

      Any amendment which seeks that goal would be worthwhile.

      As for the rest of the world, for now the US government is the linchpin of the whole system. So if this government were transformed and were to, for example, declare all derivatives contracts void and unenforceable in US courts, that would cripple the whole system, at least at first.

      Maybe someplace like Hong Kong might try to take Wall Street’s place, but that would take lots of rebuilding.

      If at the same time America went the route of autarchy, such that the American consumer debt machine was no longer the fuel of globalization, that would definitely cripple the system, probably permanently. Especially once you take Peak Oil into account. The world could never reconstitute this in the face of American withdrawal. (Not to mention hostility, if other countries harbored the kind of corporate revanchists you mentioned.)

      I put it in those terms because I figure the kind of America which would truly enact the kinds of amendments we’re discussing would have to be a newly revolutionizing America which would be taking action on all fronts. Formalization in the Constitution generally follows in the wake of action, it doesn’t anticipate it.

      Comment by Russ — May 10, 2011 @ 6:36 am

  4. Russ,
    Great post as usual.
    A few reactions:
    I love your writing and ideas, because they are closer to my own views and perceptions than most other writers I’ve read (other than, say, Rousseau!)

    I must admit that I think it is very unlikely that a new Constitutional Convention will be allowed to happen, or if it did, would be allowed to make a real change in a positive direction. I think it more likely would be hijacked, just as the one in 1787 was.

    What do you think of the likelihood of a breakup of the USA into separate states or regions again? Might not that even be desirable? Something more akin to the Articles of Confederation might be the best compromise. In an age of energy scarcity, might our continental empire be too large?

    I am personally in the process of putting in the big (by city standards) garden at our new place. I have some friends who make a marginal living in a bad part of town by growing flowers and plants, and they are going to help me. I plan on giving them food and supplies in return. They have even created their own greenhouses with waste lumber and clear plastic. They have accomplished amazing things with few resources, just know-how.

    I would recommend that anyone wanting to get into gardening in a big way look for the young neo-hippies out there… people who have already rejected the system and are just doing it. They may seem kind of scary to the average suburbanite and professional, due to their old clothes and obvious mannerisms, but such friendships will really pay off. Who better to teach us than those who have already made the corporate criminal syndicates irrelevant to their lives as much as possible?

    I even went out late last night with a flashlight and caught four big earthworms for my worm-bucket, inspired by the Archdruid himself.

    I intend to make a little video documentary of my gardening efforts this year.

    Which brings me to:I would like to suggest the creation of a web site that would allow us to interact, post articles and ideas, and document the efforts that you are helping to inspire.

    I am an IT guy, and would be willing to help set up a server and tend it, back it up, etc. That would be part of my modest contribution to the cause.

    Comment by Publius — May 10, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    • Hi Publius, great to hear about the garden. I just put my tomato seedlings in the ground and planted my zucchini and Armenian cucumbers.

      The US empire (including its continental contiguity) is an arbitrary structure which makes no sense. Its breaking up would probably be desirable, at least for the productive people of the productived regions. At any rate, I think it’s likely to occur inertially, as part of the decentraliztion energy descent will impose regardless of political intentions.

      Thanks for your web site proposal. That sounds great.

      Comment by Russ — May 11, 2011 @ 2:33 am

  5. […] food sovereignty was a basic right… From Russ, on his “Volatility” blog: “The mostly unspoken basis of the 1787-88 Constitution, in the minds of its framers, was to […]

    Pingback by If food sovereignty was a basic right… | The Bovine — May 10, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  6. Russ, I think you should first start with a;

    Declaration of Independence
    Meaningful Constitutional Change

    … stating all grievances, initially in a broad brush form, and then refine those to the the specific grievances and the required remedial measures stated in the new constitutional language that will satisfactorily eliminate those grievances.

    This should be done outside the existing corrupt government [There is provision for Constitutional revision in our present Constitution but the system is so corrupt that it can not be effective and any meaningful and lasting change will only come from outside the present corrupt government.] and in tandem with an election boycott, as the electoral process, like all other major institutions of government, has, through aggregate generational corruption, been co-opted by the wealthy elite and their collaborating puppets and made non responsive to the will of the people. The power no longer comes from the consent of the governed and that is the primary reason for this positive remedial action.

    Unlike in the original Declaration of Independence the goal is not to sever all ties with all people, rather it is to sever ties with only those wealthy elite gangster charlatans among us who have forsaken the original alliance of the Constitution, and, through aggregate generational corruption have now so defiled the rule of law so as to selfishly prosper in their own closed smaller and limited alliances, that the ordinary citizen has now been shut out.

    It is a matter of rewriting the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution so as to reflect the will of the people, but writing the Declaration first, and calling it what is, a call for a “Declaration of Independent Meaningful Constitutional Change”.

    Just as a financial jubilee is required periodically to offset the effects of the corruption inherent in usury, so to is a Constitutional Jubilee required to set right the corruptions over time of government.

    Some thoughts;

    • A key element of reform will be to require far greater transparency and much stronger punishment for wayward government officials. Punishment that is proportional to the offense committed. We are talking life in prison here for gross violations of the public trust. I vacillate on the death penalty but think in the interest of bringing more people into this movement for change, life in prison should be the max.

    • This effort will also require a far greater citizen participation than voting every few years.
    Local town meetings, held as social events first, should be held monthly. Election boycott meetings and demonstrations should also be fun social events first. There should be a healing effect put forward to counter all of the intentional bitterness that has been purposefully sown in us to divide us.

    • Given that the powers that be have had the reins of the public media for so long now consideration has to be given as to how much change is possible with out undue bickering. This is going to have to be an internet, tweeter, face book movement. People are ready, they need the framework and the inspiration to see the possibilities

    • Break some new ground. People are tired of phony billionaires and those who have disproportionate asset wealth. People also realize that the odds of them becoming such are minimal at best and that these wealthy elite amongst are in reality the pigs behind the corruption in our government. Corruption made to feather their own nests. Corruption that is used to sell us the false concept that greed is good. Fuck the gangster rich! Having said that it is time to begin seriously discussing maximum yearly income and maximum asset wealth. We have speed limits on our highways there is no reason that we should not have greed limits in our citizenry. What is a fair yearly income spread? Five to one? Ten to one? The key is to set the reasonable limit that would attract sufficient people to work for change.

    • The concept of asset wealth or private property also needs examination. I personally think that to eliminate all private property, as some have proposed, would be to drastic a measure and would greatly effect participation in those who would otherwise work for this needed change. Most folks want their own space and a little garden that they can do as they wish with. A place to rejuvenate themselves. How big should that be? An acre? Ten acres? An acre with fifty acres in ‘productive stewardship’ for a period of time, a lifetime? If the steward ship is truly productive and beneficial to the greater good?

    • Alliance is the operative word here in attracting sufficient people for change. It is us against them. The us must be attractive to a greater number of people.

    • The “us” must also realize that as Americans our lavish and unsustainable lifestyle has been at the expense of those others in the world we have been, and are now, exploiting and oppressing. Osama did not hate us for “our freedoms”, freedoms which are fast disappearing in America as the country is put in homeland security lock down. We have to also unite with and work globally with those who our leaders have set us against and those in other western nations going through the same intentionally contrived herd thinning financial crisis. If you think Bernanke and Greenspan and the wealthy elite they work for do not know exactly what they are doing, and are simply motivated by a reading of and embracing of Ayn Rand, you need to wake up and smell the corruption. It is helpful to realize that our disingenuous leaders who have used us, the middle class, to gain power and control others, now oppress and exploit us domestically. We have become the Indians and the Arabs.

    • A word about naysayers, drinking the kool aid, and selling the kool aid. I have myself convinced that there are a lot of people posing as political activists for positive change who are not really genuine. Especially those with inner knowledge of specific disciplines like ‘economics’. They are in reality very happy with their present crumb supply. In spite of continually revealing and lamenting the gross corruption all around us in our government, and in their area of expertise, they continually implore you to petition that same corrupt government for change. They are shills. You do not ask the fox to change the security of the hen house. One or two times maybe, but continually? NO! be more skeptical.

    And so … begin your rewrite of the existing Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and fashion a list of grievances and create the new documents as outlined above, then social network them – tweet, facebook, blogs, etc. – let’s all come together and share our dreams for a better world …

    Here is a portion of the existing (that has been co-opted and defiled) for your inspiration;

    “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[72] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    A few starter suggestions, fill in your own …

    • Through aggregate generational corruption of the present Government, the United States Constitution, and its descendant Rule of Law, has been co-opted for the benefit of the wealthy few and no longer reflects the will of the people.

    • As a result of the aforementioned aggregate generational corruption, we the people have lost to us control of all major institutions of government.

    • We the people have lost control of our banking system and …

    • We the people have lost control of our …

    • We the people have lost control of our …

    • Etc.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 10, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    • Hi I really like your post.

      My friend and I conducted an exercise in writing grievances and new ideas for the formation of government in a manner similar to what you described and its available @ http://www.c-sir.com/about.html if you would like to have a look to stimulate your thoughts.

      Comment by Strieb Roman — May 10, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

      • Strieb,

        EXCELLENT work! You and your friend rock! Feel free to borrow any of my comments and incorporate them as you wish.

        You are a very perceptive individual, but better than that you have the coping skills necessary to verbalize your perceptions with great clarity. Your disenchantment with the system is nicely expressed, many will relate to it. Keep working and honing and expanding the message and maintain and grow your grievance exercise.

        I think the “mortal blow” will be many smaller blows, like those you have already made, that reveal the bull shit and that over time will combine and work to eliminate the gangsters and set things in balance. I like your energy.

        I have bookmarked your sight and will be in touch in the future.

        Russ, thanks again for the format and all of your hard work!

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 10, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

    • “• The concept of asset wealth or private property also needs examination. I personally think that to eliminate all private property, as some have proposed, would be to drastic a measure and would greatly effect participation in those who would otherwise work for this needed change. Most folks want their own space and a little garden that they can do as they wish with. A place to rejuvenate themselves. How big should that be? An acre? Ten acres? An acre with fifty acres in ‘productive stewardship’ for a period of time, a lifetime? If the steward ship is truly productive and beneficial to the greater good?”

      I agree this needs more elaboration. Russ has been talking about the concept of usufructy, which I like. Ultimately it seems that communities will have to agree to expropriate land from rentier parasites and distribute it amongst the community in a usufruct manner, which will be extremely challenging, to say the least. I think this will be extremely important for urban areas in particular, where usufruct organisation of land use is probably the only way to ensure long-term viability of urban food projects.

      Comment by paper mac — May 11, 2011 @ 12:44 am

    • Thanks for all those suggestions, i ball. I too have had the idea of writing a new D of I, in just the way you say – listing the grievances against the tyrannical and parasitic “elite”, and rejecting this tyranny.

      I agree that politically the property issue needs to be approached carefully, but conceptually I’m 100% clear: One can have a useful possession right on the land, which means one is growing food or otherwise productively using it. But no one can have a unilateral “property” right to idle and rent-seeking ownership. The same goes for natural resources and infractructure (which is all cooperatively built, and therefore according to reason and morality must be cooperatively owned and managed). Paper mac understands me, and you seem to have a similar idea.

      The community can agree to set aside parks, natural preserves, etc.

      I agree that the details will often be tricky to work out, and there may end up being some problems, although nowhere near as many as what we face under the rationed-by-wealth hoarding dispensation.

      Although, most of the problems of detail with anything you name are the result of wealth imbalances in the first place. Cure that disease and cause most other problems to dry up.

      Comment by Russ — May 11, 2011 @ 2:53 am

  7. Check out this article entitled “The Horrors of Defaulting on Education Debt.”

    The article purports to be written in the interests of the students and readers. However, even when the article highlights abuses and corporate-government rackets (such as the fact that although provided for in the law, the discharge of absurd and incredibly burdensome student loans almost never occurs in practice), the only purpose of the article turns out to be to frighten students and ex-students into meekly submitting to their eternal debt servitude.

    The student loan racket is crushing young people, old people, disabled people. Read the article.

    The only real escape for many of us will be to “default and disappear” into our future communes, transition town villages, and eco-shantytowns.
    If you are completely independent of the debt-servitude system, why would you even worry about complying with such grotesque demands akin to medieval serfdom?

    The only question becomes, what will the PTB do when the student loan refugees start fleeing en masse, and how far will their fellow citizens of their communities go to protect them. Something like the underground railroad may become necessary.

    Comment by Publius — May 10, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

    • Once debt jubilation becomes a mass movement the system will be helpless against it. By then it’ll all be out in the open.

      In the early stages, though, part of the kleptocracy’s reason to try to suppress relocalization will be to prevent the independence of the system which helps enable the renouncing of fraudulent debt.

      It ought to be edifying seeing our exalted universities turning to gutter thugs to dun up the money. The whole college scam is one of the most ridiculous aspects of the brainwashing.

      People need to learn to look at most colleges the way they look at the banks. (They need to look at the MSM that way too. There’s been some progress there.)

      Comment by Russ — May 11, 2011 @ 3:03 am

      • Here is what is becoming of “higher learning”: forced reading of Ayn Rand!


        The charitable arm of BB&T Corp., a banking company, pledged $1 million to the University of North Carolina Charlotte in 2005 and obtained an agreement that Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” would become required reading for students. Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, say they also took grants and agreed to teach Rand.


        ’nuff said.

        How long can the ruse continue?

        Comment by Lidia — May 11, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

      • That also goes to show what a scam corporate “philanthropy” is.

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 2:13 am

      • More:

        This month the value of my degree has taken a significant hit with the announcement that two politically-minded, skeazy billionaires obsessed with spreading their narrow point of view The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, in 2008, gave $1.5 million to the University’s Economics Department in a manner that effectively curtailed academic freedom—meaning that my beloved alma mater has sold out for a very low price. From the St. Petersburg Times:

        A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

        A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”
        Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.


        This is a PUBLIC university…

        Comment by Lidia — May 12, 2011 @ 5:50 am

      • Stuff like that is pretty nasty, but is it really much worse than the normal, but less in-your-face, neoliberal fare at these universities?

        Maybe it’s for the best. I was never kidding the times I said I’d rather see Bernie Madoff become head of the CFPB than Elizabeth Warren. If the frog might let himself be slowly brought to a boil, then it’s better to jab him with a red-hot poker.

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 8:31 am

  8. Excellent comments, guys. I don’t have time to properly respond now, but I’ll do so tomorrow.

    Comment by Russ — May 10, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  9. I wanted to add one more thing:
    Do you think our Founding Fathers really thought that their list of grievances would yield a successful reform? I don’t think most of them thought so.

    I think that what everyone is proposing here, or at least the realistic ones, is a revolution.

    A constitutional convention is a “soft” revolution… what chance does it have?

    I think the majority of the Founders were using the list of grievances and all their petitions as a build up, even if unconsciously, to a real revolution. They wanted to cover their bases… so they wouldn’t feel too guilty when they pulled the triggers and left the embrace of mother England.

    All of this petitioning and listing of grievances may be necessary to enable the majority to join, but nobody here really thinks our list of petty (I’m being ironic here) grievances will be taken seriously by the elites at any level, do we? How many Ralph Naders and Dennis Kucinish’s would even be tolerated? They are tolerated to the extent that they are running jokes.

    The question, then, for me, is how I could really put a lot of energy into something, such as the campaign for a constitutionally approved constitutional convention, that is really just a prelude.

    Also: what is the foundational basis for our efforts? Natural Law? I think that old-fashioned conservative notions such as natural law are the way to go. This makes sense, since both current parties are not conservative in the traditional European sense, but are radical parties intent on destroying all natural, organic relations between communities of people. I realize, in saying this, that Russ is not a big fan of “organic” notions of the human polity, since this concept was used to support the corporatist agenda. But I still think it is a valid notion that is descriptive. There is a natural, organic, and democratic connection within and between human communities. We need to bring the whole gamut of such natural human feeling into the effort: religion, spirituality, regional loyalties, and ethnic diversity. Let’s embrace what is, and reject the parasitical cancer on the body political which is globalist, stateless, and not attached to any land, soil, or natural human sympathy.

    Comment by Publius — May 11, 2011 @ 12:25 am

    • I agree with all of that.

      Obviously I don’t mean for anything I say to be a “petition” to “the authorities”. On the contrary, from day one I’ve said reformism cannot work, and it’s demeaning to a productive human being to seek it anyway. The existence of elites is odious morally, rationally, spiritually, aesthetically, and on a practical level.

      That’s why whenever I propose things like this I stipulate that it’s primarily a political tactic. However, to the extent that people still believe something like a convention could work in itself, it can also be a way station in the educational process. As people see how all their efforts are useless in trying to change the system, they’re moved toward conscious total rejection of it. And along the way they’ll have had their political vision clarified and sharpened.

      I haven’t systematically worked out my ideas yet on what we call natural law. Since I’ve been focused on the fight itself, I’ve tended to take the basics of right and justice as given.

      It’s self-evidently true that if there’s such a thing as natural moral truth at all, then no one can unproductively “own” anything nature provides, and that a right in anything is bestowed by one’s productive work.

      As for political sovereignty, the constitution of a society, and the legitimacy of representative government, there I have done some thinking, and have derived a political philosophy from the philosophy of the American Revolution.

      I gave a basic rundown here:



      and in some other places. But I intend to flesh it out further.

      This whole notion of a virtual Constitutional Convention is also meant to help us understand what the American Revolution is really about, how it was hijacked, and according to what values and ideas it must be resumed.

      Comment by Russ — May 11, 2011 @ 3:20 am

      • In “socialist” Italy, water privatization continues apace.

        Comment by Lidia — May 11, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

    • The foundational basis for our efforts IS natural law. It is by natural law that we are thrust into a dog eat dog world where we must consume, enslave, and exploit other organisms in order to get our needs met so as to sustain ourselves. If one wants to rise above that cannibalistic condition and create some peace and harmony in the world one must create alliances that consolidate and project those cannibalistic conditions on other groups of organisms for sustenance; farm animals, plants, bacteria, etc., and; at the same time fairly restrict and regulate those cannibalistic conditions within the alliance. Complicating all of this is the difficulty in accepting this reality. It takes courage. That is why we have so many well entrenched human religious belief coping systems based on fantasy and pie in the sky.

      This poses a problem similar to that of property ownership as I mentioned above. Just as there is an entrenched belief in private property that must be considered and respected in any new system, so too must the entrenched religious belief systems be considered and respected. That would include the growing number of atheists and new age believers. Hammering out terms acceptable to all, without losing sight of the core mission (the foundational basis) of regulating and redirecting our cannibalistic nature, e.g., the term Divine Providence in lieu of God, or, broadening the meaning of God to be all inclusive of whatever force or spirit an individual believes in, our none at all. So … like the property issue you can be 100% conceptually clear on your own beliefs but in order to effect a working alliance you must consider and respect the beliefs of others. Again the word alliance is key here.

      The revolution, a very real revolution, would be the NATIONAL ELECTION BOYCOTTS formed in tandem with the Constitutional rewrite. This would be the most effective “mortal blow” of this moment in evolution.

      Russ said; “Although, most of the problems of detail with anything you name are the result of wealth imbalances in the first place. Cure that disease and cause most other problems to dry up.”

      Russ, that is a cogent comment and it serves to point out the importance of always putting that concept forward first as a solution to most all other grievances that one could think of.
      The wealthy elite currently have their media whores at work dispelling the notion that the wealthy are not the problem by pointing out that if they were taxed to the max that it would be a mere drop in the bucket for correcting the national debt. That is a scam deflection that masks the fact that the greedy wealthy elite are the policy setters that got us into this situation that favors only them.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 11, 2011 @ 9:00 am

      • if they were taxed to the max that it would be a mere drop in the bucket for correcting the national debt

        That’s a pretty silly considering that they’re the liars trying to convince everyone that the national debt is such a problem in the first place.

        Pretty clever, if your audience is gullible enough: “This is the real problem, not that! And by coincidence none of the things anyone proposes to do against us would help with this real problem.”

        However, as I’ve written before, I’ve rejected as a waste of energy and likely boomerang the agenda of trying to make the tax code more progressive.



        I think the best path, both substantively for relocalization as well as tactically, as a potential wedge issue, is for us to reject taxes completely and make the basic demand:

        No Taxes on the Non-Rich.

        Regarding your other points, while I appreciate the touchy issue of “property” in America, given how it’s been so fundamental a part of the brainwashing, it’s also true that conceptually there’s no difference between counterattacking wealth concentrations and counterattacking propertarianism. Those are synonyms.

        But perhaps it’s one of those things where different phrasing can help lead the horse to water in the first place. There’s so many ways in which people will both ardently embrace and angrily reject the exact same thing, depending on what it’s called.

        That’s part of why I want to hammer home the fact that corporations are nothing but creatures and extensions of government, that they can exist only with the aggressive support of big government, and to get people to see corporate rents and exactions as taxes, which they are, and corporate adhesion policies and mandates as bureaucratic regulations, which they are.

        Comment by Russ — May 11, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

      • How would you define non-rich?

        Comment by Strieb Roman — May 11, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

      • It’s almost everyone by now. I don’t have a specific number, but I know it when I see it.

        What kind of definition do you want? How about, anyone who’s not waging aggressive class war?


        Since we were mentioning taxes, a good way of looking at it might be: Is one a recipient of active (as opposed to grudging and inertial) government benefit or not? The government’s entire policy can be summed up as corporate welfare and welfare for the rich. Wealth redistribution upward. (The police state is meant to supplement this.)

        Meanwhile there’s no public interest spending, up to and including Social Security and Medicare (which are only repayments of taxes we already paid in), which the government maintains at all other than under political duress. Whatever public spending it can austeritize, it will.

        So it follows that if the government is willing to give a person or entity money, he’s on the evil side of the class war. If it only wants to tax you but provide nothing but assaults in return, you’re on the other side. That’s what I call “non-rich”.

        But let’s stick with concepts, not ask for numbers. That’s bad tactics.

        Comment by Russ — May 11, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

      • Russ said; “That’s part of why I want to hammer home the fact that corporations are nothing but creatures and extensions of government, that they can exist only with the aggressive support of big government, and to get people to see corporate rents and exactions as taxes, which they are, and corporate adhesion policies and mandates as bureaucratic regulations, which they are.”

        Corporations are creatures and creations of CORRUPT government that can only exist in their present forms with the aggresive support of that CORRUPT government. The same CORRUPTION that created the FED, hijacked the public airwaves, etc. Government size is not the issue, CORRUPT government is the issue. The wealthy elite, through their global central banks and corporations, own and control the government(s) and all of their institutions. CORRUPT governments function in reality as cost slashing personnel departments. They are now on herd thinning mode.

        I think the hammering that has to be done is on CORRUPTION. Wage and asset wealth limits, in tandem with transparency and harsher and meaningful punishment will take the wind out of corporations and give people control over them. Russ, I think you have bought into a bit of the Reagan/Thatcher instigated “big government is bad” meme which by extension belittles all government.

        Government, a good government, is an alliance of ALL of the people who should ALL be willing to serve and participate in that government. As such all citizens would nominally be a part of that government, that would be a big government. Its not a bad thing! And some number of those people would serve when required in a smaller, democratically decided (and lottery decided as in military and cops), core government to provide services.

        Corporations, not a bad thing if created and controlled properly, would be chartered for large scale socially beneficial projects (those projects deemed socially negative would not get charters) and would be, or could be, some workable percentage board of director staffed, with elected citizens in a number proportional to the social impact and size of the project.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 11, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

      • All of history proves that size is inherently corrupt. That’s a fundamental precept of the real American Revolution (as opposed to its later hijacking): Power by its nature assaults liberty. “Corrupt” power is a misnomer. So the only way to preserve liberty is to keep power from concentrating.

        This is the second time you seem to want to separate wealth concentrations from something with which they’re inextricably linked. Just as wealth and property concentrations are synonymous, so wealth and power concentrations go together, both manifesting as size, among other things.

        While I agreed that it might be more tactically sound to attack “wealth” rather than “property”, here I think the opposite: Attacking “government” as among other things the inherent bagman and thug of wealth can be a tactical boon.

        Beyond that, one of my fundamental principles is that the people can, may, should, and must rule themselves, politically and economically. In practice, this has been proven to work, while elite rule has been proven to fail at everything other than establishing kleptocracy. In principle, humanism can reach no other conclusion and still maintain any dignity or integrity whatsoever.

        Since you describe what could be a truly participatory democracy (your description isn’t completely clear), maybe we’re just arguing over semantics. But if that’s true, then I can’t imagine why you’d want to make a gratuitous fetish of the word “government” (let alone “big government”), when we’re really talking about direct democracy, self-rule by the community.

        (What do you mean by “big”? This blog is dedicated to decentralization and relocalization, including political relocalization. According to what I think is desirable and is inevitable anyway, any geographically large area would be united only on a loose confederate basis.)

        So it follows that we don’t need central government, would be better off without it, and should be ashamed of ourselves if we do still want it. That’s a measure of eternal childishness. It’s time for humanity, long an adult by now, to take adult responsibility for itself.

        As for the fact that corporations serve no purpose except to help organize crime, including these wealth and power concentrations, I’ve already written about that in these pieces


        and innumerable other posts and comments.

        Here too it sounds like you want to go a reformist route, and I’ll grant that in previous posts on Constitutional amendments I’ve mentioned the possibility of trying to restore the pre-Civil War status of corporations. But I’ve always been clear that I consider that the less workable or desirable solution compared to abolishing them completely.

        Why would a democratic community, where everyone participates the way you too envision, need the corporate form? My relocalization group hasn’t technically “formalized” each of its projects; we self-organize them and do them. (Our only technical formalizations, like incorporating as a non-profit, have been vis-a-vis the system, only because the system currently exists and dominates, but not at all because we consider them inherently necessary or desirable. There’s an example of the sometimes-required compromises mentioned above in this thread.)

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 2:38 am

      • Russ said; “So it follows that we don’t need central government, would be better off without it, and should be ashamed of ourselves if we do still want it. That’s a measure of eternal childishness. It’s time for humanity, long an adult by now, to take adult responsibility for itself.”

        Yes Russ, some semantic (word labeling/hijacking differences) but also some differences in perception and therefore course of remedial action.

        The wealthy gangster elite are organized centrally and rule globally through their central banks. I don’t believe for a microsecond that they can be defeated by a “loose geographic confederation”. It will take an alliance of power, a BIG alliance of power, given by CONSENT, not corruptly STOLEN as in the present governmental structures. To believe otherwise is what is childish. You can not march back off into the woods and simply be prudent and self sufficient. The genie is out of the bottle. Bigness is here to stay. The earth is big, that does not make it corrupt. We are all one and interrelated and connected as one. The air you breathe here today arrives daily having traveled over China, India and Japan. Being prudent in isolation is folly. That is a libertarian fantasy.

        How will you protect the fruits of your labor when the goons of the central banks trash and negate all of your hard work with the radioactive plume of a failed nuclear plant? What if your idyllic community is built on a river and the folks upstream build a dam and cut off your water? You will need more than a small loose confederation of, “direct democracy, self-rule by the community”, to deal with it. We are a GLOBAL community.

        All of history DOES NOT prove that size is inherently corrupt. All of history proves that the struggle is one of rising above our cannibalistic nature by forming alliances of individuals, and that we, as individuals, must work more diligently to eliminate those who deceptively and corruptly work to defeat those alliances for their own selfish ends.

        This will require greater transparency and harsher punishments for those who violate those alliances. This will require putting ‘speed limits’ on asset wealth and yearly income wealth. This will require a BIG alliance of like minded individuals to create such a system. These individuals will realize that we are all one and that wealth concentration is inextricably linked to CORRUPTION, not bigness.

        If you have a problem with the corporate name/label use another like ‘task force’. There are many large scale socially beneficial projects that will need to be tackled – like mitigating the effects of global pollution.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 12, 2011 @ 9:19 am

      • I don’t think it’s possible to have large non-coercive structures. None has ever existed, and there’s no reason to believe they can exist now. If I thought it were possible and necessary to fight the power that way, then I’d be a Leninist. But I don’t think it’s either possible or necessary.

        Am I misunderstanding you, or are you saying you believe in infinite growth? (And therefore energy?) Because otherwise I don’t understand your implication that the kleptocracy is sustainable and will endure until toppled by…reformism or insurrection, I’m not quite sure what you think can happen.

        The rest of what you say is delusion (about infinite growth, globalization, etc.) and straw-manning, since you know perfectly well the positions you attribute to me are falsely attributed.

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  10. Well, now, this debate about bigness is taken on overtones of a theological debate.
    You are both right, although I tend to agree, based on my reading of history, with Russ: that “bigness” per se is an evil.

    But an evil must always be defined relative to something. Bigness is good for some things: the aggrandizement of an empire, the raping of the land, and the conquering of other peoples.

    Rousseau believed that a democracy could only work and exist up to a certain level of bigness (in terms of population), and I believe history has proven him correct.

    Look at Switzerland and Sweden: both are imperfect, but both are much more democratic. Switzerland itself is a confederation of cantons, with three regions and three official languages (if my memory serves me well here).

    Switzerland proves that a loose political confederation can maintain its independence surrounded by very powerful monolithic nations, such as France and Germany. This takes political and diplomatic skill, as well as the threat of force (but only in defense). Every male adult Swiss citizen has his military rifle in the gun cabinet in his house, by law.

    The main worry I have about where “i on the ball patriot” is going, is that he seems to be attracted by the force and power that a big group/government/corporation could give to the struggle. He is on the correct side of the struggle (against the corruption we are being eaten alive by), but he believes it will take a powerful force, in terms of political unit size, to take on this evil.

    The reason I do not quite agree, is that by simply seceding from the economic and political system that the corrupt system has created, we will be sapping its strength. It’s kind of like that old Star Trek episode where Spock realizes that they have to stop blasting away with the phasers at the alien attacker, because their own weapon’s energy is being used by the alien as a form of food or energy.

    Jose Ortega y Gasset describes how the Roman Empire simply ran out of energy. The Christians and Stoics helped to destroy the Roman form of what we are dealing with by simply withdrawing into themselves, their monasteries, and their villages. The empire fell, and numerous new polities emerged to create the Middle Ages. Some of these new political units were actually quite democratic: trading towns in southern France, the German Hanseatic League, etc. Even in the face of the later consolidation of power in the Renaissance, these seeds of democratic politics (also think of guilds, fraternities, etc.), helped to influence later events. The Swiss became probably the best example of a successful effort at shaking off the parasites (again, keeping in mind that nobody is, was, or will be perfect).

    My fear would be that a massive, monolithic, national party or group that is instituted to fight the corrupt system would itself become co-opted by a sociopath, as happened when Lenin liquidated all the groups and leaders but his own, during the Russian Revolution.

    Finally, in an age of oil depletion, I don’t think the national big bad guys will be able to consolidate power. The local big bad guys will – but local and regional democratic politics will be enough to snuff them out, if the people are agile and perceptive enough to take care of such warlords in waiting before they get too powerful.

    Comment by Publius — May 12, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    • I agree. I don’t think it makes sense to speak of challenging the current corporatist configuration with some kind of equally-or-more-powerful configuration of the people. I don’t see any plausible way to organize the masses in a way that gives that organisation the same kind of economic, political, and military clout, without suborning the interests and wellbeing of the people constituting the organisation. The elites have amassed their power through exploitation and autocratic rule across centuries. I doubt it is possible to challenge that type of power without becoming an exploiter yourself, without replacing one tyranny with another. Such an organisation would be crushed by the elites in its nascent form, in any case.

      It is usually impossible to fight a yang strategy with another yang strategy from a lowly position. A yin strategy is more effective. Be flexible, seek the lowest places, allow the strong opponent to expend his resources on useless offensives against positions you’ve already vacated (physically and politically). What is overgrown will always decay, usually sooner than later. Non-participation will sap the corporate state of the resources it needs and destroy its legitimacy. We must build small, distributed, sustainable alternatives to the currently-corporatised structures necessary for life that allow us to withdraw our consent.

      Comment by paper mac — May 12, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

      • Yup. The right model is Sun Tzu, not Patton.

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    • Yes, the only workable plan is, on the negative side, withdrawal, evasion, survival, civil disobedience, where necessary resistance. On the affirmative side, political and economic relocalization to whatever extent possible.

      So the goal, while the Tower of Babel totters but still stands, is to build a movement along those lines. This post


      has some basics.

      Then, as kleptocracy collapses on account of energy descent and the unsustainability of “growth” in itself, this democracy fills the void and replaces it.

      As I’ve been saying lately, the fact that existing big, centralized structures will collapse doesn’t mean post-oil forms cannot eventually evolve, just as pre-oil empires existed. (For now I won’t get into whether in fact it will be possible to continue to use metals on the scale the ancient empires did, or whether by now most kinds are too degraded beyond recyclability. There’s conflicting testimony on that, and it all sounds speculative.)

      But I think there will be time and opportunity for humanity to apply the lessons it ought to have learned and take adult responsibility for itself. Part of this will be a general refusal to allow new elites to coalesce. That includes political power and wealth concentrations.

      Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    • • It took BIGNESS and a concerted effort to defeat Japan and Germany.

      • Switzerland is going through the pains of external neoliberal influence in its economy as we speak with the far right in Sweden now mobilizing. As is happening in almost the entire EU — I believe it is all part of the grand orchestration of the global full spectrum dominance plan which seeks to impose a ‘perpetual conflict’ in the masses.

      • The Roman empire comparison is not apropos. Technology has changed the equation. Isolation in this day and age of satellites, drones, and targeted assassinations is impossible.

      • I am not against the back to the land movement or being prudent. I love it and live it to the best that my situation allows. But it is not enough. It must be done in tandem with direct political activism such as election boycotts that would strip the government of its false claims to legitimacy.

      • Nor am I against a loosely federated government. We should be discussing the make up of that federation for the new Constitution and how will we keep it loose yet cohesive and not too powerful so that localized individuals can maintain control. Screw the one powerful president arrangement. Let’s have seven or nine, or eleven, regional presidents subject to a recall in a heart beat. But it must be BIG — FUCKING BIG — to defeat the full spectrum dominance folks.

      • No matter how you slice it and dice it you will still need, and I repeat here;

      “This will require greater transparency and harsher punishments for those who violate those alliances. This will require putting ‘speed limits’ on asset wealth and yearly income wealth. This will require a BIG alliance of like minded individuals to create such a system. These individuals will realize that we are all one and that wealth concentration is inextricably linked to CORRUPTION, not bigness.”

      In any alliance, of ANY size, it all comes down to trust, transparency, and strong enough consequences for misbehavior that will foster and maintain that trust.


      Paper mac said;

      “I doubt it is possible to challenge that type of power without becoming an exploiter yourself, without replacing one tyranny with another. Such an organisation would be crushed by the elites in its nascent form, in any case.”

      We ARE ALL exploiters. We must all, as individuals, put our ‘tyranny’ (our human nature, our cannibalism), through alliances, on others in order to sustain our own lives – on other species, and, more fairly upon ourselves. That is done through alliances with safeguards of transparency and real punishment as I have said over and over again. Alliances that the rich prick frauds have deceptively broken to amass GLOBAL power. Global power that will not be defeated by decentralized forces.

      Perception is the yin, the passive force, deception is the yang, the active force that is externalized by the organism. They exist in all organisms. It is the cannibalistic nature of organisms. We rise above it through alliances.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 12, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

      • So I guess the difference is that you do believe in the permanent endurance of this level of organization and technology, while those of us who recognize that no energy source can replace cheap, plentiful fossil fuels don’t believe that.

        I never think in terms of butting heads head-on with the intact kleptocracy. I don’t see how that could ever be workable. I think in terms of building a movement to hang on for long enough and make itself strong enough that we can prevent the kleptocracy’s retrenching itself into neofeudalism as energy consumption inevitably declines.

        Even if you’re right, then the way I envision still offers the best chance that a Gandhiesque resistance movement could attain enough moral authority (including the capacity to endure suffering) that the kleptocracy couldn’t simply exterminate it, nor effectively enslave it.

        The things you say should all be part of the philosophical mix. And certainly we want the resistance movement to be as big as possible in terms of membership and influence. But that’s not the same thing as centralization, let alone wanting to build a new state which could have defeated Japan and Germany.

        (And even assuming defeating Japan and Germany would have been necessary for a non-imperialist America, that too was still a feature of the Oil Age. What comparable threat will exist in the future?)

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

      • I would say that Germany and Japan were not exactly defeated, they were co-opted. The war was not politics by other means, but business by other means. The same industrial companies that mounted the German war machine survived, and thrived. More so, even than their US counterparts today. Who is doing better: VW or GM? US steel or the German steel trust?

        I agree with paper mac and Publius. Even if the energy potential were there to create the mega-movement you describe, it would be the antithesis of what people truly need and want: positive connection and agency in their lives and their futures.

        Bigness breeds corruption because it breeds unfamiliarity (which breeds contempt). When you have to look someone in the eye, see them every day or week, have multiple bonds where trust is convenient, then you will be more inclined to treat them honestly: this is just a fact of human nature. [Sociologists peg the optimal establishment of useful human connections at some few hundred, no more.]

        Our society is currently set up to do the opposite of “natural” human society: iow take every little advantage and bit of arbitrage possible, because transactions have been reduced to disconnected sanitized number inputs, quantifying only, when we need to be qualifying, and finding the real, intentionally hidden, sources of value as well as of waste and destruction.

        Comment by Lidia — May 12, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

      • Bigness breeds corruption because it breeds unfamiliarity (which breeds contempt). When you have to look someone in the eye, see them every day or week, have multiple bonds where trust is convenient, then you will be more inclined to treat them honestly: this is just a fact of human nature. [Sociologists peg the optimal establishment of useful human connections at some few hundred, no more.]

        I often think about how, out of cowardice and/or conscience, most of the criminals would never treat the people they actually deal with face to face in the way they treat people in general (in their capacity as business and government cadres).

        That’s part of the goal of size and division of labor as far as moral responsibility and having to see one’s crimes with one’s own eyes. Most cadres who were part of the Holocaust machine saw only their own small fragment of it, and could ignore the big picture easily enough if they wanted to.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 4:56 am

      • Lidia, I used Japan and Germany as an example of bigness of the ORGANIZED WILL of a large group of people getting a goal accomplished, Publius implied that bigness was always bad. I would say that Japan and Germany were more ingested than co-opted, and yes the chaff of the conflict was excreted away while the useful externalizations were retained by the wealthy elite and incorporated into the new global pecking order. It is important to note here that this – BIG, huge, large – public will was in many ways shaped and formed as the result of a massive propaganda campaign by the powers that be. That same, and now greatly improved in size and technique, propaganda machine that has taken those same people – that BIG, huge, large – group of people to a whole new zeitgeist, one of divisive conflict based in fear and mistrust.

        Regarding this; “Bigness breeds corruption because it breeds unfamiliarity (which breeds contempt). When you have to look someone in the eye, see them every day or week, have multiple bonds where trust is convenient, then you will be more inclined to treat them honestly: this is just a fact of human nature. [Sociologists peg the optimal establishment of useful human connections at some few hundred, no more.]”

        Sociologists are as corrupt and malleable as economists are. Two things here;

        1. Having said the above I agree with the premise that greater familiarity is the basis for trust. It is one of the problems with our present government and should be rectified in an new Constitution. The hierarchy, properly created, and with the correct checks and balances, and with the technology today, can allow for that greater face to face contact. But keep in mind that face to face contact is no guarantee of integrity. Boob puppet Ronnie Reagan said trust but verify, I would say, verify, then trust. Performance safeguards must be an integral foundational stone of any new Constitution.

        2. The current wayward Scamerican Idol public will is very sophisticated in its implementation (Scotty looks like and acts like George Bush and sings weepy patriotic songs) and, most important, in reach – size of voice – which drowns out web sites such as this. The point here is that it IS possible to motivate the BIG public to any calling, and part of any movement for change should be to motivate people to a greater calling. The Ghandi/MLK/ pacifist meme is currently being promoted and celebrated globally by the wealthy gangster corporate media. Monuments are being built to celebrate their efforts all across Scamerica and the globe promoting the ‘false’ meme that “it is over “, civil rights and equality are here, and there is no longer any need to protest, and that is the way to protest. Nothing could be further from the truth. These monuments and stories are always officiated by the same scum bags who created the oppression in the first place and they always find someone in the ‘progressive’ movement to attend and validate the ceremony thereby validating the status quo and legitimizing the gangster officials.

        This is not about building the force and power of a big group/government/corporation, it is about building the force and power of an idea and what it realistically takes to implement that idea. An idea that is essential for positive change.

        Russ said; “So I guess the difference is that you do believe in the permanent endurance of this level of organization and technology, while those of us who recognize that no energy source can replace cheap, plentiful fossil fuels don’t believe that.”

        I believe in the permanent endurance of the struggle of all organisms on earth.

        I believe that ALL organisms have a core driving force of perception and deception, where perception is the passive force and deception is the active force.

        I believe that humans presently have the dominance that they do because of their greater powers of perception and amazing ability to externalize their cognitive and motor skills into superior deceptions.

        I believe that all of those human externalizations, because they are ALL exclusively created to get needs met for sustenance – are deceptions. They can all interchangeably be called; externalizations, deceptions, or, tools of dominance. From the wheel and the shovel to the back hoe and bulldozer, and from papyrus and ink to computers and flash memory, and many overlapping combinations in between, these deceptive externalizations have given humans dominance over other organisms and control of inorganic resources.

        I believe that human organisms, through birth, each arrive with a range of unique dna instruction sets, and each is born into a matchless environment, both of which determine their individual capacities to utilize existing already externalized deceptions and to create new externalizations – new deceptions.

        I believe that throughout evolution human organisms have formed themselves into ever more complex societal arrangements that always reward the creation of superior new deceptive externalizations and control of past deceptive externalizations. These organizations always have, and have had, a pecking order about them ranging from very simple, to very complex, and variance in the role that each member of the social group plays, and in the wealth (society dependent wealth), allowed for each member dependent on his or her role.

        Most importantly, I believe that the current tools of dominance are now exponentially more powerful, and in the hands of the few who now recognize their power and use them to shape, exploit, enslave and intentionally decimate the global culture they have shaped and formed. They are the future comparable (to Japan and Germany) threat you inquire about but they are here – now!

        Simply being prudent in isolation will not wrest control of that power (and I think that the power of the existing externalizations is being severely underestimated here, especially the mind fuck media and its global orchestration) from those who have it nor will those powers allow you to be prudent in isolation.

        As I said to Lidia above; “This is not about building the force and power of a big group/government/corporation, it is about building the force and power of an idea and what it realistically takes to disseminate and implement that idea.”

        It is about reigning in the pigs by reducing wealth spreads and introducing safeguards to maintain those wealth spreads through a new Constitution written by the people outside the present order.

        It will take prudence along with action in the streets – election boycotts, promoted not in city halls and government capitals but in the streets in front of every business in Scamerica.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 13, 2011 @ 9:30 am

      • That’s a harsh vision of the world. But the evidence of history and science is against it.

        Most people have lived, and to this day most people still live most of the time, cooperatively, “anarchistically”.

        It’s actually power and greed, where they can impose themselves in a tyrannical way, which engender such viciousness. That’s what’s happened over pretty much the entire globe during modernity.

        But it requires monumental energy and effort to maintain something so artificial, so unsound in the face of nature, and which generates such resistance to itself.

        The kleptocracy won’t be able to maintain that energy for much longer. Our task is to survive its stage of desperation, survive its death throes, survive the travails of its end, and carry through those fires the principles and framework of a new world we can start building even today.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 11:35 am

    • Can anyone recommend a good book on Switzerland’s democratic governance model that could serve as useful insight to how it might be replicated?

      Comment by Strieb Roman — May 12, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

      • The only thing I ever read on that was the section in Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror where the Swiss peasantry (and some middle-class too, if I recall correctly) successfully defended themselves against an invasion of feudalist knights. But that’s just on how they were in a position to develop their governance in the first place, not the model itself.

        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

      • This site outlines some of the mechanisms the Swiss use for their quasi-direct democracy:

        That said, I’m a little skeptical of the notion that Switzerland is a model to be emulated, if only because of the massive, largely unrecognized underclass of immigrants (Turks, eastern europeans) who do all the dirty jobs for the upper-class Swiss-Germans and -French. The citizenship system is highly exclusionary, which disenfranchises these workers. I don’t really have a problem with communities being insular or even exclusionary, but it seems to me that if you’re going to exploit someone’s labour and not give them a vote, you don’t have much of a claim on having a democratic society.

        Comment by paper mac — May 12, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  11. Wow:
    BofA to keep foreclosures despite new Utah law

    It would seem that the corporations now see the states the same way they see the people: entities to be ignored and trampled upon. The states, though, still have police and national guard forces at their disposal to shutter these criminal enterprises. Will they use them?

    Comment by Publius — May 12, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    • Utah’s recourse, if it’s serious about that law, is very simple. Any such foreclosure is illegal and invalid, an unforeclosure.

      No homeowner has to comply with it, no police or courts will be involved in enforcing it, and any private actor who attempts enforcement will be arrested and prosecuted for trespassing, burglary, assault, whatever fits. That’s how I’d handle it.

      I’m not gonna hold my breath.

      Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

      • Russ, this is the sort of thing that has led me to declare myself an anarchist, as opposed to any prior reading or ideology.

        For me, it’s very simple: I find it impossible to recognize a system which has ceased to uphold its own rules. They have cancelled themselves out, as far as I am concerned. I don’t need to defeat the government: it has already defeated itself.

        Comment by Lidia — May 12, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

      • Yes, it’s impossible to continue to support this government and maintain any moral integrity.

        And since almost all governments have reached this stage, it’s also logical to deduce that anarchism was right all along, that this is the inevitable end state of government.

        Meanwhile reformism just wants a perpetual political version of the “business cycle” (really just the flow and ebb of crime). We can call it the corruption/tyranny cycle: Power seeks tyranny anywhere it can, it advances inexorably, then sometimes reformers temporarily drive it back a bit, and the whole cycle begins again. That’s what they want to doom us to in perpetuity, because they too support the rule and wealth concentration of elites. They just want a “reformed” elitism.

        Anarchism recognizes all this as unworkable, irrational, and immoral.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 5:01 am

  12. As to what should be the philosophical basis of a constitution. I think it should aim to be as simple as possible. Along with that however, and I think at the heart of what a constitution is suppose to embody is a culture that maintains the ‘principles’ so to speak rather than the ‘process’ (as to what Russ said in an earlier post). Perhaps it is a different conversation entirely to consider traditions that would uphold the culture of which the constitution is the legal embodiment.

    Comment by Strieb Roman — May 12, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    • Yes, the simpler the better. And it certainly doesn’t need to be complex, if the framers aren’t introducing complexity in order to include unnecessary powers and prerogatives for elites. (Especially, complexity is for where they’re trying to smuggle such into the thing.)

      Using the terminology of the American Revolution, principles and traditions involve the sovereign constitution, i.e. the particular form a particular people’s sovereignty takes. That (unwritten) constitution precedes and underlies any written Constitution, which is legitimate only to the extent it embodies the sovereign constitution in principle and practices.

      It’s not a completely different conversation, but a closely related one.

      Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

      • Another thing I think is worth discussing is whether or not the constitution would include the framing of the economy and if so what other types of currency systems might better serve people than our current interest-based one.

        Comment by Strieb Roman — May 12, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

      • Here is an example of one…

        From http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/chapter7-2.php

        ::Given the determining role of interest, the first alternative currency system to consider is one that structurally eliminates it…Although demurrage was applied as long ago as Ancient Egypt in the form of a storage cost for commodity-backed currency,[4] the best-known example was instituted in the town of Worgl, Austria, in 1932 by its famous mayor Uttenguggenberger. To remain valid, each piece of this locally-issued currency required a monthly stamp costing 1% of its face value. Instead of generating interest and growing, accumulation of wealth became a burden—much like possessions are a burden to the nomadic hunter-gatherer. People therefore spent their income quickly, generating intense economic activity in the town. The unemployment rate plummeted even as the rest of the country slipped into a deepening depression; public works were completed, and prosperity continued until the Worgl currency was outlawed in 1933 at the behest of a threatened central bank.

        Demurrage produces a number of profound economic, social, and psychological effects. Conceptually, demurrage works by freeing material goods, which are subject to natural cyclic processes of renewal and decay, from their linkage with a money that only grows, exponentially, over time. As established in Chapter Four, this dynamic is what is driving us toward ruin in the utter exhaustion of all social, cultural, natural, and spiritual wealth. Demurrage currency merely subjects money to the same laws as natural commodities, whose continuing value requires maintenance. Gesell writes:

        Gold does not harmonise with the character of our goods. Gold and straw, gold and petrol, gold and guano, gold and bricks, gold and iron, gold and hides! Only a wild fancy, a monstrous hallucination, only the doctrine of “value” can bridge the gulf. Commodities in general, straw, petrol, guano and the rest can be safely exchanged only when everyone is indifferent as to whether he possesses money or goods, and that is possible only if money is afflicted with all the defects inherent in our products. That is obvious. Our goods rot, decay, break, rust, so only if money has equally disagreeable, loss-involving properties can it effect exchange rapidly, securely and cheaply. For such money can never, on any account, be preferred by anyone to goods.

        Only money that goes out of date like a newspaper, rots like potatoes, rusts like iron, evaporates like ether, is capable of standing the test as an instrument for the exchange of potatoes, newspapers, iron and ether. For such money is not preferred to goods either by the purchaser or the seller. We then part with our goods for money only because we need the money as a means of exchange, not because we expect an advantage from possession of the money.

        In other words, money as a medium of exchange is decoupled from money as a store of value. No longer is money an exception to the universal tendency in nature toward rust, mold, rot and decay—that is, toward the recycling of resources. No longer does money perpetuate a human realm separate from nature.

        Comment by Strieb Roman — May 12, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

      • It seems to me like demurrage as a basis for the currency works well for making food sovereignty the underlying principle.

        Comment by Strieb Roman — May 12, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

      • That’s a common feature of alternative currencies. Any healthy money supply has great velocity. That’s an essential feature of a healthy economy, if it’s to be money-based. Demurrage encourages that.

        Local Money (a Transition Towns book by Peter North) discusses the Worgl experiment. It says the Austrian experiment was inspired by the Freework movement in Germany, led by Silvio Gesell, who advocated interest-free banking. They issued “stamp scrip” which functioned well during both the hyperinflation and the Depression.

        Anything like perishable currency, which therefore hinders wealth accumulation, is helpful toward Food Sovereignty. Free, high velocity money would certainly help the farmer, for however long we still had a system where the farmer had to use credit to plant each year.

        Of course the goal would be to remove the farmer from this need completely. If there has to be a government and money, then the answer is something like Charles Macune’s subtreasury plan.


        Comment by Russ — May 12, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

      • The unit should (by rights) be the calorie.

        Comment by Lidia — May 13, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

      • If the calorie, then it would need to be priced in terms of a VAT, so that grain-fed beef would be priced properly relative to grass-fed.

        Meat in general would be very expensive compared to grain, given the grain calories required to produce one calorie of beef, as opposed to eating the same calories’ worth of grain directly as food.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

      • Yes. If the proper analyses were made, many current distortions would be necessarily removed from the system.

        Comment by Lidia — May 14, 2011 @ 6:56 am

  13. This is link to an interesting lawsuit just filed with a clever twist:

    He’s suing cities and enforcement agencies for following orders for foreclosures and evictions arising out of clearly illegal acts (well laid out by Yves Smith and others)

    Comment by Tom Crowl — May 12, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

    • If we still had accountability in practice, that’s the kind of citizen-initiated calling to account which could work.

      But how many courts still see themselves and the government as being accountable, no matter what the law still says where they haven’t yet fully rigged it?

      Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 5:05 am

      • I agree… don’t think the plaintiff has much chance…

        Don’t even know that the guy THINKS he has a chance.

        But its another piece making clear that the charade is nearing its end… and people are seeing the connection between corporatism and corruption… and ready to take off the covers.

        Comment by Tom Crowl — May 13, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  14. Very interesting post and comments (although I have not had time to read them all). I have a few comments.

    It seems to me that the idea of a constitution is a complete betrayal of anarchist ideas. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the basic political unit of anarchy was the local council, which takes is decisions democratically – by a majority vote. How can distant elites impose a constitution on these local councils, which among other things imposes identity politics about proportions of each gender “controlling” the land as was mentioned in this post? What if the local council decides that it doesn’t give a shit what proportion of the land is controlled by women, born again Christians, disabled Vietnam vets, 1/16th Cherokees, etc? Are you really suggesting that a very non-anarchist political correctness elite come in and impose the law on these wayward councils? To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, anarchism is messy and to impose from above elite liberal notions of race and gender equality seems a complete betray of anarchism.

    To me a belief in anarchism is only possible if accompanied by a complete lack of historical knowledge of why elite-dominated states control at least 95% of the world today. The historical equivilant of anarchism is hunter gatherer bands up to small pre-state tribal units. The problem is that elite-dominated states are better able to amass military might to enslave the masses to the state. Just look what the US did the anarchist Indians who used to control America. In some cases (steppe nomads and Arab tribes are just two examples) smaller tribal elites are in fact able to conquer and / or create large states such as for example China by the steppe nomads, and the Caliphate by the Arab tribes. But these small elites either lose their culture by slowly assimilating as the ruling elite of the larger culture as in China or the original tribes get genetically assimilated into the larger local population as with the Arab tribesman in the Caliphate. Hunter gatherer, small tribal units and anarchism are societal evolutionary dead ends.

    But hey, why take my word for it, who’s to say I’m right? The way forward for anarchists seems quite clear and it is not through writing constitutions for great states. Instead there should be an anarchist “Zionist” movement that mimics the way the state of Israel was created (except by not creating a state but a network of local councils) in Palestine. Specifically anarchists should target an area ( I don’t know, say somewhere in South Dakota) and start buying up land / and or convince locals to give up their property rights and join the movement. It will take time but at some point a critical mass would be achieved that will allow growth. If the society is successful, and the larger US society continues its free-fall, surely more people would start to join. But of course this new group will soon be in conflict with its neighbours and the larger state. It will be at this point whether the supposed superior organizational model of anarchism will show itself able to withstand the hostile reaction of its environment just as the real Zionists have been able to dominate their local enemies. Or not.

    So if someone wants to write a constitution and take over a huge state, then only power will tell. Writing the constitution is kind of like choosing wall paper before you have figured out how you are going to build a house. There is nothing wrong with it and is an interesting exercise, but an even more pressing matter is how to gather enough power to be in a position to start writing a constitution. The idea of some sort of societal spontaneous combustion collapse is alluring, all one has to do is wait for the magic moment. Anarchism is great at analyzing how evil elites are but then at the very next turn it somehow imagines that these elites will just someday disappear and let an anarchist utopia reign.

    Comment by kevin de bruxelles — May 13, 2011 @ 4:45 am

    • I’m tempted to ignore out of hand comments that engage in smears like “utopia”, when I’ve put so much effort into addressing all caveats and stressing how this is no utopia, but a hard road in many ways. (Speaking generally, anarchists are far less inclined toward utopianism than any form of elitism. And they don’t lie about things, whereas almost everything elitism says is a lie. That’s the only way it can make anything it claims sound plausible.)

      Meanwhile, how’s that not-at-all-utopian trickle-down working out? Affordable flying cars for the universal middle class? If I were to claim Martians were coming to bring us salvation, that wouldn’t be more utopian than to still believe in capitalism’s promises.

      But to finish with dealing with the straw manning and get to constitutionalism: Clearly I’m having a lot of trouble getting across my ideas on the difference between the end goal and the transition one may have to undergo on the way there. I’m also having trouble explaining the difference between the end goal and the adaptations of existing concepts along the way, often as ways of trying to introduce people to new ideas.

      These are just part of the compromises I mentioned above and in many other places; democrats recognize that in this adverse environment dominated by hostile structures and processes, one has to be an anarchist and live democratically as much as possible, while adapting one’s words and tactics as much as necessary. So my exploration of the Constitution is an attempt at that. I’ll say the same thing to you I’ve said to others: If you have a better idea for how to resume the American Revolution than to use and where necessary adapt the ideas, words, and iconography of its first stage, then please let us hear it.

      Obviously a truly anarchist society wouldn’t have a written constitution. On the other hand, a written constitution doesn’t necessarily occur only in a large centralized state. There’s a whole spectrum of more or less federated systems between full centralization and confederated directly democratic councils. At what point does a written constitution stop being a forcible document and more of a political statement? And at what point should it be dispensed with completely? These points exist, but I doubt they can be quantified with precision ahead of time.

      But I thought I was clear from the start that:

      1. We should engage in constitutionalism as a political exercise, as a means of clarifying our political philosophy, and as a familiar ground for lots of different political viewpoints, many of which may not truly understand democracy and federalism to begin with, but may be willing to explore those within a constitutional context (whereas they might reject out of hand a term like “anarchism).

      2. If you were to read my specific constitutional proposals, you’d see how all involve devolving and decentralizing government power. So your bit about “writing constitutions for great states”, whatever it refers to, doesn’t refer to anything I’ve talked about. I’d use new amendments to enshrine Food Sovereignty, break the corporations, reinforce the 9th and 10th amendments and the Bill of Rights in general, and denigrate the main articles, since the goal is to dissolve the central government. So if, by some miracle, we actually could amend the Constitution along those lines, it wouldn’t be writing for great states, but against them.

      Since I’ve already discussed at tremendous length why I think this kleptocracy is unsustainable and why the post-oil energy descent will be anarchism’s great historical opportunity, I won’t rehash it again. If you don’t find the argument convincing, fine. But don’t keep pretending I haven’t made it.

      Your penultimate paragraph, on the other hand, is a good description of one possible scenario. Supplement that land-acquisition-within-the-system with directly democratic Land Reform, for example as practiced by the Landless Workers Movement


      as well as (for the homeowning ex-middle class) direct debt jubilation and organized squatting on REO,


      and we’d be on our way.

      As you say, the goal must be to achieve critical mass, to be heading upward to meet the collapsing system at some point to deliver the final blow.

      But the first goal is to build the basic frame of the movement. It will then be fleshed out, toward that critical mass, as the economic position of the masses is ever more aggressively liquidated.

      Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 5:48 am

      • You seem to not be clear on what strategy you would employ to bring about anarchism. Would tinkering in a positive way with the constitution not just improve the state and therefore cut off any chance of entering a post-state era? For example, even though you didn’t respond, it’s obvious that identity politics cannot be imposed on an anarchist democratic counsel. So by enshrining in the constitution all these identity politics rights wouldn’t those people become instantly hostile to an anarchist world where there would be no state to ensure their rights?

        And your ideas on decentralization would in my opinion improve the US. Just compare China and Europe at the year 1000. China has already developed the printing press, gunpowder and long distance shipping. Europe was in the Dark Ages. But because China was a single political unit dominated by an aggressive elite it never took advantage of these inventions. Divided Europe, on the other had, was living in a Darwinian primordial state stew where disperse elites were competing with each other. It was only because of this decentralization that new ideas, that we seen as a threat by the Chinese elite, were seen as opportunities to the Europeans; who eventually adopted these three inventions and they became the tools used to dominate the world. The Chinese Empire limped in into the 20th century only to finally collapse in no small part due to humiliation brought on by the Europeans.

        It seems like a real anarchist would take Napoleon’s advice to never interfere when your enemy is making a mistake.

        Just think in hindsight how an anticommunist would have gamed this. Concerning say the Soviet Union, would he have counselled them to become more communist or less communist if in the end his intention was that they become capitalist? A wise Machevelian anti-communist would certainly have rewritten the Soviet Constitution to give even more power to the Marxist Leninist elite – because that way a catastrophic collapse could occur more quickly that would bring about pure capitalism in reaction. We see the incrementalist approach in China where the Chinese politburo has slowly adopted capitalism and they are still very much in power. You need to make it clear which approach you are taking in rewriting the US constitution. It seems to be the second.

        Concerning kleptocracy and peak oil, the institution of capitalism has always coincided very well with kleptocracy and the liberal state has existed well before the oil economy developed and can certainly exist in a post oil world. In fact as I have pointed out before peak oil will only reinforce elite power as they will continue to have access to oil while the masses will have to go back to animal, coal, and wood power. So at some point the powers that be may actually become quite interested in anarchism – – they may see the logic in throwing a huge portion of the population back on the land with no nanny state to look after them.

        Comment by kevin de bruxelles — May 13, 2011 @ 8:59 am

      • I didn’t respond to “identity politics” because when have I ever had anything to do with identity politics? Also, I have no idea what kind of scenario you’re talking about. “All these identity politics”? Are you sure you’re not mixing up two different blogs? So you’ll have to clarify what you mean for me to respond to it.

        Would tinkering in a positive way with the constitution not just improve the state and therefore cut off any chance of entering a post-state era?

        I already said I don’t view this as a plausible way to reform the system, but as an organizational and ideological tool.

        Certainly we could form our own councils and adopt a democratically amended, aspirational Constitution (a truly federalized one) as a statement of our principles and as the embodiment of the sovereignty we’re fightig to redeem. We could declare our fidelity to it and our rejection of the government which uses and abuses the tainted current one. We could then appeal to the people to adhere to this new vision and withdraw their support from the corruption. Who knows how far off is critical mass, and how long we’d have to fight? Maybe not as long as we usually think.

        So no, my constitutionalism has nothing to do with reforming this system, and everything to do with superseding it.

        I forgot to mention in my prior reply how, as I’ve tried to articulate many times, we must concern ourselves not with the relatively ephemeral written Constitution, but with the underlying sovereign constitution. The latter is the truly substantive, the former is a derivation which is supposed to embody it in words and processes.




        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 11:27 am

      • I’m totally confused so let’s take this step by step.

        You speak of a constitutional process and yet you are an anarchist. Constitutional anarchy is an oxymoron because a constitution implies a state while anarchy explicitly rejects the state. So by anarchist definition any constitutional process will lead to disaster since all constitutions lead to states and all states are disasters. In an anarchist society, instead of a state there are local councils where direct democracy is practised. But each council is independent and “sovereign” and cannot be controlled by a top-down constitution. They each have absolute freedom to take what ever decision they fancy and can never be limited remotely by an elite enforcing a constitution. So to me it seems an anarchist discussing a constitution is like a pacifist discussing military deployments.

        But then you said the discussion of constitutions was an interim tactical move to set the conditions for anarchy to reign. That I can understand. But the goal I would think would be to deal with potential objections people may have to anarchy by destroying some of the advantages that the state seems to enjoy. Since it seems clear that the choice to join an anarchic society would be voluntary, then any changes to the constitution should shape the ground in favour of anarchists.

        One potential area of advantage the state has is in welfare, safety nets, and transfer payments. People might be nervous joining an anarchist society knowing there are no food stamps or social security checks in the mail. They would instead have to count on the solidarity of their community and family in hard times. So it seems any anarchist revisions to the current US constitution would ban all forms of Federal welfare and transfer payments. And obviously there would be no Medicare (or even hospitals for that matter) in an anarchist society. Rich elitist doctors would never choose to join. So Medicare and as much as possible corporate health care should be banned as well.

        Another potential problem area for selling anarchism would be civil rights. Obviously civil rights laws could never be imposed from above on a local council. One hopes it would never happen but in a system of direct democracy, the majority rule. So in order to allay worries about this, an anarchist should propose that all Federal civil rights law be banned.

        And so on and so on. Any anarchist revisions should be designed to make their system look better in a beauty contest with the elite dominated state system.

        But I really do think that in the coming years the idea of anarchistic separatism will win favour among our elite. The precedent would be the Bantustans in South Africa and to a lesser extent the Gaza Strip. If people are unhappy in the US and want to create their own anarchistic society and in return demand no welfare at all I am sure the wealthy elite will be down with this. This idea is not at all far from Libertarianism. I think that to relieve pressure the elite could be convince to make autonomous regions for anarchists to farm freely in return for no Federal money. I don’t think they would have the least problem with this idea.

        Comment by kevin de bruxelles — May 13, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

      • The sovereign constitution arises out of the sovereignty of the people. A written constitution does not have to construct a state.

        The latter does not have to be top-down. The former is bottom-up by definition, although a rogue version of the latter often masquerades as being bottom-up even as it’s actually top-down.

        Judging by the flip tone and ridiculous content of much of the rest of the comment, I doubt you’re being serious. As you know perfectly well, anarchists never act to hurt people although they might point out that reliance on something that looks like a benefit at the moment is really building a house on sand.

        But as far as action goes, anarchists will assist people in their struggles for a better life, even if that does mean “siding with the state” in some specialized context.

        But speaking generally, other than directly fighting state aggression, what would anarchists have to do with the state anyway? Your comment’s not even wrong; it’s non-responsive.

        I won’t repeat for the nth time what this constitutionalism is supposed to be about in practice. I’ll just refute this conceptual and terminological error:

        Constitutional anarchy is an oxymoron because a constitution implies a state while anarchy explicitly rejects the state.

        This is false, although I’ll grant that there are many anarchists who drum up pointless taboos about certain terms (e.g. “authority” or “power”), the only result of which is that they struggle to express themselves when the thing they’re talking about is, for example, non-coercive, merit-based authority, because they refuse to use that term.

        So it is with your taboo here. The fact is that anarchism, AKA direct democracy, is a constitution. It could even be written as such, although most anarchists wouldn’t bother with that.

        I haven’t insisted on that terminology in general. It’s native to the American Revolution. But if others are going to ignorantly insist against it, then I guess I’ll have to start insisting on it.

        “Anarchism” isn’t even the preferable term. Democracy is.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

      • “And obviously there would be no Medicare (or even hospitals for that matter) in an anarchist society.”

        I had to laugh at this. Anyone who thinks a hospital would be impossible in an anarchist society has never worked in one. Anyway, if this is “obvious” to you, the premises you’re working from about what constitutes anarchism are totally bizarre, which seems to be reflected throughout your commentary.

        Why is a written document laying out agreed-upon principles of a democratic community or federation of communities inherently anti-anarchist? If you don’t like the term “constitution”, call it a statement of principles or whatever you want. Democratic groups, without coercion, deciding to abide by a set of principles in their economic and political lives, subject to continuous scrutiny and revision by the community- in what way does this imply hierarchy, or a coercive state?

        Why can’t anarchists decide to set up welfare programs? Why can’t they decide that discriminatory behaviour is not acceptable in their communities (civil rights)? You realise anarchism (absence of hierarchy) isn’t by definition a lack of structure, or organisation, or some kind of reversion to a state of nature, right? Unless you’re arguing from a series of pretty strange premises drawn from fringe interpretations of libertarian anarchist and anarcho-primitivist thought, your arguments don’t make a lot of sense to me. They’re certainly inconsistent with typical syndicalist or collectivist thought.

        Comment by paper mac — May 13, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

      • Paper mac,

        As I said I must be confused so please correct me where I am mistaken. The problem is historically the only anarchist entities have been hunter gatherer groups and small tribal clans. So much of my view of anarchism is based on these precedents. As I understand it the political structure of an anarchist society is a series of “sovereign” local councils that decide by means of direct democracy, in other words each one of these councils is supreme and cannot be overruled. So sure they could make all the agreements they want beforehand, whether on paper or not, but the moment one council votes to do something that is in conflict with those agreements, then what? Which anarchist entity will enforce the “constitution” and what means will they use to enforce it? If for example beforehand all groups agreed to some civil rights ideas and then later one group decided it didn’t like Muslims what are the other groups going to do about it?

        In terms of health care and doctors, as I understand it, anarchist society would not allow social stratification – in other words no elites allowed. It would be surprising in such a society that anyone would invest the time to become a doctor — or that the infrastructure to educate a doctor would even exist. At best you would have midwives to deliver children (arguably better than state-based pre-natal care now) and elders knowledgeable about herbal remedies. In a society hostile to elites and the bourgeoisie, it will be pretty rare to find doctors willing to join. And certainly no anarchist society would tolerate taxes to fund a public health care system – why that reeks of European-style social democracy!

        What I find stunning is that people harp on about anarchism but then when presented with the reality such a society would present they recoil in horror and claim people are being glib and that they are just trying to help people. It reminds me of a lazy young adult railing against living with his parents (the elite) but horrified at the prospect of losing their support and having to face life on his own and actually have to get a real job. So instead of being a man and moving out they instead invent an anarchist fantasy world where it is they who get to oppress their parents but when this doesn’t actually happen in reality they explain their continued dependency on their parents, as a temporary tactical stance, a one-off accommodation of the state.

        Comment by kevin de bruxelles — May 13, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

      • “As I said I must be confused so please correct me where I am mistaken. The problem is historically the only anarchist entities have been hunter gatherer groups and small tribal clans.”

        No, this is incorrect. In addition to the obvious example of Catalonia under the Spanish anarchists during the civil war there, there are any number of syndicalist unions and other trade organisations one can point to. If you replace the word “anarchist” with “practicing some form of direct democracy” the list expands considerably.

        “As I understand it the political structure of an anarchist society is a series of “sovereign” local councils that decide by means of direct democracy, in other words each one of these councils is supreme and cannot be overruled. So sure they could make all the agreements they want beforehand, whether on paper or not, but the moment one council votes to do something that is in conflict with those agreements, then what? Which anarchist entity will enforce the “constitution” and what means will they use to enforce it?”

        Why does it need to be enforced? In any truly democratic society, anyone who doesn’t wish to participate in that society is free to leave and go do their own thing. The purpose of having a set of agreed-upon, shared principles is to form an affirmative basis from which a group can proceed, not to force the compliance of others. If you’re not actively coercing people to do things, and they have an equal and shared voice in the proceedings of that society, the incentives to cooperate go way up in any case. Going it alone is tough, putting up with decisions you don’t agree with so you can be embedded within a larger complex society is something we’re all used to anyway- and in a direct democracy, at least you got a chance to legitimately make the case for your idea. Part of real democracy is learning to accept winning some and losing some.

        “In terms of health care and doctors, as I understand it, anarchist society would not allow social stratification – in other words no elites allowed.”

        Depends who you ask. Most serious anarchists believe work should be compensated based on effort, sacrifice, and arduousness of the work. You don’t work, you don’t eat. That implies some degree of social stratification- obviously a highly productive farmer, or an extremely learned engineer, or the person slaving over the coke ovens in the steel mill all day is going to have a higher degree of material comfort and, probably, prestige/social standing than the person who loafs around all day. Everyone still has one vote, though, which prevents the kinds of obscene and unhealthy levels of stratification that we see in our corporatist societies.

        Strongly recommend that you check out Michael Albert’s writings on participatory economics (not all of which I agree with, but which lays out a plausible way for an anarchist society to organise work & compensation). Some are available here:


        “It would be surprising in such a society that anyone would invest the time to become a doctor — or that the infrastructure to educate a doctor would even exist.”

        This is one of the pathologies of modern Western culture- the notion that people are motivated only by material gain. In addition to being demonstrably incorrect (ask any sociologist or anthropologist about the role of socialisation in value formation and reward seeking), I’m living proof that the notion is pretty silly. I’ve got a bunch of letters after my name and I work for next to nothing- literally less than I would be making managing a McDonald’s- doing the grunt work of the scientific establishment. There are millions of people just like me all over the world. We do it for different reasons, but mostly because we’re rewarded by learning, by collaborating with other people on Big Projects, by creating things, by solving problems, by prestige and respect. For most of us, there’s no big payday at the end of the tunnel, no cushy faculty position. There are lots of problems with academia and science, but one of the things it’s taught me is that most people will do interesting, rewarding, self-managed work for very little compensation. The reality is that if doctors were paid similarly to other professions requiring similar levels of sacrifice (such as the steel mill worker I mentioned above), we’d probably have doctors who are more dedicated to medicine and less interested in BMWs.

        “What I find stunning is that people harp on about anarchism but then when presented with the reality such a society would present they recoil in horror and claim people are being glib and that they are just trying to help people. It reminds me of a lazy young adult railing against living with his parents (the elite) but horrified at the prospect of losing their support and having to face life on his own and actually have to get a real job. So instead of being a man and moving out they instead invent an anarchist fantasy world where it is they who get to oppress their parents but when this doesn’t actually happen in reality they explain their continued dependency on their parents, as a temporary tactical stance, a one-off accommodation of the state.”

        This is basically ad-hom. I don’t know if your only experience with anarchists is black-clad suburban white teenagers, but that’s what it sounds like. Most of the people I know who genuinely believe in direct democracy are educated, self-reliant, industrious people. It’s not at all clear to me that you’ve made any serious effort to engage with anarchist thought, if your comments above are representative of what you think the “reality” of “such a society” might be. Obviously no one wants to live in a society where there aren’t any doctors, there aren’t any healthcare, no civil rights, etc. So if no one wants that, and indeed, recoils in horror from the notion, why on earth would they collectively and democratically create such a society?

        Comment by paper mac — May 13, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

      • Kevin, you clearly have no idea what anarchism is, and the only idea you do have is your Social Darwinist brainwashing.

        For example here:

        It would be surprising in such a society that anyone would invest the time to become a doctor..

        In “such a society”, people wouldn’t be brainwashed into the viciousness which you erroneously assume is human nature, in obedience to capitalist propaganda you exalt.

        So why do you think no one would be willing to study to become a doctor because he wanted to be, because he preferred that to other trades, because he considered it meaningful, because he wanted to help people?

        Why wouldn’t he choose that instead of some other trade? And what are you saying about yourself – you’d be such an inert slug that you wouldn’t study anything, that if you couldn’t extract a rent premium as a reward for your study, if all shares were the same, then you’d prefer to remain an unskilled laborer? Even though all education was free and open to merit?

        Thanks for the insight into your character.

        Yes, I’m sure you’re smugly rolling your eyes and snickering at such childishness, at what used to be called humanity. You’ve sure regressed. What a pity.

        I won’t respond to the rest of your nonsense, except to say that it has nothing to do with “reality”, but is just half-assed corporate propaganda.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

    • Kevin, just to begin with, how can race and gender equality be “liberal notions” incompatible with anarchy? Males, to begin with, are a minority in almost all parts of the world, that I am aware of. A true democracy would naturally have resources controlled —in proportion— by its constituent members. It seems like you would have an issue with that.

      Comment by Lidia — May 14, 2011 @ 7:04 am

  15. Great posts.
    For some reason, much of this theorizing doesn’t interest me anymore. I guess too much reading and teaching of political theory did that to me.

    Rousseau was right: all states & constitutions have a lifespan. You can extend the life of the state by clever “reforms.” Unfortunately, as a state’s citizens become decadent, as ours are, the reforms necessary to extend the life of the state are actually changes that are anti-democratic, and give more power to Caesar and the executive. A degraded and decadent people become less capable of the virtue necessary to rule themselves.

    Since I agree with the end goal that Russ advocates, where does that leave me in terms of acting in the current system?

    I like Russ’s idea of using the still-in-force reform mechanisms to educate people. As people become more desperate, they will be forced to relearn certain virtues: civic engagement, self-sufficiency, political consciousness, etc.

    Rousseau would probably say that we’d need a new Founder, a new father (or mother) of the nascent state. I’m not so sure about that. I think that a new awakening of virtue and civic mindedness could happen, but only if a core of activists start teaching by example. This is the part will require a lot sacrifice and work on the part of the “remnant” (to borrow from the great Charles Hugh Smith)

    One of the prime questions then becomes: how will the current elites and government react to the new re-localization efforts?

    They will obviously attempt to shut down barter networks, local food networks and farms, maybe even (though they won’t have the resources to really do it) backyard gardens and home energy production.

    The best case response will be that the government is simply so incompetent and ineffective that we can safely ignore it and go ahead with our efforts. We will also be able to convince the local authorities to leave us alone or even help out, since by and large they are paid by us and also have families to worry about.

    Worst case: new technologies and a massive, conscious and intelligently guided effort of repression begins. This would be the totalitarian response. The totalitarian response will only be possible with the enthusiastic cooperation of the masses.

    Thus, a critical question arises: how will the masses react to the coming wave of propaganda directed against re-localizers? Our blogs and web sites will not be read by the moribund masses. Thus, face-to-face meetings and conventions and farmers markets, etc., will be the key to some success in warding off the totalitarian response. I doubt that many voices in the MSM will support us. We are already ignored or ridiculed.

    The Internet, it would seem, will be mainly a way for us to form networks of leaders, and store and disseminate information. How long, then, do you think the Internet will remain useful and free enough for us to use?
    We need, and will need, techi wizards to create other methods of information flow and communication. Remember the BBS days of the 1980’s, when nerds like me would dial in with their Apple II’s and Commodore 64’s to systems using a 300 baud modem? Such may be our networking future.

    Sorry I got off focus at the end… my current professional realm is computers & tech, so I tend t get enthusiastic about that. Along with gardening and solar/wind power.

    Comment by Publius — May 13, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    • Thanks for that. I suppose I should have expected that the most annoying theoretical wrangling would come at the precise moment I thought I was done with theory and was moving on to action.

      Now for something more refreshing. I’m optimistic that this system will be, on the whole, half-assed in its malevolence. A system based on nothing but mercenaries, all of them indoctrinated not into ideas but into greed itself, isn’t likely to be very disciplined and relentless, especially since more and more it’s lowballing and liquidating its own flunkeys. And on the other hand, the very atomization of Americans into a rabble with no class or citizen consciousness which makes it so hard to get a citizen movement going will also make it difficult to get a real fascist movement going.

      So I expect escalating but scattershot aggression, which is the very kind most likely to engender organized opposition.

      I agree completely with this:

      Thus, face-to-face meetings and conventions and farmers markets, etc., will be the key to some success in warding off the totalitarian response.

      and with the fact that we can’t rely on the free Internet to exist much longer.

      I don’t expect the blogosphere to play much of a role in organizing a mass movement even if it does endure. The blogosphere is, however, perhaps the best place ever for early activists to find one another and start building the movement skeleton. So we really need to seize that opportunity while it’s there.

      I only have a vague notion of a possible decentralized, substitute Internet. There have been a few comment threads here which got into that. I don’t remember if you were there for them; you might find them at some of the posts on net neutrality.


      Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

    • We had a discussion about alternate networks on here at one point. I think the BBS system might be troublesome (although there is definitely a nostalgic appeal..) because of the highly centralised organisation of the telephone network. If the regular Internet is no longer free enough to be useful to us (due to corporate/government intervention), it’s basically guaranteed that BBSes won’t be, either. Since a BBS relies on a single telephone number, or series of numbers, it’s trivially easy for a telco to snoop on, or decide not to connect particular numbers to incoming traffic as necessary. In that respect, it’s much more difficult to deal with internet traffic from security-conscious users.

      I think ultimately if the internet becomes useless to us, daisy-chained local networks, probably using wireless routers and the like to form local nodes and some kind of transmitter for relays from settlement-to-settlement, will be the only way to have an alternative, robust communication network. We’re already to the point where local wireless networks are relatively straightforward to set up, so I don’t “alter-nets” are that far off.

      Comment by paper mac — May 13, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

      • It might be worth it to seek to maintain net neutrality through the current system’s political pressure techniques if it is important enough – and I think it just might be.

        Comment by Strieb Roman — May 13, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

      • I hope that’s true about Alternets. And maybe the best place to start with them isn’t with anything directly political at all, but using them for communication among e.g. food co-ops and distributors; it could be sold as, “Just as we’re striving for resiliency in the food system, we should couple it with less centralized communications resiliency.”

        That kind of integrated message would be part of building the relocalization movement consciousness.

        Just a thought that crossed my mind.

        Strieb, I think it’s true that there may be some issues where bottom-up pressure can still at least mitigate the demolitions of the politicians. It succeeded in making the Senate version of the Food Control bill (the version which was signed into law), while bad, less heinous than the House version.

        So last year when I used to write about net neutrality I argued the same thing there: It might be one of those issues where the public can effectively apply pressure; and at any rate that’s the only tactic available, since short of the Alternet idea, there’s no “relocalizing” and self-rule of the Internet. By its nature it’s in the hands of elites, at least in its current form.

        Comment by Russ — May 13, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

      • My sense is that the major obstacle to the “alter-net” concept is relaying data between local wireless networks. I guess you could string out a series of nodes in physical space between the networks, but that would be pretty vulnerable. Alternatively, it may be that something like old-fashioned HAM radio is sufficient for communicating vital information, and we just have to deal with couriering hard drives and USB sticks back and forth where necessary to move large amounts of data.

        Comment by paper mac — May 13, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

      • Paper mac, so you think we could actually form local wireless versions of the Internet which would be relatively self-sufficient even in the fact of system hostility (and we could scrounge most of the hardware if necessary), but that there’s no robust way these could be linked to one another, so there we’ll be more reliant on pre-computer modes of communication and transmission.

        Comment by Russ — May 14, 2011 @ 1:11 am

      • You can get a wifi booster antenna right now for about fifty bucks and extend the range of almost any wifi enabled computer (your ‘private’ phone company) to about two or three miles. Expect the spectrum cops to move in when folks catch on and it effects the bottom line of the big guys.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 14, 2011 @ 6:47 am

      • Russ, yeah, that’s more or less what I think. i ball is right that the local networks could come under attack if their use becomes widespread or threatening enough, but if they’re constituted using the same equipment that the corporate networks are (wireless routers etc), I don’t see an easy way to selectively jam the alter-nets without also affecting corporate network infrastructure, although I’m no expert.

        Comment by paper mac — May 14, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

    • Publius, I agree entirely. For this reason (although not this reason alone) I have rejected all of the silly “high-tech” solutions offered by folks such as the “Venus Project”. I see the sheer complexity of their solutions as being fundamentally undemocratic.

      Forget the internet: ham radio! (only sort of kidding)

      When it comes down to it, if you are organized locally, what need is there to connect with the world at large? The larger world of “information” only seeks to bind us to it (I admit being bound to it) and is driven primarily by extractors for purposes of extraction.

      Comment by Lidia — May 14, 2011 @ 7:15 am

      • I think most of us will still want to know the real news from elsewhere, and we certainly need to know about possible threats, however distant.

        But I hope once people get back to actually having lives of their own, they’ll have less need for a lot of the worthless nonsense that passes for news and culture these days.

        Comment by Russ — May 14, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  16. I think there is much to like here:


    Comment by tawal — May 13, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

    • Several of those are under direct assault today, and all are held in contempt. I’ll make special mention of equal standing before the law (today’s US courts see a core part of their mission as to bar the door against the people with abusive applications of concepts like “standing”) and the right to leave any country (the issuance of passports as a right is being bureaucratically assaulted).

      (BTW, mentions of the right to property in these things almost always beg the question. I wonder if that’s by design. On the one hand, if a framer supports rentiers but wants to pretend the constitution is an egalitarian document, he’ll want to whitewash his real agenda and therefore he’ll be too embarrassed to define “property”.

      On the other hand, if he has a more egalitarian concept of it which leans more toward usufruct stewardship than feudal hoarding, he might be too timid to be explicit about that, since he hopes to avert severe conflict at the outset of a constitutional foundation. As a rule, anyone like that is operating according to a false economy, and just dooming the venture.)

      However, to try to enshrine and defend such rights through the mechanism of large centralized states (let alone globalist organizations like the UN) is doomed to failure.

      The best way to maximize the reality of such rights is for people to be active citizens, renounce alien elitist bodies (governmental or corporate), and establish their own positive democracies.

      This comment was fortuitous, since my next post was going to look at the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 and mull over written constitutions in general, the rights they purport to enshrine, and to what extent they actually further this goal.

      I’ll probably make mention of this as well. As we’ve seen, the UN has been particularly feckless.

      (That next post will be within the next few days. Sorry, everyone, about there not being new posts for several days. I’ve been having a really hectic week, with lots of running around and physical work. Finally getting my garden plot ready and putting all my seedlings in the ground was just one project of this past week. And it’s not time to relax yet. So I’ve just been coming online for bits and pieces of time. But I’ll have a new post in a few days.)

      Comment by Russ — May 14, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    • YUK! No asset limits. No yearly income limits. No severe penalties for transgressions other than a past history of selective enforcement by the imperial pigs that created, own, and control the UN. Its a co-option in advance of the Constitution concept in anticipation of the demand for a global societal jubilee by the same folks that created the demand for that societal jubilee.

      Does not mean that bigness is bad, It means more that TPTB are more on top of the game, and in fact the fact that they have created this BIG co-option in advance is a tell they they fear one like it.

      Rights can only be enshrined if the transparency, punishment safeguards and eternal vigilance required are enshrined. All of life is politics. Its a 24/7 adventure.

      I think more time between posts sometimes encourages greater dialogue.

      Thanks for the forum Russ!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      Comment by i on the ball patriot — May 14, 2011 @ 7:08 am

      • You’re welcome, i ball.

        Comment by Russ — May 14, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  17. “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”

    Does that include the State?

    Comment by Lidia — May 14, 2011 @ 7:18 am

    • Good one. 🙂

      “Don’t be silly. The State isn’t an association, it’s the basis of society which enables associations and society itself to exist in the first place. We can’t be human or even survive if we’re not all obedient members of the State!”

      Comment by Russ — May 14, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  18. I only meant that it provided a decent outline of inalienable rights. I believe that all resource related property, land, water, minerals are common property owned by all living people. I think the shirt on my back is my individual property. I have no problem limiting my self to a certain number of shirts, however, one per day per week should suffice. I don’t want this to be a petty exercise, everyone gets 7 shirts and 3 pants and 2 jackets and 4 pictures for their walls, etc. But there are limits, if we want to have healthy food, clean water and clean air for all. Right now most people in the US even filter their tap water, or by bottled water to drink. What kind of world is that: a death spiral.

    Comment by tawal — May 14, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    • I think you have it just right, including the refusal to get sucked into petty quantification.

      Comment by Russ — May 14, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  19. I also liked alot of the ideas that Streib posited.

    Comment by tawal — May 14, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  20. They seemed to provide a spiritual, enlightenment growth perspective. Man does not live by bread alone. (He also needs cake!) No, but he does have to have bread. There’s millions without adequate bread.

    Comment by tawal — May 14, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  21. Russ,

    Regarding land / property issues, please read:



    Comment by Jeff65 — May 16, 2011 @ 4:08 am

    • Thanks, Jeff. I’ll check those out.

      Comment by Russ — May 16, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  22. […] as I described it last month, adding some commentary. Then I’ll go back over the Food Sovereignty principles and a few others, suggesting how the stages of movement-building may apply to each.   First the […]

    Pingback by Some Movement Basics « Volatility — May 17, 2011 @ 1:44 am

  23. […] Principles of Food Sovereignty. I discussed how a basic movement strategy relates to them, and how they could be part of the philosophical basis of a constitution. Today I’ll revisit them to relate them to the three criteria and food imperatives.   1. […]

    Pingback by The Food Movement Must Be the Food Sovereignty Movement « Volatility — September 28, 2011 @ 2:52 am

  24. […] them), here (showing how they coordinate with the basic principles of a food freedom movement), and here (how they coordinate with a democratic view of constitutionalism).   The imperatives are clear. […]

    Pingback by Notes on the Food Sovereignty Revolution « Volatility — August 5, 2012 @ 6:42 am


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