Volatility

September 26, 2011

Food Movement Notes

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I’m planning a workout of food movement philosophy, and hopefully a rigorous strategy. To start with I think I’m going to post some workshop notes and see what kind of discussion they lead to. That in turn can help develop the ideas.
 
For a few years now there’s been some tension within the movement between the relocalization imperative and the older organic imperative. This, so far has I can see, hasn’t led to any resolution. On the contrary, Obamism has caused a general retrogression, as many of what had seemed to be movement stalwarts turned out to support Monsanto and Cargill after all, judging by their born-again corporatism since the election.
 
At any rate, the situation is still fluid, and we’re still at the beginning, so far as I can tell. (There’s probably writers I don’t know who have done real work here, so this is also a forum for suggestions on that.)
 
So there’s an alleged conflict between maximizing localism and organic. I add immediately that the third leg of what has to be a triad is economic democracy. I start with the premises that both relocalization and organic are necessary for democracy, and that neither is sustainable or worthwhile without it. I mean those propositions to apply to the longer run, and that any worthwhile movement must strive for them in the shorter run as well.
 
All three are necessary and bound together. To try to play them off against one another is typical divide-and-conquer. The only “split” we want is to split with the splitters. (I think we’ll also find, when I write about this more in a future post, that the splitters here are invariably the same elitists they claim to be criticizing.)
 
For today I’ll just present a set of three major criteria, and three priorities. Tell me if you think I missed anything of comparable importance, or if you think the priorities are out of order.
 
True democracy, relocalization, agroecology, anti-corporatism, are core principles, tactics, and objectives of the food movement. It’s meaningless to even speak of a food movement except in those terms.
 
The criteria, the vectors (everything is to be judged according to whether it moves us toward or away this criterion), are:
 
A. Resiliency, and the physical ability to eat at all. (This, I argue, makes us necessarily anti-corporate and anti-state.)
 
B. Public health. (Here too, the corporations are by definition the enemy, and therefore the state. This also involves the universal tactics of food advocacy I described in my Bridge post.
 

The right food policy is clear. You want better food safety? Decentralized production and more sustainable, non-industrial agricultural practices are the answer. Ban CAFOs and GMOs, which are proven threats to public health. You’re worried about how to feed the world? Organic methods consistently produce higher yield per acre than any industrial practice, including GMOs. How can we reinvigorate the economy? Food relocalization. Those are all mainstream reform questions, and all receive their true answer.

And when people who understand energy issues ask, “How will we feed ourselves once fossil fueled agriculture is no longer sustainable?”, what’s the answer? Decentralized production. Organic production, which we’ll now realize is really just normal production as history always knew it.

So whether it’s normal politics, the bridge, or full Peak awareness, the food answer is the same: Food Sovereignty and relocalization of production and distribution. That’s the most scalable policy truth of all.

 
I’ll add that I’m assuming familiarity with my previous work on how corporations are extensions of the state, and the capitalist state is necessarily corporatist. This is why I maintain that it’s incoherent to want to break corporate power over food but expect to do it with statist reform.)
 
C. Economic democracy. (Negatively, this too makes us anti-corporate/state. It affirmatively places the movement in its necessary context seeking positive democracy. No pro-citizen advocacy of any sort can succeed if it orphans itself from this parentage. By definition we’re all either democratic humanity or self-outlawed fugitives from democracy.)
 
And now for the three movement priorities, in order. Again, all advocacy should be located on a vector.
 
1. The post-oil imperative. How can we eat, post-fossil fuels?
 
2. The socioeconomic imperative. Assuming there’s physically enough food to eat, do artificial barriers exist? (Recall that capitalism by definition enforces artificial scarcity. So if there’s absolute plenty, capitalism will impose scarcity. If there’s real physical scarcity, capitalism will artificially intensify it.)
 
3. The democratic and moral imperative. Is food worth eating at all? (Political hunger strikers don’t think so.) Is life worth living? Are we human?
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28 Comments

  1. #1 is the one most written about. The Archdruid thinks that the 20th century will be remembered for one positive thing – research into how to produce food organically. My favorite book for understanding the scope of what would have to be done is King’s 40 Centuries of Farmers. There is a lot interesting information about recycling wastes, including human and how important that was prior to the oil age. And prior to that fortunes were made mining and selling guana. The world was on the edge of running out of fertilizer when gas and oil came upon the scene.

    #2 Isn’t it likely that solving the problem of how to grow food without oil and gas will rule out capitalism as we know it? (That rests upon my assumption that we are talking about the kind of capitalism we have today.) It will not rule out inequality, theft or corruption, of course which would bring you to topic #3.

    #3: So I suggest that the answer to question #3 is that all farmers should be philosophers! (Disclosure – former philosophy student and teacher.) They should also be very familiar with all of the amazing new discoveries in bacteriology. Our dumb public health laws that prevent me from giving raw milk to the family across the street are based upon a of knowledge about bacteria in addition to corporate malfeasance. Just think that in the 1890’s surgeons did not sterilize their implements. We have gone from that awful situation to the current state of affairs where everything must be boiled, sprayed and sanitized. Education of our new young farmers is critically important and this includes moral education.

    I have joined my local Grange, by the way. The Grange was originally formed to oppose the monopoly of railroad corporations and to bring education to farmers. It is not at all “new age” to put it mildly, and most members are older in my area, but I am giving it a try. Our local market group will also try to do some education around morality, sustainability and food. It is going to take some time for sure. If you come upon any good short DVD’s that we could show please let me know. (I have shown The Real Dirt on Farmer John) with success but my local groups would not be able to face Farmaggedon at this point (even though I personally would love to see it.)

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — September 26, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

    • Ellen,
      There is almost an over-abundance of food documentaries. What about Food Inc., the Future of Food? Those are two off the top of my head. But Netflix suggests new ones to me all the time. Future of Food I think is the one that touches on Monsanto’s aggressive enforcement of GMO “rights.”

      Comment by Ross — September 26, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

      • I haven’t seen either of those yet.

        Comment by Russ — September 26, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

      • Those are both great, as well as the ones that Russ mentions below. One more for you is “Food Matters”. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/food-matters/

        This gets after big pharma and the Western medical establishment’s (sick for profit industry) influence and negligence. The pressure points on food & ‘real’ nutrition are endless when it comes to the monetizers and profiteers.

        Comment by Pete — September 26, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

    • I think Greer said he’s a member of the Grange. He’s written about such community groups and their decline in modern times.

      The Archdruid thinks that the 20th century will be remembered for one positive thing – research into how to produce food organically.

      That’s a point I’ve often made, against those who claim that post-oil agriculture will have to mean the same level of caloric production as pre-oil. We have much greater agroeconomic knowledge today, just as we have, in principle, a so much more sophisticated democratic understanding, so that post-oil economic and political arrangements can be radically different from pre-oil ones. (I’m referring to feudalism and the various pre-fossil fuel empires. But throughout humanity’s natural history most people lived in a more egalitarian manner than we do today.)

      Isn’t it likely that solving the problem of how to grow food without oil and gas will rule out capitalism as we know it?

      Yes, I think these all imply one another and to varying degrees depend upon one another.

      So I suggest that the answer to question #3 is that all farmers should be philosophers! (Disclosure – former philosophy student and teacher.)

      A noble aspiration, and redolent of the emphasis in Cuba on how agroecology is skilled, intellectual labor, a point I’ve taken up and which I want to develop into a political message.

      The idea of farmer community organizations including a democratic curriculum for those who would be interested in political participation is a good one. (#2 in my Basic Movement Strategy.)

      As for movies, this one’s pretty good.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/fresh-a-movie-on-the-food-system/

      It has a good mix of what’s wrong and what’s a much better way. “King Corn” is also very good.

      Comment by Russ — September 26, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  2. this looks like it will be a most productive discussion, Russ ~ I look forward to reading it and your further developments.

    I have a list of Food documentaries (most link to an online source) over at Food Freedom in the Middle Column: Films Online, if folks want to see any of them.

    Here’s a list (I’m not gonna add all the hyperlinks) — most relate to food, some to water (which impacts ag of course) and a couple on medicine:

    Crippling Waters (2011)
    Cut Poison Burn (2010)
    Burzynski Cures Cancer (2011)
    Farmer to Farmer: The Truth About GM Crops (2011)
    Codex: Shadows of the Future (2010)
    What in the World Are They Spraying? (2010)
    Who Killed The Honey Bee? (2009)
    Chemtrails Kill Honey Bees (2010)
    Death on a Factory Farm (2008)
    Food Matters (2007, $5)
    Tapped (2009)
    Gasland (2010)
    Simply Raw: Reverse Diabetes (2009)
    Doctors on Water Fluoridation (2010)
    Genetic Conspiracy (2006)
    One man, one cow, one planet (2007)
    Unnatural Selection: GMOs (2006)
    World According to Monsanto (2008)
    The Future of Food (2004)
    Codex Alimentarius: The Last Days of Health Freedom (2005)
    Poison on the Platter (2008)
    Paraguay’s Painful GMO Harvest (2008)
    King Corn (2007)
    Monsanto: Patent For A Pig (2007)
    Life Running out of Control (2004)
    Deconstructing Supper (2002)
    Super Size Me (2004)
    Bullshit: Vandana Shiva and GMOs (2005)
    The Coconut Revolution (2001)
    ~~~
    Offline but Must See:

    Queen of the Sun (2011)
    The Idiot Cycle (2010)

    Comment by Rady — September 26, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    • Great list Rady, thanks.

      Comment by Russ — September 26, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  3. I’m working on collecting info for a localized defensive strategy for our anti-corporate movement. This should dovetail nicely with what you are doing, Russ.

    Maybe we oughta write a book together

    😉

    Comment by Rady — September 26, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

    • I’ve tossed around various book ideas, and I’d love to collaborate if someone and I were on the same wavelength. I’ll e-mail you.

      Comment by Russ — September 26, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  4. That is a great list of resources, thank you. I assembled a DVD collection of peak oil movies and we tried having a Friday night showing with discussion. It was very poorly attended. I did a lot of advertising of the “Farmer John” movie, bought the rights for a public showing from Angelic Organics and we did have a good turn out.

    I think that King Corn would be about right and I have heard good things about Fresh. For our community dinners I think we need to be positive and entertaining. Or show movies that are directly related to small farming techniques.

    I think that our local farmers might enjoy seeing the Szep Holtzer videos. Does anyone know whether they are available on a DVD? The quality on YouTube is not great and, of course, they would need subtitles for most people. I am also looking for really good horse farming and horse logging videos. It would be great if Rodale would put out a DVD showing their experiments with no-till agriculture.

    As the owner of a small herd of dairy goats I would love to see Farmaggedon but I don’t know that I would show it to the Grangers from what I have heard.

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — September 27, 2011 @ 7:04 am

    • thx, Ellen. I had not heard of The Real Dirt on Farmer John by Taggart Siegel – but his film, Queen of the Sun, was fabulous. So, I’ll try to find a link to Farmer John and see if I can add it to my list.

      I found plenty of youtubes on Sepp Holzer when writing my review of his latest book, Permaculture. But you’re right — youtube quality is not the same as DVD quality.

      How about a book discussion instead? There are a number of popular permaculture books out there. And a discussion would allow local farmers and gardeners to work out the water and soil issues specific to your region.

      What have you heard about Farmaggedon that turned you off? I haven’t seen it yet; waiting for it to be shown in my area. I thought it was about the government raids on private herd shares and private food clubs.

      Comment by Rady — September 27, 2011 @ 11:19 am

      • I haven’t seen it and would love to. I have heard that it is about the raids on small farms by government representatives and I would love to see it. I was just thinking that something less upsetting might be better for a Friday night dinner. I could be wrong. In any case, I don’t think it is available yet to the public.

        Comment by Ellen Anderson — September 28, 2011 @ 6:56 am

      • You think they can’t handle it, Ellen? They’ve probably heard about it, and if people are going to get serious about stuff they’ll have to face the facts squarely. This stuff is maybe scary at first, but becomes less scary as people become familiar with it.

        But if a particular movie is too intense for novice audiences, there ought to be something less intense available. But I don’t know much about movies on that subject.

        As far as arranging screenings, I found a website for it which refused to download. But according to the search blurb you can probably do a screening. That’s how I saw Fresh and King Corn.

        Don’t be discouraged by one poor turnout for a screening. I’ve often seen Peak Oilers say that stuff takes time, and you have to have patience.

        I also like the book discussion group idea.

        Comment by Russ — September 28, 2011 @ 7:41 am

  5. Okay, when talking about localization we run into the idea that folks ought to demand food rights from their government. Mexico amended its constitution to do just this.
    http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/5432

    The Mexican gov allows GMOs, as I’m sure you know. So the problem with demanding food rights is that people are going to an authoritarian figure to resolve the issue of hunger when that very figure is promoting a type of food that has terrible health and environmental consequences.

    The federalization of authority, it seems to me, is the problem. When power is centralized, it is a much easier target for corruption.

    And then when you figure in genetic contamination from GMOs, it raises the question – how do local units of authority protect against a bloated centralized authority that allows for that contamination.

    Comment by Rady — September 27, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    • Brazil has even more expansive constitutional affirmations, and yet progress there, while significant compared to elsewhere, has been slow and is recently seeing some retrogression, as land is being reconcentrated in some areas.

      I think the end goal has to be the abolition of power concentrations (whether they be nominally governmental or “private”; in reality all concentration is a form of State), as these will always engage in these assaults according to the nature of concentration itself.

      While in the end today’s kleptocracy is unsustainable and must collapse, the timeline for this is uncertain, so people who want to relocalize politics and economic activity will also have to be assertive in the face of this power. We have to try to undermine it wherever we can.

      As you point out, the results of constitutionalism, let alone lesser forms of system petitioning and reform, seldom have good results, and when there are worthwhile results these come under immediate attack. it’s a permanent war of attrition that the rackets will always win in the end for as long as they exist.

      To go with the GMO example, in principle lower units of government could do anything from requiring labels to rendering tort judgements to outright bans to refusing police protection for GMO “property” to actively assaulting this property. So far we’ve seen almost none of this. What a commentary on modern America that in the latter 20th century the only ways in which local “authority” really resisted more centralized power was for racist purposes. But people who cared about democracy could do the same against corporate power. The only exception I see these days are the so far primarily symbolic food sovereignty and anti-corporate laws passed by some towns.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/food-sovereignty-in-maine/

      http://www.celdf.org/index.php

      I guess all of that was leading up to the conclusion that although we should try to retake local government to use it toward democratic and real economic ends, I see little hope for anything real being accomplished through “reform” at the upper levels of government. Power and wealth concentration themselves are the problem, and any advocacy which isn’t at least on the vector toward dissolving these is useless at best.

      Comment by Russ — September 28, 2011 @ 3:26 am

      • yeah, good points, Russ — especially the last one which I totally agree with.

        Comment by Rady — September 28, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

    • Here is an email I just got from the Organic Consumers Association. They are very active in building a coalition to sue Monsanto and to promote local, sustainable agriculture. In fact, they have formed an alliance with several other groups (not corporations) to promote their goals. A number of organic farms across the country have also joined together in a lawsuit against Monsanto. So, I would say that the number of groups and people who are recognizing the problem with corporatism through food (rather than through finance) is growing.

      Of course, there will be doctrinal disputes, especially when (not if) this movement starts to gain real traction. For example, I am surprised that Dr. Mercola is part of the coalition and a speaker at the Weston Price Foundation meeting this year. I enjoy reading his posts and subscribe to them but his advertising is on or over the edge of what I consider acceptable. But his warnings about a lot of things and his support for raw milk ring true for me.

      Here is the post. I imagine if any readers of this blog are close enough to attend they would love to have you and I would love to know how many people they turn out to see this.

      “Potluck Dinner & Free Film: “The World According to Monsanto”
      Friday, September 30, 2011 – Potluck dinner at 6:00 p.m., Movie at 7:00 p.m. followed by discussion

      Unitarian Church of Barnstable
      3330 Main Street
      Barnstable, MA

      Monsanto is the company that brought us PCBs, Agent Orange, and dioxin. It’s now giving us genetically modified food without adequate testing or labeling, and it is seizing proprietary control of corn, mustard, okra, rice, cauliflower… the list goes on and on! Join us for this eye-opening film and discussion. Optional: Bring a dish to share (organic or sustainably grown, if possible).

      Please RSVP to Sheila Place at sbplace583@comcast.net.

      Sponsored by:
      UCB Green Sanctuary Committee
      UCB Social Justice Committee
      Cobb’s Hill Community Series”

      Comment by Ellen Anderson — September 28, 2011 @ 9:09 am

  6. As a general point, I would emphasize closed nutrient loops above all else. Everything else flows from that- relocalisation, organic practice, even, to an extent, economic democracy (as closed loops implies that they who give shall receive in kind).

    Comment by paper mac — September 27, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

    • Closed nutrient loops (which immediately strikes me as having metaphorical implications as well as the basic physical meaning) is practically synonymous with resiliency, robustness, self-sufficiency, and writes itself as an objective of relocalization and council democracy.

      All of these are relative concepts. There’s no such thing as totally closed loops of any sort, nor would they be politically and culturally desirable even if they were possible (that’s contrary to the dumber straw men we often see being erected and knocked down; that’s also why system propagandists always want to confound relocalization with xenophobia and the more bunkerist aspects of survivalism).

      But relative to globalism and kleptocracy, we do want and need to close the loops, since their cords transmit only poison while extracting our vitality.

      I recall that we previously discussed this with regard to cash, and I’ve given more thought to that knot, but I still don’t have a clear practical answer. In theory a combination of community good will, cooperative organization, perhaps supplemented by time banking, and local government control, all of this engaging in resistance against external aggression wherever necessary, ought to be able to close the cash loop even now in many areas.

      But to go from this theory of how to reconstitute humanity’s historical norm to the practice, how to really do it and break free of the existing bottleneck and prison, is still unclear.

      Comment by Russ — September 28, 2011 @ 3:38 am

      • Yeah, those are good points. I think one of the reasons I would personally emphasise closed loops is that I see a lot of the organic/permaculture nomenclature being adopted by people who aren’t even acknowledging that this is something that will have to happen. For instance, I’m involved with a greenhouse restoration project where one of the members wants to build what he refers to as a “permaculture, zero-nutrient ecosystem” to feed the food plants. I pointed out to him that unless we were collecting the waste of the humans consuming the food plants and replacing those nutrients into the system (we’re not), the “permaculture ecosystem” would have a lifespan measured in months. This person, and an associated faculty member, both educated people, literally boggled at me like I was from another planet- they both thought that just cycling water between fish and plants would “produce nutrients in excess” and produce a “permaculture”!!

        In any case, you’re right that it’s synonymous with resiliency, robustness, etc. I think it adds additional imperatives to those terms in the sense that the most robust systems are those with the smallest closed loops, etc, which go on to drive what I think is the basic goal of relocalisation- to do everything locally to the maximum extent reasonably achievable (to make the loops as tight and unleaky as possible). Also, the more we get people thinking about cities as enormous, haemmorhaging wounds in our vital life cycles, the better, I think.

        As far as how to really do it- I’m still confounded by the class & land issue. I can concieve of myself obtaining some land and achieving something like relocalisation for myself, but for the urban working class..? That will take actual, concerted rebellion, and I don’t know what the required conditions are that will allow for a just land dispensation. I think cheap methods of natural building, natural farming using on-site materials will get us partway there, but the required widespread, outright appropriation of land to implement these on- I have no idea how this will work, just that we have to get there sooner rather than later.

        Comment by paper mac — September 28, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

      • You mean that except for the sun they pictured it being perfectly sealed and self-sufficient like the Biosphere? (Which also didn’t work.)

        Is that what “zero-nutrient” is supposed to mean? I’m pretty sure permaculture doesn’t have such a restrictive definition. Our medicinal garden was designed using permaculture swale techniques. I still haven’t read Gaia’s Garden yet, though. Definitely this winter.

        The land issue is difficult. So far as I can recall, the closest I’ve come to practical transitional suggestions (as in steps which are possible short of just waiting for “the revolution” as if for a religious messiah) are in these posts.

        https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/jubilate-mortgages-and-property/

        https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/food-sovereignty-vs-the-final-stage-of-neoliberalism/


        More affirmatively, we need the land. We must demand it in principle (demand it, not of the elites who stole it, but as exemplary toward reawakening the people to the fact that our land has been stolen, and that if we’re to survive and prosper we must redeem it) and flow like water onto all available land. Our tactics must embrace everything from guerrilla gardening to adverse possession and organized squatting to mass land reclamation movements. Food production stewardship, and any other mode of productive economic relocalization, must always be the basis.

        Just yesterday I jotted down a few more ideas for this, in the form of a thought experiment. I’ll make that into a post sometime soon, so I’ll let that be a longer reply to this question.

        Comment by Russ — September 29, 2011 @ 3:17 am

      • Yep, it’s pretty much Biosphere 2: Electric Boogaloo, which I honestly find hilarious in a scientific car-crash kind of way, but I’m trying to break off part of the greenhouse so that it actually produces food for the campus soup kitchen/food bank system, so it’s a bit of a pain in the ass. I think permaculture means different things to different people, and that’s fine, but generally speaking, my opinion is that a system that will become totally nutrient depleted in under a year doesn’t qualify. It DEFINITELY doesn’t qualify as “zero nutrient”. The term “zero nutrient” isn’t used much because there isn’t really any such thing- you can find well-balanced systems of epiphytes growing on trees next to fishponds in some tropical ecosystems which are pretty close, and don’t seem to need inputs for dozens if not hundreds of years, but it’s unusual and climate change is going to make them even more so. I don’t like the term “permaculture” and try to avoid using it, because the implication to a lot of people is “you can do this permanently/forever” and even if you do have closed loops, well, aint nothin lasts forever. I want a term that says:

        “we’re doing a thing, and it’s:
        -no synthetic chemicals, no mineral fertilisers
        -conservation/no tillage
        -companion planting where appropriate
        -incorporates indigenous flora/fauna
        -integrated into local ecosystem
        -loops as closed as reasonably achievable
        -net zero or negative carbon field-to-table-to-compost-to-field
        -etc”

        and maybe “agroecology” is that, but I feel like “agroecology” should encompass a range of practices. My feeling is that something close to Masanobu Fukuoka’s “natural farming” techniques is what I want to do, but with a bit more flexibility (and less rice..)

        Comment by paper mac — September 29, 2011 @ 6:38 am

      • I’ll keep that in mind as I work with these terms. You’re right that it’ll be good to come up with fairly rigorous standard terminology (but which is also broadly accessible).

        Let’s compare those criteria (the ones applicable) to the medicinal garden:

        -no synthetic chemicals, no mineral fertilisers:

        The only chemical we used was to spray some soapy water on oleander aphids which have infested the milkweed and pleurisy root. None of us was clear on what to do about the problem, and whether it’s even a problem that needs an interventionist solution at all. (The Internet was no help, with a cacaphony of contradictory advice. So our herbalist decided soapy water was a minimal solution we could try.)

        -incorporates indigenous flora/fauna:

        That’s the goal of the garden, although some introduced but locally established species are also there, and we’ve included a few non-native plants that were donated.

        -integrated into local ecosystem:

        The fact that the garden’s on an island surrounded by heavily traveled roads seems to prevent it from becoming much of a wildlife habitat. Plenty of insects, but I’ve never seen a toad or snake, and rodents seem rare. Deer are in there sometimes (I see from their droppings.)

        -loops as closed as reasonably achievable:

        When our water catchment system is working, that works for water. We’ve spread manure and wood chips brought from outside several times. I’m not sure philosophically about how the imported human labor applies to the loop closure status. I guess if the waste which accompanies food consumption would need to be completely assimilated by the system, then it follows that the labor inputs would also need to have been fueled (nutrition-wise, calorie-wise, etc.) by that system. Obviously that can’t be the case for a medicinal garden, which can contribute to the general health of the worker but not to his day-to-day food.

        So we also need scaled loop concepts. E.g., a medicinal garden can never be its own closed loop, but it can help close loops at a higher level of integrated projects. At what system level should most loops be closed? (Always using closed as a relative term meaning something like, closed as much as possible/desirable.)

        Who knows, perhaps contemplation of the physical issues involved here can also help develop guidelines for political strategy.

        Comment by Russ — September 29, 2011 @ 7:18 am

      • Scaled loops is a good concept. I think some of what underlies central place theory has to do with these kinds of loops. I need to think about that more. I think that concept can potentially inform the geographic side of political strategy- what groups can we usefully ally with in a practical way (are in range of a significant number of our loops, or where we want them to be) and what groups might be better to work with in a more political way, etc.

        Your comment about soap reminds me, I need to take a crack at making lye from ashes one of these days. Soap is one of those things that would be so easy to relocalise it’s silly. I’ve got some general plans for setting up a hop yard on my blue-sky farm, and hop oil is apparently really good for soap and shampoo (apparently dog show people really like it for dogs?), so I’d like to give that a shot at some point.

        When I used to work with radionucleotides, the watchword for radiation exposure was ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable). Some variation on that seems like a reasonable guideline for loop-closing.

        Comment by paper mac — September 29, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

      • In theory people could lay out a map much like Powell’s old watershed district map

        https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/john-wesley-powells-watershed-districts/

        but showing the different potential ranges for loops at every significant level. While I’d never want to be pedantic about considering such a tool normative, it could still help develop the basic idea, just as a guideline.

        That kind of political guideline can also have some relevance for deciding what’s worth actually doing, what may be fine for rhetorical support but not actual investment of energy, and what’s completely counterproductive.

        BTW, I forgot to let you know that I was unable to see the latter part of the Skinner piece. The thing told me I’d exceeded the number of unsubscribed downloads I could look at. Thanks anyway.

        Comment by Russ — September 30, 2011 @ 2:59 am

  7. I understand that the only way a movement of such magnitude could be successful would be by empowering the common individual. The success to any movement is due to it’s inner “gear works” (the people).

    Knowledge is such an empowering tool that springs to mind. So long as knowledge (pertaining to all aspects of the food movement) is flowing and expanding, the motion is forwards. movements die down eventually when later
    members who join have a different mindset than
    the movements founders.

    This is where intent comes in. Through knowledge, intent plays it’s part. intent to take the knowledge and effect a change. The whole movement must share the same intent and not splinter into subgroups. This intent is gained by having knowledge reach a critical mass whereby there is only one possible path left to follow. I for example have come to the same conclusion that we need a food movement because my knowledge, after exhausting all, says there is no other real viable option. So I intend to change.

    and with a bit of luck as the movement grows, government will slowly have to side with the movement, if only because the government is made from the people. And now that the people are more knowledgable, it becomes harder to pull one over them (I might be naive but I believe in people. we did just make AD 2000 as a species, regardless of our messups! 🙂

    I guess the most important thing is to keep such a movement dead simple, something everbody could relate to and sign up regardless of where they live or what they do. Relocating, throwing out of new technologies and splintering up into many communes and scurrying of to claim a piece of earth I don ‘t see as feasible. It must be something we can do right now, right where we stand.

    in my opinion it has taken the human species 98% of it’s existance to reach the point where world wide brotherhood and sisterhood is in sight. Sure, we are at the darkest crossroads yet. However we have never as a species been closer to eachother than before, and that is also why it has been so easy for corporations to do what they have done in such as short term. Because we ARE more connected to each other.

    Let’s not back down. thousands of years of human evolution are on our side and these last 100 years are the final gasps of a part of human society that is reluctant to relinquish. We outnumber them by millions to one, let them start running. I ain’t budging!!

    Sorry Russ I love reading your posts but am not a blogger nor a writer nor much more either. I just felt that I could contribute some thought processes to this endeavour of yours as it lies close to my heart aswell,

    respectfully

    Comment by Warry — September 29, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

    • Thanks Warry. You’re right that, as much as is physically sustainable post-fossil fuels, we’re mostly going to have to relocalize where we are.

      As you say, what we’re now up against is just a small blip counter to the vastly longer arc of humanity’s natural history. The two basic kinds of knowledge we’ve attained in modern times which should help render us far more wise and practical as we return to history’s normal course are the agronomic knowledge (along with far greater knowledge of things like passive solar energy), and the much fuller democratic consciousness.

      Those, in a nutshell, are the two main things I write about here. In the case of agronomy I’m not personally an expert (yet) on the details, but I know that the knowledge exists and what it can accomplish if put to full use.

      Comment by Russ — September 30, 2011 @ 3:08 am

  8. […] This is a necessary preliminary step toward affirmative food sovereignty, which is in turn necessary for our democratic and physical existence going forward. We must abolish all intellectual property, derivatives, and contracts of adhesion. This means […]

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