June 17, 2012

What’s Normal

Filed under: Food and Farms, Reformism Can't Work, Relocalization — Russ @ 1:53 am


Many who deplore the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog treadmill of competition and “growth” in our community-level economic activities (for example, in our individual lifestyles, or running a small business) still implicitly concede this grim path as being normative, as being some law of nature. They may plead for a more laid-back way of life, or a “business model” which seeks to stabilize at a certain size and symmetry, as merely a viable alternative which has a right to co-exist with the corporatism death march. They may represent their ideas as comprising some kind of alternative lifestyle.
But this is the wrong way to look at things, and the wrong way to express these ideas. It complies with the party line of government and corporate media, which would represent, for example, corporatist agriculture as normal, reasonable, in accord with the laws of nature, while something like Polyface farm is represented as a fluke. (Although recently the corporate media has moved from ridiculing it to fighting it, which is a positive step.)
To act naturally and rationally is to act toward a well-contemplated goal in terms of size, symmetry, sustainability. The only normative, normal act is the act in harmony with nature. To the extent that any aspect of human affairs can be called a law of the universe, it’s only this naturalistic imperative. Capitalism, corporatism, power concentration, top-heavy hierarchy, infinite “growth” – these, on the contrary, are insane, irrational, abnormal by any natural or historical measure.
So when we call for rational degree in things, when we laud the vibrant life of human communities, and the human scales and speeds of relocalized human economies, we’re not positing some exotic “alternative” in reaction to a normative baseline of bigness, breathless pace, and infinite, totalitarian goallessness. On the contrary, we’re reasserting the claims of sanity, rationality, sustainability, and nature, against the temporary derangement of the human project on account of a handful of maniacs and criminals.



  1. Accept their framing of the issues, and you will lose the argument. Don’t accept the current status quo as natural but accuse it of being a perversion of nature.

    I’m down with that.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — June 20, 2012 @ 12:55 am

    • Yup. Thought and expression has to reject the Status Quo Lie in every manifestation and context. We need to turn everything right side up.

      Comment by Russ — June 20, 2012 @ 3:49 am

  2. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air.”…
    I’ve watched cats get high on catnip on Internet. Admittedly, kitties are.. domesticated animals, but I’m sure that even wild animals behave in what you would call… unnatural ways.
    I don’t idealize Aristotle’s logic (reason) any more…
    This week, in true utopian, humanist fashion, our European leaders all agreed that “growth” should be the European goal at this time. (Growth of.. jobs, and salaries, of course…)
    Taking the ship down, she says.
    I had a nice walk around the park this morning. The first ducklings appeared. What a treat.
    Be sure that you don’t get so.. mired in reformation that you miss the ducklings. That was.. Jesus’ way of doing things…
    Last week I engaged in some heavy reality denial : closed my eyes while our husband drove past our local ECOLOGICAL, new and improved industrial park, which replaced a “wild” area in our local suburb.
    Significantly enough, there is no word for wilderness in French…
    That doesn’t surprise me at all, coming from the country which put the “jardin à la française” on the map.
    Incidentally… I bet that French and American use of pesticides goes hand in hand. France is number 1 in Europe (I think..) for use of… pesticides and psychotropes. Could there be a… link between pesticides and psychotropes ? (not biological, not biological, she says)

    Comment by Debra — June 23, 2012 @ 8:22 am

    • What’s unnatural about cats enjoying catnip?

      Comment by Russ — June 23, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

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