It's Our Turn to Eat: How Politics Works and Why Activism is So Important

This is a guest post by Dave Pollard, an author and activist who blogs over at How to Save the World (Dave's always been one of my favorites in the blogosphere). I found this piece interesting because it elucidates many of the problems and lessons that we talk about in my interest groups/social movements course--and in turn those problems and lessons inspired some of the foundational goals that we set up The Oil Drum to fulfill: to educate and inform, and then to inspire and organize those educated and informed people to be a positive and persuasive force in a difficult, seemingly path-dependent world. Yes, that's right, you folks here at The Oil Drum are a small (and very informed) part of a larger sustainability/resource depletion social movement; and, even though we may all have different ideas about how to get to a better world, I hope that we can still agree that continuing an informed discourse about how to make it better is an important part of getting there.
After the Bioneers conference last year, I wrote about the 24 steps to make political activism more effective. And, as the chart above shows, activism has long been part of my "what you can do to help save the world" list.

Recently, however, I've become more skeptical in my writing about whether or not political activism really has any effect. Most of my attention has been focused on personal change, on adapting to the world rather than trying to make it better.

More recently still, I've begun to think that personal change is equally futile: that we cannot be other than who we are, and that the best personal coping strategy is to know and accept yourself. My friend Janene has tempered my thoughts on this somewhat; she says that while we may not be able to change who we are, we can change what we do.

To some extent this takes us full circle. If we have the opportunity and responsibility to change our behaviour, our activities, to make different choices about what we do, and don't do, what is this if not political activism? And if those actions do make a difference, then skepticism about the effectiveness of political activism is at best unwarranted, and at worst defeatist. My political activist friends have called me on this, and I promised to recant any suggestion on these pages that political activism is a waste of time and energy.

So I'm doing so. As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." She was right. Social and political movements have always pushed people and institutions to make important and meaningful change that they would not otherwise make, by appealing in part to their sense of what's fair and just and reasonable (an intellectual appeal), but more importantly by appealing to human emotion, by moving them. Without such movements there would be no movement, and we would probably be living in a world with much more slavery, violence, destruction and tyranny than the one we live in now.

I've been trying to figure out why this is so. I have a fairly optimistic view of human intention and behaviour, as befits an incurable idealist. But I also confess to being misanthropic -- I don't much like most people. I find them stupid, unimaginative, indifferent to the suffering of others, and conveniently ignorant and agnostic. It is easy to give up hope on people, and to blame "the system" that grinds the sense and sensibility out of them, and just give up.

I believe, as John Gray has argued, that we humans, like most creatures, are preoccupied with the needs of the moment. We are myopic, both in time and space -- unable to really care about what we cannot see and feel, or about what the future consequences of our actions might be. That's not a criticism, just a Darwinian truth. That is who we are.

The problem is one of scale. When something affects us, or our immediate circle, personally, it is in our nature to care about it, and, with some struggle (because in our modern world we do not get much practice building consensus, resolving conflicts, and really caring about those we haven't personally selected to be part of our networks) to resolve it congenially, fairly and effectively.


But the further away something gets from those intimate circles, the less capacity we have to understand it, to care about it, or to deal with it effectively. With distance and size it becomes remote, invisible, complex, unfathomable. We introduce hierarchy (whose effect is to increase efficiency and the concentration of power and reduce effectiveness, resilience, information-sharing and peer communication). We introduce agents, brokers, intermediaries, media and 'representatives' to whom we cede power and responsibility.

shirky network of dense clusters

As we become more distant and as the circle becomes much larger, we cannot care as much. Soon it takes a massive fear-based propaganda machine just to make us vote, or fight a foreign 'enemy' thousands of miles away. Likewise, when politicians are far removed from their constituents, they cease to know or care what those constituents individually want or feel, and focus instead on how to broadcast messages to get re-elected. If they're business leaders, likewise removed by many layers and floors and oceans from the front line people, they cease to care about those people, and begin to think of them merely as 'resources' to be managed.

There's a new book out about government corruption in Kenya called It's Our Turn to Eat. The title refers to the appeal of each elected government to its own tribal supporters that they have to seize power and gorge themselves quickly because after the next election some other tribe will be in power and they too will look after 'their own'. The twist is that the elite in Kenya, across all tribal groups, exploits this tribal animosity and fear to distract the electorate from the fact that, whoever is in power, the elite still pull the strings, pay off the politicians, and hoard the resulting wealth. The objective is to subjugate and discourage the people, because that allows the elite to continue to rule unopposed. Then it all becomes a game of perpetuating power and wealth -- stealing elections, ever-increasing disparity, police state laws, bribes, pork, subsidies and payoffs, propaganda, intimidation, media control, divide and conquer, and massive corruption. US 2000, Kenya or Iran 2009, it doesn't matter. To think that this is a struggling-nation problem only is pure conceit. Thanks to distance, size, and scale, the benign inclinations of human nature are coopted, perverted and corrupted. Everything that works at a community level fails at the level of corporation and nation. We have shown, all over the world, again and again, that once we reach a certain size we become depraved, ungovernable.

The role of the activist is to act as a counterbalance to this perversion, to speak truth to power, to bridge the distance, to hold those who are irresponsible and unaccountable, responsible and accountable. To intervene. To break down what is already broken. To enable what the people really want to be realized, despite everything. A step forward for every step back. A holding action.

This is thankless work. So I want to say thank you.

Without activists, the world would be full of gulags, torture prisons, brutalized, silent spouses and children. Without activists, the forests would all be gone, the air fouled, the oceans dead, the glaciers and ice-cap and permafrost melted into a brown sea. Without activists, women would have no vote and no right to choose, and people of colour would have no freedom. Without activists, the books with the most important ideas in human history would be banned, or never published. Without activists, the world's children would be working in mines, and the world's adults would be working in chains. Without activists, we would all be addicted to the poisons that Big Tobacco and Big Agribiz and Big Pharma and Big Energy try to convince us we cannot live without. Without activists, the only non-human animals would be farmed animals. Without activists, the world would be awash in billions of unwanted children.

All of us must be activists, if we are to give this world a fighting chance.

ftss circles

What should you do? Picking your cause is just like picking the work you're meant to do, as I explain in my book Finding the Sweet Spot. This is not work for the half-hearted or easily-discouraged. So, just as in choosing the paying work that gives your life meaning, you need to identify and choose a cause that's in your 'sweet spot' -- something you love doing, and that you're good at, and that is needed in the world, and that you care about. If you are no good at it you'll get discouraged or burned out. If you don't love the cause, you'll end up disengaged. If it's not really needed, if the world's not ready for it, you'll be unappreciated and frustrated.

To find this, you must learn something about yourself, and then do some research about the world, about what's really going on, about the points of intervention that will allow you to make a difference. There are a few ideas in the brown box in the top chart above, but it's only a tiny segment of the work that needs to be done. Whether your cause is health or corruption or energy or pollution or water or food or conservation or animal welfare or urban despair or suburban sprawl or power or inequity, the process is the same: Find partners, a community of people who share your purpose and your cause and whose work and strengths complement your own, so that you get to do what you love and are good at and so that the sum of the team's work is greater than its parts.

Next, you need to be for something, not just against something. Always fighting against, as important as that work is, will drain your energy unless you also have a vision of a better way, something to replace what you're battling. So you need to be not only an informed warrier but also an innovator, an entrepreneur, a visionary.

And you need to be prepared to search insatiably and undogmatically for the truth, because ultimately that is your most powerful, and sometimes your only, weapon. Without it, your belief and passion are not enough.

You also need to be able to articulate, simply, clearly and honestly, what you believe and why. There is power in intention and strength in numbers, but you will be unable to achieve either unless you are able to convey what is, and what needs to be done, to those who are ready to listen and to make common cause with you. You cannot do it alone, and you have to pace yourself. You need to understand too that many people will not be ready for your explanation, and that your response when you meet them is to be polite and to move on, not waste your energies trying to make them believe what they are not ready to believe. You must have faith that they will come around, in time, and you or one of those you have joined in common cause will be there, then, to welcome them.

tiananmen square

And at times you need to be ready to fight. You might think this would require courage, but if you believe in the cause, and you know it's right, fighting for it will not be hard; in your mind there will be no choice.

(What else, activists? What am I missing? Lessons from the trenches? Secrets of success?)

We must all be activists, and relentless, and patient, and brilliant at it, because as long as the majority are hopeless, there is no hope. And because we cannot fail. We cannot.

Until the day when it's no one group's turn to eat. Until there is enough for all, and more.

Hope. Ditch the hope. This has nothing to do with hope. One does not need hope to do the right thing.

cfm in Gray, ME

You cannot make change without hope. Without hope it is difficult to get out of bed in the morning.

Wishing, on the other hand, isn't needed so much.

So if you know that your mother or sister or lover...has a terminal disease and that nothing you can do will stop her from dying, you would just stay in bed and not care for her as best you can.

Dryki is right. Hope is beside the point, and is as often an excuse for inaction and denial as anything else.

This is the main thing that environmentalists and others have to start wrapping their heads around. We now are in an age of post-hope activism.

You can only have so many decades and years that are the "last chance" to avoid unalterably horrific effects. We have already passed these points. The age of consequences has begun, to paraphrase Churchill.

This might mean not getting out of bed for a few days as the enormity of this grim reality sinks in. But when we rise, our eyes will be unclouded and our fury and determination will burn deep and will no soon burn out.

Hope does not mean that you can make it all better.

Hope means you believe that you can make a difference at all.

If you do not believe that you can help someone you care about who is suffering horribly then you will find it difficult to do anything at all.

Without hope all is darkness and depression with usually fatal results for the hopeless.

Without hope all is darkness and depression with usually fatal results for the hopeless.

And the results aren't likewise fatal for the hopeful?


Do you hope for a "solution" to the "problem" of peak oil? Do you hope for a return to "happy motoring" and BAU? Do you hope to live forever? I would contend that such pollyannaism serves as an irrational ego defense against intense fear of change and of personal mortality. You ARE "DOOOM"ed, you know, as are we all. Good luck on "making a difference at all." By all means feel free to knock yourself out trying...

"Who Wants to Live Forever?" - Queen (Brian May), A Kind of Magic (1986)

There's no time for us
There's no place for us
What is this thing that builds our dreams
Yet slips away from us

There's no chance for us
It's all decided for us
This world has only one sweet moment
Set aside for us

Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever.....?


As a friend who worked at the State Department for 30 years used to toast: "To our hopeless cause!"

'Every man dies.. but not every man really lives.' Mel the Bruce


'After the game, the king and pawn go in the same box' .. what do you choose to make your life until then?

Angry or Dismissive doomerism can be a mental defense mechanism, too. Often seems that it is..

Angry or Dismissive doomerism

I prefer the term "ahedonistic nihilism." It has a more pleasingly pretentious ring to it.. :)

Yep, we all die.

But before I die I plan on living a bit more.

You can wallow in all the self pity you like, but the abyss won't get any deeper or blacker if you choose to look away from it every once in a while.

Nor will deciding to ignore the abyss make it any less deep and black when you stumble into it.

There's a long distance between obsessing on the abyss and ignoring it completely.

It seems that the people stuck at either end can't see the path between.

Good point! ;)

aunque nos espere el dolor y la muerte
contra el enemigo nos llama el deber

Ah, how I long for the days of oratory - Barack's a vast improvement over George but who wrote this stuff back then, anyway?

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874 - 1965)

I'd forgotten that one. I think that's my current favourite. It reminds me of the ideal T-shirt slogan contest.

Look, I can't save the world on my own. It's going to take at least three of us.
The time is far too late, and the situation is far too desperate for there to be any time for pessimism.
The glass is twice as big as it needed to be.

Any other suggestions? Or is this a campfire topic?

Words outen the mouth do not mean 'hands on the wheel'.

He won on words. He is still using the words. I still see no change.
He gave away out money,,I will give him that tidbit.


Just wanted to take a moment and say great post dohboi. So succinctly and accurately put. I agree.


Right on...but when are we to then awaken? Tear the veil of malaise from off our eyes? When does the mask of 'gobbermint will fix it' come off?

I am still the forests diminish, the fish still disappear,the water tables sink,huge jungles of plastic swill still spin in the oceans, empty sabers of our military still rattle and we applaud the spin doctors again and again?


Or are we even past the time when we can finally say "Enough is enough"?


Well, the mask of 'free market will fix it' is starting to come off, perhaps others will. I just see no chance that we will avoid being (since we are already) totally screwed before any widespread awakening comes about. The spin will doubtless furiously go on as long as those who pay the spin-meisters still see it in their interest to help delude people. The 'cap and trade' mess is evidence that both 'free market' and 'gov' are still held up as viable solutions. (For the record, I think both could play a roll, but not at anything near the level that their zealous advocates suggest.)

On the other hand, farmers markets are popping up in record numbers all over the place, lots more people are putting in gardens, suburban sprawl has stopped in it's tracks...There are signs that by insight or necessity more and more people are starting to "get it" at some level--though surely almost never at nearly a deep enough level compared to what the situation demands, yet.

Another apt quote on the subject, this one I think from Franz Kafka:

"There is hope! (But not for us.)"

The free market will fix the problem.

The fix will be ugly, nasty, and eat people, but the problem will go away.

Nicely put.

I think it was the economist that said something like: The economy has worked perfectly at establishing a value for everything and it is currently setting the value for most of the public and their work at near zero.

But before you get too high on your horse you might want to consider that the value of economics has proven itself by the fact that economics professors make a passable living at their trade.

"Without hope it is difficult to get out of bed in the morning."

Depends. Hope for others? I gave that up long ago when my family tore itself apart. My daughter totally incommunicado. My wife living elsewhere. My son a rather worthless grownup unable to take responsibility for anything.

I spent 4x years of dog hard work and with hope for them and the future driving me all the time.

So I gave it up. When I get up in the mornings its with my own hope. My hope for my survival. My hope to store my garden stuff. My hope to shoot true and aim right when time to do the 'gathering' or defending.

My hope. That is about the only thing one can be assured of being able to control and cope with.

Hope for mankind and our Amurkhan 'way of life'.....? A charade of the worst order.

Do our politicos have hope for US? Not on your life. They are playing other games.

All those platitudes. Worthless now. It was all media fodder.


"Hope is an expectation of a future condition, over which you have no agency." -- Derrick Jensen

Also, hope is a self-administered drug, a substitute for paying attention, critical thinking, emotional awareness, and action. Without any of these things going on, that act of hoping exposes the baser drives of fear and desire, and makes people more easily manipulated.

That definition of hope is what I grew up with as "wishful thinking".

No need or room for it in a serious plan.

The belief that whatever you are doing might have the desired outcome: that is hope.

Without that why would anybody bother with anything?

That sounds like faith if you substitute will for might.

I agree that hope will not deliver in terms of fixing the problem.

The problem is that humans are in overshoot and we are genetically pre-programmed to do what we are doing. There are ecological control mechanisms for dealing with plague species, some of them from within the human genome (eg falling fertility rates, drug abuse, war) and others system responses (climate change). On top of all that there is resource depletion (especially oil, but also water, various rare-earth metals, arable land etc).

Human action will do most to help those taking action, not by helping fix the problem, but by the psychological benefit (including hope) that is a by-product of taking action.

'hope is the first step on the road to disappointment'

I find it helpful to remind myself that I don't have the right to hope for (or expect) anything from the world around me.

Excellent overview of what we need to do to become the change we seek.

What else, activists? What am I missing?

1. Lead by example. By that I mean, if we push for more bicycle riding, let's be bike commuters ourselves. If we push for local agriculture, let's do most of our shopping at farmer's markets (and/or grow and preserve our own food). Bring your garden's bounty in tasty dishes to dinner parties or potlucks. Keep a few city chickens.

2. Become acquainted with your local government officials. The term 'official' has such a cold ring to it, but they are people just like you and I. It makes getting your point across much effective.

In order for a seed to sprout it must fall on fertile ground.


It will sprout though. However it will be weak,spindly and insects can attack it more easily and will. It will never bear fruit and if it might then it will be faulty, full of worms and few fruit at that.

One then understanding this saves the best seed for the next planting and of course enhances his soil.

All you need to know about gardening in two paragraphs?

Use good seed and put it in good soil. Actually one sentence suffices.

Airdale-harvesting the produce however is an entirely different aspect

You must have faith... because we cannot fail. We cannot. Until there is enough for all, and more. --- Dave Pollard

"They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom.

For trying to change the system from within." --- Leonard Cohen

When we cannot accept the possibility of failure, when failure is "not an option", failure is a certainty.

If for no other reason than there is no Plan B.

I'd become an activist but I'm stupid, ignorant, unimaginative, indifferent and self centered.

Super post. I like the Venn diagram, although some of the overlaps feel like a stretch. You have very candidly described your struggle with the tension between public activism and 'tending your own garden.'

It's Our Turn to Eat highlights an important problem in politics and governance which is probably as old as the hills but nonetheless begs for new thinking and new solutions. Once a society's stakeholders sense greater rewards in 'gaming' the system of governance (whether through lobbying, campaign contributions, corruption, etc.) than in actually building a business or fulfilling a civic mission, the web you described degrades in its function.

I don't have the answers for this.

But I think of America's founding fathers, who saw their chance to build a government from scratch and thought hard and debated about how to best counteract observed human failings. With a couple of centuries to see how the American experiment has turned out (for better and worse), the time seems ripe to revisit human failings and how governance might be refined ...

Until the day when it's no one group's turn to eat. Until there is enough for all, and more.

Right on.

Reality Check

FMagyar --

Hah! Much amused! And now I will earnestly consider the picture you have offered:

It depicts interactions between distinct mammal species in a mature ecosystem. As such, they have distinct roles/niches, the lion as top predator and the hyena as scavenger. 'Yeah Dream on' highlights this point; their roles will never change. And they shouldn't change. The Lions will gorge on the meatiest parts of their kill and sleep it off, while the hyenas are adapted to pick through the gristle and crack open the marrow of what's left over. There is plenty of room for tense moments, but this is basically a system in equilibrium. The hyenas would actually be worse off without the lions around to bring down big game.

Humans are different. We have expanded into a bunch of niches and find ourselves overstretched. Our ecosphere is in disequilibrium. The tension is between those determined to 'get while the getting is good' (or 'eat first') and those looking for a steady state (and possibly never finding it).

Not so much a disagreement with your reality check as a comment.....

...enough for all, and more.

The critical interaction between mammals depicted in the photo is between the lions and their prey, not between the lions and hyenas. The critical interaction between organisms is between the (dead) ungulate and the grass. The critical interaction period is between the grass and the sun. Humans are indeed (temporarily) different, as you say. We have learned to exploit ancient solar energy stored in the form of reduced carbon, rather than to depend on immediate solar energy processed via primary productivity as other creatures must. Because of this clever trick we have grossly overextended our population until there is not enough for any, and less. 7 billion people cannot possibly be fed without massive fossil fuel inputs into agro-industry, fossil fuels are rapidly being depleted with severe consequences to atmospheric and surface ocean chemistry, all the alternative energy sources combined offer little more than a drop in the bucket relative to fossil fuels, ecosystems such as the African savannah system depicted are in a state of collapse due to the above and large non-human animal populations are in freefall. Hope or wishful thinking or faith has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. Human population is the next bubble to burst and for the sake of ecosystem integrity and biodiversity, the sooner it bursts the better.

but this is basically a system in equilibrium...Our ecosphere is in disequilibrium.

I couldn't agree more.

Though one can also look at the picture as a metaphor for entrenched power with the weaker players on the sidelines constantly looking for ways to gain an advantage however slight that allows them to game (no pun intended) the system to their advantage and grab more than the share that those in power would allow them to get. The natural order is for those in power not to relinquish it unless coerced. As for room for tense moments, the lions are quite happy to snap a hyena's neck and there is a definitely a deep animosity between the pride and the pack.

Still, my intent was indeed to amuse.


I was just pointed to Dave's blog two days ago by a Facebook friend. It's excellent, and I resonate with a lot of what he writes. Like Dave I'm struggling with the question of inner work vs. outer engagement, despair and hope, and how to find a path that's appropriate for me.

I have no faith that groups of people will ever make rational decisions. Using Paul MacLean's "triune brain" model, there are just too many reptilian dominance/submission drives and too much limbic-mediated herding going on to make rational group decisions possible. Reinforcing this situation, over the last 60, 200 or 10,000 years (take your pick) the guardian institutions of our culture have managed to embed a narrative that tips the playing field decisively in their favour. Groups can make "good" decisions (i.e. decisions with a positive outcome for most group members) but those seem to be more emergent accidents than rational choices.

At the individual level, it's another matter, though. Rational decision-making is possible for individuals. It is made even more likely if the person has the innate or trained cortical skills to detect and discount the programmed and nonrational reactions flooding in from the reptilian and limbic systems. People who can do that are less susceptible to herding, and tend not to play the power/mating games demanded by the very oldest parts of the brain. These are precisely the skills that are fostered by meditation and inner work aimed at self-discovery (what the Buddhists call awakening or enlightenment).

So my choice for activism is promoting the value of individual awakening as a response to the snowballing crisis of civilization. I firmly believe that it's a crucial avenue, and perhaps the only one that leads toward any kind of organic (i.e. internally arising and self-supporting) sustainability. Any approach that depends on cajoling or legislation remains rooted in the noetic environment that caused the problem in the first place.

Awakening can't be the only avenue we pursue, though, because most people are not going to awaken. They will remain fully engaged by their reptilian and limbic messages, and will express their resulting behaviour within the channels provided by the external world. Those channels need to change, and that will be accomplished by activists. What I'm proposing is an activism fueled by awareness and awakening, in the form that Thich Nhat Hanh calls "engaged Buddhism".

There's a longer exploration of this idea in my article The Importance of Enlightenment.

Wonderful piece, Paul. Thanks for sharing it. Your experience parallels a similar journey I have found myself on over the past year; and to this point it has been a journey that humbly reminds me each day that fundamental change (whether positive OR negative) and action comes at the individual level--and in that, I can only do what I do, just as anyone else; and in turn, I hope what I do helps, serves, and gives love to others.

At any higher level of aggregation of society, whether it be two people or five million, individuals can merely aspire to create the conditions that reduce suffering and where others can be educated, learning more about themselves and finding their own means of progress.

In that, I continue to hope that groups of conscious individuals continue to emerge, and that this and other communities (face-to-face, web-based, etc.) can continue to facilitate that kind of conscious change.

Gnothi freakin' seauton. :)

Gnothi freakin' seauton. :)

Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such
Whether he thinks too little or too much...

"And yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers,
But all that lives is born to die;
So I say nothing really matters;
And all you do is stand and cry"

That's the Way-Led Zep

You guys sound like Albert Schweitzer.
"The individual is the sole agent responsible for the renewal of civilization".
He had many more similar quotes/sayings.

Your comment puzzles me. Although much of what you say makes sense, I can't quite reconcile half of what you're saying with the other half.

Is metta based on rationality?

Is belief in a personal rationality not a delusion? Does anatta not apply here also?

How do you figure rationality comes about? I would think it is an emergent social property (what you seem to be pitting rationality against).

What do you figure corporations (just an example) are if not the institutional expression of profit-seeking group rationality?

This talk about primitive brains and herds sounds like a superiority complex to me but I guess I just missed your point.

I'm hardly a strict Buddhist. In fact, to a "real" Buddhist I'd look like a hopeless poseur. My Buddhism is strictly of the salad-bar Zen variety. Neither am I a neuropsychologist. With those caveats firmly in mind, here are my responses:

>>Is metta based on rationality?

I would say yes, since one key requirement of metta is non-attachment. Since non-attachment can only be achieved through consciousness, and I consider consciousness to have the same mental origin as rationality, then metta is based on rationality. Of course, if the decision to feel or project metta is made in the presence of a sangha the decision may be driven by a limbic herding instinct even though the metta itself is rational.

>>Is belief in a personal rationality not a delusion? Does anatta not apply here also?

This is where Buddhist philosophy and Western neuropsychology may come into conflict. To neuropsychology the concept of anatta is an illusion. To Buddhism the concept of a rational self is an illusion. IMO there is no Truth in either of these frameworks that invalidates the other. We have to be careful to use the framework that is appropriate to the domain we're working in at the moment. Yin and yang. If there is a deeper truth that subsumes both positions I have not yet experienced it.

>>How do you figure rationality comes about? I would think it is an emergent social property (what you seem to be pitting rationality against).

To me it looks as though rationality is the intersection of consciousness and the algorithmic capability of the neocortex. The algorithmic capability is hard-wired into the organism, while consciousness is ... whatever it is. Again, the framework will determine the definition of consciousness. Neuropsychology might say consciousness is an emergent property of the very complex processing engine of the neocortex, while Buddhist philosophy might say it's a manifestation of anatta that has become attached to the physical projection of our Being (or it might not, I'm no doctrinal expert). Either way, consciousness is central to rationality.

>>What do you figure corporations (just an example) are if not the institutional expression of profit-seeking group rationality?

Corporations are artificial constructs, structures whose fictive personhood has crept into and corrupted the memetic fabric of our culture. They are not rational in my opinion, because they have no consciousness. They have an algorithmic capability (i.e. they follow rules to solve problems) but the other requirement for rationality is lacking. We call their behaviour "rational" because a) we created the rules they operate by; and b) in the West we tend to discount the role of consciousness in the human experience. Thanks a million for that, B.F. Skinner...

>>This talk about primitive brains and herds sounds like a superiority complex to me but I guess I just missed your point.

It's just the different frameworks causing a disconnect. In the neuropsychological world we all (even Buddhists) experience limbic and reptilian drivers to our behaviour. What may lead to accusations of superiority is the idea that some people can gain a degree of control over the influence of those drivers. However, that accomplishment creates a hierarchy only if one is attached to that ability. It's like athletic ability. Some people develop their physical skills, and to those who revere physical accomplishment they become superior as a result. To others who attach no importance to highly developed physical skills there is no such projection of value.

I hope that made things clearer, but I fear it may just have muddied the water further...


Happy to once more see and read your comments/posts.

You broke the code long ago IMO. I have searched,often in vain, for dreary lost years. In Venice,Ca,as Manson did his Tate/LaBianca thing, and then in far Woodstock,Ny...all the whilst watching and waiting and reading,,, a young hippie mom sits on a curbstone in Woodstock openly nursing her newborn with her nipple/breast fully exposed as I stumble by...and worlds of stars explode in my minds eye.

A visit to Zuma beach and no one is wearing clothes or swimsuits and a young full grown black amazon of a woman lays buck naked near the ocean,sound asleep, as waves flow nearby,,zoned out on MJ and a daring sea rescue of naked boys on a rock occurs nearby ...and visions of possible futures churn once more in my mind as I observe.

Then it all tumbled down as faulty reason reasserted itself and people were beaten and arrested once more for being people and trying to express freedom of spirit. Laws of man were broken I suppose. Who made these laws? To assemble and protest is a crime then I suppose.

I recall vividly the images on TV of young girl protesters being held to the ground as rough men pressed hot pepper juices in their eyes. Blinding then and their screams and crying...for what unearthly purpose? Why did they do such an ugly thing? What laws were allowing this Nazi like behaviour?

Airdale-Where did you go J. Prine? The creeks still run yellow near Paradise. Or where Paradise once stood before the coal trains came for it.


Whew. That mix of red outrage and fierce hope is as human as it gets.

Thank you once more.

BTW I lived in Venice,Ca for half a year going to company programming school there.

And in Woodstock during the time of the festival while working in Design and Development for the same company on extended special assignment..again for the better part of a year. The time when we were developing virtual machines and virtual (paging) memory code.

I observed the hippie generational movement from both coasts..then returned from Venice a changed person, with facial hair,different clothing and a much altered mindset..which later fueled my desire for the land, to return to it as like my childhood, to enjoy it and till it until the end of my days and as the hippie dreamstuff was made of wayway back in those times.


The rough guys were pigs I assume. And this was broadcast on TV? When was that? I admittedly watch very little TV but it doesn't sound like something that would be shown nowadays (unless justified by outrage over a cold body perhaps). Was it on a particular show or was it broadcast on many channels?

Eureka California, Congressman Riggs office. A couple of young women handcuffed themselves into the office in protest over the unlimited logging going on. Cops sprayed directly into their eyes from only inches away and even daubed the spray into them. Note, the women were already handcuffed and could not move. The judge dismissed the case against the officers because of the hardship to the officers were they to be deprived of pepper spray. I think you can find it on youtube.

That might not be the one airdale is thinking of; there are many. This is why many people become cops, so they can exercise their "authority". It's not just a few "bad apples".

cfm in Gray, ME

In the case I mentioned I believe it was Forest Rangers types?

The issue was cutting trees in the northwest perhaps.

They held the young females harshly and forced open their eyelids and with cue tips rubbed the pepper spray solution,in a more grease like state,into their eyes.

It was unbelievable as the officials looked on and noted that it was LEGAL for them to do this.

I was never more ashamed of my country than when I saw such ugly brutal behavior by law enforcement types. To this day I despise most all LEOs as I believe they are all capable of such madness given orders to do so.

It was widely televised for a bit of time then flew off the radar screen...The screams of the women was beyond belief. The ugliness of the men was even worse.

Its the stuff nightmares are mad of.


I'm no Buddhist and I merely used some of the jargon as it was expedient. I do not understand what you mean with "the manifestation of anatta" though. I am also perplexed by the Taoist cameo.
The trouble is that I have difficulty making sense of the many of your sentences which do not involve ancient Asian languages.
It seems to me that you have avoided answering my questions by shifting from rationality to consciousness. That's OK by me although it leaves me no wiser as I have no idea how consciousness can be said to have a "mental origin", much less the same one as rationality.
I don't know what you call rationality and consciousness exactly but, in a nutshell, I'd say, although I can think about consciousness, I don't experience it as thought (if at all). I experience reason as thought obviously (typically language).

I agree: we have to be careful to use these notions in the appropriate domain. But I don't know that bringing up neuro-anything in this context is appropriate.
You talk about experience, in keeping with Buddhist epistemology. But you say that you "experience limbic and reptilian drivers". Do you actually experience any of that neuro stuff? Or are you merely mapping your experience to a "neurophysiological world" you built for yourself?
You mention a claim that consciousness is an emergent property of the neocortex, though you do not endorse it. It seems to me that this would imply a solution to the so-called mind/body problem, which would be interesting. Is there any reason to attribute this emergence to the neocortex that could not be used to attribute it to a number of other things?

Nothing against you HFAT but if you were perhaps 'enlightened' then you might be able to more easily read between the lines.

I too did not understand all the lingo but the meaning was still perfectly clear to me.

I would dare say that many would have a great deal of trouble understanding my explanation of say the Zohar or the Sefer Yetzirah.


A farmer, a programmer and a mystic? You seem to have the bases pretty well covered, Airdale, my hat is off to you.

It's Our Turn to Eat is an ancient and modern problem of larger political entities. My observations over sixty years are that things are in general improving on that front, if slower than I would like. It is held to fiercely by people with a history of being oppressed or being among the least-advantaged within a large polity, eg. maritimers or Quebecquios in Canada, notorious for voting the candidate who promises more to their local group versus the "better in the big picture" candidate. That's changing though, as those groups gain some real and visible position within the national framework. I suspect for example that the election of Obama (simply the fact of it) will do wonders to improve the Our turn / your turn thing among many underserved communities worldwide. My hope is that at some point in future, people the world over can recognize each other individually as equals with equal potentials to contribute, and a common desire for the good of all.

I keep returning to Mahatma Ghandi for guidance. No specific teachings or words, just the philosophy and the life lived, or at least my understanding of it with little study, having read perhaps only ten relevant books in my life. Whenever I get into a sticky situation personally or externally, I just think of what Ghandi would have made of it, and it helps enormously.

Here's George Orwell's observations on Ghandi

Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug.

Whenever I get into a sticky situation personally or externally, I just think of what Rooster Cogborn would have made of it, and it helps enormously. :-)

Or maybe Pierre, the greatest fighter pilot of WWI. “When I go down, I go down in flame.”

You see, there is a wide difference of opinion about most things. I would rather not be a pacifist activist.

BTW: How big is your garden. Zucchini here is doing fine. Asparagus is starting to fern. Potatoes coming on strong. If one doesn't at least have a garden for one's family, then all he/she says about PO and the rest of the black cygnets on the horizon must be acknowledged with the BS meter off.

OT but coons are taking all the corn. I finally stopped the loper worms in the cabbages and saved most. The tomatoes are golf ball size and green but some folks here 'set' zero tomatoes. I was lucky there.

All fruit tress shot in the ass. No bees. The few blueberries something ate. June bugs eating the grape leaves overnite.

I am eating new potatoes and just stored all my onions, good crop,in the barn to dry.
The deer were destroying the peas and beans but some nasty smelling spray saved them. Okra coming on. Peppers good. Picking some cukes.

Overall about a 6 or 7 on a 1 to 10 if I don't count the harsh effects of the ice storm that caused billions of lost dollars in my 4 counties here. Billions mind you and most timber they say will NOT survive. We can start to kiss our precious topsoil goodbye if our timber go.

Airdale-the farmers are spraying everything that moves. I hope the self-destruct and have to quit this nonsense. Never have I seen spraying on this scale before...never. And I used to work for an AgChem outfit that did it. Most all life pales before the thousands of gallons of chemcials that hose down the ground here. Sooner or later all life is affected. Just because of greed. Profit and filthy lucre.

About 5 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the U.S. each year. About 1.2 billion of these are in agriculture. (Source, USDA)

When you do the math, each person in the U.S. has a "pesticide footprint" of 4 lbs for their food per year. Since organic sales are only 3.5% of the food market by dollars and only 0.5% of the farmland (certified acres, there are more on the small farmer end) it hasn't made a big dent in those figures yet.

coons are taking all the corn.

Here in Maine and I think in New England in general late tomato and potato blight (same thing) is wiping out a good chunk of those crops already. Never before seen before late August. Disease vector: the big box stores selling contaminated starts. A perfect example of how one cannot solve a problem at the level at which it was created.

What will it take? Stopping every Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's and whoever-else is selling this crap. Stopping their trucks at the state line. If they destroy some line of heirlooms, how many years of ancient sunlight must they cough up? How do they cough it up? The death penalty is not enough. Sure, that would be bad for "business". But come the end of the season when all the local stuff is trashed because of it? Oh, well, Monsanto is singing.

Coons, the deer that dead-headed all my fruit trees in the nursery, they are not the problem.

cfm in Gray, ME

Sooner or later all life is affected. Just because of greed. Profit and filthy lucre.

I stumbled on a comment somewhere,sometime that moves are afoot to buy up all heirloom seed stocks and then destroy them.

Sounds like an urban legend. I wonder though. My own heirloom are in extremely good condition. I did ferment my tomato seeds ,thank goodness for those that I did not ferment failed to sprout. Lesson learned.

I discovered this however. The tomatoes you can should have a few jars of each variety only in them. As you use the contents you set aside the bottom inch and let it ferment and voila ...your fermented spring seeds are there in the bottom of the jar. No pain, no trouble. I have yet to try this but I will this canning season. Homestead here. Rutgers there.


Wouldn't the heat of the water bath sterilize the seeds?

Activism in terms of organising of lifeboat communities is the only sort that makes sense.
I speak from many years' experience of activism / campaigning.

In 1978 (31 yrs ago) I was invited over to a meeting in Bromsgrove uk of the Ecology Party (now Green Party). I decided not to join because it was not going to succeed. Thirty-one years later, there has never been a green government anywhere on the planet and the UK govt is still as obsessed as ever with more airports, roads, cars, growth, and hypocrisy about global warming. If that's headway I'll vote for tailway, thanks.

I later got much involved in environmental campaigning (as a means of involving with socially-minded people as much as anything).
An unimaginable amount of talent and human energy has been utterly wasted in such campaigning. If I had time I'd give you a long account of examples, but please just take it from one who has been there done that: trying to persuade govts and the corporates, .edu etc is a total waste of time. And that's time we urgently need to deploy in re-skilling, re-tooling, and re-organising into lifeboats, such as per

Just don't confuse the choice of actions (lifeboating away from the group) with the goal which MUST be that the group acts in its own best interests.

Sorry, lifeboating away from what group? Society as a whole?
That "group" is not capable of acting in its own interests because it has more than one brain and so is engaged in conflicting agendas.

I should make clear that the word "ark" (Noah's Ark) is a more exact analogy than "lifeboat". Just "lifeboat" conveys the message more instantly and less opaquely. I don't envisage a lifeboat wantonly abandoning anyone behind on a sinking ship. Rather it is like with Noah, the others just don't bother to build their own arks (while causing the flood themselves) and thereby drown by their own error. We no longer have the luxury of being responsible for saving everyone; it simply can't be done anyway, let alone by ourselves. Just saving some lifeboat communities is as much as we can hope for.

...the goal which MUST be that the group acts in its own best interests.

The group has no interests of its own, best or otherwise. The group is but an aggregate abstraction comprised of its individual components. Only those individual components have interests. Action taken on behalf of the abstract aggregate against the interests of any of its individual components is not only futile, its wrong.

Action taken on behalf of the abstract aggregate against the interests of any of its individual components is not only futile, its wrong.

A baldly false assertion, needing even no examples to refute.

A baldly false assertion..

Which is? Yours or mine?

Oh gould! Another TOD dogfight. I suggest we ignore darwinsdog's rather dumb sentence, and concentrate instead on my own sound debunking of this quoted text below.
The bottom line is that "...the goal which MUST be that the group acts in its own best interests" is not worth pursuing at a level above that of lifeboats (arks).

I've always wondered whether Noah's flood inundated the world with fresh or salt water. If the former, the ark must have contained aquaria sufficiently large to accommodate marine osmoconformers the size of basking & whale sharks, ocean sunfish & tuna. If the latter, ditto for large arapaima, arowana, pimelodid & pangassiid catfishes. Must've had some sophisticated filtration apparatus on that ark.

The problem with lifeboats is they are not designed for long term use.
The idea is to keep afloat until another ship comes along or until you reach land somewhere. The assumption is that there is another ship nearby who hears your distress signal or you reach land before running out of supplies. In a lifeboat teaching children how to read and right is not a big priority. The priority is getting somewhere where their education can resume. A lifeboat community would assume that it could within a short time reconnect with a larger society of functioning interdependent long term communities. If the larger society of interdependent communities goes down there is no sense in getting into a lifeboat with nowhere to go or no one to come to the rescue.
Better to do what you can to keep the society of functioning communities afloat and steaming along.

..there is no sense in getting into a lifeboat with nowhere to go or no one to come to the rescue.

And since there isn't going to be anywhere to go or no one to come to the rescue, what's the point of even preparing lifeboats? Drowning quickly seems preferable to dying slowly of thirst.

Another problem with lifeboats is that the survivors eat the senior citizens first when pushes come to shoves. Or, if there are too many for the lifeboat … grandma feeds the fishes. No; lifeboat is a bad term.

Next year we will have a community garden of about 50 raised (36 sq ft each) beds in what used to be a llama pasture with two wells for water.

Does that count for activism? Of course not, activism is here and now, not next year. Nor is activism yak yak yak on the internet, it is doing.

This year is a 10 box (about 400 sq ft)prototype to learn how to garden in the high desert with hierloom seeds.

There is a very good book. Not fiction of a man lost at sea and in a small rubber raft who was at sea for many weeks and survived.

He swears that the dophins saved his life but giving their own for his sustenance. That as he came ashore that came by and give him to understand their feelings and actions.

As he became weaker and weaker they stayed with him his whole trip. This is what kept him alive.

The fish. A true story but I forgot the title. They would rub on the bottom of his raft constantly. He had a primitive water still apparatus to get his water.

Airdale-as I recall he was almost run down a couple of times by other ships. ....moral? Not sure but waiting for others was not part of it. And thats my takeaway also.

I think you're after Steven Callahan Adrift
ISBN 978-0141011028

It's been almost twenty years since I read this book and still carry some of the information around with me - like don't expect any help. I still act socially and have some sense of community but I plan on having no assistance when I really need it.

The 'lifeboat' metaphor sucks (we're not getting rescued), the 'Ark' may be more valid (once things settle down you'll have a chance to rebuild society).

    But where DID all that water go? Omnipotence certainly has some benefits.

"The lifeboat metaphor sucks .... the 'Ark' may be more valid"
Yes. I did say yonks upthread:

I should make clear that the word "ark" (Noah's Ark) is a more exact analogy than "lifeboat". Just "lifeboat" conveys the message more instantly and less opaquely.

Whereas say the word "ark" to someone and it conveys no practical meaning to them until elaborated:

As for the speculation about the Old Testament story, this is actually a more widespread ancient story, and arguably has a ton of sense underneath the obvious fallacies. I reckon it almost certainly originated in the circumstances of the first civilisations, which for instance arose from the growth of the Sahara forcing hunter-gatherers into the extremely inhospitable virgin swamps of the Nile valley (resulting in the Egyptian civilisation). And ditto the Shatt-al-Arab (Mesopotamia), and similar re Indus valley etc. Those areas would be vulnerable to hugely extensive floods (see upper Nile now, or perhaps Bangladesh). At some point in their early history, many households would be indifferent to the flood risk, while only one or two "wise men" would prepare by indeed building substantial ark-boats. And they survived while all around drowned. A profound lesson which will be learned anew in the coming decades. Except by those who mock the ancestors' stories as stupid.

The 'lifeboat' metaphor sucks (we're not getting rescued), the 'Ark' may be more valid (once things settle down you'll have a chance to rebuild society).

We obviously need there to be "arks" somewhere (such as perhaps Jason's enterprise in Willits). But meanwhile there may be many of us who can only hope to build "lifeboats". The latter can then hope to hold out till they do one day find rescue with an "ark". Who might for instance provide them with a source of salt, or knowledge of additional food sources. I hope this metaphor isn't too obscure.
It Came from Wasilla

Whatever her political future, the emergence of Sarah Palin raises questions that will not soon go away. What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency? Perhaps most painful, how could John McCain, one of the cagiest survivors in contemporary politics—with a fine appreciation of life’s injustices and absurdities, a love for the sweep of history, and an overdeveloped sense of his own integrity and honor—ever have picked a person whose utter shortage of qualification for her proposed job all but disqualified him for his?

Mc Cain made his choice out of desperation,no more and no less.Getting a woman with charisma( not enough in Palin's case ) on the ticket offered a one in a million long shot chance of winning a race that was lost even before the conventions.

The republicans were praying for Hillary as rhier only chance of winning,and the dems were praying for anybody but,as they knew Hillary was thier only chance of losing.

(from the mouths of conservative thinkers at such pubs as the NR)

I wonder, is better to have a fairly honest person who doesn't know much or a very knowledgable crooked politician for president? The crooked politician would know what to look for while the honest person would get blindsided time and time again. Bad news job, I wouldn't want it. I would be in deep do-do a lot because I'm not very politically correct.


1. The ability to represent your electorate.

go no further for at even this step all have failed miserably.

Yes McCain stumbled but Obama was still going to get it even if McCain was made of 24 ct gold and never made a mistep in his whole life.

So after the Obamy years we can perhaps sit back and judge him. So far he is on a downward path and falling rapidly in the opinion polls.

Last was 56%? Approval rating? Negative 1 in the other ,approve number minus disapprove number.


The first key qualification for high office is to be morally compromised by some "skeletons in the cupboard" such as a fraud. That prevents you from getting one up on those crooks who actually pull the strings and levers behind the scenes. Example: Current uk prime minister Brown was already proven massive fraudster; search for public fraud initiative for full details.

There's one thing about the article which makes me wonder.
I kind of see how it fits the general feel-good tone of the article and US liberal culture in general but what's with this business of "choosing the paying work that gives your life meaning"?
It's not like everyone has such a choice (to put it mildly). Is the article simply elitist? It doesn't sound like that was the intent.
There are people who have struggled to come up with utopian schemes which would allow most of us to have a meaningful work but, if you're in utopia, what's the point of activism?

Generally I find that this article takes for granted that the social pathologies that are at the root of the problem it seeks to address have already been cured somehow. Saving the world would indeed be a pushover if it was the case.

what's with this business of "choosing the paying work that gives your life meaning"?

If one had that option, one would not have to be paid to do it. Good catch, HFat, I'm glad you're coming around to my way of seeing things. ;^>

One of the strongest arguments for single payer nationalized SOCIALIZED health care in the US is the huge count of people that could quit their paying-jobs-that-provide-health-care or divorce their spouse-who-provides-health-care and take on work that gives their life meaning. That is precisely why health care will end up as a coin-of-the-realm mandate, a lock-in on BAU.

It will be illegal not to have it. Leading to take over of one's assets by state on behalf of corporate "health care" and finance industries. Of course, what you will get depends on who you are - alpha, beta, gamma, delta - Brave New World. No opt out, no stop-the-world-I-wanna-get-off, no alternatives.

War Socialism, (in today's drumbeat), at least requires some level of "legitimacy". Personally, I think Hansen is optimistic on that score. I don't think the legitimacy is necessary, only a pecking order where some few think they do better than the confused rest.

That is why I think violence will be necessary and justified. The lock-in will be too strong for anything short of MEND. Too many fat necks working for Homeland Security that get their jollies busting other peoples balls. Literally. The age of the little Eichmanns.

The structure is locked in and crystalized. Only if we boil it is there a hope of settling out in a different pattern. That damn hope thing. Tells me, no, we don't want to settle out. Better to maintain some level of chaos and diversity. Gaia dances with Shiva. Killing Shiva ends the dance.

cfm in Gray, ME

There was a lot more HOPE when George Junior was Pres-then everyone could blame the schmuck and look forward to the day he left office. Those days are gone-it looks like this guy is no better or worse on the economy than anyone else who could be elected (although he is very strong on foreign policy). So no one is coming to the rescue, ever. You are on your own-the cavalry has been laid off.

A number of places have "SOCIALIZED" health care. It's generally cheaper. Pretty much everywhere, property can be seized when debts or taxes are left unpaid for too long. How you get from there to insurgency and Eichmann is baffling.

Easy, the authorities just make up whatever debts they want. For example, large exit fees for the jews. Or in this case, madated health insurance. Sometimes bribery, sometimes legislated.

A mandated private medical system is not "socialized". Mandated private then means every individual is now on the hook via the debts and taxes for the payments to the private system.

Then you add in the enforcement. One cannot do this or that without proof of coverage. How long before one cannot a license, let alone drive without proof of health insurance? And since a license - as defacto national identity papers - is necessary for employment, to rent or go to school, yadda yadda. It's a short few dots.

Please look at how mandatory private insurance actually works in practice. This paranoid outburst is unwarranted.

Surely you are aware that many countries have large numbers of undocumented, disenfranchised residents. And the results? No insurgencies and police states which come far short of Eichmann. Blacks in the USA have a worst incarceration rate than the undocumented in countries which have a decent health-care system, whether they have private insurance or not.

We must all be activists, and relentless, and patient, and brilliant at it...

That's like asking me to be a defensive lineman and I'm 5'2", 115 lbs. It also sounds like a guilt trip and I went to catholic school for 12 years (12 too many). Activism is not in my blood, I don't get the 'feel good' cocktail from doing it and I know I would suck at it. I'm glad others get a charge out of it though.

Funny that the author of this Essay talks about Margaret Mead,,for just two days ago I picked up her book titled "New Lives for Old".

I just yesterday threw it in the trash. Why? She is NOT an anthropologist. She interferes with other culture she was supposed to be studying.

The Isle of Manus in this case. She went there in about 1928, observed and wrote...then WWII came and millions of US servicemen went thru those areas. The natives saw them. The natives changed. For better or worse? Mead says for better since what they were was 'savages'.

She returned in 1953 to once more see this seeming 'miracle' of transformation. Nice little houses just like suburbia,,all in a row. The people trying to imitate the Murkhans. She then told of events where she actively stepped in and told them to do this and thus and more and more...this is definitely 'interfering' with a people and a both cases she altered the culture.

Thats why I threw it in the trash..IMO she is busybody,interfering,feminish,hag. Trying to foist HER views on a native population.

All her books deserve a status of LANDFILL debris.

An I noted that in every single photograph they were all puffing on cigarettes. Even the children. And especially the 'official leaders.

This was a disgusting book and of disgusting morals and fully lacking impartial observation.

Now how do the Ahmurkhans seem to the folks on Manus? We are abject failures. Should they continue to emulate us? A failed society that we are? Run amok and even worse than possibly the savages back then?

I don't know but I hold NO respect for M. Mead. She simply interfered and trying to alter what was there then went on TV(in the past) and preached to US!!!!

What a buffoon.

Native populations are usually pierced, in our own savage ways, in order to use them. Or abuse them. Or profit from them.

Not true? Check out the rainforests and elsewhere. The melting polar caps the wasted and trashed oceans. We are SOOOO GOOOD. NOT.

Airdale-pls do not beat her sad little stupid drum,its not deserving

Mead of course was blind in many respects, but for all her faults she was a public intellectual of her day who urged US society toward cultural relativism - temporarily suspending judgment about the lifeways of ourselves and others in order to see the underlying rationale and reasonableness. With all due respect, Airdale, you appear not to have grasped this point. Like most people you seem stuck with the idea that nothing really happened in small scale societies until the Europeans got there. Eric Wolf developed this point in *Europe and the People Without History* (an outstanding read by one of the leading anthropologists of the last half of the XX century, btw); most people are stuck in either "things were awful until Europeans brought civilization and progress (the standard view of the nineteenth and much of the twentieth centuries, justifying imperialism, white man's burden, etc.), or "the natives lived in near-utopian harmony, everything just fine until the Europeans arrived" (the current self-loathing of many on the left). Wolf's point is that both positions are two sides of the same coin, denying the "natives" their own generally complex history. I suspect you have little experience with non-western, local-oriented peoples.

You have quoted others. What do you think of the lifestyle of the primitive before and after introduction with us? If you were part Indian would you think the same? Perhaps Airdale grasped the point better than any of us. Is the point socialites write for socialites not necessarily for the primitive or the unbiased truth? Does Dr Wolf write for academic fame not necessarily with empathy for the primitive? I can’t judge either because I haven’t read them but it seems likely from what I have read from type.

It seems that Airdale is in empathy with the primitives. I think I would tend to be that way too because I really don't give much a damn about who has academic or socialite fame.

I wouldn’t throw the book away if it came from the library but I might comment (scribble) in it a bit. 8^)

What do you think of the lifestyle of the primitive before and after introduction with us? If you were part Indian would you think the same?

Just curious, what *EXACTLY* do *YOU* mean by primitive?!

For reference here's Wikipedia:

Primitive is a subjective label used to imply that one thing is less "sophisticated" or less "advanced" than some other thing. Being a comparative word it is also relative in nature.

Indigenous peoples and their beliefs and practices are sometimes described as "primitive or primitive cottage", a usage that is seen as unhelpful and inaccurate by the vast majority of contemporary anthropologists and similar professionals.

This fits my definition...

Empathy. Yes for I am of 1/8 Cherokee blood. More of that than the European variety.

The Cherokee tried and suceeded in adapting white mans ways. For this affront to Jackson he shipped them over the Mississippi and there home lands were auctioned off. A quarter of them died on the trails. The trails came thru my area and so my Ggrandmothers came to be here and marry my European forebears. One a German and the other a Slovenian. and my ggrandfather already half blood married another blood Cherokee woman.

Truth is many here carry the blood but few speak of it.

Primitive they were regarded yet they were tilling the soil long before the white man arrived. In towns. In clans and in tribes. Some went to congress as representatives but could work to no avail for their people.

Sequyouah, a half blood developed a written alphabet and they even published newspapers. Many chiefs were of mixed blood.

Each year in September a huge PowWow is held in Hopkinsville, Ky where graves of two chiefs are that died there on the trail and a park was built to commemorate that Trail of Tears long slow death march. I go to these powwows and sit and talk and listen to the Black Eagle Spirit Drum and the drunmbeat talks to that blood that flows in my veins.

This is where my hunt for the truth of spirituality must have originated from. I am still on the hunt and trail.

This is what the white mans interference came to. Death and despair and banishment. Bah to the anthropologists.



Nobody much beats her drum anymore.She has pretty much been discredited as you say.

For some reason unexplained nobody in our nieghborhood eats coons but it seems that when tshtf you will be ok as far as emergency meat goes for a quite a while.

As far as the deer go,I am on the lookout for a very large pressure cooker-one that will hold close to twenty quart jars.

I personally have never been a big venison fan-until my brother started canning it.

You start with a clean killed young doe hopefully(unless hard up for meat buckls are donated to the less fortunate around here).Cut the meat up in bite size pieces,remove all gristle ,large viens,etc,pack the jar full,top with water,add one teaspoon salt,and fire up cooker.

I can't remember just how long exactly,but he uses the ten pound steam setting.

This meat comes out utterly delicious,fork tender,and only needs warming to go well with many meals.Snce none of us are professional chefs we are at a loss to explain why it tastes so good simply because it has been canned this way,but every body who tries it likes it.

We just spent three whole days and my entire stash of concrete reinforcement woven wire .plus a cuople of hundred dollars worth of new wire,building cages to protect our young trees-and the whole damn countryside is a giant open air buffet deer wise-they SEEK OUT young fruit trees.

They are very pretty rats but just rats non the less and we are going to eat as many as we can from here on out.It's supposed to be one of the healthier meats too.

I would like to thank Pollard for how not to blog. Back when there weren't many blogs focusing on the environment, I would read his blog. But then I noticed he would go into some personal stuff of such prurient interest that it really put me off reading him any more. Does anybody remember that stuff? I just found it so bizarre and it stayed with me.

Why despair when there is a workable "Plan B"?

Meet "Plan B":

Vortex engine = a fancy sort of perpetual motion machine, hiding behind confusion.
Show me proof of any of them in use to power something like heating a house etc and I will accept that conclusion is wrong.

It isn't even fancy. Just a magnetic coupling on good bearings.

It's about as much an energy source as the transmission on your car.