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ATTEMPTING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL AND TALKING TO "THEM".

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(Rational preamble. It's always harder navigating the labyrinth inside than out. Outside you usually spend most of the time apologising and getting  out of people's way)

 

It's a shit fight out there. Cynicism is always the fallback of the cool and aloof. The working class rock star doing his bit at the soup kitchen or playing pool and drinking with the locals at the local into the evening and beyond. The silent lonely corner is the best place for Anonymous with shit social skills or who just doesn't like people. Preferably if it's not lit well. Then you can observe, not get involved, and leave or even perhaps die feeling like you're always one step ahead of the mob. 

Yes, the mob. Those unruly bastards. The multitude. Always bringing shit up. "You had to bring it up didn't you?" Trump versus Clinton. Lesser evil voting vs the Greens or an independent. To praise or not to praise Castro. He sounds like a fucking fossil fuel. "Fill her up with Castro would ya, while I go get myself a Guevara bar." Electoral politics vs grassroots activism. Reform vs revolution. Parecon vs everything else. Marxist Leninists vs anarchists. Anarchists that compromise and those who  don't. Leninists who compromise and those who don't.
 

No-one understands what the fuck you're talking about anyway. Only those on the inside, in the know. And even then your likely to get miscommunication and strange reactions. "It was a joke you idiot." Go down the sports bar or pub or to a family get together and it'll all go to shit as you try to explain the "system" or "the man". Jesus. You won't get far, let me tell ya. And before you even know it, people will be asking you if you've eaten or had some water, because you're seeming a little on edge, over the top,  getting all "angry". It's that tone in your voice. All of a sudden you become  the focus. Your personality is being questioned. You need to calm down, or even take a break, they tell you. What does that even mean..."take a break"? From what? When? How?
 

It's actually useless, talking or discussing stuff. Yes, you can organise those who are already involved in organising, or "activism" or members of the 350.org movement and talk about capitalism and its absurdity, that's kind of easy, yet at the same time, difficult, but can be done and replicated, but you're still preaching to the mildly converted at least. And even then the odds of amicable and clear  understanding are low. Take the conversation outside those confines and you're trespassing on emotional states.  Real fragile sensitivities. Emotional eggshells. Nitty gritty stuff that will trip you up and really injure you before you can even finish a sentence. And I mean, all and any sentences. You'll start a sentence or try to clarify something carefully and calmly, but you won't get close to finishing.  That's even if...even if...the person actually listens to you from  the minute you start. Watch their eyes as they look around the room the minute you begin talking, and you can see them thinking, "oh, what's that funny smell?", or "where's my coffee?"and that's even if they were the ones who brought up the whole bullshit conversation in the first place and they asked most of the questions when you were quite happy to sit  there quietly watching Geordie Shore or Grand Designs or the 2012 Sydney Swans premiership victory for the fiftieth time. Shit.
 

Yep, for fuck sake. And it isn't about taking a break, or calming down or being a Chomsky. Shit, none of us are Chomsky. Not even close. The guys like a robot when he talks. It's like he's been set on mild no matter what the conditions.
 

"Did Noam just get angry then? There was a tiny tiny blip on the audio readout while I was recording! I saw it. Astonishing. Sure of it. Was he angry or something? Does he even get angry?  I couldn't tell just listening to him. Anyway."
 

And it's not about meditating or taking a few deep breaths and  counting to ten before you respond, because if you do that, they would have moved on to dessert and coffee by then and forgotten you were even there. "Shit, where's Bat?" "Oh, he's still in the restaurant ranting with the waiter about market capitalism. I don't think he knows we've paid and left. Get it, "left". Bat's such a loony."

So it isn't just reading, it's actually talking too. There just isn't enough time in the day and language is a flawed means of communication anyway seeing as it didn't evolve for that purpose in the first place (contentious I know, but I'm buying it). People don't use language to communicate, they use it to FUCK WITH PEOPLE'S HEADS. And no-one understands you anyway. By the time you have tried to clear up misunderstandings the tangential labyrinth you've left behind trying to explain is so enormous you can't remember where the fuck  you even started, nor why. By that stage you are so exhausted, the tears appearing in the eyes of the plumber fixing your kitchen taps, as a result of your explicit descriptions of the insidiously violent nature and history of market capitalism, make you feel like a prick.
 

"It's OK. No. No look. No, no,  I'm sorry for all that. Really sorry. Have this tissue. It's cool. I cry all the time at the slightest whiff of pop sentimentality.  I always do that. Taylor Swift. "Shake it Off" , gets me all the time. I go on and on and get all wound up. I'm such a prick sometimes. No, it's cool. Would you like a cup of tea? No? OK. $800? No, no, no...it's OK...not a problem...I might just have to go up the bank quickly as I don't actually have that amou...?Oh, OK...You'll bill me. No worries. Sorry for making you cry. See ya, oh,  and thanks for fixing the taps."
 

Forget it. Yeah, I know, I went on about some people here, at IOPS, not coming to the party. But shit, I don't understand stuff too, sometimes. I mean, what is this joint really? How does one even begin to explain what it is to someone...like now...like to some ordinary non-political  concerned person just getting on with their life...that is if they ask? Huh, how? Particularly now many of the hardcore experienced folk have nicked off because it has failed. Activist flight!

I don't even know. It was hard enough when this place first opened. What was I meant to do? Get the message out there? How? I've just spent this essay explaining it's actually fucking impossible to talk to people about this shit. And even when you do have their attention, in the end they ask, "yeah, well, what am I meant to do?" Fuck,  I don't know. Everyone else says organise. I don't know, join some group or something. You see, you're rooted. And I know every now and then you get a conversation that goes smoothly but that's actually the aberration. Not the norm.

I mean, I didn't even know what to do when "we" formed a real IOPS chapter. Going to meetings is easy, it's parking that's hard. We were some small tiny inexperienced group entering a terrain containing a plethora of other smallish, some largish, been around a while groups, trying to get a foot hold but we all, it seems, just weren't wearing the right crampons for the climb. But shit we tried. But I still have no clue. And to me, the very fact that many of those who wrote testimonials for this joint were people I admired, read, looked to for some sort of fucked up cosmic social political guidance, even if from afar, didn't show up for the party at all, still makes me fucking angry. No matter how many breaths, no matter how many meditation sessions. Because those people still want what this place  was  supposed to be. They still say "organise". They still say the same shit. The same same shit. Over and over and over again. Yet, if you ask me now, I'd say they have no clue either.
 Just go to some meeting. Join some group or something. I don't trust them anymore.

And now we've got young children protesting against Trump and people or orgs  like the NSP  saying this is a good thing, a great thing, a coming together. Fuck, get out the Joan Baez records, quick. Quick, This Land Is Our Land. Quick, where's Tom Morello and Micky Moore. Fantastic.
 

No it's not, it's fucking sad. Children, easily manipulated by friggin' adults,  standing in circles holding hands in defiance of the worlds latest bad old orange business man is sad. They may have some vague idea why Trump is a bad man, and why they are protesting, even a clear one, but that doesn't mean shit. There are plenty of bad people out there. It's the fucking institutions they support and uphold and wish to maintain that are screwed. Absurd actually. Try explaining that to the children! Oh, sorry, I forgot you don't, you ease them in, manipulate them over time. No? Not that either. Fuck it, I'm going to the pub where there are no children! That children are walking down streets now yelling and screaming  against  a businessman getting into the oval office, is  a sure sign the radical grassroots movement of skilled organiser origins doesn't know what it's doing. It's organising skills are crap.  They just get off on the fact that they are actually "doing" something. Yeah, I know, I'm really having a go, but I don't care. Fuck treading carefully. Peter didn't when it came to Castro, nor did I. Because you can't tread carefully on certain things. The Next System Project is all about treading carefully. Activism in pleated pants and well ironed shirts, with smiley photos of togetherness and  promotional videos, maybe even of smiley Naomi Klein..

I also know I'm just going down the same old same old and that this will elicit the same old same old response. Or nothing. But let me tell ya, if anyone out there can tell me how to actually get shit changed, other than grabbing a AK 47 and storming the Bastille, which only leads to more SHIT anyway (see Cuba et al and even  all the present fucking endless shit bickering because some think Castro a hero, while others see him as a dictator, because he actually fits the definition), then tell me about it.
 

Then you go out and show me how it's supposed to go. You lead the way. you show me how you stop people getting deported. Then build that movement. Then add an educational component to it that helps build startegy towards attaning a common goal, end or vision. Go on. Without hiccups, people yelling you down, or splitting off in droves. Don't worry about me, I'll follow if I think it's all cool and certainly kick you off your high horse the minute you start to get a little comfortable up there. Because I know it ain't about you.
 Or maybe I won't, I might just go into my studio and lock the door and never come out again.

I know I'm not treading carefully here, that I'm always at this threshold, this vertical wall that can't be climbed,  abusing others. But that's because I wouldn't know shit from mud if my head  was buried in it and I need guidance and I got very little from the experienced testifying  modestly legitimate members of this org and even, saw absolutely nothing from some whom I truly respected and read, like Paul Street. "Oh Bat, you really didn't have to specifically point  him out did you? Do you really have to name names?" Yes, because I'm not treading lightly because this is actually how I am and I'm a little fed up with it being pointed out that my manner just won't do. Don't walk on the grass because the sign says don't walk on the grass even though the grass is fine and healthy because "they"  just don't want people walking on the grass and wearing down some dirty path through the grass!
 

OK, well then get out there and see what kind of manners you get from the "pussy grabber". Huh? He'd drive his car right through that barrier and over the grass if there was a buck in it. Hillary would do it in a way that looked like she wasn't doing it. Her husband Bill, well, he's just a prick straight up. Obama assassinates many people from afar, like they all do. It's business, nothing personal.

 

The wall is vertical and virtually unclimbable. Just saying organise doesn't do shit. Just saying join this org doesn't do shit. Just saying Viva Fidel, Cuba or anything doesn't do shit. Saying read this doesn't do shit. Reading this doesn't do shit. Talking to people doesn't do shit it just gets you taken away to the funny farm, even if it's your family you are talking to, or close friends and they started it. Probably more likely you'd be certified if it is your family.

No, the Next System Project is calm and well mannered and it appears this is the method. The method of the rational and calm. The calm and the rational and the reasonable. The "pluralist" approach. Neat and tidy. Yes Magazine. The Roosevelt Foundation. The Capital Institute. Evonomics. Platform cooperativism, voluntary simplicity, meditation and lots of fucking love. That's right, it's as if we actually know what love is. They sing about love all the fucking time don't they, until they get screwed over by their record company or manager or both. No, it isn't love that's needed. People do whatever that is all the time. It's been here since dot. It makes no difference, people still die unnecessarily regardless of the concerned compassionate tone one may take when talking about such tragic events,  just so everyone knows you're not a heartless son of a bitch...then you follow up with a joke! You heartless son of a bitch. It was funny but!

The one great thing about Dylan, aside from his voice and that he always had a cool band was that most of his songs make no real sense. They just sound like they do. And when he does make sense, and singing about "love", he's really singing about screwing/fucking someone or viciously ripping into them like on Positively 4th Street! Onya Bob, you got a lot of nerve!
 

No, I'm not treading lightly and some part of me knows this gratuitous piece of writing won't change nothin', but then, neither has anything else. (Here comes the list. I can hear Chomsky's voice now, with that deep croaky harmonic below his usually normal, when-he-was-younger, tone, that acts as a kind of sedative. Remember that next time you can't sleep!)  running through all the gains that have been made {conceded to} by the "Left" or whoever.

The truth. Trump got in. Castro died a dictator and market creep will probably get Cuba eventually, or the regime will  just harden up again, as they do. Hilary is not nice. Nor is her husband.. Neither Obama. Syriza got beaten up. Podemos probably will after everyone coming close to orgasm. The PSUV struggles. The Zapatistas are in a holding pattern. Rojava, like the Zapatistas, is personal. Corbyn will just hang in limbo and Sanders will write his book. The "Left" will remain in disarray because it never was in array. The anarchists will take care of the small, the Marxist Leninists will take care of the big, grassroots movements will continue to organise at the bottom of the cliff face. Those within them will continue to bicker amongst themselves...liberals, social democrats, anarchists, Leninists, IOPSers, OFSers, Occupiers, reformers, revolutionaries, Zapatistas, independent unionists, mainstream unionists, Pareconistas, market socialists, p2pers, Inclusive Democracyers, simplicity folk, pluralist commonwealth folk, 350.orgers, deep ecologists, just ecologists, social ecologists, communists, libcommers, Chomskians, Marxists, eco-socialists, solidarity economy folk, localists, community economics folk, transition networkers, or maybe they'll continue to delude or convince themselves things are happening, while fuckers like me stand on the outside trying to make sense of it all. Get it, TRYING, but not succeeding. See my heads buried right in there, down deep and I still can't tell whether it is shit or mud. Really. Got no idea.

You try calmly talking to people. You try calmly explaining your position. You try calmly telling people what IOPS is. You try explaining what the "Left" is. You try explaining why Russell Brand did a disservice by going in unprepared. You try explaining Parecon. Try explaining p2p. You try talking about Inclusive Democracy. You try explaining why calling Castro a dictator, because he was, or pointing out the many "shortfalls", to put it calmly, of the Cuban revolution, does not make one an American imperialist apologist. You try explaining how lesser evilist voting advocating does not necessarily compromise Chomsky's libertarian socialist beliefs. Try explaining why market capitalism is awful. Try it all and everything. Go on. Give it a go and see where it gets you. Go on. Now try it  with my personality, my genetic endowment. (I say that because everyone else seems so rationally calm all the time). See how far you get. Go on. Into the sports bar. Go on. Into the local pub. Go on. Don't wimp out. Go on. Talk to that truck driver right there. Go on. Don't be shy. Marx and Bakunin sorted it all out. Didn't they?

Go on. Use language. See how far that'll get ya.
 

Go on, you try making sense of it all and then try getting it to make sense to someone else.

Fat chance.

Oh, piss off, it's not just me.

 

Discussion 24 Comments

  • Rod 4th Dec 2016

    Now that's a real rant. I humbly bow before you, sensei.

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Dec 2016

    The artwork looks familiar, like from Christmas 2014 – although it was replaced later.

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Dec 2016

    As the ancient adage goes: When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and organize!

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Dec 2016

    One part of the problem we face is that you can’t get people to worry about issues that may only come to a head by the time their grandchildren will have grown up. They may understand the problem, but they don’t feel it in their guts.

    And then, as you identify, “the system” is too abstract. Hard to get mad at. We need a flesh-and-blood boogeyman to blame. And then we can stage mass protests and get the Man to replace them, and business returns to normal (“normal” as in SNAFU).

    Referring to it as “the Machine” may perhaps help to make it more concrete. People understand it when you say that we are all cogs in a big money-making Machine, one that will grind you up when you trip.

    • Bat Chainpuller 4th Dec 2016

      "One part of the problem we face is that you can’t get people to worry about issues that may only come to a head by the time their grandchildren will have grown up. They may understand the problem, but they don’t feel it in their guts."

      That's so true. And it can be applied to most anything, including how hard it is for one's children to get work in their field and to rent. If you've got them, you feel it rather than "know" it. The Precariat is the growing class. Maybe growing underemployment, along with accompanying problems and difficulties will bring a more "gut feel" understanding to what the working class and poor have been suffering for so long. I must admit Guy Standing's book's were quite scary to read.

      It's a shame one has to wait for such visceral understanding. Often by then it's too late, chaos is just around the corner along with violence.

      "And then, as you identify, “the system” is too abstract. Hard to get mad at. We need a flesh-and-blood boogeyman to blame. And then we can stage mass protests and get the Man to replace them, and business returns to normal (“normal” as in SNAFU)."

      So true also. It misdirection. The ruling classes utilise it all the time. The institutional structures get ignored. Institutional failure gets replaced by personal inadequacies and causes get ignored in favour of symptoms. It becomes a matter of leadership (even the Castro thing illustrates this) rather than policy/strategy and whether it is headed towards a better way of organising societal relations.

      But getting back to business as usual is also a coping mechanism on a personal level. Routine and stability makes life easier to negotiate even if precariousness lurks just under the surface. One kind of ignores it, blocks it out. Embracing a more chaotic existence or significant change isn't easy nor necessarily desired. Then there's the wish for certainty, routine and stability within chaos if it erupts, as people flock to leaders (usually with guns), strong discipline and hierarchical structures. And protection. The kind of thing Antonio suggests that Castro was doing. Protecting the "revolution" on behalf of the Cuban people against outside evil.

      Yeah, people understand the machine metaphor. Rage Against the Machine with Tom Morello. The grind. But the question that always comes, and it always does, and it sounds so cliché, but it always happens, is, with what would you replace the machine with?

      This is what Brand couldn't answer. He looked foolish all of a sudden. "Communism" is another machine. Only last night my daughter got a gig dancing in Vietnam for six days over xmas. It came up in convo with some, that Vietnam had a communist government and the question arose, does it work? Jeepers. How can anyone remotely answer the question when most people haven't even decided on what communism actually is and whether the Vietnam is an example of it? If someone with even little knowledge of Vietnam, but reasonable thinking skills said, it isn't really communism at all, it's more some hybrid form of state capitalism with some socialist reformist type policies operating around a kind of central command economy, probably, the questions would flow. One no doubt being, well then, what's communism? The same query I constantly get regarding anarchism. Then you get, how do you get there? How do you know it will work? Then the labyrinth grows and grows and misunderstandings flow and one can sense emotions heightening and some just retreating from the whole conversation.

      I'm starting to think this is why people write and don't answer comments. It's just easier. You can feel like you are communicating with but your are merely dumping stuff under the assumption that some will read it. And if it's radical it will only show up on some really marginal left website and be read by a tiny number, usually the converted. Even lectures, talks, and radio shows are ways of minimising real communication while appearing to get a message out to a wider audience. But it really isn't communication. Real communication is so flawed that it usually degenerates into a mess. Some can sense the direction quickly and get out fast, others don't bother to get involved straight up. She's Anonymous, sitting silently in the shadows just observing.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 4th Dec 2016

      Really love this comment, Bat. As an inveterate raver myself, the good side I experience when I rave is the listener may be shocked, jolted, into a new neuron connection or two. The bad side is he/she might get overwhelmed and thus defensive (boundary-protecting), and thus no real dialogue/interchange happens. Usually I'm unhappy after I've raved too, even when I know my anger is about some personal baggage-button being pressed and me falling for/into that old pattern instead of watching it pass by (which, on the few occasions I might manage it, makes me feel very much better, i.e. 'truer', for want of a better word). Just happened yesterday, actually, topic: vote for Trump or Clinton, of all bloody things...Lost it when accused a vote for Clinton is not a vote to stop Trump but a vote 'supporting' US imperialism, coming from a liberal who wouldn't know his political arse from his economic elbow...

      Maybe you and I most others I meet somehow weren't lovingly 'contained' enough, validated, affirmed, loved-for-who-we-were-warts-and-all at some critical period way back when, but now we're gettin on and as the sun slowly sinks in the west or the friggin east or wherever it no longer sinks and a rave hits the keyboard like the sun on the dark water of our dam...gotta go and play with the grandson, godblesshim...)

    • Bat Chainpuller 5th Dec 2016

      Yeah, it's a bit like, at my age, "I'm done apologising or being careful. If someone brings up politics, I'm not holding back no matter how crazy I seem or get." I sensed a bit of that when you declared your age to Antonio. My sister posted your blog on the old "Maximum Fossil Fuel" somewhere too, I think, by the way.

      Sometimes the bad side for me is my inability to articulate things properly, fumbling around like a moron, even though you have worked for ages on getting yourself ready for such occasions. In fact, this is one reason why I like this place. It has allowed me to explore shit better and to develop and articulate ideas, without feeling like a dick. Well, not true actually, I usually feel like a dick whenever I post/write anything. But that's a design fault. The thing I guess I'm testing myself with a tad, is by hurling shit out there and wearing the post sickening feeling.

      I often tell those who are intrigued by free improvised music that there is really only two things you have to deal with... no money and the aftermath. If you can't deal with either don't do it. But one generally finds that the aftermath, the critical onslaught of abuse usually isn't that bad, or as bad as you thought it might be.

      But Claire is right, I am a mouthy bastard...but that's my cross, and unfortunately all you folk, and many others, have to bear it as well sometimes!

    • Bat Chainpuller 5th Dec 2016

      I hate it when I do that,

      "Sometimes the bad side for me is my inability to articulate things properly, fumbling around like a moron, even though I (not you) have worked for ages on getting myself (not your) ready for such occasions."

    • Bat Chainpuller 5th Dec 2016

      ...there are (not is) really only two things...

      For lucks sake!

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 5th Dec 2016

    Another perspective on 'doing politics', hope, despair, from Gordon in a piece from October at Common Dreams:

    "Another poll, commissioned in 2015 by the Atlantic, found that “African Americans and Latinos are far more likely to be optimistic than their white counterparts, both about their personal station in life and the future of the country more broadly.”

    Such people are anything but stupid. They know that their communities are confronting terrible challenges, but they know, too, how important it is not to forget to dance.

    Why Doing Politics Is Like Surfing

    How do outrageous ideas -- for example, that women are human beings, or that the U.S. locks up way too many people, or even that gay people should be able to get married if they want to -- suddenly morph into everyday commonsense? It’s rarely an accident. It almost always involves dedicated people working away for years on an issue, often unnoticed, before it seems suddenly to surge into general awareness.

    Sometimes I think the politically engaged life is like surfing. You expend an enormous effort paddling past the breaking surf. Then you sit on your board breathing hard, scanning the horizon for the wave. Sometimes you sit out there for a long, long time, but when that wave comes, you have to be ready to grab it -- and enjoy it."

    Maybe worth repeating this quiet bit about creating the new 'common sense':

    "It almost always involves dedicated people working away for years on an issue, often unnoticed, before it seems suddenly to surge into general awareness."

    Hasta la victoria siempre camerados and onward through the fog, as direct-action-Dave tends to say.

  • Bat Chainpuller 5th Dec 2016

    "It almost always involves dedicated people working away for years on an issue, often unnoticed, before it seems suddenly to surge into general awareness."

    With this one cannot disagree. Usually is the case. A good recent example is growing ecological awareness and concern over the last forty or so years. It's kind of interesting that ecological awareness has grown right along side neo(old)liberalism(initforoneselfism or fuckyouism). But I guess the issue here's time. One minute I am being told about the dire need for change, now, by those concerned about global warming, but also by those like Robert McChesney, concerned about the oncoming wave of un and underemployment due to automation and the next minute it's about working away for years on things that bring a sudden rush. Well, one can only hope that all the work that has been done up till now will bring on a sudden rush pretty soon because my efforts are extremely flawed and pitiful.

    I kind of feel working away for years is no longer an option.

    • Rod 5th Dec 2016

      The nice thing about ecological awareness is that it gives off a feeling that we're all in this together. It may have the ability to transcend boundaries that ideas like class warfare and anti-capitalism don't have. The downside is that it's not an easy pill to swallow, at least with current predictions from science.

      Unemployment isn't an issue I have ever worried about to be honest. It seems like a temporary issue of allocation of resources to me. Unemployment can also fuel movements, as there are more people with time and motivation to change the system. Not that I wish for people to have to struggle through life, but this is already a reality for maybe one or two billion people now.

      I'm also skeptical of automation though. I have more fear that there will be more work than we can handle in the future, as work now done through fossil fuels will once again need to be done through human and animal labour.

    • Bat Chainpuller 6th Dec 2016

      It's more underemployment. And it's already happening. And automation, if the current abomination of an economic system isn't changed, will have deleterious effects, at least if you have some faith in current writers on the subject.

      If a basic income is introduced, the question would be, why? To prop up the current absurdity, and it is absurd, or to help pave the way to a "better tomorrow". For the latter an alternative is needed, with a shift, and a serious one, to job sharing, without loss of pay and from a profit system to one of equitable remuneration. And one that fosters whatever shared values the citizenry digs, rather than one that undermines them, like say market capitalism. If eventually the inhabitants of this planet get to a non-monetary system, where one doesn't need to account for what is produced and consumed, say as proposed in a parecon, then great, but a shift away from market competition is, in my mind, absolutely necessary.

      That would require serious vision pertaining to the allocation mechanism, not just workplace organisation. Serious vision pertaining to remuneration which would mean consideration to how jobs are done. All this would habe to be considered, discussed and disseminated alongside serious infirmation pertaining to ecological concern and global warming and the ramifications of all that on consumption and production. Included, and in light of all that may be discussions on population.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 5th Dec 2016

    Re overpopulation. World is probably already in the 'demographic transition', i.e. about to plateau at 9-10 billion by end of century. Still, as remarked by you guys, economic development and women's emancipation are the key to bringing down fertility rates.

    From an eco perspective, the key issue is of course less absolute numbers than relative per capita resource consumption, and thus ecological footprint, of those numbers. A kid does not equal a kid, coz of industrialised world's and affluent/rich people's insanely unsustainable levels of per capita consumption, while poor kids' consumption should in fact be increased. Here's a link to an ecological footprint site that gives average national EF stats:

    http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_for_nations/

    According to this site, Australia 9.3 ha/per person (higher than US), Netherlands 5.3. (I don't buy the huge 'biocapacity' figures given for Australia and thus its 'positive credit EF', BTW. Australian per capita average consumption is off the chart unsustainable). Both much above global average, which is itself at least 30% above global carrying capacity, i.e. globally humanity has already way 'overshot' carrying capacity. So, EF analysis strengthens the socialist case for radical re-distribution of resources/access to resources if we are going to survive and live sustainably.

    Without kids and their energy, love, innocence, we would all be immeasurably impoverished. Go get some grandkids, bat, put in an order now, I reckon.

    • Bat Chainpuller 6th Dec 2016

      They'll come, or not, regardless of what I say.

    • Rod 6th Dec 2016

      I think we could have both the love and energy of children and have fewer children if we were able to let go of the nuclear family as the keystone of our society and go more towards community living and raising. It seems not impossible to me that it would enrich both the lives of most children and adults if that were to happen. That may be wishful thinking though. In any case, results would vary from person to person and place to place. As it does now.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 6th Dec 2016

    the surfing analogy works for me...
    when i see an opportunity to talk with someone who is questioning the system, i typically go for it...
    altho it never seems to do either of us any good to get into what my friend calls "right fighting"...
    somethings happening tho...more people are questioning...
    yet so many single issues without connecting the dots to the system...that's where i get frustrated and want to yell, "it's the system stupid!!!"
    but then you need alternative systems...no panacea there!
    not to mention how tina resistance is so firmly in place?!!
    and then there's the deeper issues that go beyond any system...
    not saying anything you'all haven't already said better...
    as usual, it's always great to check in here and find like minded folks...assures me i'm not totally crazy...

  • Dave Jones 9th Dec 2016

    What this discussion needs is some super-opaque,abstract, post modern theorizing! And since there is already tons of Trump inspired riffs on simulacra and signification maybe I'll go with something more Debord/ Zizekian, something about the change in "the structure of experience" itself, because I am not just an activist/community organizer, no, I am also an intellectual searching cyberspace for nourishment.
    Just kidding! Here is an inspiring action from the reality-based world; some folks went to five different valves controlling the flow of tar sands oil into the states (one here in Montana) and turned them off in an act of disobedience. Now they are in big trouble but at their jury trials they hope to plead a necessity defense. Which will engage a lot of people through media of different sorts.

    This is an alternative to the scenario you lay out, Bat, of striking up a pub conversation. Although if you steer the conversation towards someone willing to take such a risk ( possible 10 years imprisonment)who knows where that goes. And who knows where these trials go, maybe nowhere, but I think there is a risk-reward relation that needs to be explored.

    • Bat Chainpuller 9th Dec 2016

      Well, let's explore it. It's a tactic. Everything as a possible a tactic. But going nowhere is a problem. Who wants to go there. Frank said the people from Nowhere always smile. So perhaps it aint such a bad place. But smiling all the time hurts the face. The muscles get real sore.

      If you're looking for "some super-opaque,abstract, post modern theorizing" try reading the Anarchist Turn. There's enough bullshit in there for most everyone. But bypass the Grubacic, it's far too sensible and easy to understand!

  • Dave Jones 10th Dec 2016

    It just occurred to me that we need to take Gar Alperwitz on a pub crawl, get him away from those academic conferences and plenary sessions (check utube common bound 2016 new economy coalition) and into the messy french fry world. Not to say intellectual work isn't work, it definitely is, necessary work for short pay and lots of jet lag. One of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter spoke in Missoula recently and said it is important work for people to get together over dinner on a regular basis and just discuss difficult shit. So I felt pretty good about that because it has been my methodology for awhile. Get some nourishment then go out into the trenches and mix it up (what we call The Battering Ram). And network some, find each other, to combat the loneliness. Then see some live music and maybe go skiing.

    On the subject of improv, Bat, have you ever listened to Pauline Oliveros? And I just heard Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau doing some stuff off brand new Nearness. Very true (not "post-truth") and very real. (not "hyper-real") This activist gig has similar qualities, it occurs to me, throw something at the wall and see what sticks, take some risks, be vulnerable- but at the same time study and practice like mad. Have some idea of the way in and the way out by having done the work.

    • Bat Chainpuller 11th Dec 2016

      I still get together reasonably regularly, with Jason Chap from the Melb IOPS chapter and discuss, well, "difficult shit", at least for me. But no trenches for me. For Jason, but not for me.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TUVdBKsgq2o

      Now, the above link is to Billie Holiday. I play this to students who don't know shit about swing and each solo is an absolute gem. Jimmy Rowles on piano, followed by Barney Kessel on guitar, Ben Webster on tenor and Harry 'Sweets' Edison on trumpet. Old school. Sixteen bar, half chorus solos, melodic as hell and they swing their arses off. Click on two and four and feel it.

      Haven't heard Pauline Oliveros. But have the other two. Saw Mehldau live , probably two decades ago, maybe longer, when he was up and coming. Joshua's good but I prefer his dad, Dewey. Saw him three times here in Melbourne going back almost three decades. But don't listen to much straight ahead any more. Old shit now and then, like Billie or Sonny. A friend brought in some Jim Hall with Red Mitchell duets from about 1970 to work the other day. Mitchell's playing bass on the Billie track above. Memories.

      The improvising analogy is a double edged sword to me. Improvisations don't always go the way you want. When you free improvise you don't care. You have to be able to handle the aftermath, the ramifications of what you just did. Not so good maybe when building a new society. Not sure that's how it works. Not sure either whether there are lots of ways to skin a alternative cat. Direct democracy doesn't really seem to present many options if it be possible. Judging from the Castro eulogies it must have been a success in Cuba! Not sure how many ways an economy, if you want to use the word, can ge arranged either that doesn't undermine direct participatory democracy, if it be possible. Judging from the eulogies re Castro, Cuba is a treat example of participatory economics! So as far as improvising, I think there would need to be guide lines and structures, like harmonic structures in music, as you say, from study and practice. Strategy with direction. You could definitely throw some shit at the wall and see if it sticks within those shared or agreed upon guidelines, or perhaps a set of values.

      Gar Alperovitz on a pub crawl! Now that I'd like to see.

  • Craig Silva 1st Jan 2017

    Maybe I'm in the wrong place. Outpourings of activist ennui, aren't necessarily inspiring to activity. Is this place a bit of a ghost town, with perishing posters of celebrities papering over the gaps in the walls? Is Parecon the only way?

    • Bat Chainpuller 2nd Jan 2017

      Hi Craig, nice to see new names...

      "Maybe I'm in the wrong place." Possibly...only you can answer that one.

      "Outpourings of activist ennui, aren't necessarily inspiring to activity." Don't care. Others might however.

      "Is this place a bit of a ghost town,..." Maybe, was for a bit, something stirring now however...see Lambert Meertens et al.

      "...with perishing posters of celebrities papering over the gaps in the walls?" Certainly gaps and crap...celebrity posters should be removed...a reminder of the early "glory" (not) days...

      "Is Parecon the only way?" Only post cap alternative worth its weight in salt as far as I'm concerned. Everything else is nothing but vague dust...but, let's get down to it...hit me with your best shot...

    • Lambert Meertens 2nd Jan 2017

      Hi Craig,

      IOPS has been in decay for some time but some of us who lingered on are trying to see if we can breathe new life into it.

      My motivation is very simple:

      1. I believe “something like IOPS” is urgently necessary for building a movement for global revolution.

      2. At the moment, IOPS as it is – gaps in the walls and all – is the only game in town that comes anywhere near the “something like IOPS” I believe we need.

      Rather than try something new, I think it is better to spend our energy on improving what’s already there.

      I’m always curious how new members discover IOPS and what they expect to find here. In any case, welcome, and I hope you’ll find something useful to do here. Never mind the Bat; he can be somewhat cantankerous, but his insights are quite keen.