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The problem with Parecon is that you have to read about it. Yeah, you could listen to a talk by Albert or Hahnel, but...I mean what are the odds of anyone really doing that. Fuck, what a chore. And it is a fucking chore. One that deserves the use of an expletive. 

How many people have read the Parecon books, all of them? Really. Even if one excludes the one meant for real  economists. Who'd want to? Jesus. I have. I can't even remember most of them. Vague recollections. Everything just blending into some kind of general lump of stuff that kind of makes sense to me. But shit, I've been absorbed in some kind of research project over the last decade and a half really. And what a friggin' boring research project at that. And what a dull life that makes for!  Who wants that? 

But it is a problem, this reading thing. Reading takes time. Understanding what you read takes more time. Discussing it with others takes time. Rereading what you just read takes more time because forgetting is so fucking easy. I'm a great forgetter. I'd be lousy doing some kind of quiz thing about Frank Zappa, but I could talk for hours, days, weeks, or months, even years, about his music and it's ramifications, for me personally and otherwise. I mean, what a great man he was, composing music using a machine, the synclavier, in the eighties which spoke directly to me. Jazz From Hell, one of the great compositional efforts of the late twentieth century, regardless of the fact that Tom Fowler, a bass player in one of Franks band for years in the seventies, reckoned it was pathetic. Idiot. Tom doesn't know shit. My favourite composer basically giving computer generated music the go ahead to me,  in a world pervaded predominantly by opposing attitudes. Anyway, I digress.

Parecon. Who's really read about it? Nah, most people can't, won't, be bothered. See, this thing about solidarity economics, or community economics, or even aspects of p2p, or co-ops, or land trusts and participatory budgeting, and doing shit yourselves, voluntary simplicity, is more about understanding by doing. Actual doing. Doing stuff. Things. You don't really need books. It's more about actually avoiding reading stuff. Not having to read too much.  I mean, if you are going to read something, read about how to build a tiny house, or permaculture, or building a bike, or how to start a co-op and stuff, stuff that pertains directly to what you are doing right now or could be doing right now, rather than about some ridiculous set of economic institutions that may or may not work in the future.

I mean, who the fuck wants to read a book about anarchist accounting  http://www.anarchistaccounting.info/ ? Well, I did. Never thought I would ever read some such shit, but I did. Do I remember most of it? Not really, but I found it important and interesting. And necessary. And now it's there for me to consult. (Jesus, how boring is that ?) But how the frick do you introduce this shit to anyone else not  an accountant or an economist? Well, you can't really. They aren't interested. 

But this reading shit thing isn't just restricted to Parecon. The whole plethora or wad of stuff that finds its way dumped on my doorstep via emails from the Next System Project is a time consuming nightmare. Do I read it all? I try. What the fuck for? No-one wants to talk about any of it seriously or for any length of time (shit, I don't even know if I do myself, as opposed to 'I do, someone else') including left wingers who regard themselves as "progressives", "radicals" or "revolutionaries". Sometimes they may. For a little bit. The odd comment. They may even argue with ya for a tad, but then it's all over. End. No more. See ya. "And don't call me, I'll call you!"

So I don't understand why so much shit is being made available by the Next System Project really. It's just too much. And so many of the fucking "visions" or things that pertain to be "visions" or alternative systems all seem like much the same. Different words and phrasing but essentially the same. I mean, solidarity economics isn't a vision, it's a movement that so far hasn't come up with fucking anything much but old notions of reorganised workplaces and local/community economics and a hope that these activities will somehow take hold and give rise to a better way of doing stuff. P2p (apart from other old notions of people doing things they enjoy outside of work - because they can - and sharing them with others)  is also about self organisation and this notion of "emergence". Shit emerging out of the present from "new" ways of doing stuff, like open software design moving into hardware, or like living simply showing the way for others as everyone  sees how wonderful it all is (no sarcasm there by the way). "Revolutionary" improv!

But none of it is certain in terms of where it is heading, and none of it is really visionary in the real sense. There are actually only a few real visions that have clear designed institutional structure mooted to foster a better way of life for all. Three off the top of the dome, Parecon, Inclusive Democracy and David Schweickart's market socialism, or what he calls economic democracy.  One could include a steady state economy of the Daly variety or a Pat Devine, hard to understand, planned and market mixed economy. But really, there aren't many. Further, one could argue that Inclusive Democracy is not as well thought through as Schweickart's model or Parecon, though it  shares far more with Parecon, and apart from a few areas, actually isn't much different. It just isn't as well developed, in my opinion, so isn't as clear. One could include Ted Trainer's Simpler Way, but it is more a hodge podge of ideas rather than a clear coherent vision. And shit, check out the Simpler Way website and have a look at how much there is  to read. Fuck that, I'll just go buy some chickens, grow me veggies, build my mud house, extract me water from a pump I construct from an old bicycle driven by wind, make me new clothes from old clothes, and drive my musical gear and computer by peddling like shit and typing or playing at the same time. That will be the hum you will hear in my recordings, unless I go direct in, which means no "air", and I kind of like air!

And now I don't even know what I am talking about, or how I got to here really. Lost my train. (Wonder  if that's what Bob was on about when he sung, "...when your train gets lost"? I don't think he even knows. Just sounded good at the time.) Something about reading, or not reading. Like when I found a link directing me to a detailed green new deal, The Climate Mobilisation Victory Plan, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bze7GXvI3ywrSGxYWDVXM3hVUm8/view calling for zero net  emissions by 2025, and what would be required to achieve such a thing. Over one hundred pages. The recent four visions published by the Next System Project are collectively 143 pages. I have read two and a bit of them so far and I have no fucking idea why I am doing so. They are so fucking boring to read. Commons this, prosperity that, well-being this, the good society that, green this, sacred and spiritual that, solidarity this, diversity that, self management this, balanced job complexes that....blah, blah, blah, blah.

But I' m drawn to them far more than essays about capitalism being bad, or even essays about the Standing Rock campaign, or Rojava, or spirituality and its place in this whole thing, or what makes us all human and essentially good people, or whatever else...Trump and Hillary...Corbyn, etc.. (Although, I do enjoy reading Chomsky on such matters as what sort of beings we are and language, because he goes hard) Fuck, I don't know. I mean, how many Gar Alperovitz books can one read and I've read about three, not to mention articles? And Chomsky's political stuff? Shit. It's all pretty much the same. Or Paul Street, over and over and again and again? But one does feel kind of smart when one has read all this stuff, all this stuff on how bad everything is, or campaigns and movements and things, basic incomes and growing automation and precarity, and then one starts to use the word one all the time! 

Actually, I don't know why I read 'em, these "vision" things.  I got no-one to discuss the shit with, no-one's interested. Newspaper articles are far easier to digest, more fun too, because there is a good chance everyone else has read the same thing. But even then you only talk or discuss the things for an appropriately short time, or, if not, someone goes on and on for far too long, usuually because they've imbibed too much friggin' alcohol or are just an annoying arsehole like myself!

And I'm serious when I say no-one's interested. Because they aren't. Have you seen the look they give ya when you start up?And anyway, how much should or can one discuss them before one reaches the conclusion that the conversation ain't going anywhere really. It just reaches some end point, some moment when it becomes clear to the participants that that is it, there is no reason to continue. Silence. Shhhhh....It's a little like the end of a long free improvisation. It just suddenly reaches its natural  end, stops for no particular reason, and there is this silence and absolutely no need nor any motivation to go on. So one just packs up, goes home or continues just talking shit, cracking jokes, drinking, smoking or falling asleep.

It's no wonder most people don't know much about Parecon nor want to find out. It's an actual vision. A real one with real institutional structure designed for really good reasons and purpose by really good people with good intent, but you have to read about it, or listen to others talk about it and that takes sooooo much time. Soooo much booooorrrrriiiinnnggg time.

See, economics pervades everything, and most people hate that. Can't stand the thought. Opportunity costs. If I do x I'm not doin' y. That's what fucked me over in my guitar practice. If I practise  this, I'm not practising that. If I play this, I'm not playing that. So I just stopped and made my own shit up, eventually. Thank fucking luck! And I mean SHIT. Also, if I read about Parecon, I'm not reading poetry or meditating. But if I do read about Parecon,  I'll probably have to think about it in order to really get a grip on it and that means I'm not thinking about fun stuff. I may EVEN  have to find some other poor sap to discuss it with as well. (sorry Jason) Then I'll have to annoy people talking about it when I'd prefer to annoy them with stories I have read (and enjoyed reading), about what a maniac Alex Honnold is for free soloing Half Dome, Moonlight Buttress, Astroman, Rostrum, El Sendero Luminoso and other ridiculous vertical to near vertical over thousand foot rock walls. 

I have always thought, and actually said numerous times, the two hardest things to do in the world are free solo rock climbing and stand up comedy. One complete fuck up and you die. 

So how the shit did I get to writing  about Alex Honnold and say, Stewart Lee, a stand up comedian (who in fact I have only just mentioned, very cleverly, now), two exponents of the two hardest crafts one could ever think of doing, when I started out writing about reading about Parecon? (See, that's an issue with this notion of "emergence" and "self organisation" just evolving out of present practice, kind of improvising. Things don't always end up where you want things to. That is if you had some idea where you were headed in the first place, which I'm not sure I did when I started writing this!) 

So how did I end up here? Gravity, I reckon. That's what I'm gonna say anyway. Gravity pulled me off track. Some action at a distance I know nothing about. Nor anyone else for that matter. Some natural force pulling me towards something of far greater attraction, and attractiveness, than anything economic. Like Alex Honnold or Stewart lee. And as much as Alex Honnold loves free soloing, if he continues to defy gravity climbing without a rope, it will eventually get him. Drag him to the ground where he belongs.(See practical stuff is about having your feet on the ground, not on the side of a vertical rock wall or pointing upwards, possibly, and strangely, to some stupid abstract vision. It's strange because you usually point with your finger rather than with your feet!) Particularly if he tries to free solo 3000 feet of  El Capitan (even thinking about it is absurd). Things don't fall up, on this planet at least. It just ain't natural. 

So why do most people not want to read about Parecon? It's only natural not to.

I don't know what the fuck this piece of writing is for, nor why anyone would spend the fucking time reading it. Truly a waste of effort, on my side, and by anyone else  dumb enough to get this far. 

But if real effort and sacrifice was made reading it, and a certain amount was at least put in writing it, then surely whoever made it, and perhaps even I, deserve something, everything else being equal. 

















My homage to Frank

Discussion 6 Comments

  • Rod 9th Nov 2016

    Reading is also a skill we seem to be losing, as video has taken over the media we consume today. This is true for me at least. I get most of my information these days from lectures on youtube. I have lots of stuff I'd like to read, but it often feels like a chore. Most books feel too wordy for me. I like my information condensed, because I feel I'm slow with words and don't want to waste too much of my time. Lectures at least provide some density. But there's also a lot of retreading of familiar ground.

    I hope to reverse this trend and really take up reading, but it will take some time to learn to do it efficiently. I've downloaded the 20 "papers" from the next system project to read next. At least they're somewhat more condensed than books. They do seem a lot alike, so I'll probably try to skip over a lot of it. But that's the point. If you want to read a lot you have to scan for the things that stand out to you and skip over the boring parts that you're already familiar with. At least I hope that's how it works.

    • Bat Chainpuller 11th Nov 2016

      Yeah, and how many videos is one going to sit through on an alternative economic system. Then digest the info and regurgitate it to someone else. You'll lose all your friends. You'll be looked at like your a pothead who never wants to go out with his friends to parties, and see bands and dance and shit. Just wants stay home, safe on the couch, bonging on or toking on joints in front of the TV or computer, while all your friends, concerned about your welfare of course, get beaten up, have a car crash, get molested, throw up everywhere and end up in hospital because they got really pissed. Their pothead friend, you, just fell asleep in on the couch, woke up at four in the morning to white noise on the TV, turned it off and took himself off to bed.

      But seriously, it's more than reading or watching videos. It's about communicating the info to others. Otherwise the whole thing about vision is a crock of bullshit.

      You see, what I would have said to Jeremy Paxman when he asked Russell Brand what he would replace capitalism with, would have been, well...I would have said, ...maybe eco-socialism.

      He would have asked and what's that?

      I would then have read out a very specific paragraph from Richard Smith's article for the NSP, http://thenextsystem.org/six-theses-on-saving-the-planet/, (he's a writer, carpenter and expert on China and member of System Change Not Climate Change)...this paragraph in fact,

      "By “global eco-socialist democracy,” I mean a world economy composed of communities and nations of self-governing, associated producer-consumers, cooperatively managing their mostly planned, mostly publicly-owned, and globally coordinated economies in the interests of the common good and future needs of humanity, while leaving aside ample resources for the other species with which we share this small blue planet to live out their lives to the full."

      Paxbaby would have undoubtedly asked me to elaborate.

      I would then have spoken about a model proposed by Robin Hahnel and Michael Albert called Participatory Economics or Parecon for short.

      He would have followed up with some derogatory remark like, surely you're not serious? I would have said,

      I most certainly am serious Mr Paxperson. I couldn't be more serious because there couldn't be, and in fact isn't, anything more serious than this. I would have elaborated more about Parecon and told him there were other such ideas. Like the economic component of Inclusive Democracy, making it clear to Paxy that to me, it isn't as clear and coherent a model as Parecon but is deserving of consideration and discussion, as are ideas elaborated by the p2p community and others.

      Paxface would have no doubt asked me as to what this p2p community was.

      I would have told him because I'm good like that. Then, after returning from a commercial break (i know. It was the BBC. I don't know, maybe they have ads), I would have told him more about p2p in general and then say, Christian Siefkes' ideas, but not in great detail because his model is hard to remember. I would have gone on, interrupting and talking over his interjections, knowing time is short here and not on my side, with information regarding solidarity economics, co-ops and cooperative digital platforms, consumer coops, sharing networks, transition networks, eco-villages and voluntary simplicity, with links to Samuel Alexander's site and books, Ted Trainer, I.D, the Next System Project, p2p network, parecon, Albert, Hahnel, Z, maybe even IOPS and whoever else I could think of.

      Paxmania would again, no doubt, try to cut me short, but I would insist (well, it was he who asked the question in the first place, so I'm assuming he sincerely wants to know this stuff), to display all the links on the screen for people at home, watching me do what Brand was unable because he wasn't prepared, to write down. I would then, a little more loudly and with some urgency as time was indeed running out, as Paxpax was trying to wrap up, mention an early interview that Peter Jay, the economist and broadcaster, did with Noam Chomsky, in about 1976, about his libertarian socialist ideas and vision, which is significant, and point out that all these visions and ideas for a better future are rooted in a rich radical left visionary history that goes back centuries, even further if you like, but let's just say to at least Robert Owen or Proudhon and the mutualists, in the early 19th century, just for clarity and succinctness, and up through the decades, past 1848, the first international and on to the Paris Commune, Syndicalism, the soviets and the Spanish Rev. And I'd even try to get Mondragon in there and maybe the idea of the need for a UBI, just to get us through the hardship as we were transitioning, all before the closing credits, and all just to sound like I'm pretty smart, you know...like I know a bit of history and shit, because I've done a bit of reading AND talking with others, and emailing and annoying people about all this shit, and constantly, so as I could feel comfortable with all this stuff,...phew...and I still kind of don't feel comfortable, but I go anyways!

      I mean, just yesterday at work, in a conversation with 68 yr old Peter, a truckie and good guy who delivers shit, about our respective kids and their futures, I brought up Guy Standing and precarity, automation, robots, the prospects of increasing unemployment and underemployment and then the push that's going on particularly in Europe, for a UBI. He asked me what that was. I told him. He asked where would the money come from. I said it could easily be funded because so much redundant shit and the current welfare system wouldn't be needed and that this isn't really a problem. He started to smile at me talking at a rate of knots at him, burst into laughter and said I should be a politician. I said that's exactly what I should not be. He continued to laugh and I told him I'd prefer to talk to him about football or music, but when it comes to my daughters futures I am too shit scared to not talk about this stuff. Peter is a cool guy.

      That's me making an effort. That's me doing what I think I can do and do best...annoy the shit out of people with stuff they both haven't heard anout most often and probably don't want to. I also gave this guy named Bryan Dawe, who in fact is a bit of a well known TV comic performer here, been doing it for thirty odd years, a list of books to read some time ago when he came into work to discuss framing. He got to talking about how pissed off he is with electoral politics and shit. He asked me if I had heard of this thing called the Next System Org, or something. I said, you mean the Next System Project? He replied, that's it. And bang we were both off. He only recently came back for something before he moves to Morocco, and immediately told me he had looked at those books but was uncertain about what to read first. Shit, he actually looked at them. We got to talking more, he mentioning journos that I too knew of and have read then I grabbed his email and told him I would email him. He left with a smile and a nice, "keep up the fight brother!" I always try to get a laugh in there as well or dependimg who it is, pull shit back to music, sport, or next years football season or cricket. There's always a door in you know. When some customer or truckie says, the australian cricket team is shit...I say...you know what's killing five day test cricket? Capitalism. Market capitalism...and I'm off at a rate of knots again...

      That's what communication is. If you're reading or listening or watching this stuff, you gotta get it out there by talking about it. If you don't, what's the frigging point.

    • Rod 11th Nov 2016

      Good points, Bat. I like the quote by Richard Smith. Pretty much sums up my views. It's a good starting point to then delve into the details, but the details are also a lot harder to figure out.

      In any case, it's good to talk (about these things) with people that have a different frame of reference for the world they live in. Certainly something I should do more. You can learn a lot from their reaction.

      But I hope to be most effective in communicating over the internet. If that turns out to be true or not I don't know. It might be a pipe dream, quite literally :)

    • Bat Chainpuller 11th Nov 2016

      Agree Rod. It's a hard place to communicate, the web, but we gotta do it. People live here now, in digital space, so we best get used to it and use it. And garnering reaction from people, somehow, at least gets the ball rolling. Even if you have to take a hit to do so.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 9th Nov 2016

    Reckon 'My Homage to Frank' best thing you've done, camerado. All instruments by you via computer?

    • Bat Chainpuller 11th Nov 2016

      Thanks Peter, appreciate that

      All instruments programmed, note by note. Moused in. A number of years ago, on an older Logic program, then the midi info was transferred across to a newer version and completely re modelled. Took ages. Frank was one of the first to basically use a computer to play scores, using the preset sounds/instruments inside the synclavier to build music and release it for public consumption. Unheard of. Most "real" musicians wouldn't dare release their own music being played by a computer program to the public. That would be embarrassing and unbecoming of their status as an "artist". Phooey on that shit. I say fuck your status as an "artist". You just make shit like me. Most would only use such devises to test, check and hear the music and arrangements before rehearsing and having it performed by real humans, you know, so they can inject "soul" into it. Yeah right, that "soul" comes at a cost that keeps most of us budding music creators out of the market place. Barriers of entry. Cost, money and time, is one of the negative externalities created, on purpose, by the market activity and IP of the music industry. Just so some fuckwit rapper can fly a bunch of friends to a party in Morocco! (Actually an externality created by the whole system really) And he's not even the one making the real dosh, he's just an expendable employee. Or, the machines get used as practice devises for real performing musos. Pat Metheny used his synclavier for such purposes. Most "music" played by computers would usually be for computer games or cheap advertising or film or whatever so one didn't have to pay for musicians.

      Jazz Fom Hell stands alone. The compositions can and have been played by orchestras but they work on their lonesome as computer generated music. I love the sound of Jazz From Hell. So overtly synthetic. I was fiddling with early computer/sequencer programmed music in the eighties, when Frank's record came out, I thought it a very gutsy and surprising move. One that would have alienated many a fan but brought a smile to my face. It opened a door for me. More synclavier pieces can be found on Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers of Prevention, on his collaboration with Pierre Boulez, The Perfect Stranger, Thing Fish, then in a more sophistcated and advanced form technologically (where he used a substantial library of his own sampled sounds and recordings of instruments) on Civilisation Phase III and his posthumous release Dance Me This.

      I like all my midi stuff, as I call it. Midi stands for musical instrument digital interface. I feel it's all unique, even if some may hear some resemblance to something, I haven't heard much like it at all, except maybe Frank's stuff or Cononn Nancarrow's piano rolls, which are awesome, and maybe some musique concrete, which in fact is nothing like what I do.

      There's not a lot of it because I do it so differently from many. I plug in notes using a mouse on each track. Laborious process. Then the elaborate process of finding and tweaking sounds, and just mixing the bloody thing. It is the most daunting of things to do. I could walk in, start up a piece and find myself still in there eight hours later, aching to go to the toilet, haven't eaten, it's now dark, everyone in my household is asleep and it's one o'clock in the morning! And I've only got about thirty seconds of music in very embryonic form. I may even decide it's shit -which is quite common! When you work six days there ain't a lot of time for that kind of indulgence!

      Doing free improvisations is much easier. Play and record for ten minutes and wham, I've got ten minutes of music, that I like to listen to, and I did it meself, and if someone else likes it, great, it's free (well you need a computer and access to the net and stuff, so yes, nothing is free) and they can take it and do whatever with it.