The Politics of Social Ecology: A 'study and discussion' group. All welcome!

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by ecodharmamark, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Greetings One and All

    The following initiative evolved out of preliminary discourse that started here (thanks, G).

    This thread is intended as a 'discussion space' aiding the operation of a 'virtual study group', the primary subject of which is Janet Biehl's (1998) The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism.

    Anyone is free to join in. However, you might like to actually read from the above-mentioned (or similar works) before you do so.

    All that we ask is that contributors keep it mutually respectful, and on topic.

    Over to you, communards...
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    The Uni library does indeed have a copy. Just have to get it transferred to the correct campus, so hopefully I'll have it by next week.
     
  3. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I will try for the uni bookshop in Newcastle tomorrow. Is there another that you would suggest as a second if they have to order it Mark?
     
  4. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Fantastic! Biehl's work on the subject is the most succinct, yet comprehensive account of the subject matter that I have come across to date.

    Remember though, if you are stuck for something to read in the interim, Bookchin was a prolific author. As such, the Anarchy Archives have devoted an entire section to his collected short works. Here, one can find some formative works on the Libertarian Municipalism concept, such as:

    Municipalization: Community Ownership of the Economy (1986)

    Libertarian Municipalism: The New Municipal Agenda (1987 & 1995)

    Libertarian Municipalism: An Overview (1991)
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Any one of the following three books will give you an excellent understanding of social ecology in general, and the politics of the same (libertarian municipalism) in particular:

    Post-scarcity Anarchism (1971 & 2004)

    The Ecology of Freedom (1982 & 2005)

    Social Ecology and Communalism (2007)

    All of these books are very reasonably priced, and each I'm sure would make a great addition to the PP library.
     
  6. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I'll read some of the collected work whilst I find a copy...

    In terms of all the literature dharmabummark, which do you think gives the most insight into taking actions to implement Libertarian Municipalism?
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    If there was only one piece of literature that I think would be most beneficial at this stage of our journey towards understanding LM (although there is not; there are literally hundreds), it would have to be the (1996) interview with MB by JB. A transcript of which appears toward the end of Biehl's book. However, you don't have to wait until you get a copy of the book in order to read/study it. In the great eco-anarcho-communalist tradition, it's freely available, here. Enjoy it. I look forward to discussing it with you, and with anyone else who cares to join us.
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Our dear sister, eco, has kindly provided a link to Dr Ted's latest work, here, in another thread. In the same thread, I've added a link to the first chapter of JB's work. If anyone wants to kick off the discussion, feel free to go right ahead. The floor is all yours.
     
  9. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    Janet Biehl's (1998 ) The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism ordered and on it's way(can't find it locally). I hope to join this conversation in ~2 weeks. Until then, I'll be lurking!
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    So while we are all waiting on our reading material....

    How do you know if you are an anarchist?

    The word brings to my mind images of chaos and social disarray, but I gather it means something entirely different to you Markos. Can you give us an exposition on the principles of modern anarchy?

    Maybe I'm an anarchist and I just don't know it yet.
     
  11. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    It would be good for me to see if i am on the right page with Libertarian Municipalism while we are doing some definations.I see it as a freedom of associations in an endeavour to govern a setlement or town.
     
  12. Jacki Saorsail

    Jacki Saorsail New Member

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    I haven't read much about Libertarian Municipalism yet, but may I offer some of my initial thoughts...

    Small, autonomous, democratically run communities, YES! Governmental organizations somehow magically generated from existing neighborhoods, NO! I think a more pragmatic approach is to organize these communities around resource production and management in the form of worker-owned cooperatives. What incentive do people have to commit time and resources to building neighborhood infrastructure when they are busy trying to survive in today's economic realities? I have seen this approach taken, and the result is that two to five people end up working themselves ragged building community gardens, rainwater catchment, etc. while everyone else is at work and those people end up broke and destitute and eventually give up.

    The reality is that we all have to make money and where that money comes from defines who we are and what we stand for. If we don't change where our money comes from, we don't change much. I think first and foremost we need to create money generating cooperative enterprises and use that as a stable basis for creating community organizations and Permaculture projects.

    So far the Permaculture movement has worked because the Permaculture practitioners use TEACHING as the business enterprise that makes them money and actual Permaculture activities are a nice bonus on the side. They couldn't survive without the teaching income. The one alternative to this is doing design work for rich clients or getting donated or public money to regenerate deteriorated land. This is not sustainable. Eventually the teaching market will be saturated and there is only so much money out there to do design work for purely ecological reasons. A new alternative must be created for people who want to do Permaculture but also need a regular job. Also, what about all of the billions of people who like the idea of Permaculture but have no interest in taking a PDC? In steps the cooperative business structure.

    I could keep ranting, but it would be a lot easier to just point you to my website where I do it anyway. www.weftalliance.org Thanks and have a nice day.
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    Good questions, very good questions! So good in fact, that George Woodcock (1912-1995) - probably the most prolific writer on the subject, at least within his own lifetime - devoted the entire first chapter of his now classic Anarchism (1962) in an attempt at answering them. Of which, the following is but a mere snippet (I suggest there is great value in reading the lot):

    ...All anarchists deny authority; many of them fight against it. But by no means all who deny authority and fight against it can reasonably be called anarchists. Historically, anarchism is a doctrine which poses a criticism of existing society; a view of a desirable future society; and a means of passing from one to the other. Mere unthinking revolt does not make an anarchist, nor does a philosophical or religious rejection of earthly power. Mystics and stoics seek not anarchy, but another kingdom. Anarchism, historically speaking, is concerned mainly with man in his relation to society. Its ultimate aim is always social change; its present attitude is always one of social condemnation, even though it may proceed from an individualist view of man's nature; its method is always that of social rebellion, violent or otherwise.

    But even among those who recognize anarchism as a social-political doctrine, confusion still exists. Anarchism, nihilism, and terrorism are often mistakenly equated, and in most dictionaries will be found at least two definitions of the anarchist. One presents him as a man who believes that government must die before freedom can live. The other dismisses him as a mere promoter of disorder who offers nothing in place of the order he destroys. In popular thought the latter conception is far more widely spread. The stereotype of the anarchist is that of the cold-blooded assassin who attacks with dagger or bomb the symbolic pillars of established society. Anarchy, in popular parlance, is malign chaos.

    Yet malign chaos is clearly very far from the intent of men like Tolstoy and Godwin, Thoreau and Kropotkin, whose social theories have all been described as anarchist. There is an obvious discrepancy between the stereotype anarchist and the anarchist as we most often see him in reality; that division is due partly to semantic confusions and partly to historical misunderstandings.

    In the derivation of the words 'anarchy', 'anarchism', and 'anarchist', as well as in the history of their use, we find justifications for both the conflicting sets of meanings given to them. Anarchos, the original Greek word, means merely 'without a ruler', and thus anarchy itself can clearly be used in a general context to mean either the negative condition of unruliness or the positive condition of being unruled because rule is unnecessary for the preservation of order...


    So, what do you think, are you an anarchist?

    Later, in 2000, Leon Baradat managed to define anarchism in the 7th edition of his Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impacts (the version I have on my shelf) across a mere 3 pages! Of which, I offer but a fraction (and yes, once again if this topic interests you, I would urge you to read the entire source work):

    ...No anarchist wants to eliminate government entirely. The most extreme anarchists do want to end all forms of institutional government, but they do not advocate anarchy because they believe that the most important kind of government will remain: self-government. Less fervent anarchists [i.e. libertarian municipalists] support the existence of local governments (villages, communes, syndicates), but they would greatly reduce, or eliminate entirely, national governmental systems...

    What do you think now, are you an anarchist?

    Finally, in the latest generalist work I have on my shelf covering the topic of defining anarchism, ergo anarchists, that being Andrew Heywood's (2007) Political Ideologies: An Introduction (4th edition), there is a page-and-a-bit devoted to 'anarchism in the twenty-first century'. Of this, I'll convey the very last few sentences (you should all know the drill by now, it really would be any anyone's best interest to read the lot, especially if you want to get the full drift):

    ...To argue that anarchism is irrelevant because it has long since ceased to be a mass movement in its own right is perhaps to miss the point. As the world becomes increasingly complex and fragmented, it might be that it is mass politics itself that is dead. From this perspective, anarchism, by virtue of its association with values such as ... participation, decentralization and equality, may be better equipped than many other political creeds to respond to the challenges of postmodernity...

    So, there you go. Are you an anarchist?

    Of course, as to whether you are an anarchist or not, only you can decide.

    As for me, I'm a anarcho-communalist. Furthermore, I hold the view that bioregionalism is the best way of planning for, and libertarian municipalism the best way of implementing, a future that benefits all human and non-human beings alike.

    Discuss :)
     
  14. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    I suggest you 'see it' very clearly, brother pear.
     
  15. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Lacking the time today to read the links - but -

    I have a challenging relationship with authority. If I put someone in a position of authority over me, having made a conscious decision that they are the right person for the job (for example by choosing to be employed by them) then I have no problems with my relationship with authority. When it is imposed on me, and worse still done badly by someone who knows jack shit and is getting it wrong, I regularly choose to ignore the 'rules' that are imposed upon me when they are at odds with my own ethics. Which has lead me into various forms of strife over recent years!

    So I guess there's an element of the anarchist in my personality. I'll join in and play by the rules when the scale is small and personal and I retain some power, but once the scale of the organization / government whatever gets unwieldy and I have no power I'm not committed to playing THAT game.

    Thanks Markos. I'll come back to the readings when I get a bit more time.
     
  16. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Welcome to the PRI Forum, Jacki, and to this thread in particular.

    Not a single person among the LM brigade, at least that I am aware of expects 'magically generated' governance structures to suddenly appear at neighbourhood level as if, well, by magic. Quite the contrary, all of the people that I am aware of who number among the movement (myself included) would appear to agree that implementing LM is no easy task! But, and like all challenges in life, if a group is to break down the said task into its constituent parts, and then tackle each of those parts in turn, suddenly the overall task appears to become a whole lot easier to undertake. As such, the aim of this group is to tackle the first part of the overall task, which is to a) assemble a 'study group', and b) 'discuss' the politics of social ecology - i.e. libertarian municipalism. As the old Chinese proverb suggests: Tell me, I forget; Show me, I remember; Involve me, I understand.

    Concerning co-ops: I am quite attracted to them myself, and am currently a member of a few. However, and as MB stated in the interview previously linked to (and contained in the book that is the object of this thread):

    ...The value of cooperatives today is that they teach people how to cooperate. But generally what happens in most cooperatives, in my own personal experience and in historical experience, is that they become bourgeois enterprises in their own right, getting into the competitive situation that the market produces. Those that don't, disappear.

    Now "municipally owned cooperatives" would not be cooperatives in the conventional sense of the term. These would not be single private cooperatives or federations of private cooperatives. They would be "owned" by a community, meeting in popular assemblies. So they would operate as part of the community, not on their own, and they would be answerable to the community. Not only would these distinctly social cooperatives be "owned" by the community, but many of their policies would be decided by the community in assembly. Only the practical administration of these policies would fall within the purview of the individual cooperative...


    I've had a quick look at your website, Jacki, it looks great. I would however suggest that you might like to reconsider how you describe permaculture in the opening section of your Prezi. Permaculture, although having its origins firmly embedded in the ecological - i.e. 'permanent agriculture' - has for a long time now come to mean a whole lot more, particularly regarding the social and cultural (and indeed, economic) aspects of society - i.e. 'permanent culture'. I wonder if you have read Holmgren's (2002) Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability? If not, I thoroughly recommend it, as it may help you to appreciate the much wider, deeper, holistic nature of permaculture today.

    Thanks for your input, please feel free to drop in anytime, Mark.
     
  17. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    No worries, eco, this isn't a race :p. Take all the time that you need. I realise that I've provided an enormous amount of reading material (my students call me 'the readings Nazi'). As such, I suggest people should feel free to pick and choose from (and, hopefully add to) the list as they see fit. This is a 'study group'. I don't think anyone here needs be spanked (at least not too hard) for not attempting the readings. However, having said that, the answers to many of the questions that I'm envisioning (from previous experience) will be raised among our happy little group can be found embedded within the suggested reading material. Finally, and having said all of the above... it's 6.30pm, and I need a red. See you all down at the Mandala Town Beer Hall - first round is on me!
     
  18. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I have just finished reading Chapter One (I still haven't sourced the book given the postage is more than the book itself).

    It's pretty exciting stuff Markos. Whilst I haven't come across the methodology before, the Libertarian Municipalism certainly outlines a method for building the kind of society I have imagined in my mind. I often say to people things like "Imagine the amazing things we could do if only we could work together, I mean just imagine what we could really DO!".

    Reading that first chapter put me in two mind. On the one hand I think, "Yes, that totally makes sense and it fits in with the permaculture principle of small and slow solutions." On the other hand, it seems insurmountable in some respects and it really challenges me internally, I feel it in my stomach and a little mini surge of adrenaline. That I might work for the rest of my life and never see anything actually change. I both like and cringe from that feeling. And I imagine this is going to be even more extreme in others. I have already mentally prepared myself for this kind of life, others haven't even begun to think that way. It really brings home to me how affected I am by the 'education' I have gone through in my life and how challenging it is to overcome that, given that I have already moved so far in the last 15 years or so.

    In a world of shortening attention spans this seems like both an absolute necessity before its too late and also a big ask. I really want to give this a crack but as usual my discomfort at the thought of actually leading is challenging me. I'm really looking forward to this discussion and my own internal transformations...
     
  19. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Brother G, always a pleasure to read your thoughts.

    Firstly, a big apology, to everyone. I should have provided lists of where people can actually buy the book. As such, here a few resources I use (noting that prices including postage, and 'book miles', vary greatly):

    Booko

    Bookfinder

    ABE

    The feeling in your guts that you described, G, started for me about 10-years ago. It intensified to the point where I thought I was going to 'go mad' (maybe I did) at about 5-years previous. Then came the realisation that I will probably never see widespread LM implemented in my lifetime. Great sadness followed. But, I got over the latter pretty quickly, because I was and still am reminded everyday of the need to keep trying as I interact with the young people of our tribe - the youngest just had his first birthday. He might live to see it, that's what keeps me going. I also thought of MB, he had the feeling in his guts for most of his adult life - he lived to be 85!

    JB has a great writing style, does she not? Much easier to understand than that old rogue, MB. It's why I suggested we start with her book, before we move onto the others ;).

    I'm loath to recommended another book, already (don't worry, this one's not yet published), but the author has been toying with the idea of LM (or Communitarian Anarchism) for a lot longer than you and I both combined. So I suspect he may have some words of encouragement - in the form of 'both a theoretical framework and concrete case studies'. Here it is:

    Clark (2013) The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism

    Like you, I'm looking forward to undergoing further internal transformations. But more importantly, at least as far as I'm concerned, I'm looking forward to seeing how we can continue to transform as a group. Because at the end of the day (week, year, decade, century), when the shit really hits the fan, being part of a group is the only thing that is going to save us (humanity) from ourselves.
     
  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    ***Correction***

    In two previous posts, first here and then here, I made reference to JB's 'first chapter'. In actual fact the Institute of Social Ecology article that I linked to, even though it is titled as such, is not the 'first chapter' of JB's work. In reality it appears that it is a slightly altered version of a speech given by JB a couple of years earlier (in 1997). Not that any of this is a problem, I just thought I'd clarify for when we do actually start to study JB's book. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in further pursuing the JB's work, many of her shorter pieces are collected here. JB's writings really do offer a clear(er) window into the life, mind and writings of MB, the latter themselves a little difficult to understand at times. As such, I'd urge anyone with more than a passing interest in LM to read all of JB's work. Thanks again, M.
     

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