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Analysis & Polemic

"A Gathering of the Tribe"
John Michael Greer

I walk half a mile through a chill autumn morning to the bleak little
cinderblock building that serves the old mill town where I live as a
train station. Wednesdays aren't usually busy, but close to a dozen
other passengers are waitinge before the train pulls up. I climb on
board, stash my duffel bag above my seat, get my ticket punched, and
then head forward to the lounge car. By the time we roll past Oldtown,
where the Shawnee once had a major village, I'm perched at a downstairs
table with a cup of tea, some Latin reference books, and the draft
translation of a Renaissance handbook on the art of memory, proving (if
there was any lingering doubt) that there are non-computer geeks as well.

A Choice of Contemplations
John Michael Greer

Last week's post on the problematic nature of binary thinking went out
of its way to sidestep the most explosive of the binaries in
contemporary industrial culture. That was a necessary evasion; those of
my readers who are following the argument I've been developing over most
of the last two months have now had a week to mull over the point I've
raised in that post, to consider its pitfalls and possibilities, and to
get ready for a hard look the most sacrosanct binary of our time: the
binary between society as it is and society as we want it to become.

Inside Occupy Wall Street
How a Bunch of Anarchists and Radicals With Nothing But Sleeping Bags
Launched a Nationwide Movement
Jeff Sharlet

It started with a Tweet – "Dear Americans, this July 4th, dream of
insurrection against corporate rule" – and a hashtag: #occupywallstreet.
It showed up again as a headline posted online on July 13th by
Adbusters, a sleek, satirical Canadian magazine known for its mockery of
consumer culture. Beneath it was a date, September 17th, along with a
hard-to-say slogan that never took off, "Democracy, not corporatocracy,"
and some advice that did: "Bring tent."

The Creative Commons is to Free Culture what Shareware is to Free Software
Dmyri Kleiner

Back in the early days of computers proprietary software developers
had a problem. Often working from home or small-offices, far removed
from their potential customers, there was no easy way to sell software
to their customers. One common way was to use classified adds in
computer magazines, but unless a software title was very well known,
it was difficult to convince customers to pay for it before they had
the opportunity to try it and verify that it does what they need it

Yet, the very emerging of computers had the solution embedded into the
very technology, users where already distributing software on their
own, by way of exchanging floppy disks, uploading software to Bulletin
Board Systems or Online Services, or even printing out source code so
that others could rekey it on their own computer.

Debtor's Revolution: Are Debt Strikes Another Possible Tactic in the Fight Against the Big Banks?
Sarah Jaffe

In the gorgeous, purple-and-green-lit Lower East Side headquarters of the Angel Orensanz Foundation, nearly 300 techies, activists and thinkers gathered, shouting out ideas for social justice-minded Web projects that they would break into small groups to attempt to hash out in a day.

A man in a plaid shirt stood up and told the moderator and the crowd, “I want to create a tool for organizing debt strikes.”

The man was Thomas Gokey, an artist and adjunct professor at Syracuse University, and his idea wound up one of the four “winners” at ContactCon, a conference hosted by Douglas Rushkoff that urged people to think of solutions to the problem of the corporate-controlled Internet—and by extension, the world. The project, nicknamed “Kick-Stopper,” is in the works, but Gokey notes that he's far from the only person out there suggesting, especially in the wake of Occupy Wall Street's successes, that it's time for some more serious, organized direct action around the issue of debt.

The Situationists and the Occupation Movements (1968/2011)
Ken Knabb

One of the most notable characteristics of the “Occupy” movement is that it is just what it claims to be: leaderless and antihierarchical. Certain people have of course played significant roles in laying the groundwork for Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations, and others may have ended up playing significant roles in dealing with various tasks in committees or in coming up with ideas that are good enough to be adopted by the assemblies. But as far as I can tell, none of these people have claimed that such slightly disproportionate contributions mean that they should have any greater say than anyone else. Certain famous people have rallied to the movement and some of them have been invited to speak to the assemblies, but they have generally been quite aware that the participants are in charge and that nobody is telling them what to do.

If This Analysis Is Correct, A Great Depression Is All But Inevitable
George Monbiot

I stumbled out into the autumn sunshine, figures ricocheting around in
my head, still trying to absorb what I had heard. I felt as if I had
just attended a funeral: a funeral at which all of us got buried. I
cannot claim to have understood everything in the lecture:
Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu Theory and the 41-line differential equation
were approximately 15.8 metres over my head {1}. But the points I
grasped were clear enough. We’re stuffed: stuffed to a degree that
scarcely anyone yet appreciates.

Professor Steve Keen was one of the few economists to predict the
financial crisis. While the OECD and the US Federal Reserve foresaw a
“great moderation”, unprecedented stability and steadily rising wealth
{2, 3}, he warned that a crash was bound to happen. Now he warns that
the same factors which caused the crash show that what we’ve heard so
far is merely the first rumble of the storm. Without a radical change of
policy, another Great Depression is all but inevitable.

The Third Republic of Movements: Considerations on the alternative and the constituent conflict in Italy
Francesco Brancaccio, Alberto De Nicola, Francesco Raparelli

Following the events of October 15th the main challenge the Movement faces is to avoid being pressed in the grip of simplification and strict dichotomy, and at the same time to preserve its open and varied nature. We believe this risk has been outlined better than elsewhere in the editorial by Piero Ostellino published by Corriere della Sera. Ostellino uses the riots that took place during the demonstration to worn that there is no possibility of transforming the present beyond the choice between civil war or respectful reform of representative democracy and of the capitalist market rules

Tertium non datur. Even radical conflict, when it comes onto the scene, is bound to follow one of these two paths sooner or later, leaving behind any ambition to modify social relations.

Greek Referendum Roadshow Hits Cannes
Mihalis Panayotakis

As the Greek Prime Minister is already in Cannes to meet with the G20 leaders and “discuss” the prospect of a referendum on the rescue package, I’ll try to outline some possible outcomes originating from Papandreou’s decision, and hopefully start a discussion on the dynamic of the current situation as a whole…

Let me start with four presuppositions:

I still believe that Papandreou’s game is aimed internally at Greece and that he will fold tonight under G20 pressure (basically Merkozy).

The Trouble With Binary Thinking
John Michael Greer

Last week's post here on The Archdruid Report discussed the magical
implications of getting out from under the influence of the mass media
and popular culture, and thus from the dumbing-down effects these things
exert on the mind. That's a crucial step, but it's only a first step,
because as soon as you extract all that thaumaturgy from your mind,
something is going to fill the resulting void.

Entire industries exist to see to it that what fills the void is simply
another version of what you tried to get rid of. The sorry fate of the
so-called Voluntary Simplicity movement of a few years back makes a good
case study of the way these industries work. It was a bad move right at
the beginning, to be sure, that the founders of the movement watered
down Thoreau's original and far more powerful phrase "voluntary poverty"
so that it didn't frighten their middle-class target audience. As soon
as the idea began to attract attention, that first mistake became the
opening wedge that admitted a series of marketing campaigns that pitched
supposedly "simpler" consumer products to a mostly privileged audience
at steep prices.


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