25 June 2017

Anarchy - An Incomplete Description

As an individual who promotes anarchy as an alternative to the system-in-place, I've been contemplating many of the questions, confusions, and excited but doubtful responses to anarchism. From the beginning, it's important to understand the etymology of the term. The Latin root "arch" means structure or rule, which is why we find it in words like monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, and in a different vein, architecture. So while many people associate anarchy with chaos and a "Road Warrior" apocalyptic vision, anarchy really means against rule or not disorder but opposed to structure (especially orthodox order). The way to see anarchy is as a process, an organic process rather than a structured, orderly process.
The essence of that process is consensus. This is why as many posts have claimed, small groups can be more anarchistic that larger entities. Consensus in an organic manner means that we work with those whom we have consensus, and we work to bring those outside the consensus into the consensus.
The second major idea behind anarchy is its voluntary nature. While someone mentioned the connection to libertarianism, there are differences. Most libertarians speak of the individual as being superior to the collective, and this agrees with anarchy, but while libertarians seldom see advantages to organizations of any kind, the anarchist seeks out cooperative efforts that are voluntary in nature and horizontal in organization. This voluntary nature requires a self-interested (as opposed to selfish) and self-reliant individual, who recognizes the opportunity that cooperation provides for projects beyond what an individual can accomplish.
This is the third, and most difficult, premise of anarchy: the horizontal nature of the collective organization. Horizontal refers to the levels of authority, or the ideal that there are no levels of authority. How is this possible? I would equate it to what I knew in the Marines, that authority had to be limited and rotational. How does that come from the Marines or any military unit? In the military, the commanding officer cannot be expected to be in command constantly, so when he needs to rest, he assigns an officer of the day. The officer of the day has limited but still official command of the unit for a limited period of time. During that time, he or she makes any decisions about the unit. The officer-of-the-day duty rotated among all the junior officers of the unit. This gave them experience in dealing with the responsibility on a limited and rotational basis. In a horizontal organizing process, any position of leadership would be rotated among all the voluntary members of the collective, each having a specific, but limited authority to act and direct the actions of the organization.
How the authority would be limited (both in time and authority) would be determined by consensus, but the idea would be that every volunteer would have the responsibility and opportunity to be in the position of authority.
If this cooperative and anarchistic organization were highly specialized or technically detailed, then volunteers would have a process to demonstrate their expertise before they would be put into the rotation. Again like the military, the volunteer who had the responsibility could be accompanied by an apprentice (someone preparing to be ready for such a rotation) to provide on-the-job training.
Lastly, each of these point to the uniqueness of every organization based on anarchistic and cooperative processes, that the process (organic, consensus-based, and horizontal) provides the means to establish an organization that is horizontal, voluntary and cooperative. No two anarchistic organizations would have to be alike except in these processes.
I don't consider anarchism to be an ideology, because its very name indicates a rejection of ideology, but it is a process that has some very basic premises that individuals must voluntarily practice in order to remain horizontal and organic without a usurpation of the organization by selfish individuals who seek power.
Most of the labor movement begins in very anarchistic processes, but at some point, individuals usurp the authority from the voluntary process for their own selfish ends.

01 September 2016

Cooperative Organizing Principles

As I consider the idea of what it means to be a cooperative organizer, I want to go back to the ideas that I wrote down sometime in 2014. 
  • 1st, I am a free-radical, which means that I keep my arms open to anyone & voluntarily attach myself where cooperation mutually benefits. To do this I must listen with empathy, and I must maintain a distance without seeming to reject. I make compromises for movement toward consensus goals, & I discredit snitches. 
  • 2nd, I organize cooperative collaboration, which has the goal of developing a cooperative process that eliminates supervision by a leader, that replaces leader’s initiative with collaborative initiative. To do this I create opportunities to distribute authority & responsibility as horizontally as possible. I promote & focus a rotational process of authority, facilitation & responsibility. I readily pass on authority, and to do so, I develop other cooperative facilitators who can promote these goals. 
  • 3rd, I am an educator of collaborative processes. I must become a natural collaborator, who always seeks consensus with those around me. I constantly model the cooperative process by establishing protocols as ‘starting processes’ and develop collaborative, cooperative organizers with the long-term goal of eliminating hierarchic leadership roles by creating new, horizontal, distributive organizations. 
  • 4th, I focus discussion. I apply my listening skills and always work to develop democratic, safe, egalitarian processes for discussion along the lines of the circle discussion process. I focus discussion by monitoring everyone’s time to speak, limiting by prioritization the topics to discuss, breaking up large discussion groups by topic into smaller, voluntary groupings that then report back to the larger group. I need to develop other individual's abilities to facilitate discussions. 
  • 5th, I produce ideas and suggest them to others, by not dictating or determining them alone. To do this I build consensus around viable ideas whether self-created or ones that I remain open to hearing. Being open to ideas means valuing all ideas as potentials. Ultimately the ideas are facilitated through consensus & democratic discussion from idea creation toward implementation. 
  • 6th, my goals & expectations revolve around the idea that collaboration should be practiced when beneficial, but that self-reliance is a standard expectation for those with whom I chose to collaborate. The cooperative process can become the norm and spread without becoming a dominant status quo. The ultimate goal is the elimination of hierarchy & leaders, so that consensus-built cooperation becomes the normal process for accomplishing what cannot be accomplished alone by a self-reliant individual.

18 April 2015

Movement & Small Unit Tactics

 Transport Union workers at Occupy Wall Street
What would a movement look like that was cooperative? It would be slow moving, which often doesn’t lend well to struggle, where rapid decisions have to be made. However, a movement that has clearly established objectives, priorities, & targets can act rapidly through small units & individuals.  Small unit tactics in war: giving objectives, priorities, targets, no-go zones, & areas of operation. These tactics offer movements a flexible & rapid decision-making process. In war, a small unit can run virtually on their own, reeking havoc behind enemy lines or finding, fixing & engaging the enemy until larger forces can join. In movement, small units & individuals who act based on the consensus can keep the target off-balance & unable to fix & destroy the movement.

How would this work in a people’s struggle? One way that this would work would be through consensus. The consensus of an organized movement would establish the priorities, the targets, the objectives, & the areas of operation. The movement would have to build consensus on the objective first. The simpler the objective, the easier the consensus would be. So in current times, the focus of the Occupy movement on the 1% was the target, but the objective was more amorphous & vague. If they had focused their objective as exposing inequality to create alternative ways to build a more equitable society, they might have maintained consensus & their actions would have continued past the destruction of the camps & the dissolution that came after the organized response to Sandy. The problem came when the consensus broke down around the objective. There were some who sought to end the fed, to apply a tax on the wealthy, to increase spending on the poor, & more. If the movement had remained around exposing inequality, it might have survived. 

This is where the consensus process must be aligned to reach a simple, tangible, & popular goal. The #blacklivesmatter movement has done a better job of staying focused on a singular & popular goal: exposing the violent responses of police forces to people of color. More importantly, by staying true to their objective of exposing & protesting this disparity in policing, they have enlarged their movement to include larger and larger populations of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Not all their tactics have consensus, but they have remained focused on the objective of making Americans more & more aware of the divisive & racist policing policies that occur in our poorest neighborhoods & cities. 

When I speak of tactics & analyze how to use military tactics in a movement, I am not suggesting violent revolution. Quite the contrary. Only a peaceful movement will ever achieve a real revolution of the human society from government to governance. It will require active, informed, & critical thinking individuals who don’t become ensnared by the illusion of power. The last part will be the hardest to eliminate, the allure of power & control. This is at the heart of the human condition & the very part of our species that must be overcome, to use Nietzsche’s language of overcoming & achieving the Uberman. 

The tactics of small units however can be applied to maintain movement at the grassroots level. Let’s explore some of the ways that small unit tactics can be used in movement to achieve the goals of the movement. First, the objective must be established. In military tactics, the objective is a geographic feature, a hill, a river, a city. With a clear objective, the small unit can determine their individual route & methods to take & hold the objective. In movement, the objective is directly related to the target. Taking the #blacklivesmatter movement as a model, the objective is to bear witness, to shed light, & to make the policing practices overt & constantly in the eyes of the public, not letting these racist & misguided policies hide. The movement hasn’t necessarily arrived at an articulated consensus, but the fact that more & more videos of police actions find their way into social media, into mainstream media, & optimally into the courtroom shows that a consensus exists among a large & growing demographic. So the small unit tactic of identifying a clear objective allows small units of the movement, even individuals, to maneuver & engage in unique methods. What I see more & more consistently are people in neighborhoods stopping to watch the actions & policing of the police forces. The most recent case where a man recognized that a situation between police & citizens was escalating & began filming the engagement led to the arrest & arraignment of the policeman who shot Walter Scott in the back. This is successful small unit tactics to achieve the objective. 

Once an objective has found consensus, the next area of small unit tactics is priorities. In a military sense, priorities might include speed, minimizing friendly casualties, & conserving ammunition. In a movement priorities might include remaining peaceful, prevention or minimization of violence by the target against members of the movement, & exposure in the public eye. In the #blacklivesmatter movement, these priorities might mean bearing witness & videoing any & all engagements between the police & citizens, remaining peaceful, & preventing the police from perpetrating excessive force by exposing the situation to potential & proximate individuals. Priorities allow small units & individuals to take actions with the objective in mind & the priorities clearly established. Marches & demonstrations develop & organize based on the priorities. Tactics & intermediate objectives can be planned & pursued by small units or individuals. For example the groups that created & practiced the #blackbrunch tactic sought intermediate objectives & maintained the priorities of the larger #blacklivesmatter movement. They exposed the illegitimate policing policies & forced the public to take notice. They remained peaceful & videoed the actions to spread through social media. The success or failure of a particular tactic can be assessed & evaluated by the small unit & the whole movement for repeating or discarding. However any small unit action that focuses on the objective & the priorities of the larger consensus will benefit the movement & not damage the movement. 

Next post will discuss the other elements of small unit tactics. This is a rough work, & I welcome feedback & comments!

21 March 2015

Restorative Justice: a Model of Cooperation

Restorative Justice, what is it? What is it hyped to be, & what is it really? First let’s identify what it isn’t. Restorative Justice isn’t the school-to-prison pipeline. It isn’t continuing to use violence & force to reduce violence & force. It isn’t putting a bandage on the wages of violence & hoping for the best. It isn’t making the consequence an apology that won’t be taken seriously. It isn’t trying to keep violent kids in the classroom rather than letting the ‘justice system’ have their way with them. 

Greatly maligned by the media as another liberal bleeding-heart non-solution, restorative justice is a process in discovery, a concept being tested & evaluated. This is the essence of cooperation, that we don’t have a predetermined method for solving the problem, but that we seek alternative ways to reach the desired solution. It is about keeping kids out of the corrections system as much as possible. It is about finding alternative ways to help students learn to fit into society, finding other ways to deal with conflict & drama. It is about developing alternative consequences that build community, respect, & a sustainable relationship with others. The core values of restorative justice are consensus, cooperation, & compromise.

We don’t have a complete grasp of what restorative justice involves. We have developed ideas & working models, but the process of restorative justice is still in the developing stages. Most importantly, restorative justice seeks to provide a viable & useful alternative to what Michelle Alexander calls the "New Jim Crow", an unjust justice system that incarcerates far too many people for far too petty crimes. Crimes that might have been prevented by a successful restorative justice process.

 The basic process of restorative justice is the circle discussion, where every stakeholder in the situation has voice. Both perpetrator & victim have opportunities to speak to their concerns. Community members also share their needs & concerns. This is the starting place. Restorative justice needs to continue through concerns to acknowledging damage caused by the perpetrator & pain felt by the victim. The circle uses consensus to build consequences that reflect the values of the community to balance the imbalance caused by the violence. The consequences should be based in healing the rifts & damage to the community as well as the individuals. The consequences must have 'bite'. They must deplete & eliminate the desire to use violence to resolve conflict. The consequences must provide methods for dealing with conflict that don't involve violence. Christ's doctrine of patience & non-violence evoked in the phrase "turn the other cheek" shouldn't be the only offered method. Consequences must provide tangible methods & steps to lead to non-violent responses where the perpetrator has not been able to find those responses & implement them. The perpetrator must volunteer for the restorative justice as an alternative consequence to the traditional suspension or harsher. This choice must be seen by the perpetrator as their acceptance of the phases of restorative justice, not simply the circle activity where they might feign remorse.

Restorative justice falls down when the follow-through to make consequences real & holistic doesn’t occur. When practitioners don’t insure that the process’ steps have all been completed, then the desired goal of the process won't be achieved. Restorative justice practitioners tend to do well discussing the problems & hearing the voices of those involved & affected, but we don’t often incorporate systems to establish that the consequences & healing process progress to the desired end. We get busy with our lives, with the work of our pedagogy, with the multitude of other problems that we face. WE have to do better. We have to use cooperative process to do better. Find ways to spread the responsibility for making consequences real, community-building & holistic without being inconsequential enough that the perpetrator simply sees restorative justice as the easy way out.

With restorative justice, the desired solution must be a reduction of violence & community-based consequences for violent behavior that bring the offender back into the fold of a healthy (or convalescing) community. Ultimately, self-reliant individuals cooperate to build healthy, vibrant communities where they can produce & grow. This means that when we as a community of self-reliant individuals come together to find solutions to problems that we face, we do so with open minds to alternative & radical processes. We can’t do that if we simply rely on the methods of the past: suspension, corporal punishment, incarceration, & the ultimate consequence, capital punishment. While schools in struggling communities pursue a restorative justice to try to change student behavior, we as a society can’t only focus on the failures that occur in experimentation. When we see the damage done to students, we have to remember that incarceration & suspension provide ample evidence of damage to students as well. The current justice system of mass incarceration has an abysmal  track record. We need to find ways that students can be helped to fit into society. This is the complete opposite of the hive mentality that drives the corporate world to use spyware & big data to determine every action we take. Where the corporate model profits from a continual failure to really address violence & crime, we need to find solutions that benefit the whole society, not just the 'wise investors' of the corporate model.

Restorative justice is holistic, not quantifiable measurements. Cooperation doesn’t rely on quantification either. Self-reliant individuals rely on quality of life to evaluate their happiness & success, choosing to remove ourselves from any cooperative that no longer provides benefits to our quality of life. That choice is independent & not compelled by anything but our self-reflection.

14 March 2015

Cooperation & Anarchy are NOT Ideology

For me, anarchy isn’t a system, it’s a negation of the need for hierarchical systems. I may share concepts with either side of the right/left dialectic, but I don’t hold myself responsible to either side. I consider it a false dialectic that continues to divide humanity, prevents cooperation & perpetuates violent hierarchies in the name of progress. I’m accosted online by those who condemn my ideas as ‘socialistic’ or ‘libertarian’ or ‘fantasy’ from both sides of the dialectic. This is because we don’t share a consensus on certain ideas. The ideas of equality, justice & coercion often become the dividing points between myself & my detractors when I espouse one of them as part of an explanation of cooperation. For example when I said that socialism requires force, a self-proclaimed progressive suggested that force was “(a)nother stupid libertarian term with no meaning”. He went further to say that force was “(m)isused, misapplied and silly.” Ask the victims of Stalin’s 5 Year Plans if force was ‘misapplied and silly.” On the other side of the coin, I’ve had individuals call me a communist because I suggest that descendants of the founders of hierarchical corporations don’t deserve to amass a disproportionate share of the wealth generated by their employees. They won’t listen to the idea that in a cooperative organization, competition doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Any attempt at self-reliant individuals sharing the efforts & benefits of their cooperation is anathema to their ideology of capitalism. Again ask the people whose pensions have been eviscerated by the casino mentality of hedge funds managing those pension funds if capitalism trickles down. 

We often conflate grass-roots movements with top-down ideas. I overheard a teacher explaining communism as basically sharing with each other. This is grossly oversimplified. For one thing, communism as expounded by the major thinkers, Marx, Engels, Lenin, & Trotsky, is a top down process of installing a communist society on the current society by compulsion. That isn’t sharing. This is redistribution by force. Communism as portrayed by these ideologues demands submission to a state, to the over-rulers who will determine how & why the means & products of production will be distributed & expended. This is just another hierarchy usurping normal human activities for the benefit of those at the top of the hierarchy. Those who place themselves over others always do so in the name of humanity, equality & liberty, but the very nature of hierarchy prevents this from happening. If they want to be in charge, & they want to implement their policies onto a population, then they will use force to compel those who disagree with their policies. Otherwise they will lose power, & someone will usurp their position. No one listens when someone asks for voluntary efforts without being in consensus with the effort. The essence of a police force is to enforce the laws that some members of the public refuse to follow.

Capitalism is also an ideology with a strict dogma to follow. The dogma attempts to justify the abuses & inequities of the hierarchy by implying that those at the top deserve their distribution of the wealth because of their hard work & superior skills or that the meritocracy within capitalism provides opportunity for those willing to accept the challenge of the competition. Again, coercion is used to maintain the upper echelon's position through such non free market policies as copyright, patent & taxation. Just as in the communist ideology, there is a group of individuals who will define the free market, acceptable subsidies, & tax brackets. Those who hold monopoly on the monetary system will control how production & distribution occur. Microsoft build a monopoly by either subsuming creative new ideas or destroying the individuals who competed with Microsoft's products. Both methods used coercion to accomplish the mission. 

Those who oppose anarchistic methods immediately point out that if we don’t have enforcement of laws then everyone will start murdering everyone else. This is a reductio ad absurdum argument. First of all in any cooperative community, there would be a broad consensus that murder is wrong & must be prevented & the perpetrators brought to justice. Those who didn’t agree with this consensus would not be members of the community. More to the point, the need for a higher authority to exact justice for murder isn’t a necessary conclusion to the question of how to prevent murder (or any other crime with broad consensus) & bring justice. Those who share the consensus can develop a process for establishing justice that rotates the responsibility, think of the jury of peers that the 6th & 7th Amendments provide. How this justice system would be established would be based on the cooperative communities consensus on their judicial & crime prevention/protection needs. Instead of a group of individuals getting together & writing laws or a incorporating document like a constitution & then implementing it onto the rest of the community, the community would build a consensus on what should be done & how to do it using cooperative methods & processes. No institution would be necessary to establish when self-reliant individuals actively engage in the process. This is why cooperative methods require self-reliant individuals. Hierarchies require uninformed or apathetic individuals who want to leave this hard work to others.

Here is the essential dilemma of an anarchist mentality trying to promote cooperation & minimal governance: idealists demand that they explain what the cooperative community would be & how it would provide various communal needs (security, justice, sustenance). Any response to that query given by the anarchist would simply be doing what other ideologies have done: create a system based on their ideas & then attempt to force it onto the community & ‘prove’ that it will work. That would make anarchy & cooperation simply another ideology. That is the opposite of the purpose of the self-reliant individual voluntarily cooperating with others to achieve goals that can’t be achieved alone. The self-reliant individual doesn’t need a hierarchy to develop cooperative communities. She develops these communities by cooperating with other self-reliant individuals voluntarily, equitably & consensually. There is no need for coercion in consensus. Ideologies & the hierarchies they build to enforce their ideas require coercion. If they had consensus, they wouldn’t need coercion. Anarchists don’t create imaginary utopias & then attempt to make those utopias a reality by force. They don’t think in terms of the end result, they pragmatically attempt to build consensus as broadly as possible & work within that consensus to achieve the goals of the consensus by shared effort & creativity. 

So an individual doesn’t build a cooperative by starting it himself & then convincing others to join his efforts. This will create a hierarchy that has the founder at the top or the founder’s original ideas instilled as a dogma to be perpetuated & enforced by an insider group. Instead the self-reliant individual identifies a need that he cannot accomplish alone. He seeks out others who share this need & builds a consensus about how to accomplish the goal of meeting this need & then how to implement this goal in a shared, egalitarian & voluntary manner.

Think of a road. Let’s say a community needs a road between their various domiciles & work locations. Individuals would get together as a group & determine how to build the road, what materials would be needed & how the community would acquire or produce these materials; how the community would distribute the labor & effort required to build & maintain the road & establish the rules around how the road can be used by consensus. Even if some individuals in the community don’t give consent to the process or refuse to participate, those who have consensus could still complete the project as long as they didn’t impact those outside the consensus (using land of those not in consensus). They might decide to charge those who don’t collaborate in the process, or they might decide that the benefit to those within the consensus outweighs the fact that those who didn’t participate still benefit from the process. Each of these decisions would be decided by consensus before any action was taken. The point of this little thought problem exercise is not to create a model cooperative community, but to show that through cooperative processes that include consensual & voluntary actions, a shared need can be addressed without requiring a hierarchy.

Ultimately cooperation & anarchy are processes. These processes are fluid, organic & dynamic. There is no utopia at the end of the process, just continued process as a community grows & evolves.

07 March 2015

Time Allocation to Increase Self-Reliance

Self-reliant individuals must divide their time effectively to become efficient producers. This is especially true of those of us, myself included, who have jobs that tax a great deal of our time. This necessary but futile (feudal) taxing of my time makes it more necessary that I organize my time outside employment efficiently. If I am going to get out of the need for employment to another, then I will have produce the alternative income source during my free time.

So another way of looking at productivity is how we portion our time. All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy. The same is true when we spend too much time on “research” or "learning". We may spend too much time in the company of others. The fact is we need all three. We need to produce, but we have to have down-time & learning time as well as time for collaboration. I for one spend too much time reading books & studying on the Internet. I believe that I could be happy being a monk in the Middle Ages reading & studying throughout the day, except that I’d probably get tired of the available reading material. When we have to divide our time between employment that isn’t production for ourselves & our free time that we work to enjoy, we have to plan our free time to maximize our needs. This taxing of our time to have income is why we remain dependent. Knowing how hard we work at our jobs to maintain them (don’t let me get started on the bureaucratic nightmare that nearly every job, public or private, demands), we can’t be blamed for spending our free time on pleasures. That is exactly why we should re-evaluate our ‘pleasures’. What is a pleasure? Is it really watching media on our television or on our computer? Is it really drinking & watching the seasonal sporting events? Is pleasure going out to restaurants, bars or clubs? It might be. I’m certainly not going to be the judge or jury on what we should value as pleasure. However I think we have to re-evaluate how we perceive the value of pleasure. The modern society has made life very easy for most people living in the so-called First World. Even the majority of the poor in the United States have access to food & shelter most of the time. What I don’t think we have is the necessary attitude to appreciate what we have. What do I mean by that? Well I think that we find pleasure in being numb on various levels. Pleasure for many of us means sitting and being entertained in one form or another. We don’t find pleasure in activities that might require effort. Oh we do sometimes. We take on projects around the house or keep our clothes, rooms, & kitchen clean. It’s always better to come home to a clean home than a cluttered mess. I know that there are various activities that people do to get out and enjoy their neighborhoods & cities, & some of these activities are valuable to the individuals as social & collaborate activities. Personally, because I won’t speak for anyone else, I don’t spend enough time producing when I’m not producing for my job. I’m trying to change that, & in my last post, I spoke about what production should mean outside employment. Here I want to speak about time apportionment. Namely that we need to divide our free time in ways that allow us to be more productive but still find the pleasure & downtime necessary to feel rested enough to go back to the grind the next day or next week. This division of time should produce some of the areas that I discussed last week. I see the division of time as being divided into three areas: research/learning; creation/production; & collaboration/celebration.

Learning & research are a necessary part of life. The teaching profession attempts more than anything else to develop our students into lifetime learners. We should all aspire to that goal. Autodidacts have it much easier with the Internet. We have so much information & knowledge available to us. This is why I call this sight The 21st Commons. The 21st Century Commons provides a place where we can learn & grow together through shared information & ideas. The Internet is making it more & more clear that sharing ideas, rather than copyrighting & occulting, them will not only benefit us more as fully self-reliant individuals but the hoarding of information for profit will continue to be more & more difficult to perpetrate. We need to spend time daily imbibing deeply in this river of knowledge & human possibility, this marketplace of ideas. We will benefit from joining in the commons of mankind & by contributing to it; we will return the benefit for others. Before I’m described as a ‘socialist, communistic freeloader", I want to point out that I mentioned benefiting & producing. I’m not saying that we should just give away everything we make & live on the benevolence of the Internet. First of all, good luck with that. Second, I’m promoting the ideas of self-reliance & cooperation, not some collectivist utopia. Self-reliance & cooperation aren’t an ideology that can be forced onto the masses. They are voluntary behaviors of free, independent individuals. Mostly though, we should enjoy the time we spend learning & researching. The quaffs of information & wisdom that we gulp down should give us some of the pleasure that will sustain us during the employment periods until we can become self-reliant.

The next third of our time should be spent producing. I’ve already discussed ways to be productive, but we have to recognize that our time away from the employment must be productive for a portion of the time. Why do I separate production from research & learning? Isn’t that a productive activity? No. It may lead to productivity, & it is a valuable use of our time, but it doesn’t produce tangible goods. I’m talking about tangible production here. This production should be focused around making ourselves more self-reliant. The ultimate goal of this production is to produce something that can sustain our lives without continuing to go to the daily grind. So while it may be some of the more basic production of clothing, food, & shelter, it should eventually be about producing our passions. This is the production that I’m doing here. I don’t know right now where or how my writing will lead to producing an income stream that will allow me to be more independent but this productivity aims for that target. I’m also producing a better domicile & hopefully a functioning, if limited garden. I have plans as big as Alaska for my tiny backyard, but I’m made realistic by my spouse about what I can accomplish with the free time that I have (mostly by the Honey Dew List & an 1/8th of an acre lot). Again as we produce what will make us more self-reliant, we have to take pleasure in these gains. I know that I get great pleasure from watching my garden & home bloom into my big as Alaska dreams.The ultimate goal of our productive time must be to become completely self-reliant & capable of walking away from the feudal employment that continues to swallow more & more of our life. Once we can be truly self-reliant, this division of time becomes even easier to accomplish & more fruitful for ourselves & our loved ones.

The final third of our time should be in collaboration & celebration with others. Collaborate by discussing what we’ve learned today during our learning time with our spouse & friends. Hear what they’ve accomplished, & if they can’t provide any ideas outside of their work, challenge them to do so. Most importantly, celebrate the time with those you care about. This is the third that I probably don’t practice as fully as the other two. In fact if I tallied my time, I‘d probably find that I spend way too much time researching & reading. Yet a large part of learning & retaining that learning requires that we communicate that information to others. If I spend a bit of time trying to explain what I’ve just learned to my friends or loved ones, I'm more likely to retain that information permanently. The shared information & wisdom that we gain in this collaboration/celebration time grows exponentially through our community of friends & loved ones. Celebrate with friends by having gatherings that seek to find ways to be more independent & cooperative together. Do our friends share our dreams & desires for more self-reliant independence? We must nurture that relationship through cooperation. We should collaborate & cooperate with people that we trust & love. That makes cooperation less risky & more enjoyable. Find ways to celebrate our productivity together, to share our abundance. As we become more prolific, we must share our abundance & take pleasure in the enjoyment of our abundance with others. Sharing comes from strength & self-reliance. We can celebrate our independence & self-reliance as we grow with our cooperative community that we build.

There is no reason that some of these time allotments can't be combined in meaningful ways. For instance our collaboration time might be spent learning together or producing something together. The thrill of working with friends on a shared project provides joy & becomes the impetus to cooperate again. The cooperative spirit flows naturally from self-reliance. People who feel self-reliant seek the opportunity to cooperate on projects that they can't do alone. We need to dispel our fears that cooperation will lead to one side or the other taking advantage. A self-reliant individual doesn't fear cooperation, because they know that they have voluntarily entered into the process & can leave that process at any time that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits & a resolution of that imbalance can't be found with the cooperating group or individual. Every cooperative activity has risk, just as life has risk. We shouldn't be afraid to cooperate, because when we cooperate with those whom we love & treasure, we build lasting & vital relationships that make us stronger, wiser & better humans. Rather than thinking that cooperation is something new, we need to recognize that cooperation is an innate part of the human spirit. Community is the result of cooperation with our friends & family. Cooperative communities aren't new, they've simply been usurped by hierarchies that have taken them into places that devalued or denied the natural human trait of cooperation.

01 March 2015

Self-Reliant Production

Becoming self-reliant means becoming a producer. We must produce on this earth again, in order to remain self-reliant. Most of us, myself included, don't produce as self-reliant individuals & certainly don't produce enough. One of the vital ways that we contribute to our self-reliance is by producing. 

Most of us produce at our jobs in some manner, but a job is not self-reliant production. It is production for the benefit of the employer. As a teacher, I produce lesson plans, worksheets, lectures, mini-lessons, assessments for the benefit of my employer. My students receive these productions, & they produce work in response (homework, essays, texts). However, the employer benefits the most from this. Most importantly, other than the wage that I receive, my production does nothing for my self-reliance. Once my employer no longer pays for my production, I have few resources to remain self-reliant.

So how do we produce in ways that provide self-reliance? First the majority of our production should be primarily for our personal benefit. We should think of our production in terms of what we need to remain self-reliant. How do we do this?

The first area where we should focus production would be our selves. Mentally & physically. We need to produce human beings prepared to meet all challenges. Productive lives need bodies that can accomplish necessary physical tasks & minds that can create beyond ourselves. This means exercising our minds & bodies daily.

Providing security for ourselves, our family & our property is next. A self-reliant individual will produce the necessary security by becoming proficient in self-defense & constantly upgrading the security defenses of our home (windows, doors, safe-rooms, emergency supplies, surveillance, weapons, etc.). The best security is one that is tested constantly. Try to break into your home. How challenging is it? If you can find ways to enter, so can a perpetrator. Security should defend against blood-sucking zombie attacks. We should produce plans for a variety of emergencies & contingencies based on various situations. Make sure that all members of our family know the plan. Prepare emergency packs that can be loaded into the car or carried on the back in truly dire situations. Keep emergency supplies in our safe room. Develop alternative energy sources beginning with a generator & storage batteries.

Produce food to supply our family's nutritional needs. If we have garden space, we must maximize what we can grow. Use inside planters as well to produce herbs & greens. Grow fruits & vegetables that can be canned or pickled. Learn to pickle, ferment, dry, & smoke foods for long term storage. Build increased storage space. Make relationships with local farms & animal husbandry to get the foodstuffs that we can't grow ourselves.

Repair clothing rather than just throw it out. Learn to knit & crochet, sew & stitch to make our own clothes. Again find local producers that provide the raw materials for clothing & house fabric needs. Refurbish our own furniture.

Learn to be a plumber & an electrician. Learn basic carpentry skills. When our house needs repairs learn to do it ourselves with our own labor. Every task that we take on ourselves rather than hiring 'professionals' improves our self-reliance & builds self-confidence in our ability to accomplish every challenge presented. Learn how to repair electronics ourselves rather than just throwing away the old electronics & buying new ones. Learn to write programs on computers.

Find a way to produce our passions into tangible goods as additional income initially & expand it to establish truly self-reliant income. The more self-reliant we have become in the areas listed above before we attain self-reliant income, the less income we'll actually have to produce. For many of us, we have never considered our passions as realistic means toward self-reliance, but that is because we have been sold the idea that self-reliance comes from a steady income stream first, rather than being self-reliant to produce a steady income stream. As long as we place the income first, the effort to attain self-reliance will be dependent on that stream of income.

As long as we are expending our energy to produce for the benefit of others in order to gain a steady income stream, we will be dependent & will only have superficial self-reliance. In order to imagine a more just & egalitarian society, we must promote self-reliance rather than dependence on corporate or government jobs. We must begin to produce for ourselves rather than for others.

I've spent a career working for the government & corporations. I've come to the realization that I can't continue this career & be self-reliant. So I intend to implement & explore each of these areas to produce increased self-reliance. The long-term goal is to be self-reliant & have a steady self-generated income stream rather than continue to depend on others for that income. It isn't an overnight process, & I don't expect to be self-reliant by next week or even next year. I do expect to accomplish it. Before I can be a cooperative individual, I have to be a self-reliant individual. I hope you'll join me in this journey toward self-reliance. We can cooperate & share ideas on how to be more self-reliant & establish a more cooperative way to co-exist than the competitive zero-sum game that society promotes.