Fuck Intersectionality and bell hooks – dryads playing dyads – Feb 15

bell hooks’ notion of intersectionality is not only a complete failure, it actually functions completely opposite the way she intended it; it revolutionizes capitalism, reproducing capitalist relations directly into the political sphere.

what is derisively referred to as “identity politics” (using this term because i really dont know what else to call it, maybe “the postmodernist social justice movement”?) is a perfect example. inersectionality is the answer to a contradiction of postmodernism: there is effectively no “objective” reality because all we have access to are a multitude of subjective perspectives. how can we have social justice, how can we fight oppression as a vast multitude of individual subjectivities without a single “objectively” correct universal to unite us?

So again intersectionality is the answer to this problem. It displaces the contradiction to a discursive process of discourse – I’ll explain. Kyriarchy is a field of different oppressions, all interwoven (connected) with each other through intersectionality. In this way, someone can simultaneously be in the role of both the oppressor and the oppressed; furthermore, this is also true within the same field of oppression as in, for example, patriarchy, where a woman can be both the target of misogyny and also a misogynist herself (by internalizing patriarchy).

The genius of this move is that it frees us of the oppressive “objectivity” of dominant discourse (for example, men are “objectively” gay – which is a bad thing, of course – if they don’t adhere to certain behavioral norms). In place of this objectivity, we instead have subjective interpretations – but that’s not all. At this level, we can quickly discern a reemergence of “objectivity”, for example in cases of bi erasure: gay and lesbian people saying a bisexual couple, a man and a woman, are “really just straight” because they aren’t acting gay enough – or, to put it in jargon, even though they are (or claim to be) bisexual, they nonetheless benefit from straight privilege.

It’s here, though, that the true brilliance of intersectionality enters: not only is (the pretense of) objectivity supplanted by subjectivity – in a final move, this subjectivity itself is made to be reflexive and discursively performative. What this means is that in place of objective (social) truth, we have a subjective perspective on what is perceived as truth that is aware of its limitation (that it is only an interpretation, not “objectively” correct), and which is simultaneously a process of collective enactment – the social justice movement is nothing but the endlessly-changing, ongoing (“performative”) process of the self-identifications of each individual (individual people and individual communities) within it discursively distributed into a social network. This is why “the personal is political”: your self-identification is a performative process that doesn’t happen in isolation, it’s inherently political; if you are able, you need to call out oppression when you see, it fight against it – in the fight against kyriarchy, pain is inevitable and the most marginalized are the most vulnerable, so if at all possible we should all raise our voice against it to do our part for the benefit of others, especially in cases of intersectionality.

As I said, this is brilliant. Why should we accept it, though? The end result of this (I hate using the word like this, but it fits) paradigm of intersectionality is a continuous struggle of self-overcoming: the way to overcome oppression is through struggle (the more liberal-oriented of course restrict “conflict” to mean debate, petitions, protests, votes, etc), and this holds true for internal conflicts as well. How, then, do we decide among ourselves if something one of us said is oppressive in some way? Through debate – discussion, sometimes, if possible, but ultimately the option of debate (or argument; or even physical violence in leftist groups) has to be left open, because someone with good intentions who doesn’t feel outright argument is warranted can still think and say horribly oppressive things. This brings us to the question of outliers: what if you or you and your community, disagree with what is currently the predominant ideology of the social justice movement (for example, me in disagreement with the overwhelming majority of liberal privilege-checkers on tumblr)? The answer is conflict, which could result in simple disagreement and the decision “to each their own”, or it could just as easily turn into a nasty, bitter conflict, as happens sometimes on tumblr and twitter, with thousands of people dropping by to leave you with insults (as a rule, including some formulation of the word “privileged”). This form of conflict is characteristic of the performative, discursive ideology of the social justice movement: the predominant ideology is not a consensus, but the moment-to-moment, “organic” result of the inner conflicts of its individual members (individual people and individual social groups).

What else can we think of that is performatively-discursively constituted, which requires constant, indefinite self-revolutionizing to sustain itself, necessarily leading to vicious boom/bust cycles resulting in social unrest? It looks like capitalism, and acts like capitalism, but this shouldn’t fool us: it really is capitalism! (…or rather, the direct [re]production of capitalist social relations in the political domain [as opposed to the economic].)

ps don’t use “dumb”, it’s a slur.

also bell hooks thinks having a vagina magically turns someone into a woman. lol


Is China Socialist – Urbandale – Nov 14

I feel I should say that I do believe China is socialist, for reasons I’ll talk about in the post. Me saying that I think China is socialist shouldn’t lead anyone to believe I’m saying China is without problems, but socialism isn’t an idealist state after all, its got its own contradictions. This is gonna focus a lot on the economic arguments for why China is or isn’t socialist, but in order to do so we first have to look at a bunch of raw data. I’m gonna be referring a lot to World Bank stats so if you’re curious check them out here.

So what’s up with the Chinese economy? China under Mao was a China wracked with poverty. After his death in 1976 the poverty rate was about 86%. Despite efforts like the Great Leap Forward to build up productive capacity in rural areas the country was still left with a problem somewhat similar to the Soviet Union in 1928, namely what little production existed was based in urban centers while the overwhelming majority of the population lived in rural areas. The rise of Deng and the Special Economic Zones and sweatshop labor should be viewed in this historical context, because they came to exist, for good or ill, as a means of solving this problem. So, what did these Special Economic Zones and their sweatshops do for China? Over the last 35 years they are the chief economic cause of the reduction in the poverty rate from 86% to 12%. That’s about 600 million people coming out of poverty. For a sense of how massive this is, this is about double the entire population of the United States.

Obviously merely making more money is not the only factor at play in terms of happiness or anything like that. We’ve all heard about the infamous Foxconn suicides where 18 workers killed themselves in the span of a few months. There’s gotta be some serious shit wrong with this picture, and there most definitely is. I don’t want to claim that this policy is without problems. But we only hear about media stories talking trash on China for pursuing policies that are actually better for the population than rural poverty because demonizing China for sweatshop labor is what the cold warriors who were previously demonizing the USSR moved to. And its not just cold warriors. The AFL-CIO NGO Solidarity Center, the labor arm of US imperialism, was exposed using National Endowment for Democracy grants to fund Hong Kong protesters. But this is a tangent, and I should really get back to what this is supposed to be about. Last thing I’ll say on sweatshops is that there is a specific voice we never hear on this question, and its the voices of the workers themselves. Why is that? When the Foxconn suicides happened foreign media swarmed these sweatshops, interviewing hundreds of workers without state intervention. Why did we hear so few interviews in the US? Its because many sweatshop workers view their new life as industrial workers as a direct improvement of their old lives languishing in undeveloped rural areas. This is a TED Talk (I know, I know) discussing this issue but is also a report back on various interviews that were taken by the presenter. While I have a minor nitpicks about the presentation I think it serves as a good counterpoint to the stories about how awful these sweatshops are for their workers, serving to put this claim, while true in many regards, into its proper context.

So let’s compare China with another country that has a similar history. India has the same colonial background, similar population, and the same productive capacity post-liberation as post-liberation China. It’s got Special Economic Zones and extensive public firms. It also serves as a good comparison because almost no one calls India socialist, which works rather well as I’m contrasting China’s socialist economy with India’s capitalist one. What does India’s economy look like today? Fucking shit. There’s a lot of stuff to talk about on this comparison, but the entire first third of this talk goes into detail about India’s economy and what it looks like for workers there, so I don’t want to replicate it.

Ok, so now that we have a good capitalist example of what China could have looked like, and my brief outline of what China looks like, I hope the difference is somewhat clear. One last thing though. What do the millionaires do in order to get their money? Unlike the US where most make their money through finance, most Chinese millionaires make their money through appointment to work in public firms. However, as the post in the OP points out, public firms are constantly seeing changes in management, either through party members shuffling in and out to combat corruption or just cuz theres a bad manager or cuz of complaints about the person or a number of reasons. This is obscenely wasteful according to common capitalist logic. If you’re constantly putting in and removing people from positions in firms, your managers lose job security and get all scared, and you have periods of time where the new people have to get used to handling their new job and picking up where the last manager left off. This was part of the reason given for the bonuses given to the same banking institutions that were (supposedly) behind the Great Recession. While it was thoroughly mocked, it does comply with standard capitalist logic. If you’re not making as much money as you feel you should be, you have the right to find another job. But if China isn’t capitalist but instead socialist, it makes sense. It doesn’t need to care about what the bourgeois class its SEZ’s have created think, because they don’t hold power in the party. And if they throw a fit and have a capital strike or do a slowdown, they are simply removed from their position and have no recourse.

Autonomous Integrated Sustainable Infrastructure Theory – tsinava – Oct 14

I believe it can be generally agreed upon, that for a civilization to exist the following needs to be met: Food, Water, Waste Management, Shelter, Power, Transport.

For a civilization to continue to exist it needs:
State forces: Police, Corps(Defense, Medical, Civilian), etc., Consistent emphasis on education, Tolerance to change and diversity, Resilient and flexible resource management systems

All of these things except one are things that can be effectively decentralized while simultaneously remaining centralized at the state’s discretion. All of these things, not including State Forces, can be replicated on as little as 1 acre of property for a family of five and even more if the proper systems are in place.

I want to discuss all the needs that have to be met in this thread. I’m primarily going to describe how to meet the physical needs in this post. I honestly don’t know how the government is going to change so dramatically. I believe that it is certainly capable of doing so. I know that education helps for both the young and the old. I know a lot about multifunctional sustainable resource generation systems and methods that don’t require a lot of human labor. Many are quite old and simple actually. I know how to physically, and materially approach this problem. I do not know how to politically, or clerically approach this problem. I have no experience organizing people or with politics period.

From what I have observed so far, an integrated sustainable infrastructure, that produces food, power, and water is entirely possible to build and sustain, even in undeveloped countries. While it would likely require a massive public works project, it is ultimately something that generates far more capital than it initially demands. This is again not including certain State Forces, which can get expensive depending on how they’re managed as well.

I’m going to approach this subject with what I know about sustainable resource production models and a lot of it is technical stuff. The purpose of it is to point out that sustainable resource production models are not only within the grasp of state entities, but individuals themselves.

Things I want to stress:
This supports and compliments metropolitan infrastructure. Cities are good things.
Sustainable resource collection and generation methods do not have to contradict conventional infrastructure.
Sustainable infrastructure is multifunctional, and supplemental to other conventional forms of infrastructure and encourages and allows for fluid transition.
States that own large amounts of unused land, even barren land, are more easily capable of transitioning into sustainable models than others.
Sustainable infrastructure encourages and demands diversity and resilience and is also benefited by interconnection as well.

Agriculture: Where It All Begins

I discussed sustainable agriculture models extensively in a previous thread of mine. Regenerative agriculture can really be summed up by soil health, and soil health can be improved using many various techniques. One technique that is extremely important is earthworks. One of the first things done to land to make it sustainable is shaping the earth in the way so it will capture the rain and also funnel it into ponds and creeks. Burying plant matter, such as wood also restores soil health and encourages mycorrhizal growth. Using polycultures in your crop systems rather than monoculture crops is also essential in these systems. You can even grow grain crops among polycultures using certain grazing techniques. If anyone wants me to clarify any of these dynamics, I will describe the methods and techniques to you to the best of my ability and try to link videos and sources when I can. It’s just such an extensive amount of knowledge that I can get off track.

I hope you get the point though. Conscious human intervention can restore the environment at a massively accelerated rate. Barring that we can use those very same techniques to grow our own food and even produce capital with relatively little human labor inputs.

Water: Transpiration and Precipitation
I mentioned earthworks before. Earthworks are an essential element to restoring water to an area. Naturally, earthworks are far better when various types of flora are planted on them because it helps them to absorb and hold even more water.

Hugelkulture is a type of an earthwork with wood under the soil, if you put mounds of stones or bricks under that wood you get an aquifer, and you can create little paths of gravel out of the side of the whole earthwork/aquifer that gradually feed water into a creek or a pond. They also help prevent lots of flooding, if that’s ever an issue.

A land’s capacity to keep soil fertile, and maintain necessary moisture levels is highly dependent on it’s ability to retain water. The more flora that exists on a piece of land, the more water will be retained. Not only that though, flora increases precipitation. Trees are the paths on which rain clouds walk. Plants and trees don’t just bring rain though, they directly cause precipitation through transpiration.

Plants transpire when it gets hot. They moisturize the air by unleashing vapor through their leaves. This is actually known to influence air currents and wind, and moisture levels. A form of precipitation caused much more often by this process is morning fog. It is a result from the air cooling over night and not being able to hold vapor. The more plants and trees there are, the more fog you get.

This brings me to the concepts of air wells and dew ponds.

Dew ponds are shallow, often conical indentations in the earth designed to collect morning fog into a small, often temporary pond for livestock and other purposes.

They are constructed in different ways. Various methods of insulation and heat trapping using stones, straw, and clay are used to divert heat from the surface of the pond so more water moisture will condense.

Air wells can be as simple as stacks of stone, or complex stone towers with specialized polyethylane shapes with maximized surface areas. Air wells are designed to collect water from the atmosphere.

Convection towers are a more recent invention designed by Melvin L. Prueitt when it comes to collecting water.

11. Cooled air condenses as it moves down.
12. Moisture collected from air by falling water other kind of surface
13. Water is lightly sprayed into the air to heavily cool and moisturize it, causing to to move down and creating a current.

The turbines are meant to generate power from the air current too. It’s a multifunctional deal. I haven’t seen an example of these combined with air wells yet but I’m sure they’re out there.

Waste: The Cycle of Crap

Human manure can be used in anaerobic biodigesters to produce gas and heat that can be used for power generation, hot water, or even cooking. Jean Pain pioneered this method of composting and provided power and heating to his homestead. Can you imagine how much fossil fuel otherwise goes into heating and hot water?

A apart from that, water can be repeatedly filtered and aerated until it’s clean enough to send through greywater systems.

One passive method of water aeration is called a trompe.

As long as there’s water running from a different elevation this system will continuously collect isothermically compressed air in the upper part of the reservoir. That pressurized air can be used to power machinery, and cool rooms to the point of refrigeration depending on how big the trompe is. Trompes constant aeration of the water naturally filters all the waste out of it, turning it into silt the falls to the bottom. Trompes would be ideal for blackwater systems that deal with the water after most of the solids have been filtered out and salvaged for compost.

Trompes don’t just need to be used in waste treatment systems, they should be used for all water treatment systems and as methods of generating hydropneumatic power on a highly variable scale.

Power: From The Atmosphere

I hope I have adequately pointed out that trompes have potential for generating power. They are very passive systems, simply needing a flow of water to work and they are far more feasible and multifunctional than hydroelectric alternatives. Wind turbines and solar panels are good things but the power they provide on an individual scale isn’t at all reliable. Biogas systems are reliable on an individual scale, and so are other forms of fuel like wood gas, which isn’t as efficient on a small scale but still convenient for emergencies. Ideally, if you’re generating power for wood gasification, it’s temporary and you’re only generating electricity for elements that absolutely need a source of electricity, like lights, and various electronics such as computers.

That brings me to another point. For infrastructure to be autonomous, it’s sources of energy must be efficient as possible. Using electricity to power everything is not at all efficient, especially with the massive amounts of it lost in energy transfer. Isothermically compressed air approaches 100% efficiency ratings in storage and transfer however.

Biogas, Wood gas, and Isothermically compressed air are all things that could in theory be collected from 1 acre of land, perhaps even less and could easily be sufficient enough to power more than a single homestead. Solar panels are still a good idea however! Ideally, you would put transparent solar all over your greenhouses, if you could afford them. They function more as supplementary power. It would be even better though if some state entity came along and constructed all of this and left the farmer to just grow food and stuff!

Shelter: Houses of Mud, Grass, and Wood

There are many different ways to build houses. Cob is an option, so are earthbags, and oehler structures are essentially holes in the ground, usually next to a hill or terrace. They are typically easy to renovate.

Above is a two-story school made out of cob and bamboo in Pakistan.

All three of these techniques are interchangeable really. You can dig an oehler pit and then line the walls with earthbags and then seal it with cob. Keep in mind these types of dwellings are far more resistant to the elements than conventionally built ones, primarily because they are built out of dense natural materials. That means they retain and resist heat far better than other structures. The best part about houses like these is that they are made out of malleable, common materials. Cob is as common as grass and mud, and earthbags are as common as burlap sacks. Using sturdy types of wood, or even sturdy types of grass like bamboo are cheap and long lasting and easily replaceable.

I’m going to describe a scenario: After earning money and a small pension from doing several public works projects with the government, a man of modest means, buys a piece of land he helped work on at a reduced rate with special conditions. It’s fertile land with earthworks and ponds and trees in a state of revitalization. Say it’s 5 acres for 5k within 40 miles of a major metropolitan area. He wouldn’t have to start paying a cent of that money until 5 years passes and the government assesses his resource consumption. If it is determined that his household consumes more resources (power, water, food) than produced, he has to start paying for the land, if it is determined otherwise, he stays there for free and the state checks back every decade after.

Imagine that the state planted a bunch of fruit trees on a part of his property just as a passive method of food production, in a “hopefully people harvest and utilize this” sort of way. He’s constantly harvesting fruit which sells too cheap at the market to make him anything he would want to take home. However he does turn one of his greenhouses into a quail pen and starts raising quail. He just tosses rotten fruit in there and they eat it up and all the insects that come from it. He uses macerated fruit to raise worms in a worm compost system and he also uses those worms to feed his quail. He then begins to sell his quail for profit and is producing much more capital than before.

The idea, is that this person exists in circumstances in which he doesn’t need to make an effort to produce capital as long as he’s not constantly doing wasteful things. He is constantly producing capital just by living on his homestead and occasionally maintaining it. His piss and shit flow into an interconnected waste treatment system where it is converted into power and fertilizer. He is literally pissing and shitting capital in a system like this. He produces capital as a hobby, or as means to obtain certain luxuries. He will live like this for most of his life and produce a net gain for his state. Apart from the healthiness, and wholesomeness a life in an area where lots of space and food is, it’s ultimately a net resource gain for the state as well.

What I’m Trying To Say

I hope I’ve given enough information to drive a certain point home. Sustainable infrastructure is not only within reach of any cohesive state, but also in within reach of any individual who could afford to own about an acre of land. It’s highly scalable. It would be really nice and cool if the state caught on to this idea and helped people with it, and set up systems to implement and aid economies that result from distributing land this way.

China already did it in a way with the Household-Responsibility System. By allowing individuals who lived in rural areas of China control over their own relatively small plots of land, they could meet government quotas that were considered extensive even. They were initially extensive quotas because the H-R system was first implemented as a secret social experiment that wasn’t exactly uniformly approved of by the state. However the state realized how valuable and productive it was and implemented it on a larger scale beginning in the early 80’s. It’s actually pretty breathtaking how China revolutionized and continues to revolutionize it’s agricultural systems.

I would like to discuss all aspects of sustainable infrastructure, the physical, the political, and the socioeconomic. All I really understand at this point are most of the physical implications and methods for sustainable infrastructure. I know a little bit about the economic benefits but I know enough to know that they are inevitable.

Remember that these theories that haven’t been implemented, tested and measured at nearly as an extensive scale as conventional ones, but even with current data they have been proven to be more efficient than them in principle on very small scales though.

I know I exist in a stagnant political system filled with stupid, stubborn, old mean men who need to crawl in a hole and die. It’s an old story. I don’t care. Even if the solutions and theories and proposals I hear are completely bathed in fantasy it’s so much better than hearing the same old shit over and over again.

Please discuss the implications and possibilities of this subject.
What forms of land distribution exist in other countries?
What knowledge can we take away from places like Bolivia and Cuba who have worked on sustainable systems for the past two decades?
How can various forms of long term environmental damage, such as coastal erosion be reversed this way?
Do you live in a self-sustaining household or community? If you’re a farmer who uses low-energy techniques, what could the government do to help you out?
Decentralized education has been repeatedly demonstrated throughout history, can education be interconnected and autonomous as well?
Metropolitan areas offer a lot of unique microclimates, how can sustainable infrastructure principles be implemented in cities? How much water would a skyscraper-sized Air Well Convection Tower produce?

Huey Newton Marxsplains Race and Predicts the Future – Shape of Jizz to Come – Oct 14

In an article recently posted on these boards, a white educator talks about his experiences teaching white privilege to his students:

As I am unplugging, a few of those white kids creep up to ask a good question: so what should we do? If we want to be more than just not racist, if we want to be actually anti-racist, then how should we act? How do we deal with the burden of a privilege we did not earn?

Now I gotta get to another class half-way across campus, so I don’t have time to tell them that so-called “liberal guilt” is not the answer and that empathy and solidarity are. I don’t have time to explain that learning to share anger at injustice is the start of a common conversation, and that they can learn how to recognize where privilege resides in their own lives by reading about and listening to the experiences of others who do not have it. But I gotta run, so I just say to them: “It’s a long argument, and an endless series of principled choices, but the short version is simply: don’t be a douchebag.”

The last sentence is pithy in that tired, snarky way that’s the tone of choice for much of today’s online writing. But putting that aside, it’s not even a useful prescription.

What black people face today is not just a case of people being “douchebags” to them. They face a relentless assault from the prison-industrial complex and the poverty industry (payday loans, for-profit universities, and other usurious schemes that have filled the economic void in poor communities). Slavery and Jim Crow ensured that they would start at a marked disadvantage, and decades of reactionary policy have ensured that little has changed from a material perspective. Indeed, despite the advances made since the Civil Rights Act, the average net worth of black households has only gone down. 

In the face of overwhelming hardships, “don’t be a douchebag” is a feeble, impotent response. “Not being a jerk” is not going to put food on people’s tables. “Listening to their experiences” is not going to stop cops from gunning them down in the streets.

Racism is not just a matter of individual relationships. It’s a societal issue, an economic issue, a material issue. In order to understand it, we need to turn to someone who can help us understand social and material forces. We need Marx.

Not too long ago in this forum, certain posters were accused of “Marxsplaining,” using Marx to shut down conversations about gender or race. The stereotypical call of the Marxsplainer (what a hideous portmanteau) was that “once the revolution occurs, racism/sexism/homophobia will no longer be an issue.”

Now, I can’t say whether or not this is true. Marxism is just as good as any other system at predicting the future, in that it’s not very good at it at all (more on this later). So I can’t say whether racism/sexism/whatever will end once capitalism ends. And neither could the stereotypical Marxsplainer, and people were correct in saying that this line of reasoning was boorish and unhelpful. But I will predict that all those things will be different once capitalism ends, because capitalism affects the nature of these other things on a very deep, profound level.

What we think of as racism is unthinkable without capitalism. During the heyday Roman Empire, there was no “black” or “white.” You were either a Roman or a non-Roman, and you were either a slave or you weren’t. A slave from Carthage was no different than a slave from Gaul, at least from a societal standpoint. Likewise, while it’s true that patriarchal society predates capitalism, its nature was profoundly changed by the advent of capitalism (see Caliban and the Witch for a much more in-depth discussion on this).

For many, this will sound like “intersectionality” But that idea doesn’t go far enough, in my mind. “Intersection” implies a number of things that have an independence all on their own which intersect, or collide, at various points. Saying that “racism” or “sexism” or “capitalism” all intersect with each other is redundant, a tautology. The point is that each of these things already have all the others in them; each thing carries the totality within itself, and vica versa. A societal force like “sexism” cannot change without changing everything else along with it.

The problem with Marxsplainers was not that they were trying to bring Marx down to bear on things like racism or sexism. I don’t believe these things can truly be understood without Marx. Their mistake was applying it in a clumsy, one-sided fashion. But applying Marx to things like racism is the correct approach, and it’s certainly not the approach of “ivory tower academics” with no connection to real people or real struggles. We can see how it was used by the most successful anti-racist revolutionary group of the last 50 years: the Black Panther Party.

Huey Newton gave a speech at Boston College in 1970, which you can read here: http://democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.com/2012/04/huey-newtons-speech-at-boston-college.html

In it, the same sentiments:

Marx, as a social scientist, criticized other social scientists for attempting to explain phenomena, or one phenomenon, by taking it out of its environment, isolating it, putting it into a category, and not acknowledging the fact that once it was taken out of its environment the phenomenon was transformed. For example, if in a discipline such as sociology we study the activity of groups – how they hold together and why they fall apart – without understanding everything else related to that group, we may arrive at a false conclusion about the nature of the group. What Marx attempted to do was to develop a way of thinking that would explain phenomena realistically.

The entire speech is an invaluable read. In the interest of fairness, I should note that I don’t agree with all of it. Newton refers to a “dialectic method.” I think this is a mistake — dialectics is a way of explaining and understanding social phenomena, but it’s not a method, any more than the Periodic Table is a “method” of chemistry. It’s a description, not a prescription. And while I’m not a huge fan of Kant, Newton’s descriptions of his ideas are virtually unrecognizable to me. Most concerning to me is Newton’s idea that dialectics can be used to predict the future. Again, not only do I think there’s no dialectic method, but a dialectic understanding of things is no better at predicting the future than anything else. Dialectics is a way of understanding things after they’ve happened, not before.

Ironically, I say all this while admitting that Newton has done a very good job of predicting the future. The points that he makes in this speech are more relevant today than ever before. Perhaps this is less “predicting the future” and more of a keen eye for the conditions that were already present in his time today. Compared to other social commentators of the day, Newton is practically a Cassandra.

First, let’s draw attention to this passage:

Marx attempted to set up a framework which could be applied to a number of conditions. And in applying this framework we cannot be afraid of the outcome because things change and we must be willing to acknowledge that change because we arc objective. If we are using the method of dialectical materialism we don’t expect to find anything the same even one minute later because “one minute later” is history. If things are in a constant state of change, we cannot expect them to be the same. Words used to describe old phenomena may be useless to describe the new. And if we use the old words to describe new events we run the risk of confusing people and misleading them into thinking that things are static.

Newton’s understands something that eludes many commentators of Marx: even his language and terminology changes its meanings depending on the social conditions. This is crucial, since Newton is about to use Marx’s language in a particularly unorthodox way:

In this country, 1970, the Black Panther Party issued a document. Our Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver, who now is in Algeria, wrote a pamphlet called “On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party.” In that work Eldridge Cleaver stated that neither the proletarians nor the industrial workers carry the potentialities for revolution in this country at this time. He claimed that the left wing of the proletarians, the lumpen proletarians, have that revolutionary potential, and in fact, acting as the vanguard, they would carry the people of the world to the final climax of the transformation of society.

In traditional interpretations of Marx, this is a very strange passage. Marx uses the term “lumpenproletariat” to describe the society of prostitutes, pimps, thieves, and other petty criminals of Paris’ underclass. Marx felt that this group had no revolutionary potential. Newton clearly does. What’s changed?

It should be obvious that Newton is using the term very different than Marx was. And really, their two viewpoints are not incompatible. If Marx was referring to pimps and high-level drug dealers, then he was probably correct in stating that this group has no real revolutionary potential. They are essentially a criminalized capitalist class.

But Newton and the Black Panther Party use it in a different sense: to refer to the group of people that exist outside the standard capitalist/worker relationship. He elaborates in what may be the most important passage of the speech:

In this country the Black Panther Party, taking careful note of the dialectical method, taking careful note of the social trends and the ever-changing nature of things, sees that while the lumpen proletarians are the minority and the proletarians are the majority, technology is developing at such a rapid rate that automation will progress to cybernation, and cybernation probably to technocracy. As I came into town I saw MIT over the way. If the ruling circle remains in power it seems to me that capitalists will continue to develop their technological machinery because they are not interested in the people. Therefore, I expect from them the logic that they have always followed: to make as much money as possible, and pay the people as little as possible – until the people demand more, and finally demand their heads. If revolution does not occur almost immediately, and I say almost immediately because technology is making leaps (it made a leap all the way to the moon), and if the ruling circle remains in power the proletarian working class will definitely be on the decline because they will be unemployables and therefore swell the ranks of the lumpens, who are the present unemployables. Every worker is in jeopardy because of the ruling circle, which is why we say that the lumpen proletarians have the potential for revolution, will probably carry out the revolution, and in the near future will be the popular majority. Of course, I would not like to see more of my people unemployed or become unemployables, but being objective, because we’re dialectical materialists, we must acknowledge the facts.

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Newton is riffing on the Marxist idea, from volume one of Capital, that there always needs to be a group of unemployed people in order to meet any sudden demand for labor power. What Newton is suggesting is that the lumpenproletariat goes one step further: they are permanently unemployable, at least in any meaningful sense.

Second, Newton predicted that a society rapidly advancing in technology would only further swell the ranks of the unemployable. There’s two parts to this. On the one hand, technological advancement leads to declining rates of profits (Marx’s classic law of the tendency of the rate of profits to fall). This in turn leads to fewer jobs. And on the other hand, the technology that Newton was beginning to see would automate many lower paying jobs.

This second point is the sine qua non for understanding the world we live in and the situation facing black people in the West today. We’re already beginning to see this automation taken to its extreme. In response to increased demands from fast-food workers to receive higher wages, companies are beginning to look into automating their food service. Now you can order your Big Mac on a touchpad! Amazon is looking at starting a delivery service using automated drones.

The automation of these service jobs will be devastating for the black and Hispanic communities in this country. The loss of these jobs will only further swell the ranks of people who are unemployable, and further grind them up as they desperately try to escape poverty: more loans, more degree mills, more debt and impoverishment as they try to crawl themselves up just to make a living wage, more people thrown into the prison-industrial grinder.

Not only can these problems not be solved by “not being a douchebag” but they cannot even be comprehended using that framework. By using Marx to attack racial studies, Newton was not only able to see things that current anti-racists miss, but his work takes on a frightening prescience.

In fact, this perspective can be taken even further by combining it with the “Third Worldist” ideas of J. Sakai, Samir Amin, Zak Copes, etc. It’s not that the proletariat “disappeared” as Newton thought; they only disappeared from his immediate vision. In the Third World, you have an increasing global proletariat as Western capitalists sought new sources of labor power free from those pesky unions. And in the FIrst World, you have an increasing class of unemployable people that exist outside of the sphere of capitalist relations.

This is the sort of explanation that can only exist with a, dare I say, dialectic view of the situation. The problem isn’t Marxsplaining. If anything, the problem is that we’re not Marxplaining enough.

Regenerative Agriculture – tsinava – Feb 14

As most of the people here know, the way we farm our food now is largely inefficient and mindbogglingly wasteful and stupid when you think about it for a fraction of a second. The solution to this is within reach as it has always been.

People practice sustainable farming techniques all across the world, mostly because they have to. They live on arid, dry, land with bad soil and they have to use regenerative and sustainable techniques or they starve.

A primary concept in sustainable agriculture is the usage of the polyculture. A polyculture is a set of multiple different plants that grow together that provide different functions that help each other grow. This is opposed to the monoculture, which is mostly how we farm now and is consisted of huge spaces of the same crop. Monocultures are much more susceptible to the elements, pests, and disease than polycultures are. Also monocultures are incapable of fertilizing themselves, unlike polycultures.

Polycultures are also called “plant guilds” and the act of planting things in guilds is called “companion planting”. So say if you wanted to grow some nice strawberries. Well you could just google “strawberry companion plants” then to see what you could plant next to it to make it thrive.

Native Americans used polycultures everywhere. They cultivated vast forests full of food and medicine that barbaric, dirty, white, men burned and slashed down over the centuries after systematically murdering them. One of their more well known plant guilds is called the “Three Sisters” it is consisted of corn, beans, and squash.

Here would be another example of a polyculture:

The use of perennials is key in sustainable agriculture. If you expect to maintain your crops without having to interact with them then you’re going to have to plant perennials around them to maintain them for you. Much of our fruit comes from perennial species of vegetation as well. Many people have gardens that are entirely perennial because they are seen as much more productive than many annual species. Self-propagating species, such as Egyptian walking onion, or sweet potato are also key.

Sustainable agriculture is encompassed in a term called “permaculture” which was coined by Bill Mollison. Permaculture basically means cultivating ecosystems in a way that makes them both highly productive for humans and reciprocate with and reinforce their surrounding ecosystems. It doesn’t just encompass gardening but livestock as well.

Not everyone has access to land. In fact a whole lot of people don’t. You can use these principles to grow plants in pots and small beds just the same and grow some food for yourself on your balcony. If you’re in a living situation where no sunlight enters your home (that sucks btw) you can grow shiitake mushrooms with oak logs still! That’s if you really want to grow some food for yourself.

Above is an example of Sepp Holzer’s work. He is an Austrian farmer that basically writes manuals on stacking functions and where to utilize them. In this you can see him using hugelkultur, swales, berms, and rocks. He also observes the different microclimates that are created when you alter the shape of the earth like this and plant things accordingly.

Farming this way can make you money if you do research on local demand. It’s tricky and you’ll need financial security after you purchase the land for at least 5 years. I would aim for 10 honestly, but once you get your farm going its kind of hard not to make money, since if designed with these principles in mind, it basically maintains itself.

I’m going to share some tips and tricks now.

Passive Heating Techniques

Greenhouse: This one is pretty obvious but it’s important. All you need is a structure propping up a medium which light passes through but air and moisture don’t. So, cellophane, glass, transparent plastic tarp that doesn’t degrade in the elements. You can buy these things for under $20 you know. I mean a whole greenhouse. They aren’t fancy but they do the job.

Compost Power: In every compost pile, occurs countless chemical reactions between bacteria. The larger the compost pile, the more volatile these reactions are as a whole. This power is converted into heat and potentially combustible gas. A cool French dude named Jean Pain figured out that by distilling wood pulp and other types of mulch in water a certain way he could generate heat for hot water and gas for electricity and other heat sources in his house using just compost. He generated 100% of the power he needed for his home this way.

You could potentially use compost to heat a greenhouse to significantly extend your growing season if you live in a rather cold climate. It would also expand the varieties of crops you could grow as well. It provides natural gas and heat, there are really all sorts of applications.

Passive Cooling Techniques

Planting stuff: vegetation does three things to cool the air. It removes CO2, it adds moisture through transpiration, and it shades the soil around and below it from the sun. There are certain plants and trees that naturally cool and regulate the air better than others. You would be surprised at how many fruit trees thrive in desert biomes. Letting trees and bushes grow around your living space will cool it significantly even if it’s not in the direct sun.

Evaporative cooling: is quite an old system of air conditioning that is still heavily used today. You redirect warm air into a dark chamber full of water to cool it as it enters the house. It is a principle that can take many forms. Cooling the air in certain places causes air pressure to change and air to move, cooling the air even more.

Here is a diagram of a wind tower system that uses evaporative cooling principles:

Passive Water Harvest/Irrigation Techniques

Roof runoff: if you don’t do this already, hooking up water holding barrels to your rain spouts and drip irrigation systems to those barrels can and will make long droughts a lot more tolerable for wherever you’re trying to grow food. There are many things you can do to make your property harvest and utilize rainwater more efficiently.

Berms/Swales/Earthworks: one of the biggest issues concerning erosion is water runoff. If you just have flat planes of earth with nothing blocking rainwater runoff you’re going to have areas of erosion and the groundwater levels aren’t going to be as high as they potentially could be. When you do hugelkultur you’re essentially creating a berm, and when you dig a swale you’re redirecting the flow or rainwater so instead of running straight downhill it maybe zigzags downhill and much more of it is absorbed into the water table. Earthworks are just pinpointed depressions in the earth designed to slope runoff and rainwater into areas with plants.

People use berms, swales, and other various earthworks in hilly or mountainous areas or around depressions in the earth to restore natural springs. Overtime, multiple earthworks can harvest so much rainwater that certain levels of the soil can no longer hold it so it comes to the surface in certain areas. If you have multiple acres of property, depending on what type of terrain there is, you could potentially do this. You can apply the same idea to wells like I pointed out earlier. Earthworks around wells will harvest more rainwater runoff and if you plant trees and shrubs on those earthworks the well will harvest even more water because the soil would be able to retain more of it. To clarify though, make sure the root systems of the species you plant around your well won’t get big enough to crack the well or plumbing around it or the pump. Willow trees are a bad choice for example because they head straight for water and spread out. This isn’t as much of a problem if you have a modern well installation because they tend not to have the cracks in their structure that tree roots can get in.

Air Wells: are quite a neat concept. At their most primitive, air wells are basically cairns, mounds of stones. When air passes through them it is cooled to the point where moisture collects on the rocks inside of the mound and drips down into the soil. A little more thought put into this concept goes a long way for sure.

Stone structures can be designed in a way to cool air efficiently and harvest surprising amounts of water but going beyond that, dew condensers also exist. A dew condenser is typically a specialized hydrophobic plastic film covering a layer of insulation and it condenses droplets of water as air runs across it’s surface. This can be observed to occur in desert climates. Air wells inspired dew condensers. I have yet to see a measured example of the two concepts combined but I’m sure people are working on that.

Ollas: Ollas are basically any container designed to gradually leak or sweat water out into the surrounding soil but only if it’s dry. They can be unfired clay pots filled with water and buried in the ground, or they can be orange juice boxes with a little hole at the bottom and top. They’re good for makeshift solutions to irrigation.

Wicking beds: if you have cloth or some kind of wicking medium between a reservoir of water and soil, the water will wick up to the soil and keep it hydrated very efficiently. It’s constantly watering the soil from the ground up so there is little loss from evaporation.

Here’s an example:

Wicking can be utilized in multiple ways. I’ve seen it used to automatically aerate someone’s aquaponic system. I’ve seen it used and used it myself in individual potted plants and potted gardens, and of course garden beds. Remember that logs of wood can serve as wicks, they aren’t as immediate as cloth but they do the job.

Not So Passive Techniques

Chop and Drop: just have a machete or something that can cut down vegetation quickly and go around slashing “weeds” or otherwise plants that have gotten too big for your liking or need a trim. If you don’t feel like composting them just leave them there. As you chop and drop weeds over and over you’ll start to observe change in your soil structure and what types of plants are growing on your property. I mean really, chop and drop is considered pretty passive as it’s something you do when you harvest usually. Every technique I’m going to describe is supposed to be as “hands off” as possible.

Wood Gasification: if you have a lot of property or even a backyard you probably have varieties of “weed like” trees that like to spring up out of nowhere and have really hard wood and also tend to coppice when you cut them. Essentially with wood gasification, if you have a lot of wood you don’t know what to do with you can put it to efficient use and even generate electricity from it. It also burns very clean.

English: A schematic showing the wood gasifier built by Dick Strawbridge and Jem Stansfield for the show “Planet Mechanics”.
A: wood
B: fire
C: air inlet (air going to 4 nozzles)
D: reduction zone; contains charcoal; smoke goes trough the accumated charcoal and reacts with it. H20 and CO2 becomes H2 and CO
D1: top grating (movable)
D2: lower grating (not movable)
D3: handle: used to stirr up the wood to provide evenly high temperature over top grating
E: smoke
F: single-cyclone seperator (coarse filter)
G: partially filtered smoke
H: radiator (reduces heat of gas and hence condenses the gas, making it more flammable/potent)
I: cooled, partially filtered smoke
J: fine filter (consisting of clay balls on top of a grating)
K: wood gas (= fully filtered, cooled smoke)
L: air/gas mixer (replaces IC engine carburator)
L1: air inlet valve (operated via handle mounted to gear stick)
L2: choke valve

When you burn wood in a high temperature environment with little amounts of oxygen you release it’s natural gases which can be utilized to generate larger amount of heat and even electricity with a wood gas generator. If I’m making some scientist rip their hair out because I’m wrong or am not clarifying anything please correct me. Wood gas electricity generation is a viable resource for power generation on both small and I believe, large applications.

Remember that the growing techniques I previously described aren’t oriented towards certain plant species or anything they’re just working with plants in general. Individual plants themselves actually serve different functions on your plot. Here are some of the more common functions and some example plants:

Nitrogen Fixers = Black locust, northern bayberry, redbud, clovers, beans, peas, vetch
Dynamic Accumulators = chicory, dandelion, comfrey, yarrow, mullein, plaintain
Pest Confusers/Repellers = Allium species (onions, garlic, ramps), African marigolds, nasturtium, paw paw
Insectary Plants/Pollinator Attractors = native wildflowers (bee balm, Jerusalem artichoke, amaranth, milkweed, asters), fennel, dill
Wildlife Habitat = comfrey, hollies, roses, echinacea

Nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulators both restore the soil with their mulch, pest confusers and insectaries, and wildlife habitatsattract predators that eat pests that would otherwise ruin your crops. Pollinator attractors are basically anything with flowers and those boost the productivity of your garden, especially if you grow fruit of any kind.

What I’ve posted here isn’t really even the tip of the iceberg. It’s just essentials really. It’s stuff that you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD KNOW before you get started because this is actually quite a complicated subject and the answers to questions that may arise aren’t always obvious. The cool thing about growing things, is that nature lets you experiment. It gives you lots of opportunities to reproduce your plants, and to fuck up. So yes, you should go into cultivating food with as much knowledge as possible but you can also start from knowing nothing too, you’ll just have a more difficult time.

If you have a yard (or maybe not even a yard!!! maybe some land that no ones doing anything with that you just want to plant stuff in!) you can turn it into a garden without spending a penny. You could go around looking for natural perennials and self-sowing plants and clone them there, or plant their seeds there. You can spend like $10 at the grocery store and plant garlic, green onions, some sweet potatoes/ or potatoes, and maybe some leeks. Every time you cut into a new onion, cut it’s root off and leave about a centimeter of onion. Go plant that root cut in your garden with the root facing down about 6 inches deep and an new onion will grow from it. You can do the same thing with that onion for another onion.

The point is, growing things this way doesn’t require a lot of money. Money helps, but it doesn’t need money. In fact these techniques can be oriented towards a concept called “guerrilla gardening” which is sowing and planting hardy, productive vegetation on unused lots and unused land.

These techniques convey an idea to me, that humans do not have to destroy their environments to live comfortably or even in excess. It’s interesting to think about how these techniques would work on a mass, systematized scale.

Post whatever you want, but I would greatly appreciate posts that contain:
informative links
pictures of your agriculture projects or other peoples projects
useful tips for cultivating certain foods/materials
questions relating to agriculture/ answers to those questions
discussion of agriculture in general