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The main export of the western world is trash. - Anarchism Pt. 2 (Bookchin, Social Ecology)

The Historical Persistence of Anarchist Values: The episode discusses how anarchist principles such as liberty, equality, and solidarity have been a recurring theme throughout history, predating the modern understanding of anarchism. These values are seen in various historical movements and figures like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who, though not labeled as anarchists, embodied these principles.


The main export of the western world is trash. - Anarchism Pt. 2 (Bookchin, Social Ecology)

So last episode was a bit of a challenge to be able to write. There was a lot of stuff that needed to get TALKED about. Lot of CORE ideas from anarchist thought that needed to be explained…to be respectful to the people who came to the episode not knowing ANYTHING about anarchism yet. But we had to TALK about those core ideas…without, saying too much about anarchism in GENERAL…because whenever you say ANYTHING about anarchism a beacon goes up into the sky, anarchists start crawling out of the trees, and no matter what it is there’s always some anarchist somewhere in the world that’ll disagree with it and yet STILL is considered to be an anarchist under the anarchist banner. Lucky for me: I can start talking about INDIVIDUAL thinkers today. Also kind of lucky for me is the fact that the philosopher we’re talking about today didn’t get too caught UP on labels like anarchism…seemed a bit silly to him to do that…he just wanted to make sure the substance of the ideas was there. But as though I learn nothing in my life…as though I really AM top five dumbest people on planet earth I’m going to try it again, at least here at the beginning of the episode. Because to anyone coming to this podcast today in good faith…you know, you’re ACTUALLY TRYING to learn MORE about anarchism as a political philosophy, place it in the greater historical context of what you ALREADY know…I PERSONALLY think IF you’re doing that… that taking a step back… and looking at anarchism from more of a panoramic view, is helpful…because I think it sets us up for the rest of this episode… where we’re going to see EXACTLY HOW… an anarchist perspective can start to look…when it’s DIRECTLY applied to what MANY consider to be one of the biggest issues facing the human species today. What I mean is: you know it’s been said that if the world we live in today CEASES to exist somehow. Like if you could get in a time machine and go into the future 500 years, you arrive in that world, you look around you and it is OBVIOUS that civilization has collapsed at some point between now and then…if you FOUND yourself in that spot there are a few things going on in 2024… that could have been RESPONSIBLE for that collapse. Nuclear proliferation. Our toxic relationship with the natural world. Various forms of social unrest we got fascism, mental illness, addiction, socio-economic turmoil, religious fighting of any type not the LEAST of which are the political religions people are a part of, the list goes on but the POINT is that an anarchist might ask the question…are these all completely separate phenomena that are all TOTALLY unrelated to each other? Or might there be something more fundamental that going on…where all of these things are just different SYMPTOMS…of the same SICKNESS that has overcome society? What they’d be alluding to is what if our BLIND acceptance of involuntary hierarchical authority, our OBSESSION with CONSTANTLY looking at EVERYTHING AROUND us in terms of superiority and inferiority…what if that was directly responsible for a lot of these problems? Or ALL of these problems? The philosopher we’re talking about today is Murray Bookchin…and while he’s considered by many to be one of the GREATEST anarchist thinkers of the recent past…he, himself, again didn’t get too caught up on the label of anarchist. In fact anarchism, as far as HE saw it…was not some recent breakthrough in political philosophy, you know some radical, entirely new set of ideas. To him what people in the modern world often call anarchism is really just the natural progression… of a tendency in human thought… that’s been going on since the BEGINNING of civilization as we know it. More SPECIFICALLY since about 5000 years ago when we started structuring things in terms of forced hierarchical authority. As Murray Bookchin says… Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse…the great native american leaders of the resistance against colonial domination from Europe. Sitting Bull and Crazy horse… were anarchists to him. Now… if you said to either Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse, “you’re an anarchist”...they’d look at you like you lost your MIND…they wouldn’t know what you’re talking about with the SPECIFIC label of “anarchist”. But if you told them about the anarchist VALUES we talked about LAST time of liberty equality and solidarity…these two people…to Murray Bookchin…would understand EXACTLY what you mean. They would CERTAINLY understand the concept of liberty… and resistance to involuntary authority that’s being IMPOSED upon them from the outside, they’d definitely understand the concept of EQUALITY among the members of their tribe and how people ultimately compliment each other with different skills, they of COURSE saw solidarity with their immediate community as an important part of how society should be structured. So again labels aside to Murray Bookchin call it anarchism call it whatever you want…but the native american resistance against colonial domination represented a very HUMAN tendency… that keeps on REPEATING itself throughout human history…a TENDENCY…to demand when its POSSIBLE… GREATER LEVELS of liberty, equality and solidarity, than FORMER societies have had before: Christianity, is an example of this to Bookchin…with the second coming of Christ as a sociological story created by human beings to EXPRESS it…where after the end times it is said…the wolves shall lay with the lambs. The false prophets and unjust authorities on earth will be abolished and everyone will live together equally under the eyes of God. THIS is an example to Bookchin of this tendency in people’s thinking that in more MODERN times we might call anarchist. MORE examples of this throughout history though: how about the American Revolution…you know, taxation without representation from King George…a focus on the solidarity of regional communities rather than colonial rule…there came a point… where people were unwilling to LIVE under this unjustified authoritarian regime…and they decided to DO something about it. What would you CALL that tendency? Is it a totally isolated event? Since this is a philosophy podcast: to give an example Bookchin mentions from the history of philosophy…how about the Enlightenment… that we’ve talked about EXTENSIVELY on this show. You know, when Immanuel Kant writes his famous essay in 1784 called what is Enlightenment… and he says that to BE enlightened we gotta REMOVE ourselves of our self-imposed tutelage of the past…to him meaning the needless authority of religious thought…and THEN when he says that moving forward we should be using REASON as a more reliable guide for structuring the systems in our world…when Kant WRITES that… THAT is him and many others EXISTING in a society… where they look around them and OBVIOUSLY FEEL like something’s very wrong about the way things are…and it’s them STANDING UP to the authority of religious claims to truth… and DEMANDING greater levels of liberty, equality and solidarity for people in the process. Now… there are a HUNDRED more examples I could GIVE of moments that Murray Bookchin believes are examples of this HUMAN tendency repeating itself. The historical RULE seems to be: that when a high enough percentage of people look around them… and they realize something’s wrong with how things are set up…they will eventually get tired of it, and DEMAND greater levels of liberty, equality and solidarity. Is… it… CRAZY to think that we might HAVE one of these moments of progress again? I mean ask yourself: have we experienced the LAST time that the average person gets in UPGRADE in the quality of their life in these areas? Probably not…and how CLOSE we are to another one of those moments occurring…is probably correlated with what percentage of people in a given time are looking around them…and thinking wow, things are REALLY messed up in the way we’re doing X thing. So ENTER…Murray Bookchin’s PRIMARY area of expertise…the field that he dedicated most of his LIFE to…i’m talking about the human species and its RELATIONSHIP to the natural world. Again this is one of those major issues going on today… that entertaining an anarchist perspective, might give us an interesting new angle on, see our WORLD a little different. Murray Bookchin saw himself fundamentally…as a social ecologist. Now most people hear that term social ecologist…and no doubt know that it must have SOMETHING to do with the environment. And that’s true. But to understand FULLY what social ecology is… it’s important to understand how it DIFFERS from more POPULAR strategies in today’s world of solving our environmental problems. Picture somebody that CARES about the environment a lot…TOTALLY well-intentioned, WELL educated. This person recycles…they compost…they even got a little ficus PLANT that they named Hubert, he sits in the windowsill everyday smiling, this person is incredible. And this PERSON…whenever they leave their apartment to go and VOTE every couple years they show up to the ballot box and they DO their part…they SUPPORT the bills that help the environment, they voted for a ban on single use plastics last time they went. They supported a bill to plant TREES in urban communities. They volunteer to pick up TRASH on the BEACH in their off time. They DONATE to green charities, they buy from green companies whenever they can. By ONE definition…they are the PICTURE of an environmentally conscious person. But ALL of this effort… no matter HOW well intentioned it is…to a social ecologist like Murray Bookchin…this is all when it comes down to it…pretty superficial if we’re being honest. What does he mean? Well, BANNING single use plastics for example: you know, you buy something, it comes to you in a plastic package, you throw the packaging away and then it sits in a landfill for a million years, THAT’S a problem…and getting RID of that plastic CERTAINLY may clear up a bit of space in our landfills, for sure. But it does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING… to fix the true CAUSE… of single use plastics being a thing in the FIRST place. Because single use plastics…. are just ONE iteration, one SYMPTOM… of the toxic way that we’ve set things UP…in our social and economic institutions. Social ecologists like Murray Bookchin think that what people TYPICALLY think of as purely ECOLOGICAL problems, something that is a problem JUST when it comes to the environment, in REALITY, these things are caused by HORRIBLE ways that we’ve set up the relationships… between fellow human beings. In fact even SAYING it that way I just did… where there’s some obvious distinction between where other PEOPLE out there end…and the natural world begins… that’s a false DISTINCTION to a social ecologist. No, as human beings: civilization isn’t SEPARATE from the natural world…we ARE a part of the natural world. As Murray Bookchin says: we are ALSO, an animal species living in an ecosystem on this planet that’s worthy of respect. And when you look out at the world… and you see things like pollution and overfishing and deforestation and resource depletion…these tangible effects on the natural world… are a direct REFLECTION… of our social and economic relationships. And our attitude towards nature directly REFLECTS our attitude towards other people. A social ecologist is just somebody that’s fine with RECOGNIZING that reality…and then tries their best in their free time to figure out how ANYBODY ELSE could possibly see it otherwise. To Murray Bookchin… we are on a sinking ship here…we have a sick, global society where the accepted economic arrangement is that some countries are winners and other countries are losers. It’s an arrangement where countries like the United States or England can get OFF the sinking ship and find a life boat…while other countries whose populations feel the direct IMPACT of the way things are set up…these people are just left to suffer. People justify it by saying it’s either just bad luck for them…or they use some sort of Darwinian argument that only the strong survive. WHATEVER it is the larger HORROR of it all to Murray Bookchin…is that ALL throughout this ENTIRE process… almost NO ONE is even INTERESTED in asking: why the ship is SINKING in the first place. They just want to paddle on their life boat and find ANOTHER ship that’s doomed to sink, and as the ship starts to sink they’ll just take a bucket and start dumping buckets of water over the side like they’re bugs bunny to try to make the problem not seem so bad. It’s almost… like you’re dealing with people who are immersed in a religion. And if you remember our episode we did on the philosopher Guy Debord and his book the Society of the Spectacle… then you already know some of the arguments for how Capitalism…in PARTICULAR…can NOT ONLY serve as a religion for people to participate in, but it has a SPECIAL ability to MASK the fact that you’re PART of a religion when you’re IN it, and MORE than that often times when you SHOW someone HOW SIMILAR the commodity fetishism IS to a religion, they don’t even usually care that much on the other side of it. To Murray Bookchin, people have been CONDITIONED into a society where they are practically OBSESSED with hierarchy to the point they barely NOTICE the problematic hierarchies of Capitalism. Again, to many people brought UP in this world: almost EVERYTHING is viewed through the lens of superiority and inferiority…am I BETTER or WORSE than this person? Is my stuff better or worse than THEIR stuff? Even people who are OPPRESSED by hierarchical structures in the world…will often compare THEIR level of oppression to some OTHER group’s level of oppression, and ask who’s oppression is SUPERIOR? Who wins the GOLD MEDAL for being the biggest victim?…to Murray Bookchin, just playing into the HANDS in his eyes of the people who are making BILLIONS of DOLLARS off of people CONTINUING to be divided…and just keeping the very hierarchy alive that people say is the cause of a lot of social problems. This type of person TURNS themselves he says…into a mere conservationist. Meaning: all your effort is just CONSERVING the current economic and political model by continuing to preserve its sentiment. And the SAME THING goes by the way for the well-intentioned environmentalist that we talked about before. The environmentalist may think, Murray Bookchin says, that fossil fuels and carbon in the atmosphere are a problem… so what they’re going to do is SUPPORT a bill that BANS the production of gas powered automobiles, and retrofits ALL those auto making factories and uses the buildings to produce solar panels now. Sounds GREAT in theory. But as great as that SOUNDS to Murray Bookchin…what you end up DOING AGAIN is turning yourself into MERELY a conservationist of the status quo…because REGARDLESS of whether the factory is producing cars or solar panels…those solar panels are STILL being PRODUCED by a workforce of people that are being exploited in the name of profit and constant growth. It’s TOO superficial, it’s putting a BANDAID on a gaping wound and it deflects the TRUE social problem that may ACTUALLY lead to real progress in the world. This is a HALLMARK of Capitalism to Murray Bookchin. And this IMPERATIVE towards constant growth within capitalism. This desire to OUT COMPETE all of your fellow human beings…a structure to society where people are atomized and turned into OBJECTS rather than subjects. This NOT ONLY allows for PEOPLE to be VIEWED primarily AS these objects to be manipulated for the sake of whatever’s economically best for a society, but it ALSO puts people into a position where they have to be DIRECTLY AT ODDS with NATURE… if they EVER want to be able to make a living. You have to PARTICIPATE in whatever the company is DOING to the natural world JUST to be able to keep your job… and this TREATMENT of the natural world as simply a WAREHOUSE full of raw materials…this BLEEDS into the way that people view ecological issues OUTSIDE of work. In fact, what we DO primarily in modern western economies he says…is we take organic, LIVING beings in the natural world…and we process them into INORGANIC consumer goods. We take a TREE for example that’s been alive for hundreds of years and we process it down into toilet paper to cleanse our oh so sensitive butts with. We take trees and turn them into paper advertisements trying to get people to buy some OTHER product. Junk mail. Ironically if you just USE the junk mail AS toilet paper, at least it’d be getting SOME kind of use…sign me up for that service by the way! To Murray Bookchin…the thing the western world produces the MOST of he says.. is trash. Courtesy he says of again this constant imperative towards growth. Once people have been sedated with consumer culture, you know buying ALL KINDS of STUFF to make them feel temporarily good…well we NEED people to keep BUYING stuff to keep the ECONOMY going. We can’t have people just STOP BUYING stuff, guys. What are you DOING? So to Bookchin… what you GET are things like planned obsolescence. You buy a phone… and in a few years whether you’ve taken good care of it or not the mandatory SOFTWARE update makes your phone practically unusable…and it’s so annoying most people end up spending $500 on another one just to get ON with their life. A typical house today…is built out of materials and with construction that MAYBE is gonna last a few decades before it needs some MAJOR repairs…maybe a hundred years before it needs to be totally replaced. Again, the ECONOMY…NEEDS to keep going under capitalism. But what if…I mean IMAGINE…if we built things that were designed to last a long time. Like FAR BEYOND your lifetime. Something like a Gothic Cathedral that’s built to last thousands of years. Something like a good cast iron pan. The only WORLD… where people would see this kind of longevity as a BAD thing… is IN a world where things NEED to be constantly harvested, used up, spent and then sent to a landfill so that people can keep buying the NEXT thing made out of the organic, natural world. To Murray Bookchin…is there any point where we take a step back and ask what’s the END GAME HERE? I mean we have a seemingly INFINITE capitalist imperative towards growth… and a FINITE number of resources in the natural world. Isn’t it just CRAZY for someone to not expect this to go bad for us at some point? With the growing number of people looking around at what we’re doing and feeling weird about it…is that just a growing number of realists that actually want to ask what is CAUSING this ship to sink in the first place? Well there’s definitely RESPONSES to these sorts of questions. Common attitudes in today’s world, for example: uh, understand that capitalism’s always trying to grow…but are we just going to IGNORE the fact that technology is a thing? Are we gonna ignore that greater levels of technology will make it MORE efficient to harvest resources from the planet, and maybe even make it where we BARELY have to USE resources from the natural world at all? I mean more generally: hasn’t this ALWAYS been the story of humanity at OTHER points in time? Haven’t we before gotten to a place where it SEEMS like all the chips are stacked against us, but some genius invents something, technology comes along, and ends up saving us? Well this TYPE of thinking… is along the lines of ANOTHER common strategy in the modern world to get RID of our ecological problem…what Murray Bookchin often calls Futurism or the type of person ….who’s ALWAYS WILLING… to write off our environmental responsibility right now…and rely on some technojesus that’s hypothetically gonna save us all in the future at some point. Murray Bookchin would say look: you can ALWAYS SAY…that technology’s going to save us no matter how BAD things have gotten. But people have been saying that for decades and it HASN’T solved the problem yet. How long do we wait around until we start considering other options BESIDES technology? But no…no. To the people sufficiently COMMITTED to this religious savior relationship between us and technology… they will start to become what Murray Bookchin calls a futurist where IN THE 1970’s…FIFTY YEARS ago…Murray Bookchin talks about how QUICKLY these Futurists will will start talking about colonizing the moon or MARS as a solution to our environmental problems. They will talk about earth as though its a giant SPACESHIP as a metaphor. They’ll take the most advanced technology they can conceive of in their day… and just AMPLIFY it and talk about how the more POWERFUL version of this technology will solve all the ecological problems the world is creating… What they will talk about…is simply EXPORTING…the fundamentally flawed social institutions and relationship with nature…and shipping it off to ANOTHER planet where it can take hold there. Again the Futurist…becomes JUST LIKE the environmentalist…simply a CONSERVATIONIST of the status quo. They have effectively GIVEN UP on planet earth all around them. And as Bookchin says anybody coming from the perspective of a social ecologist just SEES this whole situation from a totally different perspective. To a social ecologist…it is NOT humanity’s job to be good STEWARDS of nature… or to just be good self-appointed MANAGERS of nature…to a social ecologist what we should be aiming for is to be living in HARMONY with nature. His REASONS for believing this come in PART from evolutionary biology…he says from the first time there was an amoeba…that amoeba had a certain WAY that it was to BE an amoeba. That amoeba RELIED on its environment to be able to live you know it needs to live in water for example. That Amoeba ADAPTED to its environment when that water changes temperature. And when you watch as life evolves over millions of years into more COMPLEX forms of life… the ADAPTATIONS that the lifeforms make in relation to their environments, start to become more complex as well. This process goes on long enough you start developing consciousness. Then you start to see intelligence emerge. Eventually animals like beavers… start to adapt in constructive ways they start to make dams. Chimpanzees will use sticks to get ants out of an anthill: in other words EVENTUALLY… what starts to evolve… is a CREATIVE capacity towards the creature’s environment…one that goes BEYOND just simply ADAPTING to your environment, to a type of existence where you start CREATING things and the point is: THIS is part of what we DO as human BEINGS! Now to be ENTIRELY CLEAR here: to Murray Bookchin the natural world was OBVIOUSLY not created exclusively FOR human beings. Don’t want ANYONE to misunderstand that. But what he DOES say is that when you consider the TYPE of creature we are, one that’s EVOLVED within an environment. And when you consider our CAPACITY to reason, and our ability to be self aware of the things we create and how they IMPACT the environment…even if this earth wasn’t MADE just for us…to Murray Bookchin to deny that we have a SPECIAL KIND of responsibility to the natural world is JUST to deny the type of CREATURES that we are. We ARE the type of creatures that intervene in the natural world. We HAVE to. The question is not WHETHER we should intervene. But HOW should we intervene in a way that is AS harmonious as possible. The PLACE our thinking should be STARTING from… is not how do we continue doing EXACTLY what we’re doing… but just do it in a way where it doesn’t spiral out of control so fast…the THING we should be ASKING is how do we find a way to COMPLIMENT, this delicate ecosystem that we are a part of? How do we use these big BRAINS that we have to find a way to GROW as lifeforms do, to NURTURE human potential and human spirit, but DO it in a way where we’re not DESTROYING the environment we need to survive in the process? This is a VERY different way of SEEING our place in the natural world. And what comes ALONG with that…if that was the way you saw things is a certain amount of RESPECT for the immediate environment that you’re living in. IF the earth is NOT just a warehouse full of resources that was put here for us to just make a bunch of stuff for people to be able to buy…then the earth NOW becomes something that you MORE see as…your home. Or your oikos to use a Greek term that Bookchin really liked. And when you consider the FUTURIST strategy that the goal is to get on a rocketship…leave the planet and have a clean start somewhere else…a social ecologist might ask: doesn’t ANY strategy of living in harmony with an environment that’s actually going to work…doesn’t that ultimately have to START from a place where this planet is your home, and that you LOVE this place and you want to find a way to preserve it because it MEANS something to you? Do we treat the planet like its a bathroom at a bus station where dudes are literally arcing their pee into the urinal from five feet back like they’re Steph Curry…because nobody really CARES about this bathroom everybody’s on their way to somewhere else that is ACTUALLY their home. If your ACTUAL home…where you live now…was a COMPLETE disaster area. Trash everywhere, nothing worked. Would you BE okay with the person you’re living with saying look: I get it place is dirty…but cleaning technology’s gonna come along ONE of these days. We’ll get AROUND to it sometime. See to Bookchin…a Futurist talks a big game about having these cosmic communities in space, these galactic villages where we’re all working together in harmony…but we don’t even have those sorts of harmonious communities on our OWN planet. What makes you think we’re gonna have them there? To Murray Bookchin…technology should NEVER be thought of as some sort of religious savior… or as something that allows us to write off our immediate responsibility to our environment…but what technology ABSOLUTELY should be thought of as…is something that ALWAYS, at any moment in history, has the ability to LIBERATE people and make human life a whole lot BETTER than what it is. This is one of the directions people will go in when they HEAR these sorts of ideas. That if what this dude’s saying…is that we all need to live in harmony with NATURE man. That what he MUST be saying that we all need to go back into the stone age, reject ANY progress that’s been made, and sleep on a pile of LEAVES you fashioned into a mattress on the floor of a cave somewhere. But again this is NOT what Bookchin is saying in fact: given how hardwired it sometimes seems to BE into human beings to just keep trying to make better and better stuff that makes people’s LIVES better…technology should be something we’re all CELEBRATING when it comes to making progress. But he’d say in PRACTICE…CELEBRATION…is NOT ALWAYS how it goes DOWN under a capitalist socio-economic model. To explain what he means take one of the most potentially world changing tech advances in the recent past…developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence… and ALL that may be possible if intelligence was something that could be automated at scale. Now REGARDLESS of whether artificial GENERAL intelligence ever becomes a real thing…when you consider JUST a conservative estimate of the types of jobs AI’s gonna be able to do better than a person within the next 50 years…people living…in an alternate UNIVERSE, where their EVERYDAY life ISN’T to just be a worker and consumer under capitalism…in that alternate universe those people might be taking to the streets REJOICING, throwing their hands up in the air, weeping. Confetti goes off behind them. Hooray! THANK YOU, technology. Because of you now MILLIONS OF PEOPLE won’t have to do these menial, boring, soul-draining jobs anymore…and now, just like at OTHER points throughout history, the average human life can NOW be something that looks VERY DIFFERENT than it did before. Maybe people will be able to spend more time with their families now…maybe they could get to know their neighbors, be a part of their immediate community…in this FANTASY world…if technology can FREE people up to do other things…then why WOULDN’T we use technology to get the necessary work done? But that’s NOT what goes on in a capitalist society. In OUR world…WE’RE seeing this EXACT SAME amazing breakthrough in technology, of AI…and instead of CELEBRATING…a LOT people are terrified. Terrified they’re going to be unemployed when AI replaces them. Sad that what they went to school for for years is now a body of knowledge that can be replaced by an app on your cellphone. Scared you’re going to go to school for something NOW that will be completely obsolete by the time you graduate. Why is such an INCREDIBLE technological breakthrough being SEEN as something that’s going to HURT people? To Murray Bookchin this could ONLY go on in the type of society where scarcity… is something that is enforced. He says 100 years ago scarcity was something that had to be endured. In today’s world it’s something that is enforced. What did he mean by that? Well, in theory…we HAVE the technology and the resources to be able to produce enough for EVERYONE on this planet where no one needs to be stuck on that sinking ship from before without a lifeboat. We HAVE the ability to TREAT our fellow human beings as though they’re an animal in this ecosystem that is WORTHY of respect. And yes, people in former societies had to ENDURE scarcity when there wasn’t enough food, shelter or medicine to go around for everyone. But in today’s world the ONLY thing stopping these basic resources from being distributed to people… is an ENFORCEMENT by a centralized authority that NEEDS scarcity to CONTINUE to EXIST…so that people will keep working and producing at an ever increasing rate, to be able to KEEP this economy GOING. An anarchist might ask: could this BE one of those MOMENTS in history we talked about at the beginning of the episode…where technology advances… and greater levels of liberty, equality and solidarity are POSSIBLE for the average person…and that we may get to a tipping point where enough people are looking AROUND them and have this very human URGE to BRING about a better world where people DON’T need to be as exploited as we’ve done in the past? So a totally REASONABLE question to ASK here…when you hear this sort of critique about SO MANY sweeping aspects of society…is to ask the question so what should we DO about it then Mr. Bookchin? Or as I like to call him: Uncle Murray. And the good thing about Uncle Murray is that he’s not shy at ALL about giving answers to that question…he’ll TELL YOU EXACTLY what he thinks needs to be done and it starts to sound similar to the federated network of communities that we talked about LAST episode. He is VERY MUCH a fan… of local community involvement in MULTIPLE different domains. He’s a fan of food cooperatives. Affinity groups. Non-hierarchical, voluntary, neighborhood associations, town meetings… In other words in a very BROAD sense…Murray Bookchin was a fan of the idea of starting SMALL where the people that are LIVING in a sick society like this can start to rediscover what it’s like to PARTICIPATE and have a RELATIONSHIP with other PEOPLE that is on a HUMAN level SCALE. See this is one of the big PROBLEMS to him with how society is currently set up. It’s too BIG. Our CITIES he said… have become nations and he says that when you go to New York City and you stand on top of the world trade center and you look out at the horizon…obviously his example didn’t age the best but his POINT is that when you’re in a high place and you look out at the horizon and it’s 40 miles across with a sprawling metropolis of millions of people between YOU and the horizon…how in the world… can ANY single person POSSIBLY hope to understand human life… at that scale? How can you be EVER informed enough to understand the problems of millions or BILLIONS? More than that: how can anyone…whose BEEN elected to GOVERN society at that scale, POSSIBLY COMPREHEND the level of BUREAUCRACY that’s required for a centralized authority to KEEP all those people well managed? No what Uncle Murray says is that much like every other creature in nature… that needs to learn to live within its immediate environment in a harmonious way…if we could start SMALL…JUST in our OWN COMMUNITIES…if we could JUST take responsibility for how OUR immediate SURROUNDINGS are…that might be one small step in the right direction towards a better world. See one small step at a time… is OKAY to a lot of revolutionary thinkers. In fact dare I say to MOST revolutionary thinkers at this point…incremental progress… may actually be the ONLY WAY. Nobody here is talking about some violent, bloody revolution that takes place over night. There’s good reason to believe that when it comes to anarchism… nothing even remotely like that could ever work in the real world…for many of the SAME reasons that Marxist revolutions haven’t worked out in the past. That you can’t take people that from the moment they are born are conditioned to see their life through the lens of being a worker and consumer, you know alienated labor at a company during the day, netflix at night to ease the pain…you can’t TAKE people from a culture like that’s like THAT…start a revolution one day, transplant them into a society where their life is completely different and then expect them to be a functional, happy person on the other side of it. Again, revolution to many thinkers NEEDS to be done slowly…because the ONLY way you ever bring ABOUT these sorts of ideas in a way that is enduring… is if the SENSIBILITY of the society changes to the point that a different structure is demanded from within. So when we’ve TALKED recently about the work of byung chul han and foucault and agamben and many others and the feeling at the end of the episodes can be one where it’s like: okay…the world’s obviously not a GREAT PLACE for everyone right now…CLEARLY what it is to be a PERSON on this planet can be better for a LOT more people out there. But how do we get that DONE? This is a social ecologist like Murray Bookchin saying that the TRUE underlying CAUSE of all that…has to do with our relationships to each other as people. That our SOCIAL problems…are in fact ECOLOGICAL problems as well. And that to FIX them INSTEAD of planting a little ficus repen on your kitchen counter, naming it Hubert and thinking that you and Hubert are saving the world together…maybe the more PRODUCTIVE way to fix some of these problems is to STOP thinking on the scale of HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of PEOPLE for a second…and instead take a page out of the book of an amoeba…start small…try for a bit JUST to heal the relationship you have with yourself and your immediate environment… then maybe try to expand that to your family, then into your community. I mean these local communities with a bottom up power structure CAN EXIST in the world RIGHT NOW if people wanted to build them. There’s nothing ILLEGAL about it. But to Uncle Murray, the ULTIMATE hope would be that as people participate in these communities, and rediscover what it’s like to actually BE involved in a decision making process, the hope would be that through entirely PEACEFUL methods, the SENSIBILITY of society would gradually change over time, and then at that point these communities could be in communication with each other, network together regionally, nationally and then maybe INTERNATIONALLY. The HOPE would be that this would PEACEFULLY turn into another one of these moments from history where people demanded this greater level of freedom, equality and solidarity for the structure of society more broadly. Now there were a LOT OF QUESTIONS sent in after last episode ASKING about how ANY of these bottom UP ways of organizing the world could EVER work in practice. There were some recurring ones…things like: How does an anarchist society protect itself if some other powerful country invades? How do you stop internal organizations from gaining influence among these communities and taking things over? How do we deal with crime in this world that you describe? What do we do if one of these little federated communities decides that THEIR mission statement that THEY hang up on the wall… is that hi we’re all murderers and rapists in THIS community, you gotta respect our RIGHTS! More than that people asked: When have any of these ideas ever worked well in the past ANYWAY? HAVE THEY? Is there ANY form of government that exists today that even remotely RESEMBLES ANY of this we’ve been talking about? These are not ONLY some of the most common questions I received after last episode…they’re some of the most common questions ASKED of anarchists because they’re the FIRST place an intelligent person’s brain GOES to when they HEAR these ideas for the first time. And because they’re among the most ASKED questions…they’re among the most ANSWERED questions by anarchists. We’re gonna hear the answers to these among other things…next episode. If you have any other burning questions that you’ve thought about since last time PLEASE send them my way. I’ll be reading the comments as usual. Thank you to everyone who participates like that by the way. Makes a conversation like this possible. Thank you for listening. Talk to you next time.

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