notes from the ever-emerging field
Education is not knowledge. Nor is it the necessary means to acquire knowledge. Knowledge may arise just as readily from everyday life. Education is the organization of knowledge within the constraints of scarcity, under the sign of property. Educations turns the subjects who enter into its portals into objects of their class power, Functional elements who have internalized its discipline. Education turns those who resist its objectification into known and monitored objects of other regimes of objectification - the police and the soft cops of the disciplinary state. Education produces the subjectivity that meshes with the objectivity of commodified production. One may acquire an education, as if it was a thing, but one becomes knowledgeable through a process of transformation. Knowledge, as such, is only ever partially captured by education. Knowledge as a practice always eludes and exceeds it. “There is no property in thought, no proper identity, no subjective ownership.
It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.
I am here because you see in me the promise, the promise that we made two hundred years ago in this city - the promise kept. We have kept it, on Anarres. We have nothing but our freedom. We have nothing to give you but our freedom. We have no law but the single principle of mutual aid between individuals. We have no government but the single principle of free association. We have no states, no nations, no presidents, no premiers, no chiefs, no generals, no bosses, no bankers, no landlords, no wages, no charity, no police, no soldiers, no wars. Nor do we have much else. We are sharers, not owners. We are not prosperous. None of us is rich. None of us is powerful. If it is Anarres you want, if it is the future you seek, then I tell you that you must come to it with empty hands. You must come to it alone, and naked, as the child comes into the world, into his future, without any past, without any property, wholly dependent on other people for his life. You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself. You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.
You could say that the commons constitutes the great invisible sector of the economy and human society. Or as Illich would have put it, the commons is vernacular culture at work. It’s important to stress that the commons is not a resource. It’s a resource plus a community plus that community’s particular rules and norms for managing the resource. You could say that the commons is a socio-ecological-political-cultural paradigm and worldview.
Let me also stress that the commons movement is not a utopian or ideological project. Nor is it about conventional politics or public policy. The commons is mostly about building working systems for meeting everyday needs outside of the market and state. It is practically minded and reality-based. It is a grassroots, do-it-yourself, take-charge-of-our-future kind of movement. Commoners are determined to open up new social and political spaces in which people can make their own rules, negotiate their own governance, and craft solutions that are tailored to their local circumstances.
These nomads chart their courses by strange stars, which might be luminous clusters of data in cyberspace, or perhaps hallucinations. Lay down a map of the land; set a map of political change; over that, a map of the Net, especially the counter-Net with its emphasis on clandestine information-flow and logistics- and finally, over all, the 1:1 map of the creative imagination, aesthetics, values. The resultant grid comes to life, animated by unexpected eddies and surges of energy, coagulations of light, secret tunnels, surprises.
As a group moves into emptiness, a few of its members begin to share their own brokenness - their defeats, failures, doubts, fears, inadequacies and sins. They begin to stop acting as if they “had it all together” as they reflect on those things they need to empty themselves of. But the other members generally do not listen to them very attentively. Either they revert to attempts to heal or convert the broken members or else they ignore them by quickly changing the topic. Consequently those who have made themselves vulnerable tend to retreat quickly into their shells. It is not easy to confess your weakness when others are apt to try immediately to change you or else behave as if you haven’t said anything worth listening to.
Sometimes the group by itself will come to recognize that it is blocking expressions of pain and suffering - that in order to truly listen they have to *truly* empty themselves, even of their distaste for “bad news.” If they don’t, it becomes necessary for me to point out to its members that they are discouraging the sharing of brokenness. Some groups will then immediately correct their callousness. But other groups toward the end of the stage of emptiness will wage their final last-ditch struggle against community. Typically, there will be a spokesman who will say, “Look, I have my own burdens at home. There’s no need to pay good money and spend a weekend just to take on more burdens. I’m all for this community business, but I don’t see why we have to focus so much on negative things all the time. Why can’t we talk about the good things, the things we have in common, our successes instead of our failures? I’d like this to be a joyful experience. What’s the point of community if it can’t be joyful?”
Basically this final resistance is an attempt to flee back into pseudocommunity. But here the issue at stake is no longer whether individual differences will be denied. The group has moved too far for that. Instead the struggle is over wholeness. It is over whether the group will choose to embrace not only the light of life but also life’s darkness. True community *is* joyful, but it is also realistic. Sorrow and joy must be seen in their proper proportions.
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got. And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever. And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives. And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
The hacker class, being numerically small and not owning the means of production, finds itself caught between a politics of the masses from below and a politics of the rulers from above. It must bargain as best it can, or do what it does best - hack out a new politics, beyond this opposition. In the long run, the interests of the hacker class are in accord with those who would benefit most from the advance of abstraction, namely those productive classes dispossessed of the means of production - farmers and workers. In the effort to realize this possibility the hacker class hacks politics itself, creating a new polity, turning mass politics into a politics of multiplicity, in which all the productive classes can express their virtuality.
The hacker interest cannot easily form alliances that subordinate minority differences to unity in action. Mass politics always run the danger of suppressing the creative, abstracting force of the interaction of differences. The hacker interest is not in mass representation, but in a more abstract politics that expresses the productivity of differences. Hackers, who produce many classes of knowledge out of many classes of experience, have the potential also to produce a new knowledge of class formation and action when working together with the collective experience of all the productive classes.
Waves of mycelial networks intersect and permeate through one another. This interspersing of mycelial colonies is the foundation of soils worldwide. Although seemingly undifferentiated under the microscope, the ability of fungi to respond to natural disasters and sudden changes in the environment are a testimonial to their inherent intelligence. I believe that mycelia are Earth’s natural Internet, the essential wiring of the Gaian consciousness. The recent creation of the computer Internet is merely an extension of a successful biological model that has evolved on this planet for billions of years. The timing of the computer Internet should not be construed as a happenstance occurrence. Sharing intelligence might be the only way to save an endangered ecosystem. The planet is calling out to us. Will we listen in time? The lessons are around us. Will we learn?
We see in order to move; we move in order to see.
page 1 of 21