Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.
We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.
We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.
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Along with the pull towards independent media, there's also a marked divergence from the mainstream happening in publishing. Indie book clubs are springing up all over and the IndieBound bestseller list is more credible than the New York Times. But within this boundless group, there are networks sharing a common purpose. Right over in Oakland, the Anarchist Press has a remarkable array of writers, analysts, and researchers. I like my anarchy best in a clean, quiet space with a good cappuccino, but I never thought I'd find anarchy in a strip mall. Appearances can be deceiving, however. Capitola BookCafe, nestled between megastores, has gathered the most progressive line-up of speakers to be found south of the Bezerkley line.
Through them this past year, I've interviewed Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Righteous Porkchop, Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City, and my virgin interview, which was with Daniel Pinchbeck, author of 2012: Return of Quetzelcoatl and founder of Reality Sandwich. I've also met authors there who I've written about – Jerry Mander in The Superferry Chronicles, Chris Cleeve in To Bee a British Pound, Tracy Kidder in Apropos of Everything, and Peter Richardson of Ramparts in Radio is Community-Forming. Next Wednesday, this trajectory will peak with Amy Goodman. It's been quite a ride.
Having a radio show has been a way to add my voice to the conversation. But by hearing good radio, I've discovered the art of active listening. I don't mean that maddening psychology exercise where you parrot back, "I think that I hear you saying..." I mean getting up off your tush and moving around while you're listening. Illiterate peasants in the first century were far more sophisticated listeners than we are today, I've learned from Biblical researchers. They had prodigious memories, vivid imaginations, and the capability of understanding deep abstract concepts. We've been dumbed down by spoon-fed, pre-digested pablum on TV. But at least it's funny! The educational system takes all the flavor out and it still doesn't have any nutrition. The purpose of education, as far as I can tell, is to gradually increase the amount of time we're capable of sitting down until we can endure it all day, which we call work. To relax, we move our sitting from the chair to the sofa.
On Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed Philippe Diaz, Director of "The End of Poverty?" He gave the history of how poverty was created, by first taking the land. To continue his theme, there are two ways to make a slave – one is to take a person away from their land, and the other is to take the land away from a people. The latter is more lucrative because you don't have to pay traders or shipping costs, and impoverished people will compete against each other to be your slave. As a bonus, you get the resources.
[Democracy Now – Philippe Diaz on The End of Poverty?] http://www.democracynow.org/2009/11/10/filmmaker_philippe_diaz_on_the_end
Amy asks Philippe for the solution, and he gives three – agrarian reform, taxing property instead of consumption or labor, and de-growth. He describes the last as a mathematical problem of too many people for too few resources. I think, however, that one consumer sitting on their tush is an overpopulation by one. What we need is not de-growth but de-programming to undo our superiority to manual labor.
As Susan George points out in the film, the South is financing the North. They'd survive just fine without us, but we can't survive without them. Our access to slave labor is disappearing faster than easy crude oil.
We're already past the point of peak exploitation. To survive, we have to increase the time we spend really working – without a computer screen in sight. When we come back, we'll look at how all three of these concepts – media, press, and schooling – can work together to help us not only survive but thrive.
But first, let's hear some chimp poems. This is "Monkey Hill" by Stan Rice, and a Mary Oliver poem from a blog called "Touched by a Monkey."
The poems were "Monkey Hill" by Stan Rice, a blog post from AmazingSuperPowers.com, and "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver. The Touched by a Monkey blog tells us that Joe Biden read Wild Geese on the anniversary of 9-11. I also heard the poet David Whyte read it in Santa Cruz, repeating every line in his deep Irish brogue. I think my poems could get famous too if I had a deep Irish brogue.
Our topic today is how to connect independent media, press, and schooling to enable a self-educated generation, without debt, who knows how to work with their hands. My suggestion is for those of us who value independent media to partner with Cabrillo College to start a radio station. Its charter would be to take the best news and analysis available for free worldwide and rebroadcast these programs. It seems untenable that the rest of the world has better information about US actions and motives than we have here at home.
But we might also take the best of the alternative press and the blogosphere and turn them into radio programs. David Rovics has a new feature on his website called This Month in History and Song. He links to articles that he's written about – I had no idea how prolific that guy is. It would make an excellent weekly half-hour to read excerpts and play the related songs about the events. He also has a practical booklet called Sing for Your Supper: a DIY Guide to Playing Music, Writing Songs, and Booking Your Own Gigs. Music is one of the best ways to tell the hard truths and have them be heard. It would be great to have a class learning about global events and rhyme patterns at the same time. My friend Robin has a recording studio and teaches a class called Be In Your Own Band. He'd love to support some fledgling political songwriters.
When my daughter and I went to the Cabrillo College Career Fair, the Student Senate practically leaped on her when they found she was a president of the high school environmental club. I was impressed by the Senate's anarchist fervor to break the spine of the textbook cartel. They have a program to help students beg, borrow, and steal to avoid new texts. I'd like to go them one further though – can we get rid of the textbooks altogether? Lectures by world-renowned speakers are available for free on-line. I buy books on the chemistry of dirt and the origin of Satan and Georgist land reform and a history of salt. But when was the last time you bought a textbook?
We design classes around students who really don't want to be there, so maybe they shouldn't be there. Maybe they should be riding a bike in Wilder Ranch while listening to Dennis Kucinich on Democracy Now, when he learned something from Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake. She asked him why the Democrats don't play hardball and withhold their votes as a block over critical issues. Kucinich took the point and heard her. An education takes two – both of whom are willing to listen and learn. That's my definition of a good teacher.
Let's break for Howie Day with a song called Collide, because sometimes the world does need just another love song.
[Howie Day – Collide]
That was Howie Day with Collide. We're talking about the need for a local communications group with a global focus, which we're calling CHIMPS: Cruzans Hosting Independent Media, Press, and Schooling. But it's not just any global focus we want. The mindset of sovereignty could be summed up as "Justice Before Charity." Philippe Diaz adds the question mark to the Jeffrey Sachs book, The End of Poverty. Philippe critiques the mosquito net and fertilizer approach taken by international charities, USAID, and multinational companies, who are in bed together in a high-stakes ménage àtrois.
On the other hand, Dennis Kucinich recognized State sovereignty in his approach to healthcare reform. Seeing no chance to get single-payer passed Federally, his rider would have protected States from insurance company lawsuits if they instituted their own public option or single-payer plan. This was rejected by the administration, aka Obama. How does he justify this? State-funded solutions wouldn't cost the Federal government any more. Allowing lawsuits for unfair competition only serves the interests of insurance companies who want to keep a monopoly. Kucinich is spot-on in the power of sovereignty – one State demonstrating a viable plan would create an avalanche for the good.
The same process is true globally. Charity is a capitalist concept in which those with advantages bear the white man's burden to help those without. In "The End of Poverty?" the economist Susan George demonstrates that this inverts reality. She says,
So there's this drain. And I think people don't understand that it is actually the South that is financing the North. If you look at the flows of money from North to South and then from South to North, what you find is that the South is financing the North to the tune of about $200 billion every year."
Susan George is talking about debt repayment for the predatory loans that John Perkins reveals as precisely-aimed bullets to kill sovereignty. This number doesn't include the resource theft, or the products made by their labor. 40% of Mexicans in Mexico, for instance, work for US corporations. It's said that money, when it pours into an area, is a tide that floats all boats. But that's counter to the principles of investment. You put money in to extract more than you invested. So money is a flood intended to create drought, wash away the topsoil, and enslave a population through thirst. On the other hand, sovereignty is a tide that floats all boats. When one country or one State is able to demonstrate their ability to take care of themselves, every one else fighting for their own right of self-determination is strengthened.
If you asked a population of high school seniors to define sovereignty, how many could? In a well-known videobyte, George W. doesn't have a clue. He keeps fumbling around, repeating the word. In a previous episode I show that Wikipedia gives a definition that's both academic and imperialist. There's a reason they're one and the same. Universities are a ruling class education. Without someone to rule over, another class who does the grunt work, our schooling is absolutely useless. The college system creates artificial entitlement through arbitrary competition. By the time a student has gone through 17 to 21 years of assimilating this skewed version of reality, if they're somehow able to see the truth, debt is still a lethal bullet to their ability to do anything about it.
The most likely time that students could perceive this 500-lb gorilla in the room is before students go into debt and while they're still living at home. This makes the community college perfect in theory. But in last week's episode, we talked about Maya Frost's New Global Student. She sees a developmental need for a rite of passage, a coming-of-age experience that demarcates a child from an adult. The university experience simulates this, but is the worst of both worlds. Financially dependent kids live with all the trappings of independence, and with unnamed servants to cook, clean, fix, garden, and maintain their lifestyle. When I first moved out of the dorms, I remember being chided for going a month without changing a burnt-out light bulb. In my feeble defense, it had never occurred to me. Someone had always done it for me.
Today, as never before, we can understand the real world and how it got that way through independent radio programs, videos, and small press publications. We can create local communities with a common ground through independent radio stations, community TV, and like-minded bookstores. But we also need to grow a generation that isn't dependent, either on us or on consumerism. Students need low-cost exploration – home-stays, community college exchanges, and focused research that they can bring back home. Like Totnes, England, the home of the local currency. Spain, who gets 45% of their electricity from wind. Canada, an easy target for healthcare, but also with trade policies that have protected their ability to make things. Denmark and South Korea, excellent for WWOOFing – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Let's send our students on a noble quest to all the corners of the world, which are surely more than four. Go forth and tame the dragon of sustainable knowledge and ride it back here.
For Third Paradigm, this has been Tereza Coraggio. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for sound production, and to Mike Scirocco for the website. As a last story on chimps, the website boingboing.net reports that NASA has plans to irradiate spider monkeys to determine the effects of radiation on astronauts. Visit the website for the close-up of big trusting spider monkey eyes.
This one's for you, little guy – we go out with David Bowie and Space Oddity.
[David Bowie – Space Oddity]
Thank you for listening.