Swimming in flood tide: I need a
change of pace — or something

G.S.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>
February 5, 2006

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-02-05.htm

      My last two essays, the top two listed and linked to on the just-revised page, http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Latest.htm, got a fair number of replies from readers. That motivated me to try to post the resulting correspondance so that all of you can read it and, if you wish, join in the discussion. I included contact information so you can write each other directly. And it works! One example: a message from Wayne Cooke <wcooke648@aol.com> on Feb 3 says

It is wonderful to have your website connecting us. Because she is in my own Washington State, I contacted Candyce [Hawk <cjhawk@verizon.net>] by email, sent my [“Preparing for] 2010” [essay] for her comments, received good suggestions, and now am sending it ... for distributing on your website if you are willing. There may be a more direct way to do it, but at present this is the limit of my computer skills.

      In his essay Wayne argues that we (Americans) will have to build true local communities in order to survive in an environment where petroleum-based fuels become more and more costly. He advocates a variety of actions, among them as much local food cultivation as possible. He began a small “community garden” (not easy for a 76-year old retired teacher – I can assure you), and is working with his neighbors, trying to educate (and be educated by) them to consciously think about and then implement the development of local sustainability.[*]

Developing real one-on-one long-distance relationships
      Wayne is but one of the people with whom I’ve become acquainted primarily through the internet. He first wrote me in September 2005 (see his e-mail, numbered 6b, in http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-01-09com.htm). It’s not an exaggeration to say that in the course of a little over three months, and without ever having met face-to-face — though we have each seen a picture


Wayne’s account began, "The class was waiting tensely when I returned from my last-minute check with the weather Bureau, and when I said, "We can go!", a cheer broke loose that echoed down the hall. And so, last June, my sixth-graders set out upon an adventure that led them into a new world and that offered me my most rewarding teaching experience. Together, we climbed to the 10,000 foot level of Mt. Ranier.

of the other — we’ve gained a substantial degree of mutual trust. Obviously such trust didn't come without considerable effort on the part of each of us to make ourselves known to the other much more than superficially. In an essay, “Mutual Aid and Mutual Trust”, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Grass/Infra/Infra-5.htm , in the section ‘Building Mutual Trust’, I wrote about this difficult but essential task of our movement,
      . . .What we can do is to begin with ourselves in our own organizations, in our relationships with one another. The elementry unit of trust is trust between two people who, over a longer or shorter period of time, come to know each other well enough so that each has confidence in the truthfulness of the other. They both know that when they agree on something, it is truthful, not feigned, agreement. And when they disagree, it is honest disagreement.

Building mutual trust is basic for achieving our goal of creating a decent, humane society.

      I’m struck by experiencing the speed with which the internet allows me to establish and cement such long-distance relationships. Of course the effort to communicate thoughtfully and with sufficient thoroughness is still necessary, and that could be done also with old-fashioned postal letters, and sometimes was, but the rapidity now possible is impressive. Obviously I’m a believer in the value of writing, despite the time and effort it requires. I am convinced that nothing worthwhile, such as relationships of trust, can be achieved without considerable effort and commitment.

      If we begin to use this high-speed internet communication effectively and on a large scale for true person-to-person contact, it will open a tremendous possibility: we will gain the ability to organize globally without so much long-distance travelling. The great gap between, on the one hand, the time and enormous effort and resources expended in travelling long distances to participate in mammoth movement events and, on the other hand, the (by comparison) relatively meagre efforts and resources used for building the local parts of the global grassroots infrastructure can be much reduced. I believe that a good deal of the travelling is of doubtful value in terms of its contribution to social transformation, a separate point that I’ll return to in a later article.

Can a blog help me keep afloat?
      Hard to know. I’ve never had one. And I’m hesitant to jump to supposed technological “solutions” to problems that might be better resolved in other ways. But I think I’m going to try a blog, in addition to maintaining this website, and see how it works out. If it succeeds in reducing the effort I must make, while allowing me to continue stimulating correspondence among the readers — so-called “horizontal communication” — that’ll be great, and I’ll stick with it. My goal is to get as close to unmediated horizontal contacts as possible while avoiding the flood of worthless ‘smart-ass’ quips that some ‘jerks’ put up on truly open sites. Some thoughts on this dilemma are in my exchange with Tony Troughton-Smith <tts@iinet.net.au> (see the e-mails, numbered 1b. and 1c., in http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-01-09com.htm), one of several people who suggested the possibility of a weblog..

      In the meantime, my last e-mail distribution, together with a couple of responses I got, follows immediately after the Note.

Note
[*] Wayne Cooke's essay, “Preparing for 2010: A summary of published information relating to the impact on our lives of ‘peak oil’ and future gasoline shortages.” It begins:
      Mary looked at me suspiciously as I told her that petroleum, not only in the form of gasoline for our cars and trucks and planes, but also used in plastics and agriculture, is starting to run short. "But gas prices have been going down for two weeks now", she stated quietly. Obviously, I must have a screw loose. "They might stay down all winter", I agreed, hoping to suggest that the immediate present, November of 2005, was not what I meant. In a few years, let's say 2010, some permanent changes to our accustomed ways of living will have become apparent. But Mary is right. There is plenty right now. Oil companies are pumping oil out of the ground as fast as they ever have or ever will be able to again. They already worry about meeting the rising world demand. For the first time, they see indications that they are approaching, for practical purposes, the bottom of their most dependable oil reservoirs. Who tells us this?

      Simmons and Associates is one of the largest petroleum investment firms in the world. Matthew Simmons is founder and CEO. This top expert is telling the world in numerous speeches and in his new book, Twilight in the Desert, that the biggest oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are starting to seriously decline, and that the Saudi estimates of reserves are not believable. His book, along with several others I've read, all point to the same conclusion.

      For the complete article, write Wayne Cooke <wcooke648@aol.com>, who can e-mail it to you. .


America über alles
Announcing a new posting
February 1, 2006

Readers’ comments and more letters on article:

Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta
get the world straightened out

‘reply’ page at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-12-18com.htm


      “ . . .We spent some thirty billions of treasure, and a hundred thousand young lives, to put down the German autocracy; being told, and devoutly believing, that we were thereby banishing from the earth a certain evil thing known as Kultur. It was not merely a physical thing, the drilling of a whole population for the aggrandizement of a military caste; it was a spiritual thing, a regimen of autocratic dogmatism. The best expression of it upon which I have come in my readings is that of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Prussian philosopher and apostle of Nationalism; I quote two sentences, from a long discourse: ‘To compel men to a state of right, to put them under the yoke of right by force, is not only the right but the sacred duty of every man who has the knowledge and the power . . . He is the master, armed with compulsion and appointed by God.’ I ask you to read those sentences over, to bear them in mind as you follow chapter after chapter of this book; see if I am not right in my contention that what we did, when we thought we were banishing the Goose–step from the world, was to bring it to our own land, and put ourselves under its sway — our thinking, and, more dreadful yet, the teaching of our younger generation.’”

     “ . . .Our educational system is not a public service, but an instrument of special privilege; its purpose is not to further the welfare of mankind, but merely to keep America capitalist. To establish this thesis is the purpose of The Goose–Step.” [emphasis added –G.S.]

—Upton Sinclair, The Goose–Step: A Study
of American Education, 1923

Sinclair had it right. Another hero in my truth-tellers roster.


To those who replied (actually only two people), I wrote:
      I appreciate your responses, and would like to post them, both because of their possible interest to others on my e-mail distribution list and as a way of encouraging more direct contact among like-minded (and even contrary-minded) individuals. It's part of my effort to contribute to a really unmediated grassroots communications network, which inclusion of your e-mail addresses makes possible. Let me know if you don't want your note posted. And many thanks for writing.
1. Subject: Re: A new posting by George: Readers’ replies to Bleed the Monster
From: Mark Lance <lancem@georgetown.edu>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 07:06:02 -0500

George:
Great to hear from you, thanks for writing, and sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been checking out your postings and really enjoying them. Great to know of another kindred spirit. A few things I’ve written are at http://www.homepage.mac.com/abuemma. I have never spent the time to create a decent web page, but this has a bunch of stuff, both academic and activist oriented.

Seems that I keep meeting radical physicists. ... [W]hen ... at Syracuse, it seemed like 2/3 of the physics and astronomy departments were marxists or anarchists.

Anyway, thanks for getting in touch. Let me know if you are ever in DC.
Yours,
Mark


2a. Subject: Re: A new posting by George: Readers’ replies to Bleed the Monster
From: Grey Brechin <gbrechin@berkeley.edu>
Date:Wed, 1 Feb 2006 06:24:15 -0600

Great quote from one of the best of the brilliant Upton Sincalir’s books, another being his pioneering study of media corruption, The Brass Check. It reminded me of Lewis Mumford’s 1970 book, The Pentagon of Power. Here's what he had to say in the chapter “The Nazi Contribution:”

“So far, then, from the megamachine’s being utterly discredited by the colossal errors of its ruling elite,’ the opposite actually happened: it was rebuilt by the Western allies on advanced scientific lines, with its defective human parts replaced by mechanical and electronic and chemical substitutes, and finally coupled to a source of power that made all previous modes of power-production as obsolete as Bronze Age missiles. In short, in the very act of dying the Nazis transmitted the germs of their disease to their American opponents: not only the methods of compulsive organization or physical destruction, but the moral corruption that made it feasible to employ these methods without stirring opposition.”

Mumford died in 1990: I’m glad he didn’t live to see his bleak prophecy so monstrously borne out.


2b. Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 05:45:06 -0600

You have my permission to post mine. I wish more people would read Mumford who foresaw where our present gadget-obsession would lead. He called it “the technologic bribe:” I'm using one of its great seducers now, as are you.


All comments and criticisms are welcome.    <<george.salzman@umb.edu>>

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