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The View From the “Down” Handbasket

Dave Pollard, author of The Sweet Spot: The Natural Entrepreneur’s Guide to Responsible, Sustainable, Joyful Work on his blog “how to save the world” has what he calls Preparing for Collapse: The New Political Map. It is an interesting taxonomy of the varieties of political animals roaming around in this pre-collapse epoch. (h/t Dicey Troop for the map)

An antique world map

A new "map" visualizing activist groups inspires thoughts of the difficult path ahead.

Forget the old political struggles. The major struggle of ideas right now is between those who think global civilizational collapse is inevitable and those who who think that global civilization either can be or will be reformed and saved. The key difference between the two is whether humans can avoid suffering the collapse. The major struggle in practice is between those who advocate individualistic strategies and those who advocate social strategies.

He treats them in order, and the names of the positions are pretty self-explanatory. Here is the list:

A. Deniers
B. Rapturists
C. Globalists and Shock Doctrine Randians
D. Technotopians, neo-environmentalists, and post-humanists
E. Integrals and reprogrammers
F. Humanists, Occupy movements, metamovements, and human consciousness movements
G. Transition movements and the resilience movement
H. Deep green activists
I. Communitarians
J. Existentialists and dark mountaineers
K. Neo-survivalists

It’s a very helpful map that can be used in several different ways. You can map groups and organizations to the category. You can map authors or current social and political works to the categories. You can map your commitments to the categories. You can map your moods through the day, week, or year to the categories.

One of the recurring questions in comments is what exactly to do, what is the plan, what agency do we have as individuals in the face of the current seemingly ever-worsening crisis. That as it turns out is a difficult question and subject to howls of derision from anyone not currently in the same category as you on the political map. So of course, folks are reluctant to engage in more than another round or two of exploring the awfulness.

One of the places I shop often is a thrift store operated by a rescue mission. The books placed on their freebie shelves are often worth taking. This past week I picked up Mitchell Cohen and Dennis Hale, The New Student Left, an anthology of New Left tracts and articles that was published in 1966 and republished by Beacon Press in 1967. The earliest writing is from 1960; the latest from 1965. And, yes, it of course includes excerpts from the Port Huron Statement of 1962. The following are some excerpts that spoke to me about our current condition and how there are a lot of elements unchanged from 47-53 years ago:

CommunityMy FDL

The View from the “Down” Handbasket

Dave Pollard, author of The Sweet Spot: The Natural Entrepreneur’s Guide to Responsible, Sustainable, Joyful Work on his blog “how to save the world” has what he calls Preparing for Collapse: The New Political Map. It is an interesting taxonomy of the varieties of political animals roaming around in this pre-collapse epoch. (h/t Dicey Troop for the map)

An antique world map

A new "map" visualizing activist groups inspires thoughts of the difficult path ahead.

Forget the old political struggles. The major struggle of ideas right now is between those who think global civilizational collapse is inevitable and those who who think that global civilization either can be or will be reformed and saved. The key difference between the two is whether humans can avoid suffering the collapse. The major struggle in practice is between those who advocate individualistic strategies and those who advocate social strategies.

He treats them in order, and the names of the positions are pretty self-explanatory. Here is the list:

A. Deniers
B. Rapturists
C. Globalists and Shock Doctrine Randians
D. Technotopians, neo-environmentalists, and post-humanists
E. Integrals and reprogrammers
F. Humanists, Occupy movements, metamovements, and human consciousness movements
G. Transition movements and the resilience movement
H. Deep green activists
I. Communitarians
J. Existentialists and dark mountaineers
K. Neo-survivalists

It’s a very helpful map that can be used in several different ways. You can map groups and organizations to the category. You can map authors or current social and political works to the categories. You can map your commitments to the categories. You can map your moods through the day, week, or year to the categories.

One of the recurring questions in comments is what exactly to do, what is the plan, what agency do we have as individuals in the face of the current seemingly ever-worsening crisis. That as it turns out is a difficult question and subject to howls of derision from anyone not currently in the same category as you on the political map. So of course, folks are reluctant to engage in more than another round or two of exploring the awfulness.

One of the places I shop often is a thrift store operated by a rescue mission. The books placed on their freebie shelves are often worth taking. This past week I picked up Mitchell Cohen and Dennis Hale, The New Student Left, an anthology of New Left tracts and articles that was published in 1966 and republished by Beacon Press in 1967. The earliest writing is from 1960; the latest from 1965. And, yes, it of course includes excerpts from the Port Huron Statement of 1962. The following are some excerpts that spoke to me about our current condition and how there are a lot of elements unchanged from 47-53 years ago.

The radical style [in contrast to the dogmatic style], on the other hand, takes as its presupposition Dewey’s claim that we are free to the extent that we know what we are about. Radicalism as style involves penetration of a social problem to its roots, its real causes. Radicalism presumes a willingness to continually press forward the query: Why? Radicalism finds no rest in its conclusions; answers are seen as provisional, to be discarded in the face of new evidence or changed conditions. This is, in one sense, a difficult mental task and, in a more profound moral sense, it represents a serious personal decision to be introspective, to be exposed always to the stinging glare of change, to be willing to reconstruct our social views…In its harshest condensation, radicalism of style demands that we oppose delusions and be free. It demands that we change our life. — Thomas Hayden, “Letter to the New (Young) Left”, 1961

Tom Hayden, when he wrote those words was 22 years old. Can you pardon some of the romanticism that the hard realities of the 1960s knocked away?

Our work is guided by the sense that we may be the last generation in the experiment with living. — The Port Huron Statement, adopted by Students for a Democratic Society, 1962

And yet, here we are alive followed by a new generation with that same sense.

We are citizens before we are partisans. If our immediate success is not built upon friendship, it is bad art. If our community is robustly concerned with the common good, even the immediate success of bad artists will be less likely. But if bad artists should reach high office, our art will have constructed a community that can endure beyond their caprice. Our first concern is with our community. We are needed. We need each other. — Christopher Reiner, “Politics as an Art: The Civic Vision”, 1962

I would argue that at this moment we need to have another discussion about politics as an art. We are forever bring the arts into our expression of politics–from posters to music. What does it mean to consider politics as a performance art–to get beyond the sterility of stale kabuki.

Here is the real contradiction. The bureaucrats hold history as ended. As a result significant parts of the population both on campus and off are dispossessed, and these dispossessed are not about to accept this a-historical point of view. It is out of this the the conflict has occurred with the University bureaucracy and will continue to occur until it is clear that the University can not function.

The things we are asking for in our civil rights protest have a deceptively quaint ring. We are asking for the due process of law. We are asking for our actions to be judged by committees of our peers. We are asking that regulations ought to be considered as arrived at legitimately only from the consensus of the governed. These phrases are all pretty old, but they are not being taken seriously in America today, nor are they being taken seriously on the Berkeley campus. — Mario Savio, “And End to History”, December 1964

Most of the anthology is taken up with documents from the civil rights movement, and especially from the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and SDS’s Economic Research and Action Project. The appendix contains additions in the 1967 edition pertinent to the anti-war movement:

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