Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cramming it all in: A Revolutionary Weekend

Some of the great anarchist writers say the best way to bring the revolution is to live as far as possible as if it already has come; we also talk about the Kingdom of God in a similar way, for when we live in harmony with God and our neighbors, we begin to create an image of the world as it is meant to be.  This last weekend, I felt like we were living the revolution.

First of all, after a tutorial from my friend at 522 South 2nd, I ventured upon the excitement of canning!  It took me all weekend, and assistance from another dear friend who was in from New York (thanks L.), but at the end I had six jars of jam (raspberry and strawberry-rhubarb), six pints of pizza sauce, and three jars of pickles.  Not all the ingredients were from my garden, but some were, and I learned a lot about the process.  At this point it appears all my seals "took," and I'm excited to have preserved some local produce from summer's bounty for the long winter.  I'll be slightly--only slightly--less dependent on large conglomerated, capitalizing food chains, enjoying the fruits of local labor into the summer.  So far I've only tried the jam, but it is delicious.  The pickles need to brine for 4-6 weeks before they are ready.

When I wasn't canning, we attended several--several--social events.  Most of them involved planning the revolution.  I would say more if I could.  ;-)  We enjoyed a great dinner with new friends (and way too much ino) and other good times with friends of longer stature (with way too much beer and tequila).  There was plotting.  And a lot of anger at Brownback.  I drank mate with the aforementioned lovely lady from New York, met local activists of many years' standing in the community, and plotted.  Someday the turning will come, oh yes. After canning and mate and wine and libraries, I do feel that someday, some humans somewhere will be capable of participating in a more just world.

Naturally, that world is not this one; it's just come out that the $31 million grant from the feds that Brownback turned down was actually going to help revamp the state's Medicare system.  It's really important that people in disadvantaged economic situations don't get healthcare, don't you know, or they might continue living and being a drain on the economy.  There is nothing further I can say about this using polite language.

On calmer notes, we've been watching a couple of space operas recently:  Star Trek TNG and Firefly.  I watched Firefly first, and didn't really see how it interacted wtih the genre until we started watching Star Trek.  Overall, I'd characterize both as revolutionary shows, but the elder is primarily socialist, the younger anarchist.   

Star Trek shows a future world where all humans live together in harmony and acknowledge that every person has a right to basic needs.  People of all genders, races, creeds, ages, and socioeconomic origins (well, and bio-human origins--love you Data) have access to high-level careers in a meritocracy conceived in a design to bring mature happiness to all citizens.  Not only is the larger society utopian, but the community created on the Enterprise is so close and kind that visitors often want to join it.  

Firefly, on the other hand, shows a dystopic world where a central bureaucracy tries to control the universe; the starship Serenity exists in the interstitial spaces where that control can't quite find them (certainly an aspect of anarchist space).  The group is more of an affinity group than the crew of the Enterprise in that they are bound by a criminal code; they're not exactly careerists, but fighting for survival against an unsympathetic system. 

Captain Picard rules, not without kindness; but his orders are absolute, and while he will listen to suggestions and can be moved by reason, crew members can override his authority only in very specific situations.  The series confirms his suitability to lead by showing how developed his decision-making skills are.  The authority structure on Serenity, alternatively, is a farce--Mal gives orders, but his crew often overrides them or modify by the skin of their teeth.

Even though I like the philosophy of Firefly more, I enjoy watching Star Trek more--the sense of security is more what I expect from a TV show than the constant terror and edginess of Firefly.  I suppose it is sensible to prefer a utopic future to a feudalized universe with cruel cannibalistic barbarians on the edge, regardless of the specific revolutionary tendencies of each society.  I guess this is an issue of if there can be leadership and expertise in an anarchist society--or more specifically if all leadership and expertise must lead to oppression. 

Something to ponder while I return to my lovable students, who I think act  up worse when I am in the room than when I slip out for a second--their natural love of self-order emerging in those moments apart.

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