Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Notes to a friend after meeting.

First - know that you are whole, that what appears to be lack or absence is the universe calling you to  discover your wholeness. That universe is inside you, as my teacher Prem Rawat said "What you are looking for is within inside of you".

Our needs are the parts of our self wanting to be re-united with each other into one whole. But they were never really separated. The key is not to fight the feelings that are indicating something is wrong. That's hard since it is usually because we are in pain that we think something is wrong. And of course something is wrong but not the feeling we are trying to rid ourselves of. If we stay with the feeling it is my experience that it will take us to where we need to go, to some shift or some insight that will bring us closer to who we really are. It means braving the pain and making a supreme effort to stay with it, without rationalising it away.

Argentina - Blockade against Monsanto

Our responses to existential threats

Anna says:
I found this map really helpful in organising thinking around feelings that come and go, and I take the overall intent to be supporting a resilience in the coming onslaught, a coping strategy. One element missing for me is fear. As recently expressed in conversation between Ken Wilbur and Diana Musho-Hamilton fearless implies including fear, not denying it.
In Carlos Castenada’s last book before he died, The Active Side of Infinity, he speaks about the emptiness of his teacher, an emptiness that reflects infinity rather than negation. It is undeniable that we are in the grip of forces that are beyond our control. Whatever our good intentions there is a movement happening towards an end/beginning that we cannot see. And it is scary, and thrilling.
I see the map as an attempt to ‘get a grip’, an anthropomorphic model, picturing us as being sucked back towards ‘normalcy’, the familiar, in an attempt to block infinity out of the picture. The understanding of ‘life’ as in life enhancing or life eroding needs to be exploded in order to allow in the uncertainty and ungraspable nature of our experience.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Unconditional Basic Income

What Is Basic Income?
The emancipatory Unconditional Basic Income is defined by the following four criteria:
universal, individual, unconditional, high enough to ensure an existence in dignity and participation in society.
An Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) or Citizen's Income is a guaranteed income, given to all in addition to any other income they might receive. By advancing equality and economic participation while enabling simpler welfare systems, UBI leads to a fairer and more efficient society.

Peer to Peer Production as the Alternative to Capitalism: A New Communist Horizon By Jakob Rigi

The current crisis of capitalism has provoked protests, revolts and revolutions in major parts of the planet that include 3 billions of inhabitants. Even the mainstream Time Magazine made “The Protester” the person of the year. The caption on Time’s cover reads: From the Arab Spring To Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to Moscow. China, Chile, Spain, England, Italy, India, Israel, Iran and France, among many other places, can be added to Time’s hotbeds of recent social protests.
The protest movements have put alternatives to capitalism on the historical agenda (Hardt and Negri, 2011). This article argues that a section of knowledge workers have already created a new mode of production termed Peer to Peer Production (P2P) which is a viable alternative to capitalism. Although still in its emerging phase and dominated by capitalism, P2P clearly displays the main contours of an egalitarian society. The very fact that sections of P2P activists and ICT workers are also actively involved in the current protests may work as a good catalyst in connecting P2P to these movements.
In P2P production, producers collectively produce goods through voluntary participation in a de-centered, network-based production system. Volunteers choose the tasks they perform; the amount of time they spend on collective production; the place and time of their productive activity. In term of distribution, anyone in the world can use the products for free according to their own needs, regardless of their contribution (Benkler, 2006). This mode of production is very similar to what Marx (1978 a, 1978b) described as advanced communism. Therefore, it has also been called cyber communism (Kleiner, 2010; Barbrook, 2007; Moglen, 2003).

P2P and Marx’s advanced phase of communism

As the history of the contemporary P2P mode of production has already been written (Söderberg, 2008; Raymond, 200; Weber, 2004) I pause here only briefly on two defining moments of this history, namely the invention of the GPL (General Public License) and Free Software (FS) by Richard Stallman in 1984 and the invention of the system of online voluntary collective cooperation by Linus Torvalds in 1991.
Stallman created the Free Software Foundation by releasing a code under a license he termed the General Public License (GPL). The GPL guaranteed four freedoms: running the program for any purpose; studying and customizing the program; redistributing copies either for free or for a reasonable price; and changing and improving the program. Stallman included the so called “copyleft” clause in the GPL. According to this clause any code that would include a component that was derived from a GPL licensed code must be also released entirely under a GPL license. Copyleft is a dialectical negation of copyright, because it simultaneously preserves and abolishes copyright (Stallman, 2002).
The significance of the GPL lies in the fact that it formulated for the first time in the history of humanity an all-inclusive global property right. Commons have existed since the inception of humanity in various forms and among various civilizations (Marx, 1965; Polanyi, 1992; Ostrom, 1990). But all of them, except commons of knowledge, have always been territorialized, belonging to particular communities, tribes, or states. Hence, as a rule, outsiders were excluded. The GPL created a globally de-territorialized, almost all-inclusive commons. It only excluded those users who would refuse to release their own products under the GPL license. The GPL has been modified in the formof Open Source Software (OSS) in order to accommodate commercial interests. This new protocol only obliges users to release under a GPL license those components of their products which are derived from GPL-licensed products. The owner can keep other components as a private property. Whether OSS is a corruption of GPL or facilitates the expansion of P2P is a matter of debate between Stallman and his followers, on the one side, and the proponents of OSS, on the other (Raymond, 2001, Weber, 2004).
For the purpose of this article I concentrate only on GPL, because it represents the gist of the new global and universal commons of knowledge. Most forms of knowledge have been universal commons. Merton (1979) argued that science requires a communist form of production and distribution. Although there had been exceptions to this rule (shamans, magician, priests and artisans, among others, tried to keep their knowledge secret or transfer it only to select individuals), it was capitalism and its concomitant regimes of copyrights and patents that systematically fenced forms of knowledge that could yield profit (Boyle, 1996). As knowledge became a major factor of informational capitalism a draconian copyright regime grew dramatically (Lessig, 2005 ). The GPL/GNU pioneered a juridical-productive strategy for producing global commons of knowledge and protecting them against the invasion by capitalism. In this sense, Stallman’s initiative was a major milestone in the struggle of knowledge workers against informational capitalism (Söderberg, 2008).
It was, however, Linus Torvalds who took this local development to the global level by making full use of the distributive potential of the Internet. The production of Linux was truly a revolution in the organization of cooperation among a large number of producers. Marx argued that any scientific knowledge was a product of collective work (Marx, 1981: 199 ), as each scientist built upon the achievements of previous ones. But this collective aspect of science was not a result of conscious and simultaneous cooperation among scientists but of contingent transfer of knowledge along a time and space axis. Torvald’s invention, by using the Internet, transcended barriers of time and space. Therefore, it made simultaneous, conscious, voluntary, coordinated and global cooperation among a large number of producers possible. The combination of GPL license with the Linux mode of cooperation represents the gist of the P2P mode of production, which coincides with the general principles of advanced form of communism, described by Marx.
1) There will be no equivalence, between each individual’s contribution to social production and their share from the total social products. They will contribute according to their ability and will use products according to their needs. Money as the quantitative measure of value will disappear (Marx, 1978b). Money does not play any role in internal P2P system, though it still constitutes its external context and inserts pressure on it.
2) In Marx’s advanced communism the division of labor, and with it the state and market vanish (Marx, 1978 a, b). In P2P the division of labor is replaced by the distribution of labor (Weber, 2004) and the logics of state and market are questioned (see below).
3) Advanced communism, Marx (1978a) envisaged, would transcend alienation not only by abolishing the logic of quantitative equivalence in the realm of exchange between individual and society, and among individuals, and the division of labor, but also by allowing and enabling individuals to use socially produced means of production to materialize their own creative powers. My ethnographic findings show that creativity and peer recognition are among the strongest motivations of P2P producers (see also Weber, 2004). Söderberg (2008) shows how P2P creativity transcend alienation.
At this point we can raise the following questions:
1-Is P2P really a new historical mode of production, or just an appendage to the capitalist mode of production?
2-What is its relation to the capitalist mode of production?
3-To what extent can P2P be applied to material production?
4-What are the possibilities that it will replace or displace the capitalist mode of production altogether?

P2P as a new historical mode of production

Let us sketch briefly Marx’s concept of mode of production (Marx, 1978c). Production is a process in which humans produce pre-designed goods. These goods can be material, such as bread; services such as care and education; or information and knowledge, such as software. The forces of production consist of humans, their knowledge and skills, the instruments they use, the material they act upon, and other material conditions of the production, such as energy, buildings, etc. Relations of production are “definite” and “indispensable” relations among humans which correspond to the material stage of productive forces. Property relations are legal expressions of the relations of production. A mode of production is the totality of forces of production and relations of production together.
The P2P production productive forces correspond to what Manuel Castells (2010/1996:70-72) defines as the Information Technological Paradigm (ITP). The all-encompassing ITP emphasises informal networking, flexibility, and is characterised by the fact that technology acts on information, information acts on technology, as well as by the integration of various technologies such as micro-electronics, telecommunications, opto-electronics and computers in a larger system. It is important to emphasise that knowledge workers themselves are an important component, or the most important components, of ITP productive forces.
The centrality of information / knowledge and the network structure contradict, inherently, capitalist relations of production. The network logic requires that knowledge produced in each node of a globally integrated network should flow freely and horizontally in all directions to all other nodes. Knowledge is a non-rival good, it can be reproduced at no extra cost. It is also universal in that the same item of knowledge can, simultaneously, be used by everyone on this planet.
Yet capitalism prevents the free flow of knowledge in all directions in the net. It is true that the capitalist mode of production, adapting itself to ITP, has become global, and has increasingly adopted a network form. However, the sum of all potential links in the net exceeds dramatically the sum of links of the global networks of capital. Hence, the potential of the net, as a paradigmatic productive force of our time, exceeds the capitalist mode of production (Hardt and Negri, 2000).
The same is true of knowledge-information, another paradigmatic productive force of our era. Knowledge is universal and non-rival. Capital carves for itself a selected subnet of the total net: the global network of accumulation of capital. The flow of knowledge-capital is fenced within this selected subnet. Even within this subnet the flow of knowledge is not free. First, in the competition between different multinationals, significant forms of knowledge have become increasingly secret and are kept jealously only within the reach of a small number of designers and engineers of particular enterprises. Second, commoditized knowledge can move from one node to another node only if exchanged for money. In other words the commodity form itself is a form of fencing.
The ITP also contradicts profoundly the capitalist organization of production. The net is an open-ended network in which every node can connect to any other node immediately and horizontally.
This implies that units of production can become de-territorialized global open-ended associated networks of direct producers where they cooperate with each other horizontally – though the mediation of a coordinating authority might be necessary – and produce various goods. This is nothing but social organization of cognitive P2P. Linux which has been the inaugurating model for P2P is indeed a practical instance of such a cooperative network. Wikipedia is another example. This model can be applied to any form of cognitive production and to a great extent to material production through automation (see also Bauwens, 2011).

Radical Break with Capitalism

While practically and empirically the P2P mode of production is still under the sway of capitalism and to a great extent dependent on it (buying computers and other materials and services from it and using its infrastructure), its logic radically contradicts that of capital. I described briefly above major aspects of P2P that accord to Marx’s understanding of communism. All these aspects contradict the logic of capital. Here I will show how the logic of P2P profoundly contradicts the capitalist division of labour, because division of labour is the key component of any mode of production. Let me emphasize that in P2P we have a distribution of labour and not a division of labour (Weber, 2004). The P2P modes of cooperation and the distribution of products make micro (within separate production units) and macro (among different units) capitalist divisions of labor superfluous.

P2P and the Micro Capitalist Division of Labor

On the level of the enterprise, capitalist management imposes the technical division of labor on workers. Capitalists (or their managers) bring the workers together under the same roof and place them in particular positions on the line of the division of labor and manage them. Cooperation among workers is a product of capital (Marx, 1976). The invention of machines perfected the technical division of labor, leading to Taylorism in which capital, using scientific methods, established a full despotism over labor (Braverman, 1974). The scholars of post-Fordism argue that post-Fordism has transcended Taylorism by enhancing workers’ skills and involving them in decision making (Amin, 1994). Similar claims have also been made about so-called Japanization (Kaplinsky, 1988). Such claims are at best controversial (Castells, 2010/1996). Many argue that Taylorism is still the dominant form of the organization of the labor process (Tomaney, 1994; Huws, 2003). Regardless of the validity of the Post-Fordist hypothesis, we can safely say that labour is still compartmentalized in closed spaces and is managed despotically by representatives of capital. While small select group of workers may enjoy partial autonomy the total labor processes is centralized by managers who integrate the work of separate workers into a total cooperative work process. Andre Gorz (1999: chapter 2), a proponent of the Post-Fordist hypothesis, says that Post-Fordism has replaced the Taylorist impersonal and mechanized despotism with new forms of personal enslavement. Individual producers do not choose their tasks, or the pace, time and place of their work. In other words the work process is micro-territorialized both spatially and temporally. In this sense the contrast with P2P cooperation cannot be stronger. In P2P cooperation the work processes are globally de-territorialized, in terms of both time and space.
The increasingly complex growth of hierarchical micro-divisions of labor which had been a major factor behind the growth of the productivity of industrial labor has become a barrier to the productivity of cognitive labor. Brook (1975) showed that in a centralized organization the increase of the number of engineers who work on a particular software problem decreases the efficiency by creating unnecessary complexities at an exponential rate. Raymond (2001) demonstrated that this was not true of de-centered networked cooperation of P2P. Here, the increase in the number of workers increases efficiency and improves the product. This hypothesis can be true of all forms of cognitive production.
The network-based online voluntary cooperation subverts the top-down logic of the capitalist management which is also the logic of the capitalist state. However, there is one form of “centralized” control in P2P. The development of each project is ultimately controlled by the individual(s) who launch it on the net. At crossroads, they have the final say, though there is a space for extensive discussions. However, if others are not happy with decisions taken by leadership, they have the right to take the entire project and develop it in the direction they please. Whether this form of “centralization” is an impact of the external capitalist environment, or inherent to P2P production, needs to be examined critically (O’Neil, 2009).

P2P and Macro capitalist Division of Labor

In the macro capitalist division different units of production are not connected with each other immediately but through the mediation market. Workers exchange their labor for wages and the products of their labor become commodities owned by capitalists and sold in the market. It is only in this way that the labors of immediate producers of various units and branches of production are connected to each other, becoming parts of the total social labor of society. Each unit of production becomes a component of the total capitalist macro division of labor to the extent it produces commodities which are sold (Marx 1978). P2P’s products are principally universal commons.
Although the GPL allows the sale of products, as a matter of common sense, no one pays for a product which is available for free. The commercial use of P2P’s products does not make them commodities because the user does not pay for them and therefore they do not enter the costs of his own commodity. From this follows that the total labor which is globally spent today on different forms of P2P is outside the capitalist social division of labor and circumscribes it. In the current stage the P2P is also circumscribed by the commodity form as major parts of the means of production are commodities and the contributors to P2P must earn money. A fully fledged P2P society is not compatible with money and commodity. The commodity form inherently circumscribes the freedoms that are guaranteed in the GPL (this point can also be reached by using Marx`s theory of value; however, it requires a lengthy argument that I have no space to develop here).
To sum up, the ITP productive forces combined with the de-centered network-based form of cooperation, the absence of wage labor, voluntary contribution, and the commons form of products constitute the main features of the P2P mode of production. Although the P2P mode of production is still an emerging phenomenon, its logic is clearly different from that of capitalism and has been created as a response to the requirements of the new productive forces. Therefore, its historical significance, urgency and novelty can hardly be exaggerated. The capitalist mode of production is a barrier to the realization of the potentialities of knowledge in the era of Internet. It limits human creativity and the development of knowledge workers in general. Therefore, it is no coincidence that a section of knowledge workers have rebelled against capitalist relations of production by lunching P2P. As Söderberg (2008) argues this is a form of class struggle.

The relation of the P2P mode of production to capitalism

The new social production consists of islands in the sea of the capitalist mode of production. The relation between the two, as pointed to above, is one of mutual dependence and antagonism. The social production depends on capitalism for acquiring some of the means of production and wages of its contributors, whilst capitalism on the other hand uses the commons of social production for free.
Marxists distinguish between the mode of production and the social formation. The social formation is an integrated socio-economic-ideological/cultural system. It may consist of more than one modes of production. However, one mode of production dominates the others and its imperatives define the overall characteristics of the social formation. In this sense we can speak of feudal and capitalist social formations as distinct from feudal and capitalist modes of production. Although the dominant mode of production dominates other modes of production, it cannot erase their specific logics. The continuous tension and dependency between the dominant mode of production and subordinated ones make social formations dynamic, uneven, and complex phenomena.
The capitalist social formation has gone through three partially overlapping phases: the emerging, the dominant and the declining ones. In the emerging phase (1850-1950) the capitalist mode of production dominated the feudal, domestic and other pre- capitalist modes of production worldwide, extracting labor and value from them (Mandel, 1972: chapter 2 ). In the second phase (1950-1980) the capitalist mode of production eroded the pre-capitalist mode of productions profoundly, and replaced them with the capitalist mode of production. Capitalism expanded both intensively, penetrating new domains of productive activity such as services, and extensively, conquering the whole globe. The third phase (1980- onwards) is characterized by the emergence of the ITP paradigm and the social mode of production within the capitalist social formation. This period has been described in terms such as “Network Society” (Castells, 2010/1997 ), “Empire” (Hardt and Negri, 2000), etc.
Although the P2P mode of production is still under the sway of the capitalist mode of production, its standing vis-à-vis capitalism is different from that of pre-capitalist modes of productions. While in the two first phases capitalism represented the new productive forces, in the third phase P2P is the new and emerging mode of production and capitalism is the declining one. If P2P dominates capitalism we will have the emerging phase of P2P social formation. I do not want to give the impression that the victory of P2P over capitalism is either a smooth evolutionary process or inevitable. It is fully contingent upon the orientations and consequences of the current social struggle, particularly the struggle of P2P communities. As I will deal with this issue in the final section, the following section explores whether the current social production can be generalized to material production.

Can material production and distribution be organized through the P2P mode of production?

Today the social mode of production (P2P) has been extended beyond software, covering other spheres of the production of symbols and signs (see P2P Foundation website). Bauwens (2011) shows that P2P is gaining grounds in design and manufacturing. Adrian Bowyer (2006) and his collaborators launched an open source project for the production of a three-dimensional printer in 2005 which now reproduces itself. Indeed, the P2P mode of production can be extended to most branches of material production. Automation will be a pillar of this transformation, though automation is not a necessary pre-condition for material P2P. In a fully automated production, the P2P production of cognitive factor (research and development, design and software) will bring material production under the sway of P2P. Capitalistic automation leads to loss of jobs and the degradation of work. Automation will not need to have these impacts in P2P social formation. Employment has no meaning and the automation will offer a lot of free time to humanity. This time can be devoted to the collective production of knowledge, education and care.
As strategic material resources are limited and unevenly scattered around the globe, a fair global distribution of such resources will become a major challenge for a global P2P society. The natural limit to raw material will also place a limit on material wealth and will require rules of distribution. But the criterion for distribution in the global community and within each local community cannot be the contribution of labor by individuals and communities, because cognitive work is globally collective, has no exchange value and does not produce exchange value. Only the needs of communities and individuals defined democratically among and within communities can be the criterion for distribution. I cannot speculate about rules of a P2P global distribution of raw material but it seems reasonable to assume that if the knowledge factor of production will become the free commons of all humanity, then strategic natural resources must follow suit. The ecological movement has already conceived the earth and the atmosphere as global commons (Rabinowitz, 2010 ). The common ownership and use of nature, particularly land, by the whole of humanity will be the ultimate challenge for the P2P society and by same token for humanity as a whole. Hence, the protection of nature will become the major priority of a global P2P society.

What are the possibilities for establishing a P2P Society: The role of struggle

Capitalism is in a deep crisis and there is a global anti-capitalist movement. Moreover, the technological base for establishing a fully fledged P2P society already exists and a considerable number of savvy knowledge workers enthusiastically try to expand P2P. Yet, there is no guarantee that P2P will automatically prevail over capitalism. Tim Wu (2010) argues that the state and corporate empires will fight tooth and nail to bring IT technologies under their own control, as they did with radio technology. But the success of state and capital in preventing P2P from becoming the dominant mode of production is not guaranteed beforehand. Things can go either way depending on the consequence of social struggles. The P2P movement, if supported by all other social movements of the multitude, may prevail. Social struggle will also determine what type of P2P society we will have.
What then are the possible scenarios for P2P production to become the dominant mode of production? Will it grow parallel with capitalism until it overtakes it? Or, will its path of development be much more complicated, marked by ebbs and flows, and temporary setbacks? Will a social revolution that expropriates strategic means of production from capitalists be a prerequisite for P2P production to become the dominant mode of production? What will be the role of social struggle and human consciousness in advancing P2P production? The answer to these questions needs a collective effort of many. Here, suffice to mention that “the idea of communism” is becoming appealing again. However it is not enough, though really necessary, to say that “another communism is possible” (Harvey, 2010:259) but to imagine the general contours of communist production. Herein lies the historical and political significance of P2P production. It represents, though in embryonic form, a model for communist production and distribution. The success of this mode of production will definitely depend on the attendant social struggle. What then are the strengths and weaknesses of the P2P production social movement? Its strength is that it is a productive practice.
Its weakness, as Söderberg (2008) argues, is that most of the participants in the P2P production lack an explicit anti-capitalist consciousness, let alone a communist consciousness. As already mentioned, there are some, such as Moglen (2003), Barbrook (2007) and Kleiner (2010) who define the movement as a communist one. However, the majority’s involvement in production is motivated by personal reasons, such as doing something exciting and creative, and improving their own skills. However participants are aware of, and value the fact, that they are producing commons. In spite of the lack of an outright communist vision, my ethnographic observations show that participants have developed and cherish progressive beliefs, such as valuing cooperation, preference for creativity and happiness to money and careerism, concerns for ecology, preference for public interests to egoistic interests, antipathy towards consumerism, and care for poor people and the third world. For instance technological activists have helped Iranian, Tunisian, Egyptian and Syrian activists to organize net-based public spheres.
P2P communities also develop progressive and humanistic moral attitudes. The members of communities do not appreciate bragging, self-promotion, dishonesty and calculative manipulation. On the whole while recognizing individuals and crediting their contributions the common interest in maintaining and developing productive P2P communities were strong. No doubt the formation of a solid collectivist and progressive culture which grows organically around P2P production and other social movements will be essential for the formation of a communist society. Despite the significance of this progressive culture-in-making, it cannot remedy the lack of a clear programmatic communist vision and sustained theoretical critique of capitalism among the participants.
The lack of a clear collectivist vision combined with the dominant capitalist environment makes P2P production vulnerable to invasion by capitalism. Many projects that had been started as P2P production were diverted into capitalist enterprises. Under this condition the propagation of a clear communist vision among the participants of P2P production will be indispensable for the advancement of the new mode of production. No doubt there is a self-conscious communist section among the producers in P2P production. This communist section must carry out an uncompromising theoretical and critical theoretical struggle within the P2P production movement. However, this struggle should be conducted in friendly terms and avoid sectarianism. Communists should not position themselves against non-communist participants in the P2P movement. Actually, as Barbrook (2007) argues, all contributors to P2P production are involved in a communist material practice, regardless of their attitudes to communism. The task of communists is to describe and theorize this practice and critique capitalism from the vantage of this practice. P2P production itself has already developed an outstanding procedure for the advancement of a critical debate among its participants. Everyone’s contribution to production is reviewed, evaluated and credited by others openly and publicly on the net. This procedure can also be used (and is used to some extent) in political, theoretical and ideological debates within P2P communities.
In addition to the lack of class consciousness among P2P producers, and perhaps as a result of this, the absence of sustained connections/alliances between P2P producers and other progressive social movements is another weakness of the P2P movement. This is also a weakness of other social movements. The alliance between a self-conscious P2P movement and other social movements, with anti-systemic potentials and goals, will strengthen both sides. P2P production will receive support in its struggle against the increasingly draconian copyright regime which has been imposed in the last 30 years. P2P production, on the other hand, supplies other social movement with models for a more just, democratic and ecological alternative of cooperation in production, public sphere, and self-governance; and the realization of individual freedom and creativity. The very fact the Occupy Wall Street was initiated by Adbusters and Anonymous, and that its de-centered/network form of organization, alongside that of Indignados, is very similar to that of P2P, is indeed very promising.
There is at least a section among P2P producers who clearly relate their practice to the broader issues of justice, freedom, common goods and democracy. They also participate in other social movements. The academic and the activist left, on the other hand, have not yet grasped the historical novelty and significance of P2P production. They usually downplay the significance of P2P production as the hobby of some yuppies, or as an epiphenomenon on the fringes of the capitalist mode of production. Others downplay its significance by suggesting that tomatoes or cucumbers cannot be produced through P2P production. They ignore the fact that technology and life sciences, particularly micro-biology, including DNA sequencing, which are becoming increasingly important for agriculture, can be produced through P2P cooperation. Yet another argument, making a post-colonial gesture, suggests that computers, IT and 3DPs are the exclusive luxury of the privileged. Although this is true to some extent, it should not be treated as a static fact. Subaltern groups fight to appropriate IT technology for their own purposes. The Zapatistas used the Internet to mobilize global support for their movement. Recently, Chinese migrant workers, Green movement activists in Iran, and activists in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria have used the Internet to circulate the news of their protests. Laptops and mobile phones, acquiring the functions of computers, are becoming cheaper, and hence affordable for many, though not for everyone, in the Global South. The same is true of 3D printers. The left needs to recognize the struggle over knowledge as the new major terrain of social struggle and give its due significance to P2P production in this context.
A major protest movement has swept the globe in 2011. What if these protest movements put the appropriation of major means of production and their re-organization in a P2P cooperation system on their agenda?
Jakob Rigi is based at the Central European University, Budapest.
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Rabinowitz, D. (2010) ‘Ostrom, the commons, and the anthropology of “earthlings” and their atmosphere’Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 57:104-108.
Soderberg, J (2008) Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Oen Source Software Movement, New York: Routledge.
Stallman, R. (2002) Free Software, Free Society, Boston: GNU Press.
Tamney, J. (1994) ‘A New Paradigm of Work Organization and Technilogy’ in Amim, A. (ed.) Post-Fordism, Oxford: Blackwell.
Weber, S. (2004) The Success of Open Source, Cambridge Mass: Harvard UP.
Wu, T. (2010) The Master of Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Enterprises, New York: Knof.

New Bradford Group

Being fully present to each other is a valuable gift we can bring to these meetings. But it is not easy. Understanding that each of our needs may be different and trying to provide for everyone, being able to be honest when we feel uneasy about something, or feel we are not being heard, without being critical or attacking, or trying to avoid conflict by being 'nice', all these are fine lines to tread.

What remains uppermost for me is honouring what I am feeling in the moment. There may not be an obvious cause or story attached, it may make no sense, I may have conflicting feelings, but that is the truth of my experience that I want to respect. From very young we are taught to separate ourselves from our feelings, so they get overlaid with negative connotations, disapproval, shame, feeling we are not 'normal', etc. I want to reaffirm the validity of my feelings - just because they are mine, without justification or comparison. Ultimately my trust is in myself, not my skills or my qualifications or my previous experience, but just in being me. I feel the freedom of that. In that freedom I hope I can be fully present to you and to myself. I won't always manage it but that is what I am aiming for.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Vipassana 10 day Meditation Retreat

After watching a film about introducing meditation to a prison in India in the 90s, I was deeply moved and decided to sign up to a 10 day retreat being offered. I have been meditating for some years, and welcomed the opportunity to spend 10 days in silent retreat, focussed entirely on sitting and meditating, with all physical needs taken care of. The reality was rather different. It turned out instead that this was a method to encourage people to become devotees of Vipassana, a Buddhist meditation technique taught by a Mr Goenca.

I was quite nervous turning up to the venue, not knowing what to expect. But the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. I was camping and had somehow lost all my tent pegs, but the assistant teacher willingly lent me some. Men and women were in separate groups. We had a light supper and then went to meditate in the hall, each given a specific place with cushions. The 'teacher' sat on a raised dais in front. After about an hour we were suddenly assaulted aurally, with no warning by Mr Goenca's 'chanting', a weird dirge-like wailing, in a foreign language, ending in an extended gutteral outbreath. We were asked to confirm our commitment to certain precepts, including not to kill anything during these 10 days, not to make contact with other participants, and our intention to stay to the end. There was a feeling of surveillance. If people slouched against the wall, or pointed their feet 'towards the teacher', they were reprimanded. The atmosphere was changing to one where fear predominated rather than joy, and I was beginning to have my doubts as to whether this was the right place for me.

The next day the atmosphere became more tense, and we were introduced to some breath exercises, focussing on the nose area. I had no wish to learn a new technique, having already sampled several different methods, and found that I could practice without using any particular technique. There were rules about not taking food to your room and the feeling of being constantly monitored and I decided to leave. I told the assistant who suggested I have an interview with the teacher, which she would arrange. However before that could happen, I had an experience of the technique suddenly 'happening to me', without my effort, and I took this as a sign that maybe I should stay and check this out.

I carried on, enjoying doing my own meditation and occasionally trying to follow the instructions given by Mr Goenca, which were basically developing a sort of body mindfulness in order to counteract what he saw as the misery of this world, affirming that this was the original view of Buddha which has been misinterpreted. It seems that the aim of much meditation is to relieve the suffering which is seen as a product of the mind, rather than to connect with the infinite which in my experience brings true freedom. I used to think that all humans are looking for the same thing. But I doubt that following the pain brings you to the same place as following the joy. I see the misery of this world as an illusion, a veil through which we are challenged to realise the beauty of creation.

Meditation which considers the individual as totally responsible for suffering, also neglects the social factors which pressure people to behave and feel in certain ways. Social structures and social hierarchies, like this Vipassana school, discourage people from challenging the staus quo. Mr Goenca's attitude was - since you can do nothing about this misery the best you can do is avoid it by developing an 'equanimous' mind. As an activist it is tragic to me to see this passivity being taught. (Buddha himself being a prince, could presumably have done much to change the structure which allowed so many to live in poverty) Meditation and activism may at first appear contradictory, but in fact they support each other. (See Andrew Harvey's Sacred Activism.)

I stayed and watched my resistance build until my 'wild mind' stampeded through all thought of compromise. In my first interview with the teacher she managed to persuade me to continue. But the next session my rebellious spirit refused to let my eyes close. (We were supposed to sit for one hour without moving hands or legs and without opening eyes in order to train ourselves to develop an 'equanimous' mind towards the discomfort). So I had a final interview and agreed to leave with as little disturbance as possible. It was the 8th day morning, I packed my tent and left during the morning meditation, feeling tremendous relief as I drove out of the gate.

In many ways it would have been easier to stay. I did not find the regime harsh. The food was good and the setting peaceful. We were looked after with dedication and all needs taken care of. I even began to get used to the wailing chanting of Mr Goenca. But this traditional way of teaching, ie put aside any reservations you may have and trust me to know what you need, does not support people to develop their own authenticity. It encourages dependency and infantilisation. It is part of a hierarchical tradition which I believe does not serve the needs of this age. Many masters say: don't trust me, trust your experience, but then leave no room to question what they say. It is a way of learning which I espoused at a time when I was desperate in my life, and certainly it helped me at the time, but I stayed dependent on it longer than I needed. And I now think there are ways of acquiring knowledge and experience which don't demand that loyalty to one method or master, or that subjugation of self which is required, predicated on an analysis which divides being into mind, body, soul. Supporting individuals to explore for themselves from an early age, using whatever knowledge is available would help counteract this tendency.

I have written this is in the public domain because I believe Vipassana methods could be more open in letting people know what they are signing up to, especially by being more transparent about Mr Goenca's role. Certainly it is all there on the net if you look.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Energy Democracy

A distributed model revolutionized the way industrial-scale computing was delivered. Is it possible that something similar could be achieved for energy production?  (Alternative Energy eMagazine)

 A new structure of energy production is slowly taking hold. Distributed energy production, based on the p2p model of the internet, is coming together with energy produced through renewables. Jeremy Rifkin describes how this is happening in his book The Third Industrial Revolution. The significance of distributed energy production in the context of social structure may not be readily apparent. Rifkin spells out some of the implications of empowering people to control their own energy production, and the profound transformation that a distributed energy system would have in democratising the social structure in education, health, commerce, and our relationship to the biosphere.

The EU has already endorsed the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) in 2007, and several European cities have invited the TIR team to plan the transition to a post carbon economy, eg Rome, Utrecht, Nord-pas de Calais, even Kazakhstan. Africa and China have also shown some interest. In the US the growth of renewables is beginning to worry the big utilities. 'The spread of renewable, distributed generation is happening so fast that utilities are now calling rooftop solar “an existential threat” to their business model'. In the UK community energy installations are being supported by the Cooperative Society among others, so that those unable to afford to install renewables themselves can participate. This is a movement which should interest all sectors of the population. It is an area of growth which is tackling climate change, not adding to it, and can also provide the millions of jobs unions are asking for.

The Trade Unions for Energy Democracy 'a global, multi-sector initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy', is defining their own vision for energy democracy. 'A transfer of resources, capital and infrastructure from private hands to a democratically controlled public sector will need to occur in order to ensure that a truly sustainable energy system is developed in the decades ahead. ' The emphasis on the public sector taking responsibility for energy introduces the idea of reclaiming energy as a commons, which is the ultimate goal but may take longer to develop.

This new structure of distributed energy production needs to be widely publicised so that popular demand can hasten the process of what is already happening, and so that it can be monitored to ensure that big business does not find a way to take control. There will be strong resistance from those who want to maintain the centralised structure of the military industrial system, but here is a way capitalism can be undermined without the need for violent confrontation.

Many of those struggling against injustice in the West are not the poorest, most deprived in society, contrary to how Marx envisaged the proletarian revolution, and for that reason they are often accused of 'reformism' rather than a desire to overthrow the capitalist system. True, many would not relish reducing their standard of living, even when they are conscious that it is achieved on the backs of exploiting working classes in their own and other countries. Nevertheless the desire for a more just and equitable society is genuine. With increasing world-wide communication our concern for the human family and the whole biosphere is emerging. This understanding sees in the current crises the possibility of a new consciousness breaking through old habits of thought and patterns of behaviour, to an awareness of ourselves as integral to the human family and the web of life.

It is clear that this is the future, if we have a future. But it is a race against time. Whether renewables can take over from fossil fuels quickly enough to stem the growth of carbon emissions is anyone's guess. There will be objections from those who demand an end to the capitalist system as the precondition for any progress, and from those on the 'left' for whom the working class has to be in the forefront of any anti-capitalist revolution. Some may see using the market system to take us in the direction we want to go, as 'fraternising with the enemy' but I see it rather like the jujitsu method of manipulating the opponent's force against himself rather than confronting it with one's own force.

Many questions remain and certainly this is no panacea. But it opens a path from here to there which I previously was only able to visualise as a miracle. It may be that evolution is on our side and working in unpredictable ways to give us back the dignity John Holloway talks about in The Politics of Dignity and the Politics of Poverty. 'Dignity is the push towards social self-determination against-and-beyond a world that is built on the negation of self-determination.'

Monday, 5 August 2013

Ecosocialism Course Schumacher College, August 2013 with Joel Kovel

It has been a tussle, to allow myself to feel the instinctual revulsion arising when I listen to a download of someone's ideas, without the space to question or comment. It is not that Joel is totally averse to being addressed midstream, but the aura of adulation that surrounds him, makes real conversation impossible. It is also sad to me that those who have come to listen, do so without feeling the need to question or comment.

I am struggling here with the structure of the teacher/student hierarchy which is a 'power over' relationship. Although we were assured initially that we could appeal for an educational model which was more conducive, I feel it is useless to try to change it, since it appears to be benign and most of the others are at home with it. The possibility of starting a revolution is remote.

In this relationship I feel humiliated and small. I am not comfortable with being the victim, or with the aggression with which I react. Is there a possibility to find my 'true nature' here, to feel whole, in spite of the divisive and alienating pressures? To come to me as a friend in need, turning to myself, being with myself? Neither do I want to turn away from this self that feels humiliated and small, and reacts by kicking and screaming. Ultimately it is I who abandons myself, and can choose not to. I want to bring those two together.

It may be that holding on to that sort of 'power over' is a response to the feelings of humiliation that we may have suffered in the past, and the need to protect that small self, by identifying with the violator. The challenge now is to transcend these reactions by bringing about the union of the small with the empowered self, (is aggression being used by the empowered self to deny the pain?). Can we instead use our power to empathise with our pain, and mourn unmet needs, while reconfirming the fullness of the interior of being, the spirit which always accompanies us? To confide in spirit and ask for help.

When I stayed and listened with the group, it felt as though my time was being stolen, and my trust undermined. I questioned my need to make every moment count, could I put myself aside in order to be in this world? I tried to welcome feelings of violation of which I became aware, by maintaining my own space and integrity. I remember being inspired listening to radical thinkers while training in psychotherapy; or even the years I spent being taken to deep places internally, absorbing the words of my guru. So why not now?

I see the hierarchical nature of this way of communicating as re-affirming the dis-empowerment of the listener, and holding back the development of trust in our own authentic voice. The acquisition of knowledge becomes then filling an essentially empty space, giving us the sort of security we get from putting money in the bank. Knowledge becomes another commodity to be acquired, along with other experiences, for which we need experts to guide us. This understanding does not preclude us from learning from others, nor is it denying that someone may tell us something we do not know. But in a healthy relationship this always remains a two way exchange, with roles constantly being reversed, the teacher learning from the student, and vice versa. Nor does this way of communicating respect the integrity of each with our own sense of enquiry. It is a 'one size fits all' communication, as Joel has said 'I am who I am', take it or leave it.

Why is this important? And what is the feeling of violation I get from being in a space where this is not acknowledged? It is my very being which is being denied or ignored. Really? Aren't you exaggerating?

Thinking about this later I feel horror at what we experience as children when we have no choice but to sit through events that do not nourish our being. I have often looked back and assumed that I accepted, 'like a sponge' I used to say, experiences which now would feel intolerable. Although this feeling of violation has remained buried, this is not the first time it has come up. Numerous battles with hierarchy have ended in this bid for freedom, but this is perhaps the first time I have recognised what it is.

This morning for the first time we broke into small groups to connect with what might be going on for each one of us. In our group of 4 what seemed uppermost for 2 others was the anxiety of there not being enough time to get through the material. I pointed out how often this is the excuse we give for not paying enough attention to what is important – there's not enough time. It was not easy to stand by my own feelings, especially as no-one shared them with me. Also I had paid for the course and didn't want to feel I had wasted the money or time. But this morning I made the decision to pull out, and feel much better. It is clear from the morning go round that others wanted to plough on with the material. I said that my needs were probably different from others, and explained that I would not stay for those sections where I felt uncomfortable.

I feel a bit like a pariah, but it is of my own making.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Happiness, TIR, and the Circular Economy

I have been doing some research on Jeremy Rifkin's Third Industrial Revolution  (TIR)  The book is subtitled 'How lateral power is transforming energy, the economy, and the world'.  In October 2013 Rifkin will be partnering with Ellen MacArthur and Bhutan Happiness Commission gen sec. Karma Tshiteem at the World Forum in Lille.
Amazingly Rifkin's project is actually beginning to happen. TIR was endorsed by the EU in 2007.  The mayor of Rome invited the TIR team to initiate a carbon neutral plan for Rome, in 2010. Other European cities are following, eg Utrecht and Nord-pas de Calais.
This comprehensive 5 pillar plan is not the fulfilment of our aspirations for the commons by any means, but a step in the right direction, using the collaboration of local and national government and big business. It allows us to see the possibility of progress being made, even while the mainstream continues to head full speed for the cliff. With widespread publicity and discussion of this project, I could visualise these plans being applied to Brighton and Bradford, Leeds and Leicester.
Rifkin indicates the profound effect such a project would have on the collaborative relationships between people, in education, health, commerce, and governance, and more particularly on paving the way for our appreciating the necessity of a partnership with nature and the biosphere.
We also need to appreciate the urgency of these steps. This is a race against time, against the irreversible effects of climate change. I am asking for your help in making the TIR project available to the public.
Contact me on

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Review of Jeremy Rifkin's book Third Industrial Revolution

 The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World 
This book is the first to present a solution to the question 'How do we get from here to there?' I heartily recommend this book. It is easy to read, reads more like an adventure story, which it is. Jeremy Rifkin's (JR) ideas have been endorsed by the EU and are already happening in cities like Rome and Utrecht. He has seen how the internet is providing a new way to connect not just information, but also energy production, and commerce, and the far reaching implications of this for breaking through the traditional centralising structures that have dominated much of our social relationships. So in education, health, and governance, the internet is providing lateral peer to peer connections that democratise top-down structures. This also applies to our relationship to nature which has been seen as there to be exploited. JR shows how we need to see our interdependence and work with nature, to connect with respect and love for all creatures, in order to find a sustainable way of life.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Third Industrial Revolution - Jeremy Rifkin

Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution, is quietly working away to get the foundations of a new energy policy in place in Europe and elsewhere in the next few years. Renewable energy produced in every building allowing millions of people to own and exchange on an 'energy internet', requiring huge investment and providing millions of jobs.

'Today, Internet technology and renewable energies are beginning to merge to create a new industrial infrastructure for a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) that will change the way power is distributed in the 21st century. In the coming era, hundreds of millions of people will produce their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories and share it with each other in an “Energy Internet,” a distributed smart grid just like we now generate and share information online. The establishment of a Third Industrial Revolution industrial infrastructure will create thousands of new businesses and millions of jobs and lay the basis for a sustainable global economy in the 21st century. The democratization of energy will also bring with it a fundamental reordering of human relationships, impacting the very way we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.
Like every other communication and energy infrastructure in history, the various pillars of a Third Industrial Revolution must be laid down simultaneously or the foundation will not hold. That’s because each pillar can only function in relationship to the others. The five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution, all of which are detailed in the Industrial Policy Communication Update, are (1) shifting to renewable energy; (2) transforming the building stock of every continent into green energy efficient micropower plants to collect renewable energies onsite; (3) deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout theinfrastructure to store intermittent energies; (4) using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy Internet a distributed smart grid that acts just like the Internet (when millions of buildings are generating a small amount of energy locally, onsite, they can sell surplus back to the grid and share electricity with their continental neighbors); and (5) transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid.'

Join me in suporting this project. email phone 07954345550

Zapatistas Silent Mobilization - December 21 2012

Friday, 24 May 2013

The 'Gap' - between where we are and where we want to be. The importance of grieving in the process of maturation.

(Or How do we get there from here?)

(Or Is it too late?)

Wanting things to be different from the way that they are probably starts very early in life. Melanie Klein saw the young baby coping with anxiety and frustration by splitting, and then bringing good and bad together in what she called the Depressive Position. She saw this dynamic continuing throughout developmental life. The awareness that our needs may not be met immediately or at all can arouse reactions of anger but underlying that are feelings of grief and loss which need to be acknowledged and accepted before we can work with the reality of what is achievable and what is not. Klein sees maturity in bringing the good and bad object together allowing for an internal life in which conflicts can be experienced without having to destroy one another.

Roberto Gonzales describes the deep pain which often remains even when people have worked on themselves for years, and which contributes to attempts to change others or ourselves which often end in frustration. He describes reaching a spaciousness inside where there is full acceptance of what is. In this place there is no pressure to change. Here we can feel true empathy towards ourselves and others without the need for change. In order to reach this spaciousness there is a period of mourning to go through which corresponds to the 'Gap' between where we are and where we want to be, acknowledging unmet needs, and grieving for possibilities which have not yet, or cannot materialise. This recognition and the struggle to accept, can lead to feelings of helplessness and impotence, depths of despair and unbearable loss and dread which lie deep in the soul, possibly underlying severe depression and suicide. Our judgemental feelings towards self and others, appear to offer a way out by separating the good and the bad, but in fact contribute to our suffering. In this spacious field the only value is in what is, experienced fully in this moment, not experienced as a fact, but as a feeling, only subjectively verifiable. Self empathy together with empathic support from others, can allow this process to continue to a more wholistic appreciation of the self. For Roberto this is the recognition of the beauty of the needs themselves. Through allowing the process of mourning our unmet needs with compassion, we free ourselves from the constrictions which come through blame and fear, and become empowered to find ways to fulfill them.

For my teacher Maharaji, and many others like Eckhart Tolle, coming into the 'moment called Now' is the only place where reality truly exists. It is the marriage of the finite and the infinite, allowing space for the Unknown to enter. This is the beginning of radical transformation. With that understanding, reality is beyond concepts and therefore cannot be grasped by the mind, only experienced when we can lay aside the need for the security of knowing, based on the past or the future, which is so much part of our culture. To do so runs the risk of causing confusion and pain. Accepting our inability to know, we can become receptive, tuned in to resonances beyond our everyday world. With compassion and self empathy, fear of the unknown can be transformed into trust and gratitude.

This dynamic can be seen at the individual and the global level. The inability of the human race as a whole to confront its own destructive tendencies may arise from reluctance to face the inevitable grief and loss implicit in acknowledging what we have done to this beautiful planet, where we are headed and the risk of despair that is entailed. For Joanna Macy awareness of this 'pain for the world' is an essential stage in the Great Turning, the process of reconnecting to ourselves, each-other, and the natural world.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cyprus Bail Out

‘If your bank deposits could be confiscated’
Money held in Bank deposits is like the stuff we store in the garage, or in those big warehouses that specialise in storing stuff you don’t immmediately need. If the storage unit burnt down we could still survive. We accumulate stuff like we accumulate money…. in case we might need it later. Our attachment to property or money is a substitute for community, it allows us to feel we can manage alone. It is a denial of our interdependence. If the financial system breaks down, as seems inevitable according to Paul Craig Roberts :
we need to turn to each other. All the signs are that we are in the middle of a system breakdown. No good trying to hold on to it or patch it up. It never really served us anyway. Young Kim is right. We need to find true value in community, in sharing. It is not going to be easy to shift from a competetive economy to a collaborative one, but we really have no choice.The hard bit is recognising that there is a real alternative, and that actually is what we have always wanted but never believed possible. ‘A civilization in which socially and environmentally friendly free association between autonomous producers and citizens becomes the norm’ – Michel Bauwens p2p-foundation.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Notes to a Collaborative Community

Community collaboration will need to involve unifying our inner selves, and visa versa. Positive social change includes the heart and compassionate union with the other, which implies a commitment to care for others and their vision of what they need.

This Easter I was present at my grand-daughter's primary school end of term assembly. The children portrayed in detail the trial of Jesus and his crucifixion, and the words they recited kept emphasising the role of the Jewish religious leaders in accusing Jesus. Then the vicar(?) joined in, got the children shouting 'crucify him', and emphasised again the role of the Jewish religious leaders. As he finished I asked to make a comment, and said we need to remember Jesus was Jewish, his mother was Jewish, and I am Jewish, and many Jewish people would not have wanted to crucify Jesus, that we have to be careful not to encourage anti-Semitism by the words we use. The headmistress and the vicar denied that was what they wanted to do. But several of the parents expressed their support for what I said. And later the assistant head said she would pursue this with the children to make sure they were clear, and it would be a good focus for discussion for the older children.

However, what I was aware of in myself was my antagonism towards the vicar. I would love to have offered what I said with love rather than antagonism. I wasn't angry, but I didn't, couldn't see him in a positive light. I disliked his face and his eyes seemed empty. I tried to imagine his dedication to god that took him to that position, and I couldn't feel it. I felt completely protected and I had no fear. But I couldn't feel him as a human being. Even now.

With the help of the NVC Social Change Telesummit   A Path with Heart   I am seeing that in order to get to that place of genuine joyful engagement, I need to be in touch with the deep grief and anger around injustice to nature and humanity, that results from realising that things are not the way I want them to be. These inner demands, judgements, can be an obstacle to getting in touch with the sadness and deep mourning, which is en route to allowing the fullness of life to flow in its vitality, bringing with it unimagined possibilities.

It is this inner divisiveness which separates us from each other. Martin Luther King -It's a good thing I don't have to like people in order to love them (paraphrase) 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Iceland Myths debunked

Monday, 25 March 2013

Yorkshire Retreat for Schumacher North

Dear All,
Yesterday I went to look at the venue for our weekend away June 14/15/16 – Currer Laithe. 
 I was greeted by Jean (age 83) who runs the farm and holiday cottages with her sister (age 74). Neither of them is much above 5ft. The property was derelict when they moved in 50 years ago. Most of the renovation they did themselves, parquet floor, mullioned windows, etc. as well as providing breakfast and an evening meal for 20 guests for over 27 years, while running the farm, and rebuilding stone walls to bring it up to the standard required by the National Trust, so that the property could be covenanted. (Neither married, so there are no heirs, and they were anxious that what they started should be continued after their demise) Jean who was a local headmistress before she took over the farm full time when her dad died, has also found time to write 5 books charting the progress, and describing the sort of life they led, as well as their annual holidays taking the girl guides to the Hebrides. As I left she presented me with the first book of the series – 'We'll see the Cuckoo', which is full of the joy they both emanated at being given the opportunity to devote their lives to this work.
Both sisters were highly critical of a government that does not acknowledge the value of farmers, and the work they do to protect our heritage. They were interested in the theme of our weekend. They bemoaned the loss of birds since their childhood, the inactivity of children who spend their time in front of a screen, and even the lack of spiders in the house. We agreed that to turn this trend around is not going to be easy. Nevertheless there was no thought of giving up. This attitude, I think, provides a good backdrop for our discussions. ( Unfortunately they will be away that weekend in their beloved Hebrides)
The house itself has a 'homespun' feel. It is a working farm, so at the moment the smells and mud of the cattle tend to predominate. Calves are reared and they keep a few donkeys and goats. By June they will be out in the fields. This is not the open country of the Dales. The built up areas of Keighley are clearly seen across the valley. But the house is surrounded by the farm's 200 acres, and inside the house feels quiet and remote.
We are being offered an extended weekend, from Friday afternoon through to Monday morning, so we will have 2 full days. (Jean said “People don't seem to want to leave on Sunday”) Most rooms are twin, with bathrooms and toilets close to each room. It would be helpful if you would let me know if there is someone you would prefer to share with. Also if there are any special dietary requirements.
If you can offer to cook a meal or a dessert, either beforehand, or on-site, that would be splendid. (We can provide money for ingredients) Since there will be 8 meals including breakfasts, you should reckon to be washing up or helping to prepare a meal at least once during our stay. (Nearer the time a rota may be helpful).
In general this is a do-it yourself retreat, so please feel free to volunteer or make suggestions to add anything you would like to see. There are 2 sitting rooms, allowing for a variety of activities. An upright piano in one, suggests a musical evening so other musical instruments will be welcome.
Cost : Between £50 - £80
A £10 deposit will secure your place. Maximum of 16 places.
If you can afford to pay the higher amount it will allow others with less funds to be included.
I look forward to communing with you all.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Twelve Principles of Spiritual Leadership

Adapted from a presentation at Schumacher College, Totnes, England July 1997 by Will Keepin of the Satyana Institute, Boulder Colorado 
In the course of working with social change advocates and ecological activists, we have developed a provisional set of "principles of spiritual leadership." These are neither definitive nor authoritative, but rather the beginning of a collective inquiry into how we can apply spiritual teachings in social change work. These principles are summarised below as a means for continuing the dialogue. Feedback and comments are welcome.

First: The first principle is that the motivation underlying our activism for social change must be transformed from anger and despair to compassion and love. This is a major challenge for the environmental movement, for example. It is not to deny the legitimacy of noble anger or outrage at injustice of any kind. Rather, we seek to work for love, rather than against evil. We need to adopt compassion and love as our foundational intention, and do whatever inner work is required to implement this intention. Even if our outward actions remain the same, there is a major difference in results if our underlying intention supports love rather than defeating evil. The Dalai Lama says, "A positive future can never emerge from the mind of anger and despair."

Second: The second principle is a classical spiritual tenet, though challenging to practice. It is the principle of non-attachment to outcome. To the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our success and failures, which is a path to burnout. Failures are inevitable, and successes are not the deepest purpose of our work. This requires a deepening of faith in the intrinsic value of our work-beyond the concrete results. To the extent that our actions are rooted in pure intention, they have a reverberation far beyond the concrete results of the actions themselves. As Gandhi emphasized, "The victory is in the doing," not the outcome. In our workshops, we have had several environmental leaders react strongly to this principle. As one lawyer put it, "How can I possibly go into court and not be attached to the outcome? You bet I care who wins and who loses! If I am not attached to the outcome, I'll just get bulldozed!" His words underscore the poignant challenge of implementing these principles in practice. Yet he keeps coming back to our retreats, and he actively seeks ways to love his adversaries. He acknowledged that, although it is difficult to love some of his adversaries, one way he can do it is to love them for creating the opportunity for him to become a strong voice for truth and protection of the natural environment.

Third: The third principle is that your integrity is your protection. The idea here is that if your work has integrity that will tend to protect you from negative circumstances. For example, there are practices for making yourself invisible to the negative energy that comes toward you in adversarial situations. It's a kind of psychic aikido, where you internally step out of the way of negative energy, and you make yourself energetically transparent so it passes right through you.But this only works if your work is rooted in integrity.

Fourth: The fourth principle is related to the third: the need for unified integrity in both means and ends. Integrity in means cultivates integrity in the fruit of one's work; you cannot achieve a noble goal using ignoble means. Some participants in our workshops engage regularly in political debates, testimony, and hearings. We have them experimenting with consciousness techniques for transmuting challenging energy into compassion and love-right there in the hearing room. Early indications are that this is helpful in defusing charged psychological situations, and reducing tension in heated debates.

Fifth: The fifth principle is don't demonize your adversaries. People respond to arrogance with their own arrogance, which leads to polarization. The ideal is to constantly entertain alternative points of view so that you move from arrogance to inquiry, and you then have no need to demonize your opponents. This is hard to do, as we often feel very certain about what we think we know, and the injustices we see. As John Stuart Mill said, "In all forms of human debate, both parties tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny." Going into an adversarial situation, we can be aware of the correctness of what we are affirming, but there is usually a kernel of truth-however small-in what is being affirmed by our opponent. We need to be especially mindful about what we deny, because this is often where our blind spots will be.

Sixth: The sixth principle is to love thy enemy. Or if you can't do that, at least have compassion for them. This means moving from an
"us-them" consciousness to a "we" consciousness. It means recognizing that I am the logger: when I write these principles of spiritual activism and publish them in this newsletter, I give the command to the logger to fell the trees, to produce the pulp, to produce this paper so that I can publish these spiritual principles about how best to save the trees. It is seeing the full circle of our interconnected complicity, and discovering all the problems of humanity in our own hearts and our own lives. We are not exempt and we are not different. The "them" that we speak of is also us. The practice of loving our adversaries is obviously challenging in situations with people whose views and methodologies are radically opposed to ours, but that is where the real growth occurs.

Seventh: The seventh and eighth principles are a bit contradictory. The seventh is that your work is for the world rather than for you. We serve on behalf of others and not for our own satisfaction or benefit. We're sowing seeds for a cherished vision to become a future reality, and our fulfillment comes from the privilege of being able to do this work. This is the traditional understanding of selfless service.

Eighth: But then the eighth principle is that selfless service is a myth. Because in truly serving others, we are also served. In giving we receive. This is important to recognize as well, so we don't fall into the trap of pretentious service to others' needs and develop a false sense of selflessness or martyrdom.

Ninth: The ninth principle is: do not insulate yourself from the pain of the world. We must allow our hearts to be broken-broken open-by the pain of the world. As that happens, as we let that pain in, we become the vehicles for transformation. If we block the pain, we are actually preventing our own participation in the world's attempt to heal itself. As we allow our hearts to break open, the pain that comes is the medicine by which the Earth heals itself, and we become the agents of that healing. This is a vital principle that is quite alien to our usual Western ways of thinking.

Tenth: The tenth principle is: what you attend to, you become. If you constantly attend to battles, you become embattled. On the other hand, if you constantly give love, you become loving. We must choose wisely what we attend to, because it shapes and defines us deeply.

Eleventh: The eleventh principle is to rely on faith. This is not some Pollyannaish naiveté, as many "realists" would interpret it. Rather it entails cultivating a deep trust in the unknown, recognizing the presence of "higher" or "divine" forces at work that we can trust completely without knowing their precise agendas or workings. It means invoking something beyond the traditional scientific worldview. It implies that there are invisible forces that we can draw upon and engage, firstly by knowing they are there; secondly, by asking or yearning for them to support us-or more precisely, asking them to allow us to serve on their behalf. Faith is understood not as blind adherence to any set of beliefs, but as a knowing from experience and intuition about intrinsic universal principles beyond our direct observation, and relying upon these principles, whatever they are, to support us in creating what we aspire to create. This actually brings great relief when we realize it really isn't up to us to figure out all the steps to manifest our unfolding vision, because we are participants in a larger cosmic will. Nevertheless, it is our job to discover what our unique gift is- our unique role-and for each person to give their gift as skillfully and generously as possible, while trusting that the rest will all work itself out.

Twelfth: Finally, the twelfth principle is that love creates the form. As Stephen Levine says, "The heart crosses the abyss that the mind creates." It is the mind that gives rise to the apparent fragmentation of the world, while the heart can operate at depths unknown to the mind. So, if we begin imagining with our hearts, and work from a place of yearning as well as thinking, then we develop an unprecedented effectiveness that is beyond our normal ways of understanding because it doesn't have to do with thinking. When we bring the fullness of our humanity to our leadership, we can be far more effective in creating the future we want.

In closing, as we enter the third millennium, we are urgently called to action in two distinct capacities: to serve as hospice workers to a dying culture, and to serve as midwives to an emerging culture. These two tasks are required simultaneously; they call upon us to move through the world with an open heart-meaning we are present for the grief and the pain-as we experiment with new visions and forms for the future. Both are needed. The key is to root our actions in both intelligence and compassion-a balance of head and heart that combines the finest human qualities in our leadership for cultural transformation.