August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday was an unofficial holiday out at the farm — Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Day. A harvest festival to celebrate the pears becoming ready, we buy a nice block of gorgonzola cheese, candy up a few walnuts from our trees, snip some lettuce from one of the raised beds, toss it all together and chow down. We eat it with whatever else is ripe — this time, a pasta dish with our own fresh tomatoes and basil, sauteed garlic and onions — with whomever of the family is around. There are no rituals, practices, or traditions associated with Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Day except to eat pear and gorgonzola salad. We manage to do that pretty darn well.
Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Day this year prompted a conversation on food, labor, debt, and money. My mom is shocked and appalled that she can’t get people — especially those who go on and on about their farmers markets, their health food stores, and their CSA programs — to drive up to the farm, spend a little bit of time outside, and come home with a box full of free food. I definitely see where she’s coming from — the food is (not at all figuratively) falling off the fucking trees over there. She asked a few times, why don’t people do this? The only thing I could think of at the time — people are intimidated by free things.
Maybe intimidation isn’t the right word. We don’t know how to handle it. And yes, I include myself in this camp. Getting something for free is like incurring a debt I don’t know how to pay back. It doesn’t matter that there is no debt and there is no paying it back — I just have a hard time shaking this compulsion, this feeling that in order for a relationship to be equal, it needs to be reciprocal. And, in order for people to treat me well in the future, I have to make sure the reciprocity in our relationship is actually tilted in their favor, all the time.
This seems like a way of thinking totally colonized by capitalism, and not very befitting of, well, me. But upon coming home, Didi sent me this amazing interview with David Graeber about his new book, and now I’m thinking much more clearly about this. Really only that last sentence is fucked up — the part that assumes that there is some great moral ledger sheet in the sky, upon which deeds and relationships can be quantified, on which reciprocity could be tilted in any direction at all. Debt is part of social interaction, sure, but it’s not the basis of it. And the idea of quantifying it, enforcing it, and never forgiving it, is just sociopathic.
So, new crazy organizing dream: global default day, December 21, 2012.
No? That’s too cute? Well, alright.
August 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
Dear Governor Rick Perry,
Hi. My name is Steve. You are a fifteen-thousand term Texan governor, running for president. I am a twenty-something community organizer anarcho-nerd punk living in the only cold house in Southern California in the middle of August. Obviously, we have a lot in common. But you want to look like a political outsider for your upcoming “prez-o-dential, look it me ma, I’m on TV!” election campaign like the one Sarah Palin’s been living for the last three years so you can steal her demographic, but stay the fuck away from her formal endorsement. I just got a new job and, as a result, I feel generous. I’m going to give you some campaign advice for free. Let’s talk here for a sec.
You recently said you want to try Ben Bernanke for treason. For fucking treason. Usually those kinds of charges are reserved only for my kinds of folks. You said it about one of your folks. This makes me think that maybe Ben Bernanke and I might have something in common instead. But let’s talk a little bit, here. I think you just could be on my side after all.
You don’t actually want Mr. Bernanke for treason. You want him for witchcraft.
I know you’re a big thinker, Rick. You want to go all snippy snippy on the constitution (and the Men’s Bodybuilding community sounds off on their reactions). I’m saying, let’s cut to the chase and bring out the torches!
Of course, you’ve heard of Clarke’s third law. The one that says “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Far as I can tell, more people know have read that quote than know enough about high-level macroeconomics to run the country. Hell, from what we know about the fed after Alan Greenspan’s Holy Papacy, more people will read this blog post than are qualified for that job. If we can’t understand his job well enough to know if he’s doing his job well enough, and we assume that nobody else can understand it either, then he may as well be casting Reparo on a dollar bill at his desk in his office on Constitution Avenue.
Unless, maybe he isn’t. Ohmigod, maybe he’s casting the cruciatus curse instead! Is he a good witch, or a bad witch? Ohmigod, we don’t know!
All we see is our god’s displeasure with us. We’re still unemployed. We can’t get ahead. The ‘comony just won’t work right. Maybe this Pope Bernanke is actually a heretic. A Secret Economancer, high up in a tower, wearing his dark hooded robe and stirring bubbling cauldron. What we need is somebody righteous and just. Someone through whom we may hear the word of god. What we need is a Holy Paladin. Someone like you, Rick Perry! With your square jaw, and your chiseled abs, and… oh my.
God bless you, Grand Inquisitor Perry! An auto-da-fe on the Fed! Politically, it’s the only move you’ve got. If you stick with only treason, you’re left with the small problem of, hm, perhaps he isn’t actually plotting to take down the US government. Boy, would you look stupid then. Aim higher. Point with your pitchfork and find something you can prove. Say it out loud. The Fed, all of them. They’re witches, and goddamnit, whether they’re good witches or bad witches, witches gotsa burn.
Or you could just point out that they’re Jews. That’s been politically expedient plenty of times before. And it accounts for their knowing the dark arts. You see, after studying Talmudic law and the Sefer ha-Zohar, these economy people have learned Qabbalistic magic, and this is how I know. I took one of the magic scrolls made by the Fed and gave it to one of their golems. It sprang to life and gave me a can of Coca-Cola.
I guess I’ve known for a long time that money is a magic spell. It confers benefits and privileges on those who possess it. It acts as a fetish for all the things it could buy. And it only works insofar as all the people believe in it — a concept that should be familiar to you, Rick Perry, as you seem to think that the country would be better off if more people believed in your god.
So go, Grand Paladin Rick Perry! Go forth and smite that foul magic spell that is money. Go forth and destroy capitalism! Go forth and… replace it with your creepy ideal fully privatized government that operates without any income taxation from the people and yet has power over their life and death and ability to reproduce? Uh oh.
On second thought, Rick Perry, stay the fuck away from my campaign advice. I’m sure my folks’ll do fine smashing capitalism without you.