[Diggers350] Twitter will set you free to Occupy

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at tlio.org.uk
Mon Jan 9 20:27:10 GMT 2012

This is a nice thoughtful article — but the theory that it is all  
kicking off because of social media is overplayed. The Peasants  
revolt, the French revolution, 1848, the Russian Revolution, 1968,  
the 1990's road protests, etc etc all kicked off without either email  
or social media.

It's interesting that the writer views the Occupy movement as urban.  
For those who don't get The  Land magazine here is our take on that   
on that theme, from an editorial in the latest issue, just out.



Get Real
  . . . [There is] one aspect of the Occupy movement that is not  
often remarked on — that it is by its very nature an urban movement.  
Rural people live too far away from the heart of the beast to commute  
to or from a permanent occupation. And those of us who are involved  
in the quintessential rural activity of managing land can’t occupy  
on a permanent basis because we have responsibilities — land to  
work, crops to water, cows to milk, chickens to feed. This intrinsic  
urban bias influences the messages that have been coming out of the  
occupation — only half the anti-capitalist movement is represented.
The verdict of the more blinkered mainstream commentators is that  
Occupy doesn’t have any ideas or agenda, beyond a  juvenile  
dissatisfaction with capitalism. This is far from the case — the  
occupy movement is probably as fertile a breeding ground for social  
criticism as Paris 1968 or the 1990s road protests, as anyone can  
discover by perusing the programme of its Free University, or  
following the on-line policy discussions.
Understandably, the discussion is mainly about finance. Either there  
are a surprising number of economists at Occupy, or else lots of  
people there have been boning up on matters such as fractional  
reserve banking, derivatives, quantitative easing, the Glass Steagal  
Act and the Tobin Tax. Because it is an urban movement, the theorists  
at Occupy look to fiscal solutions to address the grotesque  
inequities created by modern capitalism: taxing financial  
transactions, separating investment banks from High Street Banks,  
stopping offshore tax havens, increasing the income tax threshold to  
minimum wage and so on.
 From a rural perspective, this all seems rather rarefied: all these  
financial shenanigans are secondary because money is only a symbol  
for what really matters, which is stuff — physical resources such as  
land, water, food,  fibre, fertility, building materials, minerals   
and fuel.
In the countryside,  the “one per cent” are not  the people with  
seven figure sums flitting in and out of  hedge funds or stashed in  
tax havens, but the people  who own this stuff because they have sunk  
their wealth in property: namely the 35,000 members of the CLA who  
between them possess half of Britain, and are paid handsomely by the  
CAP to do so, and the incomers whose inflated urban salaries enable  
them to outcompete rural workers for farms, cottages and agricultural  
The financial divide does not only run between rich and poor; it runs  
between town and country, with the terms of trade continually edging  
in favour of the town, just as they continually shift in favour of  
industrialised nations and against third world peasantry. While   
service industry wages rise with the cost of property, farmers are  
pitted against each other in a global race to the bottom, so  that  
the typical gross profit on a grown pig barely reaches £5, and on a  
broiler hen it is about 17p. Only massive farms employing almost no- 
one can survive on these margins. The town sucks the rural economy  
dry, and ever since Adam Smith this has been an avowed objective of  
the capitalist elite — as can be seen in the recent call of  
India’s Home Minister for 70 per cent of Indians to be living in  
cities, a scenario that requires the relocation of half a billion  
Few of these issues have surfaced at Occupy LSX, so it is  about time  
that we anticapitalist bumpkins organised our own  occupation. We  
can’t take over the city permanently, but we do have the wherewithal  
to cause a reasonable dose of chaos in a single day.  We can fill the  
pavements of Covent Garden with truckloads of supermarket reject veg.  
We can plough up horse-sick acres in the green belt and plant spuds.  
We can join arms with the urban peasants growing food on wasteland  
and rooftops, who want their city to do something more useful than  
gamble with funny money. We can troop herds of sheep and cattle down  
High Holborn to put life back into Smithfield Market. We can smuggle  
well-greased weaners into Tesco in rucksacks and shopping bags and  
let them go all at once. Let’s turn the Stock Exchange into the  
Livestock Exchange. For too long the city has colonised the  
countryside, it is high time the countryside occupied the city.

The Land

Monkton Wyld Court
01297 561359
chapter7 at tlio.org.uk


On 9 Jan 2012, at 15:10, Paul Mobbs wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> So, are the social media a distraction from acting in the real  
> world, or are
> they the platform that creates the network which will enable real- 
> world change?
> As we post on lists, forums and update our web sites, I think  
> that's a question
> that should occupy us all! -- are we making something that's  
> "real", or are we
> Narcissae staring into the electronic pond?
> Mason's last book, 'Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed', was  
> quite good, so
> this new one sounds work a look.
> P.
> http://transitionvoice.com/2012/01/twitter-will-set-you-free-to- 
> occupy/
> Twitter will set you free to Occupy
> Erik Curren, Transition Voice, January 9th 2012
> I’m pretty conflicted about computers and the Internet these  
> days.
> On the one hand, I run an internet magazine, build websites for  
> small businesses
> and local good causes alike and even get paid to help people use  
> Facebook and
> Twitter. It’s fun too, since we all know that the web is the  
> ultimate instant
> gratifier. Where else can you write an article or make a change to  
> a visual
> design and, within minutes, hear back about it from somebody  
> halfway around the
> world? It’s all too easy, it’s all too quick and it’s  
> all too cheap. And the
> reach is broad.
> On the other hand, I worry that I spend too much time online under  
> the delusion
> that what I do there matters more than it perhaps it really does.  
> Sensible
> people caution that the “friends” you make while staring  
> at a screen can never
> be very close. Does the online activism you do with these friends  
> really make
> the world a better place?
> Weak ties vs strong ties
> As Malcolm Gladwell has argued, Tweeting and Facebooking may feel  
> like doing
> something, but real activism requires comrades connected by  
> “strong” bonds in
> the physical world. His example: young black men  in the 1960s were  
> only willing
> to sit in at lunch counters in the South and risk arrest, beatings  
> and worse
> because they grew up in the same towns and their families went to  
> the same
> churches together. It was deep trust built the old fashioned way.
> The Occupy movement seems to prove Gladwell wrong, at least  
> according to BBC
> economics editor Paul Mason. Mason’s new book, Why It’s  
> Kicking Off Everywhere:
> the New Global Revolutions, surveys activist actions and  
> encampments from Tahrir
> to Syntagma Square in Athens to Zuccotti Park and finds that each  
> one was driven
> by a group of overeducated and underemployed young people jacked  
> into technology
> like no revolutionaries since The Matrix.
> For Mason, @littlemisswilde, who ran the Occupy Twitter feed at  
> University
> College London and has since become a celebrity blogger, is typical:
>     She could write the story of her life through social media, she  
> tells me:
> Bebo as a kid, MySpace as a teenager. Her sisters know nothing else  
> but Facebook
> and move around it frighteningly unconscious that it’s new:  
> “For me it’s second
> nature — I tweet in my dreams. I can’t imagine where  
> it’s going next, but it’s
> completely inseparable from my personality. In the future, when a  
> child is born,
> it will be given a Twitter account.”
> The network will triumph in the end
> Mason makes a good case that without social media’s ability to  
> offer a democratic
> alternative to TV and other media controlled by oppressive regimes,  
> the
> upheavals of 2011 might not have happened at all. Even further,  
> Mason predicts
> that social media is now creating a global network effect that may  
> be activists’
> most powerful tool in the future.
> Sounding like a tech start-up CEO speaking at a TED conference,  
> Mason posits
> that a network, such as a group of youth activists connected by  
> social media,
> will always defeat a hierarchy like a repressive government or a big
> corporation. Already, he writes, the prevalence of various networks  
> online and
> off has started “to erode power relationships that we had come  
> to believe were
> permanent features of capitalism: the helplessness of the consumer,  
> the
> military-style hierarchy of boss and underlings at work, the power  
> of mainstream
> media empires to shape ideology, the repressive capabilities of the  
> state and
> the inevitability of monopolization by large corporations.”
> Inspired by the open-source software movement, Mason goes on to  
> predict that
> hyperlinked activism could help create a new kind of evolved human  
> consciousness
> in the future that’s more about sharing than owning and could  
> help solve some of
> the world’s biggest problems, starting with the liberation of  
> the 99%.
> What about the limits to growth?
> As a guy who already feels guilty for the eight or ten hours a day,  
> six days a
> week, that I spend online, it’s hard for me to follow Mason  
> quite this far. But
> when I also consider that  the physical limits to human expansion  
> on a finite
> planet could make global economic growth at current rates difficult  
> to maintain in
> coming years, I wonder if the world will continue to become ever  
> more wired. Is
> it posible instead that communications advances may slow, stop or  
> even reverse
> as the economy comes under pressure from climate change, peak oil  
> and other
> natural limits to human growth?
> Mason doesn’t sound too worried. Though he briefly alludes to a  
> coming energy
> crisis, Mason seems to agree with @littlemisswilde that fetuses of  
> the future
> will Tweet from the womb.
> But the wired activists that Mason celebrates are able to imagine  
> and even
> desire a lower-tech world. Many young people have responded to the  
> youth
> unemployment that Mason finds to be a key motivator to Occupy —  
> running as high
> as Spain’s 46% — not by occupying urban public spaces but  
> by at least partially
> opting out of corporate-run consumer culture through simple living,  
> urban
> homesteading or the Transition movement.
> Other young people, such as the farmers profiled in the film The  
> Greenhorns, have
> gone even further and have decided to get the heck out of Dodge.   
> Young farmers
> may still keep up their Twitter feed. But if you listen to  
> today’s back-to-the-
> landers, transcendence will not come via the Borg but by getting  
> dirt under
> their fingernails, installing a wood stove or growing heirloom  
> tomatoes.
> Escape from New York
> Mason is correct that Occupy is essentially an urban movement,  
> staged like most
> traditional dissent in the global megacities “in which reside  
> the three tribes
> of discontent — the youth, the slum-dwellers and the working  
> class.” But to
> achieve the goal of Occupy, to free the 99% from control by the 1%,  
> it won’t be
> enough to take back urban space. We need to occupy the countryside  
> too.
> Perhaps unquestioned dominance of the city over rural areas is a  
> problem that
> Occupy should address. After all, farms, villages and small towns  
> are where most
> humans lived before the rise of industrial capitalism. And as John  
> Michael Greer
> recently argued so convincingly in his book The Wealth of Nature, the
> countryside is where the source of all real economic value in the  
> economy
> originates. The city is merely a place to collect the products of  
> nature and
> turn them into money.
> Remembering this self-evident truth, I wonder if the time I spend  
> online
> publishing, re-Tweeting, friending and liking is very well spent.  
> And if a man
> as wise as Wendell Berry still refuses to type his manuscripts on a  
> computer,
> then I can’t help but be skeptical that social media will do  
> much to make us
> better people.
> However, Mason is right that social media can help those who care  
> about politics
> become much better informed and provide an egalitarian and  
> supportive community
> based on sharing. So I’m willing to be convinced that the  
> network effect may have
> some beneficial effect on human consciousness, even if a person who  
> wants to be
> whole can’t live on Tweeting alone.
> And even if you don’t share Mason’s enthusiasm for  
> technology, his book provides
> a useful overview of 2011′s greatest hits in activism,  filled  
> with many
> fascinating clarifications on that important recent history (fact:  
> no lovers of
> democracy, the Egyptian military had its own self-interested reason  
> for
> supporting the students who ousted Mubarak). Why It’s Kicking  
> Off Everywhere
> shouldn’t be missed by anyone who cares about the Occupy  
> movement.
> - --
> .
> "We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
> nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
> for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
> that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
> righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
> God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
> (Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')
> Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
> For details see http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ebo/
> Read my 'essay' weblog, "Ecolonomics", at:
> http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ecolonomics/
> Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
> 3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
> tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
> email - mobbsey at gn.apc.org
> website - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml
> public key - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/mobbsey-2011.asc
> Version: GnuPG v2.0.16 (GNU/Linux)
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