Why farmpunk?

A farmpunk could be described as a neo-agrarian who approaches [agri]culture, community development and/or design with an anarchistic hacker ethos. "Cyber-agrarian" could supplant neo-agrarian, indicating a back-to-the-land perspective that stands apart from past movements because it is heavily informed by conceptual integration in a post-industrial information society (thus "forward to the land" perhaps?) The art and science of modern ecological design—and ultimately, adapting to post-collapse contexts—will be best achieved through the combined arts of cybermancy and geomancy; an embrace of myth and ritual as eco-technologies. In other words: the old ways of bushcraft and woodlore can be combined with modern technoscience (merely another form of lore) in open and decentralized ways that go beyond pure anarcho-primitivism. This blog is an example of just that. Throughout, natural ecologies must be seen as the original cybernetic systems.

**What we call for at the farmpunk headquarters**
°Freedom of information
°Ground-up action + top-down perspectives
°Local agricultural systems (adhering to permaculture/biodynamic principles) as the nuclei of economies
°Bioregional autonomy
°Computers are optional but can be used for good—see peer to peer tech, social media for direct popular management of natural or political disasters (e.g. Arab Spring), or the mission of the hacker collective Anonymous

Monday, September 22, 2008

My positionality...

The blog is an interesting type of narrative because of its nature as a veritable log of mental events that are made available for an audience relatively near the time they have been transubstantiated into text. Blogs don't contain beginnings or ends unless we choose to fabricate them - thus they tend to begin "in the middle" of the story, so to speak, and often a narrative can only be inferred by observing patterns (over time!) that emerge in these rivers of digital print. Indeed, there is something organic about them because they reflect a process that teaches you why it does things only through its own continued unfolding... it is a rare example of entelechy in media (needless to say the majority of media is framed in quite a different way). In the strange synthetic landscape that is the internet, which is always at various stages of decay and growth, and in some places even fossilized, blogs are like these things that somehow seem more alive and autonomous than the other edifices of code that populate cyberspace. They have roots in another world, and it is from there that they are fed, and like a taproot - it is there where they mostly exist.

The reason I'm waxing poetic about blogs as narratives is because I've been thinking, in light of what I've written here so far, about how I might be perceived by someone who doesn't know me and happens upon this blog. Indeed, that is in one part a purpose of this writing project - to reach people who I can't touch with speech, people whose existence and spirit I could never possibly be aware of. I am sensitive to the fact that it is difficult to impart through text things like cynicism and sarcasm -- and I like to entertain myself by devising textual techniques by which to do this, as I value the music of live speech so very much.

I suppose I'm visualizing this entry as an addendum particularly to my post about wheat & grain. My treatment of the Green Revolution may come off as somewhat unmindful. I want to be clear that cynicism should not be mistaken for demonization. I'm not saying that poor Norman Borlaug, or dwarf wheat varieties, or any cause, effect or component of what we now call the "Green Revolution" is or was 'bad', per se. What you see written here are eddies, bubbles, tiny manifestations of a much vaster dialectical river - and as the wetware component to this local dialectic, I have to tell you straight up that I see no phenomena - social, ecological or what-have-you - as inherently good or bad‡; what I am much more inclined to think of as detrimental to my own health as an earthling is something deeper than such superficial phenomena - something that cannot be captured live or seen by any one pair of eyes at one time. This beast is infrastructure. It, like every other system outside of fiction, evolved - however industrially - in response to various pressures; in this case human needs. But whose needs, exactly? Yours? Mine? I can only speak for myself, and I can surely say not mine. This infrastructure is exceptionally good at presenting itself as in servitude of you - it hopes that you will think of it as a process that leads to you and ends with you. But in my experience this is very far from the case. Large artificial systems that replace ecological processes with mechanical ones are uninterested in human health and happiness. And yet (!) I'm still not trying to demonize them by saying that - because they aren't interested in being a detriment to human health and happiness, either. We encounter a challenge when we, with our language that has been designed for human-to-human interaction, come up against a corporate entity that seems to be alive, because it speaks to us by proxy - (through advertisement) - but is in fact not alive the way we are and therefore does not possess the agency of an individual. I know this may sound obvious, but honestly, we do not escape the effects of this continuous mis-communication.

So you have to ask yourself, for example, who does big Agri-biz benefit, and HOW does it benefit them and what is benefit? I certainly know that what I think of as benefit might be very, very different than what someone else might think of as benefit. And honestly, I do not know that any two people might see this word in exactly the same way. All I can know is that it's quite unlikely that its actually a word that has any real meaning given the state of affairs right now.

...I can't help but think, though, what would a plant say, if asked what benefited it? My guess would be, to be concise: Sunlight and water, and nutrients from the soil - moderated to the "right" levels by the natural function of the surrounding ecosystem. It needs not just raw commodities (water and sunlight) to be healthy - but it needs the co-thriving and co-benefiting of other animate beings in its local ecology. IT NEEDS THAT!

We could learn a thing or two from these blade of grass guys.

For example, it does not benefit me that record harvests of grain or corn are being made in the Midwest - in fact, if I check out the EPA's data on how contaminated all of our rivers and streams are because of Agri-biz - then I would find that the extent to which it hurts me far outweighs any way it would "benefit" me (when I say "me", I suppose I mean an earthling sharing a continent with an infrastructure that farms with pharmaceuticals...)
It does not benefit me as an earthling that cows are injected with rBGH so they can produce more milk. Actually, it benefits (the definition of benefit here is "gives money to") industries of scale because when they crunch their numbers they find that they will save money by getting more milk out of one cow as opposed to going to the trouble to feed more cows. I highly doubt that industrial dairy organically benefits ANY human being, much less any plant or animal being. When rBGH was approved in '94, we did not need more milk in this country. The whole market for rBGH was created by its coming-into-being (you can thank Monsanto for this, btw). The reason rBGH was adopted so readily wasn't that Americans wanted or needed more milk - it was because dairy farmers needed to pay the bills. The minimum price processors can pay farmers for milk per hundredweight is set at the government level - if you are a dairy farmer selling liquid milk, you basically have control of what goes into your cow and that's all. Once rBGH existed it was a no-brainer for many. (IOW: You want control; make a value-added product with your milk and SELL IT LOCALLY.)

More food is NOT better in a centralized and vertically integrated food system. It will NOT solve world hunger, or even come anywhere close, I am [not really] sorry to say. It will at best provide short-term "give a man a fish" solutions, much to the detriment of any long term ones. It will also continue to convince people of its own false validity and worth because of the illusion of abundance that it constantly churns out. Sorry, but this is the WRONG KIND of abundance. There are different kinds, see.

We are creatures of habit, yes... and Agri-biz has made a habit out of us. The design of environments and systems that we live within controls our behavior and does a great deal more to dictate our needs than we even realize. For me, deprogramming is as simple as going out into the woods and asking myself "what do I need?"

We have an incredible amount of power as individuals in the space where we choose to act (or not act!) in relationship to the food industry. If you try and explore this power during your walk on earth - you'll never get bored. Guaranteed best game ever.

an expansion on "good and bad", courtesy of the Foreword from "Critical Path" by Buckminster Fuller.

**Warning: He reads like e.e. cummings writing particle physics**

"(Foreword) It is the author's working assumption that the words good and bad are meaningless. This is based on science and not opinion. In 1922 physicists discovered a fundamental complementarity of disparate individual phenomena to be operative in physical Universe. This was fundamentally amplified with the subsequent discovery of the always-and-only-different, always-coexisting proton and neutron which, with their always-coexistent electrons, positrons, neutrinos and antineutrinos, are intertransformable.

No longer valid was "the" building block of the Universe. It was discovered that unity was plural and at minimum sixfold. All the intercomplementations are essential to the successful accomplishment of eternally regenerative Universe. Science's discovery of fundamental complementarity has frequently occasioned individual scientists' realization that the word negative used as the opposite of the word positive is at best carelessly and misinformedly employed.

Since complementarity is essential to the success of eternally regenerative Universe, the phenomenon identified as the opposite of positive cannot be negative, nor can it be bad, since the interopposed phenomena known heretofore as good and bad are essential to the 100-percent success of eternally regenerative Universe. They are both good for the Universe."

(Yes, you read it correctly; he doesn't like using the definite article in front of "Universe". Hence things are "in Universe" (as in, interbeing, or in symphony (in poetic VERSE)) instead of being in "the Universe", which would suppose that the Universe is a noun. To Bucky, it is a verb - as are we.)

1 comment:

Thirtyseven said...

Derrick Jensen's finest moment, to my monkey mind, was when he riffed off Clean Drinking Water being the best basis for a system of morality that he could think of. I tend to agree. Clean water is good, ripe vegetables are good, healthy animals are good. I can get with a biological morality. I don't insist on it, though.