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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

open-flat to closed-sphere cosmography

We often take for granted the implications of the paradigm-shift from a worldview that conceived the world as flat and potentially infinite to a worldview that understood spaceship earth to be a sphere - quite literally a closed loop system (more precisely, a mostly closed-loop system; +/- radiation.) The realization of this geometrical truth about our planet and solar system did, as history reveals, NOT sweep the human population with the viral force that some of us wish it had. There were stronger meme viruses at play (in power) that periodically occluded this vision of the Earth-system in geometric, mathematical and astronomic terms. Instead, the "omni-circular" nature of the earth-system (which symbolizes and contains all other Deep Ecological Principles) has only succeeded in re-formatting select epistemologies. Thus, today we arrive at a piecemeal menu of principles and practices (theory and praxis, doctrine and ritual - call it what you will!) that comprise a haphazardly crafted patchwork of allegorithms (thanks to McKenzie Wark for that word.) Let me define an "allegorithm" as a cosmographic suite of programs; a world-view accompanied by implicit strategic schemata. In our Postmodern-West Medicine Show (a.k.a HERE) we find ourselves having been inducted into multiple allegorithms that may, in light of several benchmarks, particularly the one under discussion, be antithetical to each other. A great example, which has been percolating atop the stove a whole lot these days (see my post on ecological economics) is the disharmony between the human endeavors of economics, religion and science. Of particular concern is the lack of innovative communication between the former two (economics and religion) and the latter (science). Also upsetting is that the Science Game is largely played on a game-board designed by neoclassical economic and Protestant power structures. This severely handicaps the state-space complexity of the game (essentially, the degree of freedom of the scientist-players). This brings me once more to the relieving proposition of post-normal science, which transcends the categories of both science and doctrine.

Before continuing with the issue of cosmography, let's briefly digress so I can elaborate on this. The term "post-normal science" was coined by Silvio O. Funtowicz and Jerome R. Ravetz in papers as early as 1991. I'm thinking about those two quite a bit, since for my Eco-Ec class I'm authoring some metadata for Encyclopedia of Earth under Dr. Funtowicz supervision. (I'm summarizing their 1994 paper "The Worth of a Songbird: Ecological Economics as a Post-Normal Science", the PDF of which you can download here) In their articulation, post normal science is contrasted with 'normal science' (as defined by Thomas Kuhn), the latter of which is generally dogmatic in its framework for problem-solving. Scientific disciplines have 'canonized' methodological toolboxes that are to be used in the discovery of scientific truths by 'professionals' or 'experts' trained in that particular field. The authors propose that scientific research has been conducted in two general categories: "curiosity-motivated" research and "mission-oriented" research (which don't have to be mutually exclusive). Post-normal science is neither of these, but yet still aims to share certain methods and intentions with both of them. Rather, post-normal science is issue (problem) driven. The key concept here is that it is issue-DRIVEN, as opposed to "oriented" or "motivated". This could imply a useful semantical distinction; that the common problems in post-normal sciences (like ecological economics) are the driving forces behind 'research and development'. Thus R & D is propelled or fueled by the need to articulate and solve problems, instead of being "drawn" or "oriented" by an imagined goal in the future - i.e. R & D does not have an 'agenda' by which it is guided in order to meet certain specifications. This ties in to the emphasis Funtowicz and Ravetz place on the need to properly acknowledge the multitude of uncertainty present in our epistemologies - we especially need to recognize this as it applies to knowledge about the functioning & 'cybernetics' of ecological systems, ergo our abilities to predict ecological events and make appropriate policy decisions.

Hmm. Okay, with that said, let's loopback to thinking about cosmography with some Buckyscripture.

This excerpt is from the conclusion to Chapter 2 ("Humans in Universe") of Critical Path

"The British Empire was commanded from the British Isles by great business venturers - the world men who ruled the world's oceans. The British Isles were found to be the most easily defendable shipbuilding bases and were conveniently positioned to rule the whole waterfront of all the European customers of the venturer's Oriental booty. Observing so many ships loaded with so many British sailors (shanghaied out of the British pubs), the world came to identify history's most successful world-outlaw organization as "the British Empire".
This was the first empire of man to occur after we knew that the Earth was a sphere. A sphere is a mathematically finite, omnisymmetrical, closed system. A sphere is finite unity.
As we described in our Introduction, Thomas Malthus, professor of political economics of the East India Company College, was the first economist ever to receive all the vital statistics and economic data from a closed-system world. Once the world is conceived of as a sphere - a finitely closed system - there was no longer an infinite number of possibilities, such as accompanied the misconception of the infinitely extended flat-out world. In an infinite world, with its infinity of possibilities, praying was felt to be "worthwhile."
Because Earth had been discovered by its high-seas masters to be a closed and finite system, the great pirate venturers who controlled the seas took their scientists around the world to discover and disclose to them its exploitable resources. Only because the Earth constituted a closed system could the scientists inspect, in effect, all the species, and only thus was Charles Darwin able to develop the closed-system theory of "evolution of species." Such a theory could not have existed before that. It would have ad to include dragons and sea serpents. All the people in all the previous open-edged empires lived in a system within whose infinity anything could happen or exist. Paganism (or peasantism) wasn't illogical. Geometrically speaking, the pagans could have an infinite number of gods. There were also an infinite number of chances of upsetting the local pattern, which was a most satisfying idea if it happened that the individual didn't like the prevailing local pattern.
It seems strange that we were not taught about the historical, philosophical, and economic significance of the foregoing transition from an open-flat to a closed-sphere world system. Because the churches were strong and the great pirates wished to obscure both their monopoly of riches of the now limited system and their grand world ocean strategy for its control, the significance of the concept of a closed world system was popularly unrealized. The power structure and its patronized educational systems "let well enough alone."


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