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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Science concedes: Being Here Now is the way to be

Just read this article in the paper today. Cool that science is finding a way to articulate how much being in the moment/having your focus consumed by a single task can be deeply satisfying. I've long understood that humans aren't one-job animals, but I think we're likewise one-job-at-a-time animals. It's not that multi-tasking is bad—but rather the option of multiple tasks is what can wear at your ability to focus on one thing that you really love, for long enough a period of time as to allow you to feel like you've truly connected with/become that thing. Nicholas Carr talks about the cognitive clusterfuck precipitated by the ways some of us interact with cyberculture in his recent book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.
A lot of my own experience with craft/skill/geekdom has corroborated this; it's all about the flow.
Article: When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays (New York Times)


Just so no one thinks I'm implying that daydreaming/mind-wandering is bad: There have also been recent studies about how "letting your mind wander" while at work, say, is beneficial, and that it stimulates creativity— basically it's good for your brain, just like dreaming while you're asleep is! But that stuff isn't actually antithetical to this—I think they're two sides of the same coin. Of course you've got to let your mind wander at work & give yourself "mind breaks"; we haven't evolved to sit at a desk 8 hours a day (thank God!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Commons: Not an inevitable tragedy!

Great study reported at ScienceDaily. People have been using the "tragedy of the commons" to further their political agendas long enough...it's time for some alternative perspectives.

Overcoming the "Tragedy of the Commons": Conditional Cooperation Helps in Forest Preservation

ScienceDaily (Nov. 13, 2010) — Many imminent problems facing the world today, such as deforestation, overfishing, or climate change, can be described as 'commons problems.' The solution to these problems requires cooperation from hundreds and thousands of people. Such large scale cooperation, however, is plagued by the infamous cooperation dilemma. According to the standard prediction, in which each individual follows only his own interests, large-scale cooperation is impossible because free-riders enjoy common benefits without bearing the cost of their provision. Yet, extensive field evidence indicates that many communities are able to manage their commons, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Full article

Post-theism and non-theism: Refreshing alternatives

The excerpt from Wikipedia below is a succinct summation of why I refuse to identify as an atheist even though lots of my peers with whom I share worldviews do identify that way—or at least seem to.

This has been partially inspired because I've recently joined a certain social network with the explicit goal of connecting with other queer and transgendered folks. Many of them are sharp-witted kids who can wax some sweet poetics on gender studies, queer theory, and postmodernism in general. You'd think they'd be accepting of other people's beliefs, right? But actually, lately I've seen a lot of really hurtful, anti-Christian stuff posted. And some of it is even kind of triggering. I guess I've been feeling disappointed - and distanced from a group that I have found such deep, personal solidarity with. I guess it's my problem for assuming queers are socially liberal. Eh.. you live, you learn. I digress.

Anyhow, I disagree that the logical conclusion of the juxtaposition of "our" liberal, pro-queer culture with conservative, religious fundamentalist culture is that liberals should choose to "be atheist". To do so, IMO is to use "atheism" as an aegis for political (and also interpersonal/emotional) motives. The atheist-theist binary sucks, and that's an understatement. (It's non-binary identities all the way down, folks!) Modern “explicit atheism” —stoked by showcasing "neo-atheists" like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennet in pop-culture science mags— is steadily sucking young, intelligent people into its ranks. Dawkins, Dennet, Pinker et al. are scientists, and reductionist ones at that. I actually really like Dawkins and appreciate his work in the realm of evolutionary biology. But they're not scholars of religious studies or theologians (and FYI, theologians can be agnostic or non-theist!) —and the fact that most of the neo-atheists think that the field of religious studies is "dead in the water" is a pretty good indicator to me that I'm going to have to ignore the stuff they say about religion.

Post-theism is a variant of nontheism that proposes to have not so much rejected theism as rendered it obsolete, that God belongs to a stage of human development now past. Within nontheism, post-theism can be contrasted with antitheism. The term appears in Christian liberal theology and Postchristianity.

Frank Hugh Foster in a 1918 lecture announced that modern culture had arrived at a "post-theistic stage" in which humanity has taken possession of the powers of agency and creativity that had formerly been projected upon God.[1] Post-theism thus recognizes the point made by criticism of atheism that atheism may lead to moral defect, but at the same time asserts that the only reason for theism is the prevention of such defects, and that once nontheistic morality has reached maturity, theism has fulfilled its function and may be discarded.

Denys Turner argues that Karl Marx did not choose atheism over theism, but rejected the binary "Feuerbachian" choice altogether, a position which by being post-theistic is at the same time necessarily post-atheistic.[2]

Related ideas include Friedrich Nietzsche's pronouncement that "God is dead", and less pessimistically, the transtheism of Paul Tillich or Pema Chödrön.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Occult Legacy of Nature-Gnosis

The Rosicrucians (an occult Christian brotherhood - not much is known of historical members) call the people who abide by the secrets yielded by natural wisdom "the Followers of the Spherical Art". The following passage from one of the anonymously published 17th century Rosicrucian manifestos (The Fama Fraternitatis) succinctly sums it up. I found this paragraph to be a mind-blowing summation of the results of high-order contemplation of the natural world (which includes one's body). Mental contemplation and ascecis—techniques of bodily discipline—are in fact two aspects of the same endeavor. All is yoga.

"King Solomon testifies of himself, that he upon earnest prayer and
desire did get and obtain such Wisdom of God, that thereby he knew how
the World was created, thereby he understood
the Nature of the Elements, also the time, beginning, middle and end, the increase and decrease, the change of times through the whole Year,
the Revolution of the Year, and
Ordinance of the Stars;
he understood also the properties of tame and wilde

Beasts, the cause of the raigning of the Winds, and minds and intents of
men, all sorts and natures of Plants, vertues of Roots, and others, was not
unknown to him. Now I do not think that there can be found any one
who would not wish and desire with all his heart to be a Partaker of this
noble Treasure..."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why you can't just blame religion: part two

Read the first post in this series here.

Some popular theories of religion focus on defining it as designed to serve some members at the expense of others. But it is not as simple as that. Such theories often reflect political bias and a projection of intention onto founders or religious leaders that simply is not there. I'm always amazed at how many staunch atheists I know who are conspiracy theorists, btw. So the projection of intention onto things is okay when they do it but not when other people do it? Lul.

It would seem to me that "corruption" in or of religious groups (too often referenced in popular discourse) is largely an emergent property—a type of social entropy that naturally unfolds, perhaps revealing "design flaws" in social systems over time. Power and influence accumulate in a small sector of the group and becomes unavailable to the majority of members. Take religious reformation movements, for example. Perhaps they illustrate the need to re-establish "low-entropy" systems through reformation, and the process starts again, though it may be filtered through a different schema. (This is consistent with the definition of entropy as the amount of unavailable energy in a system). David Sloan Wilson writes: "religions not only adapt to their social environments, but also change their social environments, leading to an endless cycle of corruption and renewal..."

So, to all the atheists out there - If religion is 'maladaptive', its 'maladaption' is a function of process, not necessarily intrinsic qualities of a religion! Which leads me to the rather dry, yet tempting conclusion that people are agents of action, not religions. Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Moreover, such 'corruption' can sometimes be unwittingly helped along by prestige bias - mimicry of prestigous or successful individuals by the laity (animals do it too). This can help explain behavior of members of religious cults, for example, who idolize their leaders. There is a human proclivity to mimic the behaviors of successful individuals - this has been studied in the field of evolutionary psychology and anthropology. In the animal kingdom, we can see "success" as ability to successfully attract a mate - thus the common scenario of young males in a band of chimpanzees, for example, copying the behaviors of an alpha male. On the other end of the spectrum, discussions of egalitarian groups (egalitarian in an intra-group sense, not inter-group) are also interesting. However, even here it seems like there exists a "flat hierarchy" where some sort of active process requiring constant feedback is needed to manage 'inevitable social entropy'.

Social cybernetics takes critical thought to a whole new level.