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The OA Is Really Canceled—Despite the Hard Work of Fans—And Brit Marling Has a Message | E! News
[original text here:
https://twitter.com/britmarling/status/1165013288532332544
https://www.instagram.com/p/B1hKgS9pUZG/ ]

“To the fans of The OA—

We’re humbled, to be honest floored, by the outpouring of support for The OA. We’ve seen beautiful artwork in eulogy from Japan, France, Brazil. We’ve read moving threads and essays. And we’ve watched dozens and dozens of videos of people all over the world performing the movements with what can only be called perfect feeling. One young person from a wheelchair, another young woman standing astride two horses, a mother in her backyard with her two children at her side and an infant strapped to her back. (link in bio to a site with many of these videos someone has thoughtfully compiled)

Your words and images move us deeply. Not because the show must continue, but because for some people its unexpected cancelation begs larger questions about the role of storytelling and its fate inside late capitalism’s push toward consolidation and economies of scale.

The work you’ve made and shared has also just been very heartening inside our increasingly complex and often bleak time. The more news I take in of the world, the more I often feel terrifyingly certain that we are on the brink of moral and ecological collapse. Sometimes I feel paralyzed by the forces we are up against—greed, fear, vanity. And I can’t help but long for someone to rescue us from ourselves—a politician, an outlaw, a tech baron, an angel. Someone who might take our hand, as if taking the hand of an errant toddler, and gently guide us away from the lunatic precipice that the “logic” of profit unguided by the compass of feeling has brought us to.

Of course, my desire to lie in wait for a hero is nothing new. Nor is the anesthetizing comfort that brings. These concepts were birthed and encouraged by centuries of narrative precedent. We’ve been conditioned to wait.

Almost every story we’ve ever watched, read, been told, held sacred is framed in a single structural form: the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is one man with one goal who goes up against increasing obstacles to win his objective and return to his people with the wisdom needed for all to move forward, to “progress.” This story has played out from Homer’s Odyssey in 8th century BC to every reiteration of the Star Wars franchise. It sallies forth lately with anti-heroes like the beloved Tony Soprano (who, even while doing what we all know to be wrong, is still a hero and the perfect one for late capitalism).

I have loved many of these stories and their heroes. I dressed up as She-Ra “princess of power,” He-Man’s bustier-clad, sword-wielding twin sister for more Halloweens then I care to admit. I have played roles in films where I have been the hero holding the gun and it certainly felt better than playing the female victim at the other end of the barrel. So it’s no surprise that as we face what seem to be increasingly insurmountable obstacles, we scan the horizon for the hero who will come for us. According to the stories we tell it will most likely be a hot man. And he will most likely be wearing brightly colored spandex and exceedingly rich.

But the more I think on this, the more it seems bat-shit crazy. No one is coming to the rescue. We have to save each other. Every day, in small and great ways.

So perhaps, at this late hour inside the dire circumstances of climate change and an ever-widening gap between the Haves and Have-Nots, we are hundreds of years overdue new mythologies that reflect this. Stories with modes of power outside violence and domination. Stories with goals for human agency outside conquest and colonization. Stories that illustrate the power of collective protagonism, or do away with protagonism entirely to illustrate how real, lasting change often occurs—ordinary people, often outsiders, often marginalized—anonymously organizing, working together, achieving small feats one day at a time that eventually form movement.

Steve, BBA, Buck, Jesse, French, Homer, Hap and OA are no longer authoring the story. Neither are Zal or I. You all are. You are standing on street corners in the hot sun in protest. You are meeting new people in strange recesses online and sharing stories about loss and renewal that you never thought you’d tell anyone. You are learning choreography and moving in ways you haven’t dared moved before. All of it is uncomfortable. All of it is agitation. All of it is worth something.

Many of you have expressed your gratitude for this story and for Zal and I and everyone who worked on The OA. But it is all of us who are grateful to you. You’ve broken the mold of storytelling. You’re building something far more beautiful than we did because it’s in real time in real life with real people. It’s rhizomatic—constantly redefining the collective aim as it grows. It’s elliptical—it has no beginning and no real end. And it certainly has no single hero. The show doesn’t need to continue for this feeling to.

The other day Zal and I pulled over to offer a bottle of water and food to a young woman who has been protesting the cancelation of the show on a street corning in Hollywood. As we were leaving she said “you know, what I’m really protesting is late capitalism.” And then she said something that I haven’t been able to forget since: “Algorithms aren’t as smart as we are. They cannot account for love.”

Her words. Not mine. And the story keeps going inside them.”

[See also: https://ew.com/tv/2019/08/24/brit-marling-the-oa-cancelation-fan-hunger-strike/ ]
theoa  britmarling  heroes  latecapitalism  capitalism  storytelling  herosjourney  collectivism  protest  love  solidarity  mutualaid  mythology  protagonism  protagonists  collaboration  humanagenct  conquest  colonization  violence  domination  movements  activism  organizing  wisdom  progress  greed  vanity  climatechange  2019  economics  consolidation  economiesofscale  small  decentralization  hierarchy  form  homer  theodyssey  tonysoprano  thesopranos  power  inequality  fear 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
isra hirsi on Twitter: "fighting against the climate crisis doesn’t equal veganism and beach clean ups, it equals fighting big corporations that are killing millions." / Twitter
"fighting against the climate crisis doesn’t equal veganism and beach clean ups, it equals fighting big corporations that are killing millions.

friendly vegans!! check ur privilege before getting upset at this tweet. many folks can’t afford going vegan and/or are dependent on parents/guardians as their source of food. also some non vegan foods are sacred to many cultures, so let’s not be eurocentric!!"

...

"veganism is 1. inaccessible to many and 2. doesn’t take into account cultures that value certain non vegan foods. i’m not saying veganism doesn’t do anything, but i do think working towards taking down fossil fuel companies is 10x more important and has a bigger impact"
israhirsi  2019  vegan  veganism  climatejustice  climatechange  eurocentrism  privilege  diet  food  pollution  collectivism  individualism  fossilfuels  culture 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Elizabeth Sawin on Twitter: "I’m so frustrated by the framing that says climate change efforts are either systemic change or individual action and that one is a distraction from the other. https://t.co/SeqllDewtI" / Twitter
“I’m so frustrated by the framing that says climate change efforts are either systemic change or individual action and that one is a distraction from the other.

[link to article: “You can’t save the climate by going vegan. Corporate polluters must be held accountable.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/06/03/climate-change-requires-collective-action-more-than-single-acts-column/1275965001/ ]

Many individual actions to slow climate change are worth taking. But they distract from the systemic changes that are needed to avert this crisis.

I mean who would say “treating your female coworkers with respect is just virtue signaling; what we really need is equal pay legislation”. We can work, learn, change, and grow as individuals and work towards systemic change both at once.

Why does this keep coming up? Any insight?

Here’s what I had to say last time this was up.

[link to: “Individual carbon footprints or collective systemic change? Both! - Resilience” https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-03-04/individual-carbon-footprints-or-collective-systemic-change-both/

“What is most important, to live with as small a carbon footprint as possible or to prioritize collective action to change laws, rules, and incentives? For me, this is not the right question to ask.”]

So apparently I’m not ready to let this go. I just got home. Tired/sad/mad from a day of writing about climate change. And here are my beans, almost fully cooked in our “wonderbag” this affordable insulated bag that keeps a pot hot for hours, just by holding the heat in. [two images]

Beans and boiling water went in at noon. Now almost fully cooked and no energy added. I feel a little less mad/sad because of this one small maybe insignificant thing. This is not a distraction. For me it is essential part of keeping going.

There you have it my final word (I promise) but jeez, I want to experience little tastes of the climate safe world we are going to make together, it’s not a distraction and it’s not virtuous, it’s just a little taste of something hopeful.”
elizabethsawin  2019  activism  climatechange  sustainability  individualism  collectivism  thisandthat  systems  actions  vegan  veganism  feminism  virtuesignaling  carbonfootprints  resilience  law  rules  incentives 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub
"Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like."



"William James said of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, “Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their character of loneliness.” That is, if I lose my home, I’m cast out among those who remain comfortable, but if we all lose our homes in the earthquake, we’re in this together. One of my favorite sentences from a 1906 survivor is this: “Then when the dynamite explosions were making the night noisy and keeping everybody awake and anxious, the girls or some of the refugees would start playing the piano, and Billy Delaney and other folks would start singing; so that the place became quite homey and sociable, considering it was on the sidewalk, outside the high school, and the town all around it was on fire.”

I don’t know what Billy Delaney or the girls sang, or what stories the oat gatherers Le Guin writes about might have told. But I do have a metaphor, which is itself a kind of carrier bag and metaphor literally means to carry something beyond, carrying being the basic thing language does, language being great nets we weave to hold meaning. Jonathan Jones, an indigenous Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi Australian artist, has an installation—a great infinity-loop figure eight of feathered objects on a curving wall in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane that mimics a murmuration, one of those great flocks of birds in flight that seems to swell and contract and shift as the myriad individual creatures climb and bank and turn together, not crashing into each other, not drifting apart.

From a distance Jones’s objects look like birds; up close they are traditional tools of stick and stone with feathers attached, tools of making taking flight. The feathers were given to him by hundreds who responded to the call he put out, a murmuration of gatherers. “I’m interested in this idea of collective thinking,” he told a journalist. “How the formation of really beautiful patterns and arrangements in the sky can help us potentially start to understand how we exist in this country, how we operate together, how we can all call ourselves Australians. That we all have our own little ideas which can somehow come together to make something bigger.”

What are human murmurations, I wondered? They are, speaking of choruses, in Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos of Whoville, who find that if every last one of them raises their voice, they become loud enough to save their home. They are a million and a half young people across the globe on March 15 protesting climate change, coalitions led by Native people holding back fossil fuel pipelines across Canada, the lawyers and others who converged on airports all over the US on January 29, 2017, to protest the Muslim ban.

They are the hundreds who turned out in Victoria, BC, to protect a mosque there during Friday prayers the week after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. My cousin Jessica was one of them, and she wrote about how deeply moving it was for her, “At the end, when prayers were over, and the mosque was emptying onto the street, if felt like a wedding, a celebration of love and joy. We all shook hands and hugged and spoke kindly to each other—Muslim, Jew, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist…” We don’t have enough art to make us see and prize these human murmurations even when they are all around us, even when they are doing the most important work on earth."
rebeccasolnit  heroes  change  democracy  collectivism  multitudes  2019  robertmueller  gretathunberg  society  movements  murmurations  relationships  connection  femininity  masculinity  leadership  patience  negotiation  listening  strategy  planning  storytelling  bertoldbrecht  violence  attention  ursulaleguin  williamjames  1906  sanfrancisco  loneliness  comfort  billdelaney  jonathanjones  art  humans  humanism  scale  activism  action 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Pascal’s Climate – Popula
"For a decade or more there has been a cottage industry in telling people that individual action is meaningless in the face of the overwhelming force of climate change. Plane rides don’t matter, eating meat doesn’t matter; 100 companies are causing 71% of the emissions and it is they who are the problem; only governments acting in concert have the remotest chance of arresting the disaster. And so on.

One of the most influential of these arguments, with 328,677 shares at the time of writing, is a much-quoted 2017 Guardian piece by Martin Lukacs, who wrote, “Stop obsessing with how personally green you live–and start collectively taking on corporate power.”

“While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives,” he added, “fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71%. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.”

While I sympathize with Lukacs’s desire to rein in the energy oligarchs, he and other anti-individualists, like Eric Levitz in last week’s Intelligencer, are dead wrong that individual action doesn’t count.

The 71% of emissions that 100 companies are responsible for are producing?? They are mainly the result of extracting and refining fossil fuels that individuals are using for flying and driving and importing bottled water from glaciers and plastic bird feeders from China. Economic questions of supply and demand are far more salient to the matter of emissions than is any aspect of political will.

Human activity is interconnected. When the breakneck demand for these things ends–as indeed it must and will, either in time, or too late–there will no longer be a market for what the energy oligarchs are selling. From a purely logical economic perspective, it’s the only real way to stop them.

Let’s have a look at this remark of Lukacs’s again.

“Collectively taking on corporate power” is just exactly what will happen when millions of individuals stop flying on airplanes, which, again, is a thing that has to happen in order for the planet to survive. Whether through a global individual cap and trade program or simply because individual people collectively realize, together, that they are dooming the Earth and had better drive to their next holiday, is entirely immaterial. Though even a casual witness to the abject stupidity of the world’s politicians must surely suspect that the latter course has better chances.

In any case, the bigger problem with the anti-individualist stance to taking collective action is an even simpler one. There is no way to achieve collective action without individual action. Collective action doesn’t fall off a tree, it is made up of countless individual acts that turn into conversations, writings, meetings, plans. Individual actions are the only material from which collective action can be made, and to suggest that individuals are helpless and somehow just don’t matter now, in the current emergency, at a time of rising confusion, anger, hopelessness and dread, is nothing short of enraging.

[image: The most effective individual steps to tackle climate change
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html ]

In the Intelligencer, Levitz writes: “With climate change, the pointlessness of individual action is especially acute. If you accept the scientific consensus on warming, then you know your personal carbon footprint is a drop in the rising sea. So, why on earth would you feel compelled to lower your quality of life for the sake of cutting carbon emissions by a wholly negligible amount?”

What even?

Why would you even consider dialing back your own special role in destroying the planet? Why not go vacation in Tulum, while you’re at it, why not go befoul The Beach, you saw it in a movie?

It is high time for an end to the nihilist bullshit that is telling the public it doesn’t matter whether or not they eat meat or fly in airplanes. It does. Not least because even a small chance to contribute to a better possible future gives life and work meaning and value—conceivably, maybe, even more value than just obediently swallowing down your consumerist “quality of life,” spoon-fed to you by the loving algorithms of the surveillance state.

A less lemming-like, suicidal, self-loathing, murderous society would just plain say the obvious: every decision matters, in a time of crisis. Individual, collective, political, business: human life is a single gigantic machine of endless complexity, working every second on innumerable levels, and every iota of the machine involves a responsibility to society and to the future.

So if the planet is to survive the effects of human stupidity and shortsightedness—which question, admittedly, does incline the rational mind to pessimism, but still—and if every single decision counts: Why not take the Pascal’s Wager position? Why not act as if success, as if a good surprise, were possible?

In the Oxford philosophical journal The Monist of July 2011 (Vol. 94, No. 3, “Morality and Climate Change”) Avram Hiller’s (really excellent) article “Climate Change and Individual Responsibility” [JSTOR] applied a philosophical and moral lens to these questions. Hiller gives five conjectures “as to why people erroneously do not believe that individual actions have much or any effects” on climate change. They include the “Nero’s Fiddle” effect, which is like “it’s too late, fuck it, it doesn’t matter what I do”; psychic numbing, or failing to reason properly because too freaked out; limited capacity for valuing, or, “I’m too small to matter at all,” and fallacy of double-division, which is kind of like, “I can get away with putting just one straw on the camel’s back; if anything goes wrong it’s not because of me.” But really the first conjecture he gives is the best one.
Selfishness and denial. “In fact, we do in some way understand that individual actions are significant, but are also aware that if we countenance this fact and wish to remain moral, our whole lives must change. So we subconsciously let ourselves believe that small individual actions in fact make no significant difference.”
"
mariabustillos  martinlukacs  sustainability  individuals  collectivism  ericlevitz  nihilism  economics  politics  collectiveaction  individualaction  carbonfootprint  globalwarming  responsibility  society  selfishness  small  local  hyperlocal  energy  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Gnamma #7 - The Teacher's Imposition
"The world is full of bad teaching. And somehow we all get on with it, of course.

Still, I have found it typical that people perk up when they think of their favorite, electrifying teachers. These are people we think about for the rest of our lives, largely because they inform our interests and ways of looking at the world (ontology, value systems, networked ideas, etc) at early ages. Let's talk about teachers, and I want to be clear: everyone directs teachable moments in life (especially guardians and managers). I'm referring to people in explicitly assigned roles to teach. (This thus puts these thoughts largely outside of the realm of unschooling [https://www.are.na/roberto-greco/unschooling ], I think, but I do not know enough to say—would love to understand more in this realm.)

"Why Education is so Difficult And Contentious" [https://www.sfu.ca/~egan/Difficult-article.html ]: TL;DR because when we say education we mean indoctrination, and everybody—teacher, parent, politician, etc—has different opinions on how people should be. It's touchy to talk about forced indoctrination because it both engenders fascism and is the founding idea behind of public education. There are obviously gradients of imposition on the student. Illich supports the need for the pedagogue to connect student to resources, but not much more—a fairly "hands-off" view of the teacher by today's standards. Still, the connective moments are going to reflect the ideology of the pedagogue.

Are teachers necessary for learning? No. Learning is between the student and the world. A quippish phrase I heard a couple times working at RenArts [https://www.renarts.org/ ] was "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think." But education (structured learning with others) requires teachers, basically by definition. Teachers "lead to water" and apply social pressure to encourage partaking.

What makes for a good teacher? Well, I maintain the chief goals of structured learning are to build agency and cultivate awareness in the student (and maybe share specific skillsets). So, what kind of teacher builds agency in the student and cultivates awareness to the extent possible? Some modes of teaching quickly follow: I believe the teacher needs to support open-ended, coherent, and honest activities.

Without open-ended-ness, we lose exploratory and self-actualizing potential. Without coherence, students can get mired in lack of knowing where to start or end (but a little ambiguity isn't bad). Without honesty we lose touch with the world and how to work with our lived realities. By "honesty" here, I mean to be honest about application of material, about history of thought, and about context of the activity itself; as such, the best teaching acknowledges and works with its own context (/media) and the needs of the people in the room.

I am trying to recall where I heard the phrase that "teaching is making space." The teachers frames the room, the activities, the needs, the expectations, the discussions. In doing so, they embed indoctrination into the teaching. In the effort of honesty in the classroom, these framing decisions needs to be made explicit for the students. The effective teacher must constantly wrestle with their internalized epistemologies and ego in seeking to constantly be aware of and share their own framings of the world. (When I ran a workshop for the Free School of Architecture in Summer 2018 on alternative learning communities, I mostly brought with me a long list of questions to answer [https://www.are.na/block/2440950 ] in seeking to understand how one is framing a learning space.)

This need for constant "pariefracture" (a breaking of the frame, expanding the conceptual realm, or meta-level "zooming out"—my friend D.V.'s term) in teaching gave me quite a bit of anxiety, as a teacher, until reading Parker J. Palmer's book "The Courage to Teach," in which he outlines six paradoxes of teaching. [https://www.are.na/block/1685043 and OCRed below ] I like these paradoxes in themselves, but the larger concept that resonated with me was the ability to treat a paradox not as a dead end (as one does in mathematics, generally) but rather as a challenge that can be pulled out and embraced as the dynamo of an ongoing practice. Teaching never resolves: you just wake up tomorrow and give it another shot.

I think what I'm circling around, here, is how much of learning from a teacher involves inheriting their ways of looking, concurrent with the teacher's ways of looking being in constant, self-aware flux. We inherit snapshots of our teachers' worldviews, blend them together over our own substrate of grokking the world, and call it education."

[From Parker J Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach”:

“When I design a classroom session, I am aware of six paradoxical tensions that I want to build into the teaching and learning space. These six are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They are simply mine, offered to illustrate how the principle of paradox might contribute to pedagogical design:

1. The space should be bounded and open.
2. The space should be hospitable and "charged."
3. The space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group.
4. The space should honor the "little" stories of the students and the "big" stories of the disciplines and tradition.
5. The space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of community.
6. The space should welcome both silence and speech.

I want to say a few words about what each of these paradoxes means. Then, to rescue the paradoxes and the reader from death by abstraction, I want to explore some practical ways for classroom teachers to bring these idea to life.“
lukaswinklerprins  teaching  howweteach  parkerpalmer  education  paradox  2019  indoctrination  ivanillich  exploration  boundaries  openness  hospitality  individualism  collectivism  community  silence  speech  support  solitude  disciplines  tradition  personalization  unschooling  deschooling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
SVS/Unschooling Controversy - YouTube
"This is a commentary on the currently controversial article by Daniel Greenberg https://sudburyvalley.org/article/lets-be-clear-sudbury-valley-school-and-un-schooling-have-nothing-common . The article is not summarised during the commentary so it will be necessary to read it before listening. Further discussion is available to join on the forums at www.self-directed.org.

"Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education" can be read here https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/comment/924407 . This commentary is offered by Jeanna L Clements in her private capacity and does not represent any other individual or collective. Please feel free to share. Thank you."
education  schools  schooling  sudburyschools  self-directed  self-directedlearning  progessive  petergray  je'annaclements  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  unschooling  homeschool  deschooling  montessori  northstar  agillearningcenters  agilelearning  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  jeannaclements  individualism  collective  collectivism  parenting  danielgreenberg  children  2018  johnholt  patfarenga  sudburyvalleyschool  agilelearningcenters 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Modeling crowdsourcing as collective problem solving | Scientific Reports
Crowdsourcing is a process of accumulating the ideas, thoughts or information from many independent participants, with aim to find the best solution for a given challenge. Modern information technologies allow for massive number of subjects to be involved in a more or less spontaneous way. Still, the full potentials of crowdsourcing are yet to be reached. We introduce a modeling framework through which we study the effectiveness of crowdsourcing in relation to the level of collectivism in facing the problem. Our findings reveal an intricate relationship between the number of participants and the difficulty of the problem, indicating the optimal size of the crowdsourced group. We discuss our results in the context of modern utilization of crowdsourcing.
Collaboration  CrowdSourcedData  Collectivism  Cognition 
january 2019 by Audiences
Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice Craig Biddle February 20, 2012
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state? With government expanding ever more rapidly—seizing and spending more and more of our money on “entitlement” programs and corporate bailouts, and intruding on our businesses and lives in increasingly onerous ways—the need for clarity on this issue has never been greater. Let us begin by defining the terms at hand.

Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.

Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”1

Individualism or collectivism—which of these ideas is correct? Which has the facts on its side?

Individualism does, and we can see this at every level of philosophic inquiry: from metaphysics, the branch of philosophy concerned with the fundamental nature of reality; to epistemology, the branch concerned with the nature and means of knowledge; to ethics, the branch concerned with the nature of value and proper human action; to politics, the branch concerned with a proper social system.

We’ll take them in turn.

Metaphysics, Individualism, and Collectivism

When we look out at the world and see people, we see separate, distinct individuals. The individuals may be in groups (say, on a soccer team or in a business venture), but the indivisible beings we see are individual people. Each has his own body, his own mind, his own life. Groups, insofar as they exist, are nothing more than individuals who have come together to interact for some purpose. This is an observable fact about the way the world is. It is not a matter of personal opinion or social convention, and it is not rationally debatable. It is a perceptual-level, metaphysically given fact. Things are what they are; human beings are individuals.

Frederick Douglass
A beautiful statement of the metaphysical fact of individualism was provided by former slave Frederick Douglass in a letter he wrote to his ex-“master” Thomas Auld after escaping bondage in Maryland and fleeing to New York. “I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you,” wrote Douglass. “I am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them.” You see, said Douglass,

I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner.2

Although one could quibble with the notion that “God” creates people, Douglass’s basic metaphysical point is clearly sound. Human beings are by nature distinct, separate beings, each with his own body and his own faculties necessary to his own existence. Human beings are not in any way metaphysically attached or dependent on one another; each must use his own mind and direct his own body; no one else can do either for him. People are individuals. “I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons.”

The individual is metaphysically real; he exists in and of himself; he is the basic unit of human life. Groups or collectives of people—whether families, partnerships, communities, or societies—are not metaphysically real; they do not exist in and of themselves; they are not fundamental units of human life. Rather, they are some number of individuals. This is perceptually self-evident. We can see that it is true.

Who says otherwise? Collectivists do. John Dewey, a father of pragmatism and modern “liberalism,” explains the collectivist notion as follows:

Society in its unified and structural character is the fact of the case; the non-social individual is an abstraction arrived at by imagining what man would be if all his human qualities were taken away. Society, as a real whole, is the normal order, and the mass as an aggregate of isolated units is the fiction.3

According to collectivism, the group or society is metaphysically real—and the individual is a mere abstraction, a fiction.4

This, of course, is ridiculous, but there you have it. On the metaphysics of collectivism, you and I (and Mr. Douglass) are fictional, and we become real only insofar as we somehow interrelate with society. As to exactly how we must interrelate with the collective in order to become part of the “real whole,” we’ll hear about that shortly.

Let us turn now to the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge.

Epistemology, Individualism, and Collectivism

What is knowledge? Where does it come from? How do we know what’s true? Knowledge is a mental grasp of a fact (or facts) of reality reached by perceptual observation or a process of reason based thereon.5 Who looks at reality, hears reality, touches reality, reasons about reality—and thereby gains knowledge of reality? The individual does. The individual possesses eyes, ears, hands, and the like. The individual possesses a mind and the capacity to use it. He perceives reality (e.g., dogs, cats, and birds, and death); he integrates his perceptions into concepts (e.g., “dog,” “animal,” and “mortal”); he integrates his concepts into generalizations (e.g., “dogs can bite” and “animals are mortal”); he forms principles (e.g., “animals, including man, must take certain actions in order to remain alive,” and “man requires freedom in order to live and prosper”). And so on. Knowledge is a product of the perceptual observations and mental integrations of individuals.

Of course, individuals can learn from other people, they can teach others what they have learned—and they can do so in groups. But in any such transmission of knowledge, the individual’s senses must do the perceiving, and his mind must do the integrating. Groups don’t have sensory apparatuses or minds; only individuals do. This, too, is simply unassailable.

But that doesn’t stop collectivists from denying it.

The relevant epistemological principle, writes Helen Longino (chair of the philosophy department at Stanford University) is that “knowledge is produced by cognitive processes that are fundamentally social.” Granted, she says, “without individuals there would be no knowledge” because “it is through their sensory system that the natural world enters cognition. . . . The activities of knowledge construction, however, are the activities of individuals in interaction”; thus knowledge “is constructed not by individuals, but by an interactive dialogic community.”6

You can’t make this stuff up. But an “interactive dialogic community” can.

Although it is true (and should be unremarkable) that individuals in a society can exchange ideas and learn from one another, the fact remains that the individual, not the community, has a mind; the individual, not the group, does the thinking; the individual, not society, produces knowledge; and the individual, not society, shares that knowledge with others who, in turn, must use their individual minds if they are to grasp it. Any individual who chooses to observe the facts of reality can see that this is so. The fact that certain “philosophers” (or “dialogic communities”) deny it has no bearing on the truth of the matter.

Correct epistemology—the truth about the nature and source of knowledge—is on the side of individualism, not collectivism.

Next up are the respective views of morality that follow from these foundations.

Ethics, Individualism, and Collectivism

What is the nature of good and bad, right and wrong? How, in principle, should people act? Such are the questions of ethics or morality (I use these terms interchangeably). Why do these questions arise? Why do we need to answer them? Such questions arise and need to be answered only because individuals exist and need principled guidance about how to live and prosper.

We are not born knowing how to survive and achieve happiness, nor do we gain such knowledge automatically, nor, if we do gain it, do we act… [more]
Individualism  Collectivism  Metaphysical  FrederickDouglas  Ethics  Epistemology  AynRand  Politics  Philosophy 
january 2019 by juandante
Bauhaus bus embarks on world tour to explore the school's global legacy
"A bus that looks like the Bauhaus school in Dessau will travel around the world this year, aiming to "unlearn" the influential school's Eurocentric attitudes.

Called Wohnmaschine, which means "living house", the small-scale Bauhaus bus will travel between four cities in 2019, the school's centenary year.

Designed by Berlin-based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel, the 15-square-metre mobile building is created in the image of the iconic workshop wing of the Bauhaus school building in Dessau – a building conceived by founding director Walter Gropius and built in 1919, to embody the school's core principles and values.

It features the same gridded glass walls that wrap around the building, as well as the famous lettering down one side.

Inside is an apartment-like space, containing an area to host exhibitions and workshops, plus a reading room filled with books charting the Bauhaus' history and legacy.

The project, called Spinning Triangles, begins in Dessau. From there the bus will travel to Berlin, where the Bauhaus-Archiv is located, before travelling overseas to Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Hong Kong.

Over the 10-month tour, design collective Savvy Contemporary will host a series of symposiums and workshops that attempt to challenge and "unlearn" colonial attitudes towards modernity, to develop a more global interpretation of the school's teachings.

"This school will not be developed by the geopolitical west, but through the accelerated movement between deeply interwoven places," said Savvy Contemporary.

"Design has power. It creates our environments, our interactions, our being in the world," added the organisation. "For too long, practices and narratives from the global south have been kept at the periphery of the design discourse, been ignored altogether, or appropriated."

Open to the public, the installation is beginning with four workshops in Dessau between 4 and 22 January, exploring the relationship between colonialism and modernity.

"We will face the relations of coloniality and design as well as its various visibilities and invisibilities," explained Savvy Contemporary.

The Wohnmaschine will travel to Berlin between 24 and 27 January to coincide with the opening festival 100 Years Bauhaus, before making its way to Kinshasa for workshops between 4 and 12 April.

Here, hired actors will play out the roles of various colonies, to discuss how everyday environments can be used to create a "collective future". The intention is to develop an inclusive modernist manifesto, devoid of Eurocentric views.

Five representatives from the workshops in Kinshasa will travel back to Berlin to share their research with 40 students at Savvy Contemporary's headquarters between 22 July and 18 August. The aim is to show that "it may not be the south that needs development but the north".

"Words and actions aim to challenge and transform Bauhaus traditions and narratives of modernity and modernism," said the organisers.

Finally, the school will move to Hong Kong's Para Site art space, where it will discuss its research further.

The Bauhaus school in Dessau was only in operation from 1919 until 1923, when it was forced to close by the rising Nazi Party. It later moved to Berlin under the steer of third and final director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, where it occupied a converted factory building.

Today the school operates as a centre for design, research and education, and part of it functions as a hotel. A museum is set open on the campus this year, as the building becomes the centre for the 100 Years Bauhaus festival.

The Bauhaus is the most influential art and design school in history. To mark the centenary of the school's founding, we've created a series of articles exploring the school's key figures and projects."
bauhaus  unlearning  mobile  mobility  nomads  nomadism  learning  education  buses  2019  art  design  vanbole-mentzel  wohnmaschine  berlin  kinshasa  drc  democraticrepublicofthecongo  collective  collectivism  schools  research  architecture  miesvanderrohe 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Ubiquitous Collectivism that Enables America’s Fierce Individualism
"Forbes recently released their 2019 “30 Under 30” list of “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” who are also under 30 years old. A persistent criticism of the list is that many of the people on it are there because of family or other social advantages. As Helen Rosner tweeted of last year’s list:
My take is: all 30 Under 30 lists should include disclosure of parental assets

In a piece for Vox, Aditi Juneja, creator of the Resistance Manual and who was on the 30 Under 30 list last year, writes that Forbes does ask finalists a few questions about their background and finances but also notes they don’t publish those results. Juneja goes on to assert that no one in America is entirely self-made:
Most of us receive government support, for one thing. When asked, 71 percent of Americans say that they are part of a household that has used one of the six most commonly known government benefits — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or unemployment benefits.

And many people who benefit from government largesse fail to realize it: Sixty percent of Americans who claim the mortgage-interest deduction, which applies to homeowners, say they have never used a government program. If you’ve driven on public roads, gone to public school, or used the postal service as part of your business — well, we all rely on collective infrastructure to get ahead.

And then she lists some of the ways in which she has specifically benefitted from things like government programs, having what sounds like a stable home environment, and her parents having sufficient income to save money for her higher education.
I went to public schools through eighth grade. My parents were able to save for some of my college costs through a plan that provides tax relief for those savings. I stayed on my parent’s health insurance until I was 26 under the Affordable Care Act. I have received the earned income tax credit, targeted at those with low or moderate income. I took out federal student loans to go to law school.

Juneja’s piece reminds me of this old post about how conservatives often gloss over all of the things that the government does for its citizens:
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

And also of mayor Pete Buttigieg’s idea of a more progressive definition of freedom:
Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.

Lists like 30 Under 30 reinforce the idea of American individualism at the expense of the deep spirit & practice of collectivism that pervades daily American life. America’s fierce individuals need each other. Let’s celebrate and enable that."
kottke  us  individualism  collectivism  aditijuneja  resistance  culture  government  publicgood  helenrosner  petebuttigieg  politics  30under30  class  society  delusions  myths  entrepreneurship  privilege  infrastructure 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Audrey Watters on Twitter: "I'm sorry. But I have a rant about "personalized learning" https://t.co/lgVgCZBae7"
"I'm sorry. But I have a rant about "personalized learning" https://www.npr.org/2018/11/16/657895964/the-future-of-learning-well-it-s-personal

"Personalized learning" is not new. Know your history. It predates "Silicon Valley" and it pre-dates educational computing and it most certainly pre-dates Khan Academy and it pre-dates Sal Khan.

Even the way in which Sal Khan describes "personalized learning" -- "students move at their own pace" until they've mastered a question or topic -- is very, very old.

Educational psychologists have been building machines to do this -- supposedly to function like a tutor -- for almost 100 years.

The push to "personalize" education *with machines* has been happening for over a century thanks to educational psychology AND of course educational testing. This push is also deeply intertwined with ideas about efficiency and individualism. (& as such it is profoundly American)

Stop acting like "personalized learning" is this brand new thing just because the ed-tech salespeople and ed reformers want you to buy it. Maybe start asking why all these efforts have failed in the past -- with and without machines. Ever heard of the Dalton Plan, for example?

And good god, don't say past efforts failed because computers are so amazing today. School software sucks. People who tell you otherwise are liars.

Also: as democracy seems to be collapsing all around us, perhaps it's not such a fine time to abandoned shared intellectual spaces and shared intellectual understanding, eh? Perhaps we should be talking about more communal, democratic practices and less personalized learning?

Also: stop taking people seriously who talk about the history of school and the only book they seem to have read on the topic is one by John Taylor Gatto. Thanks in advance.

(On the other hand, keep it up. This all makes a perfect Introduction for my book)"
personalization  personalizedlearning  2018  audreywatters  history  education  edtech  siliconvalley  memory  salkhan  khanacademy  psychology  testing  individualism  efficiency  democracy  daltonplan  johntaylorgatto  communalism  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  collectivism  us 
november 2018 by robertogreco
David Adams on Twitter: "The more power the left gains, the more vociferously will entrenched interests fight back. We better have a lot more in our arsenal than sarcasm and call-outs. Twitter is exactly the wrong place to prepare."
"The more power the left gains, the more vociferously will entrenched interests fight back. We better have a lot more in our arsenal than sarcasm and call-outs. Twitter is exactly the wrong place to prepare.

A few accounts miraculously navigate this poisoned discursive terrain adroitly. @BlackSocialists comes immediately to mind. They do Twitter "wrong" and it's wonderful to see.

That sort of patient, clear, drama- and hyperbole-free presentation is something to learn from. Stick to the principles, stick to the material analysis, dodge around the feints and discursive traps of the opposition.

These are skills we have to put real effort into learning, but then, they don't call it a fight or a struggle because it comes automatically, right? These rhetorical skills are part of our basic training.

Going for the sick own, the oh-snap fireworks, is about your own personal brand, your lil ego, & that, folks, is commodification in action. Socialism isn't about you-as-atomized-individual. It's about us, building understanding, seeing above the spectacle, gaining power together."
davidadams  twitter  socialism  activism  education  ego  personalbranding  solidarity  collectivism  bsa  blacksocialistsofamerica  socialmedia  individualism  howto  organizing  resistance  struggle  sarcasm  callouts  training  opposition 
november 2018 by robertogreco

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