radicalism   639

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a very, very great deal – Snakes and Ladders
Men’s ultimate ends sometimes conflict: choices, at times agonising, and uneasy compromises cannot be avoided. But some needs seem universal. If we can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, extend the area of individual liberty, fight injustice, create the minimum conditions of a decent society, if we can generate a modicum of toleration, of legal and social equality, if we can provide methods of solving social problems without facing men with intolerable alternatives — that would be a very, very great deal. These goals are less glamorous, less exciting than the glittering visions, the absolute certainties, of the revolutionaries; they have less appeal to the idealistic young, who prefer a more dramatic confrontation of vice and virtue, a choice between truth and falsehood, black and white, the possibility of heroic sacrifice on the altar of the good and the just — but the results of working for these more moderate and humane aims lead to a more benevolent and civilised society. The sense of infallibility provided by fantasies is more exciting, but generates madness in societies as well as individuals.

— Isaiah Berlin, “The Three Strands in My Life” (1979)
ideology  religion  injustic  radicalism  moderation  moderates 
19 days ago by slkdj09u4rj90jnflja94
Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts –
"The Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts is debt and grade free experiment in education. It assumes the constructivist maxim that all art propagates the conditions of its own conception and making. The Co-Work Space will address issues having to do with advertising, global warming and the university.

A project by Avi Varma and curated by Sofia Bastidas hosted by SMU Pollock Gallery."



"The Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts is a radical experiment in art and education. It is radical in that it resists, in its conceptualization, design and implementation all paths of least resistance to producing stuff in an art gallery setting. In this way its goal is to avoid the forces of normativity, lassitude, and entropy that have rendered spaces of art, education, spirituality and social justice ultimately toothless in their most contemporary American histories. It asks the fundamental question: What would artists do if Drawing I and its derivatives ceased to exist? The Co-Work Space thinks itself Virgil, and Gagosian the seventh circle of Hell.

The Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts is an experiment in that it has no performative identity to cite as antecedent. The color of its walls is a hopeful guess, yet a guess nonetheless; the arrangement of the space is hopeful, yet a guess nonetheless; its video, sound piece, catalogue, website and this very text itself are hopeful expressions, but ultimately just guesses. What the Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts guesses is that the languages of advertising, the legal-juridical battles of sovereignty for the rights of the environment and for dying species, and the infrastructures of the 21st century such as scalable platforms and co-work spaces are the materials at hand for art making, the way pigment and ground glass were those of Titian. This is guesswork. The Co-Work Space asks the fundamental question, What would art be if it exited the indeterminate, stuff-making paradigms of Contemporary Art?

If since the 13th century, when financier Scrovegni colonized the pagan spaces of the mother-goddess with his chapel and sought out Giotto’s craftwork to absolve him of the sins of usury, art has had social utility as the valuation of value, as the material ordination of financial power, then the Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts asks the question: what would art do if it ceased to be the secret in money and was instead a promise to the world?

This desire is not new. One sees in the persistent references to polytheistic, non-western, non-heteronormative modes of spiritual technique and artistic practice in the Co-Work Space Course Catalogue a deep yearning for art’s separateness to cease and for the practice of art to vacate the gallery, the studio, and its very own rules of engagement. This desire is not new, of course, though the strategies mapped out here may very well be different from those that made Dream House, Spiral Jetty, Lightning Field, General Idea, Ocean Earth Development Corporation, Monument to the Third International, Black Mountain College, EGS, and Temenos such exceptional projects at the end of the twentieth century.

Each of the projects listed abrogated to themselves the right to set an ambitious trajectory in large-scale projects whose duration extended years. They aspired to be alternative universes, let alone alternative spaces. A consequence of such ambition is a strangeness that in effect undermines a sense of reality. And what today is the reality that ineluctably encroaches upon us but that of capitalism, the endless agricultural mess of the anthropocene and global warming, with all of their diverse and expanding algorithms.

The Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts considers itself a vehicle of interstellar and intertemporal travel that seeks to beat the present reality-machine to its ultimate endpoint, and to carve out space for the future before the future is eliminated. That endless grey, timeless world without beginning or end has a name: ecofascism. It is being discerned by activists such as Micah White and intelligence operatives at the Pentagon, who are composing speculative training videos to prepare for it. Both art and politics need to reorient themselves so that their visions are as ambitious as that of their enemies.

Such a reorientation will have a number of consequences. It will create an alternative space; in the language of trauma recovery, a healing vortex. Who will be enlivened? Every single being and body that feels the need to move beyond capitalism and the anthropocene as both a mode of survival and liberation. One only needs to drive past Abilene, Midland, Odessa and smell the sulfurous fumes of oil rigs and hydraulic fracking at 70 miles per hour to realize that Big Oil is Sauron, Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are ringwraiths, and the whole topography of Central Texas is turning into Mordor. To recover from this mass trauma, to escape the ceaseless repetition of the traumatic event both consciously and unconsciously in the central autonomous nervous system, the Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts is a form or resource generation.

Over the course of this installation and its future iterations, participants will use the Co-Work Space platform to create an abundance of resources and projects–all speculative, hyperstitional, and post-contemporary–an abundance that will operate within an ecosystem in permanent toxic shock syndrome yet unable to lift in flight from its own diseased repetitions. The Co-Work Space is a poem performing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy on the vision of the world so that it can see beyond Ivanka Trump’s cleavage.

This process takes place all at once, in the central autonomous nervous system, the Amazon rainforest and the George Bush Turnpike, accelerated, expanding, and iterative.

The Co-Work Space for Potential Dropouts combines elements of both horizontal and vertical political platforms. Though it is a highly structured environment, and though the way one may flow through and experience the Pollock Gallery has a highly narrative framework, participants are highly encouraged to follow their inspiration where it leads them. Sit down, peruse the Course Catalogue, and pursue authors and subjects of one’s interest in the Co-Work Space library. Should one have the time and the inclination, one can watch the promotional videos, read the Course Catalogue and listen to the sound installation; or, likewise, one could gather with friends to perform a seance and invoke the queer spirits and spirits of color through shamanic ritual following the guidance of artist AA Bronson’s course. Then one might form a think tank that seeks to create, perform and iterate seances that encourage hybrid identities such as bisexuality in deep red states, using the instructions from ICA Miami Curator of Programs Gean Moreno’s course on think tanks. That’s not all. One could then try to link to legal frameworks and get the federal government to fund experimental residencies for shamanic research in locations as exotic as Spokane and Northampton. The possibilities for modular combination of course-pursuits and lines of flight are limited only by the participants’ own vision.

It is important to say at this point that the Co-Work Space is not an incubator space. It is not promoting “equity” or “representation” or any other neo-liberal buzzword of “social practice art” that puts the wolf’s work in sheep’s clothing and promotes social stasis. The Co-Work Space is not a closed loop but an expanding cone, whose base intends to incorporate a greater and greater majority of users (the logic of capitalist growth) but whose apex is not the creation of surplus value, but rather a strategy that may explode the terrifying eco-fascist future we seem to be so horrifically hurling towards. Additionally, we want our users to get credit for the projects they create and to build verifiable portfolios. To this end, the Co-Work Space, in March, will begin an experiment in blockchain certification for participants who have dedicated their time and energy to visionary projects. It will grant digital certificates. This is a radical step. Typically only major institutions such as MIT and the European Union have attempted to do the same.

This use of blockchain as a method for certification validates the work participants will do into greater and more global perspectives, above the constraints of the university as we know it.

The politics of the Co-Work Space is in its form and not its content. It is seeking to re-orient art, education, spirituality and justice away from a cyclical and ineffective reactivity towards the obvious and logical endpoint of the neoliberalism (eco-fascism) as it transforms into green-zone demagoguery. The movement for the future needs to be 4 steps ahead and not 3 steps behind if it wants to win. As Nick Srnicek describes, our current de facto response to overwhelming social injustices is invariably a “folk political” one: reactive, humanistic, local, small-scale, paltry, failing. It has no proposal for the future, and it fails to address the problematics of global, complex systems at large. Rather, folk politicians create a circular logic within the problem, whose boundaries they cannot escape.

The future is happening in the present and it is accelerating. Yet its very speed is its vulnerability. The Co-Work Space is not static, it is a project in motion, changing, evolving, truly progressive, in a motion that creates gaps within the establishment. It uses their resources–flexible labor and the university– in order to hack into the common sense of how we see and act within the infrastructures that are already in place.

DROPOUT!"
art  arteducation  dropouts  coworking  globalwarming  highered  education  alternative  constructivism  sofiabastidas  avivarma  radicalism  resistance 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Finding the Future in Radical Rural America | Boston Review
"It's time to rewrite the narrative of “Trump Country.” Rural places weren't always red, and many are turning increasingly blue."



"Rural spaces are often thought of as places absent of things, from people of color to modern amenities to radical politics. The truth, as usual, is more complicated."



"In West Virginia, what is old is new again: the revival of a labor movement, the fight against extractive capitalism, and the continuation of women’s grassroots leadership."



"Appalachia should not be seen as a liability to the left, a place that time and progress forgot. The past itself is not a negative asset."



"To create solidarity in the present, to make change for the future, West Virginians needed to remember their radical past."



"West Virginia’s workers, whether coal miners or teachers, have never benefitted from the state’s natural wealth due to greedy corporations and the politicians they buy."



"It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever."



"The 2016 election still looms over us. But if all you know—or care to know—about Appalachia are election results, then you miss the potential for change. It might feel natural to assume, for example, that the region is doomed to elect conservative leadership. It might seem smart to point at the “D” beside Joe Manchin’s name and think, “It’s better than nothing.” There might be some fleeting concession to political diversity, but in a way that makes it the exception rather than the rule—a spot of blue in Trump Country.

If you believe this, then you might find these examples thin: worthy of individual commendation, but not indicative of the potential for radical change. But where you might look for change, I look for continuity, and it is there that I find the future of the left.

It matters that workers are rising up, and it matters that women are leading. It matters that the fight against extractive capitalism is fiercer than ever. And for all of these actions, it matters that the reasoning is not simply, “this is what is right,” but also, “this is what we do.” That reclamation of identity is powerful. Here, the greatest possible rebuke to the forces that gave us Trump will not be people outside of the region writing sneering columns, and it likely will not start with electoral politics. It will come from ordinary people who turn to their neighbors, relatives, and friends and ask, through their actions, “Which side are you on?”

“Listen to today’s socialists,” political scientist Corey Robin writes,

and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the ‘working class’—not ‘working people’ or ‘working families,’ homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

This is a language the left knows well in Appalachia and many other rural communities. “The socialist argument against capitalism,” Robin says, “isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree.” Indeed, the state motto of West Virginia is montani semper liberi: mountaineers are always free. It was adopted in 1863 to mark West Virginia’s secession from Virginia, a victory that meant these new citizens would not fight a rich man’s war.

There are moments when that freedom feels, to me, unearned. How can one look at our economic conditions and who we have helped elect and claim freedom? But then I imagine the power of people who face their suffering head on and still say, “I am free.” There is no need to visit the future to see the truth in that. There is freedom in fighting old battles because it means that the other side has not won."
rural  westvirginia  politics  policy  us  economics  future  history  democrats  republicans  progressive  race  class  racism  classism  elizabethcatte  aaronbady  nuance  radicalism  socialism  unions  organizing  environment  labor  work  capitalism  inequality  appalachia  coalmining  coal  mining  coreyrobin  grassroots  alexandriaocasio-cortez  workingclass  classwars  poverty  identity  power  change  changemaking  josemanchin  2019 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Sick Woman Theory – Mask Magazine
"The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability and fragility and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it. To protect each other, to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care."
via:anne  disability  feminism  gender  health  anticapitalism  precarity  fragility  care  caring  kinship  radicalism  nursing  nurturing  vulnerability  sociality  social  politics 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Your Sex Is Not Radical | Yasmin Nair
@BrandyLJensen Someone keep Yasmin Nair's head from exploding
polyamory  radicalism 
december 2018 by angelixd
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff - YouTube
"Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more."
richardwolff  karlmarx  academia  academics  capitalism  accounting  us  inequality  communism  socialism  marxism  berniesanders  labor  idealism  materialism  radicalism  philosophy  dialecticalmaterialism  humans  systems  change  friedrichengels  slavery  automation  credit  finance  studentdebt  poverty  unions  organization  systemschange  china  russia  ussr  growth  2016  power  democracy  collectives  collectivism  meansofproduction  society  climatechange  environment  sustainability  rosaluxemburg  militaryindustrialcomplex  pollution  ethics  morality  immorality  ows  occupywallstreet  politics  corruption 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Uses and Abuses of Politics for Sex
People say “the personal is political” a lot, and I think almost always in a reductive way. It doesn’t just mean that our individual “personal” issues—like our sexuality, our families, our fucking—are political negotiations. Is it even useful to call these “personal” issues? Aren’t impersonal issues also political? And if so, everything is political, so why use the word to delineate anything at all?

Perhaps like this: The personal is political because personhood is political. Who gets to be a person and how? How are persons formed, categorized, and organized in and through relations with each other? These are determined by operations of power. The personal is not political because personal choices are necessarily political choices, but because the very terrain of what gets to be a choice and what types of persons get to be choosers—what types of persons get to be—are shaped by political power. The sort of political power that whispers through human histories of convention formation and maintenance, of hierarchy and adherence to it, of regimes of expertise, of oppression, of struggles and paradigm shifts.
sex  politics  radicalism 
october 2018 by max_read
The Creative Independent: On exploring how to be online in radical ways [interview with Tara Vancil, co-creator of Beaker Browser]
"Web developer Tara Vancil discusses the peer-to-peer web, the current state of self-publishing, and the future of the internet."


"[Q] I love that Beaker has a built-in editor. There’s this all-in-one feel to it where you can browse and publish websites from the browser. I was curious what self-publishing means for you and why it’s important?

[A] Well, there’s this myth floating around on the web that the very first web browser, it was called WorldWideWeb, made by Tim Berners-Lee actually had an editor built into it. Now, I’ve never been able to 100% confirm this with him, or anybody, but there’s kind of just the shared history that goes around on the web, so I’m willing to believe it. When I found that out, it was really interesting because we had been building the early prototype of Beaker and it was quite different from what it is now. It did have a button that let you create a website from the browser, so self-publishing was a part of Beaker very early on. But we didn’t fully understand how important facilitating self-publishing would be. It was fairly recently that we decided to put in an editor. We thought it would be too much work to maintain, we thought people wouldn’t care, we thought they’d prefer to use their own editors. And then one day, we just realized like, “You know what? No, a browser really should help people participate in the web.”

So self-publishing, for me, is not necessarily about owning your content. It’s not all about enabling creativity. There are other tools that enable creativity. I think it’s about creating opportunities for the widest swath of people to participate on the web. I think right now, there are so many barriers that can pop up at any given moment when you decide, “I want to make an app, I want to make a game, I want to publish my portfolio, or I want to create an interactive art piece.” With Beaker, self-publishing is about reducing as many of those barriers as possible, so that literally everybody can have some hope of meaningfully participating on the web. Because why not? That’s what the web is. It’s this really strange thing.

I like to call the web humanity’s shared language. We’ve all come together, by some miracle, as a society to define a set of rules and technical standards about how we will communicate, how our computers will communicate with each other, and people all over the world use this. I mean, that’s pretty miraculous that we’ve managed to do that. So why shouldn’t everybody be able to build stuff on it, and share things on it? It seems really sad that right now that’s not the case, and I think it’s also boring.

[Q] There seems to be a general feeling that HTTP doesn’t provide a productive space any longer. Recently there’s been a lot of interest in going offline or just slowing down. I wanted to get your thoughts on the offline first movement and if you align yourself with it?

[A] Offline first is a funny concept to me because it’s rooted in both very corporate ideology and very anti-corporate ideology. So there’s one meaning for offline first, I think it was coined by Google, and this was a way for building applications such that low-power devices in places that have really bad connectivity could cache an application’s or website’s assets so that it can still function well. I think this is an honorable effort to build applications with the expectation that we don’t live in an equitable world, but we have to remember that a corporation like Google is motivated to do that because they want to sell more devices, and they want to further the reach of Gmail and their other tools.

And then there’s the other side of the movement, where offline first means something very different to another group of people. If you’ve heard of Secure Scuttlebutt, it’s a peer-to-peer online friends space. It’s a place for people to post content and share things with their friends without having to connect through something like Twitter or Facebook. And a lot of the folks that participated there in the early days were really interested in finding ways to live a little more independently, to maybe not depend entirely on the electrical grid, or to be able to live on a boat, or to maintain their own garden. I think that reflects an interest in slowing down, and a reaction to the speed of consumption that the web of today demands of us.

So at the end of the day, I think offline first—by both definitions—is rooted in the observation that we don’t live in an equitable world, and modern applications do not serve everybody. They don’t serve every kind of lifestyle. I’m definitely interested in living in a home with electricity and modern amenities but I’m also really interested in doing that responsibly, and I care a lot about my own sanity and other people being able to maintain their sanity in this hyper-connected world. I think a lot of us are perhaps exploring how we do that for the long-term. So I like being online and I want to continue being online, but I think looking to these communities that are exploring how to be online in radical ways, is really important.

[Q] Beaker is a good example of that. In my own exploration of the peer-to-peer web, I’ve needed to either be sent a link directly from somebody, or be in connection with the HTTP web to find websites on the p2p web. I’m curious what the longer-term goals are? Is it sort of like in tandem with the current web, or is the goal to replace HTTP with peer-to-peer protocols?

[A] Yeah, there’s an interesting effect on the peer-to-peer web where you kind of have to bootstrap your experience somehow. You either have to have a chat open with a friend so that you can send links between each other, or you need to have a curated list of websites and projects that you want to visit. And interestingly, I think that’s a problem that the HTTP web suffers from as well. It’s an aggregation problem. If you think back to the early days of the HTTP web, someone—or some company—had to go out there and crawl the web, and collect the links that they found, and then publish them somewhere. That’s just a fact of how networks work. It’s hard to aggregate content independently.

So I think what that means is that if the peer-to-peer web is going to become a part of the web as we know it, then so are search engines and aggregators. And maybe those search engines will use HTTP just because it’s easier for that purpose. Maybe not. I’m not sure that we need to replace HTTP entirely to fix what’s wrong with the web. I think we need to replace HTTP in cases where it encourages centralization of governance over our communities, and it discourages innovation and the ownership of our online experiences. That’s why I think it’s so important that people are able to publish their own websites, for example, because a website can be anything. It can be the place where you post your micro-blogs, like your tweets. It can be a place where you post blog posts, which is pretty obvious. It could be a place where you post photos or art projects, and I feel that the HTTP web makes it so difficult to do that right now. As a result, we’re cornered into the situation where we have to publish on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram. And that’s fine, those are pretty cool platforms, but they also constrain us, and I think we’re starting to understand the limits and the consequences of that.

[Q] It might be a positive thing that you can’t search the peer-to-peer web currently, in that it has to be such a personal connection where my friend will send me a link to a website. HTTP is a constant process of following links to other links. On the p2p web it’s more about accessing a page and then reading it to the end, and then maybe going offline after that.

[A] Yeah, there’s a certain finiteness to it, which is blissful at times. I’m not sure it’ll stay that way forever. There’s a lesson to be learned about how it feels to use the peer-to-peer web. I’ve found websites where I couldn’t believe I found them. It felt like I’d just stumbled upon a treasure. Like, “Wow, this person is out there and they’ve made this thing. I want to read everything they’ve posted,” and then that’s the end of it. It’s a really satisfying experience.

[Q] It also feels like you have to forget what you thought the web was when you’re approaching the p2p web. I find it pretty difficult to describe what the peer-to-peer web is, and I think maybe that’s not just me. It’s broad, it’s many different things, it’s multi-layered.

What does your ideal web look like?

[A] I want a web that I can build on. I love building on the web so much. To me, websites are my canvas. I grew up in a family that I think looked down on anything that smelled of creativity. I grew up hunting, watching football, and playing sports. There’s no creative exploration in that. I became exposed to the creative process fairly late in my life, and the canvas for me is websites. I love the feeling that I get when I sit down with a blank slate, and I know how to use the tools, I know how to wield HTML and CSS and bend it to my will. I want a web that is conducive to that, and I don’t want to just build standalone websites. I would love to build things that are meaningful to people, that have users, and then I want those users to be able to take what I’ve made and be able to shape it into something new.

On the web today, I feel like I can build something amazing, and I can go out and find people who want to use what I’ve built. But it’s a very rigid process. To build something, I first of all probably have to find investment because launching a service on the web, launching an app that’s actually going to get wide usage, is really, really expensive. So I think I want a web that makes that process cheaper, and distributes the cost of bandwidth and storage across its users. And then beyond that, I want a web that doesn’t try to lock down the experience of … [more]
beakerbrowser  taravancil  2018  publishing  self-publishing  online  internet  time  longevity  ephemeral  ephemerality  collaboration  technology  design  decentralization  radicalism  web  webdev  webdesign  seeding  p2p  peertopeer  http  dat  decentralizedweb  independence  hashbase  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  selfpublishing  distributed 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ErynnBrook: "I want to tell you a story about how my mum taught me that I’m allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation. I was maybe 7, I think it was my […]"
[original: https://twitter.com/ErynnBrook/status/1046055387617775616 ]

"I want to tell you a story about how my mum taught me that I’m allowed to leave an uncomfortable situation.

I was maybe 7, I think it was my first sleepover at someone else’s house. I don’t remember the girl’s name. But before I left Mum told me that if I was uncomfortable at any point, for any reason, even if it was in the middle of the night, I could call her.

She was very clear. She said even if her parents have gone to bed I want you to knock on their bedroom door and ask to use the phone. I could call her even if it was late. And if her parents didn’t answer the door to just go find the phone and call her anyway.

She said it doesn’t matter what time it is, you won’t be in trouble and I’ll come get you.

I think I was being teased about something. It definitely wasn’t just I can’t sleep, there was something social going on. But that’s what I did.

The girl’s mom tried to discourage me. She said it was late, I said my mum didn’t care. She said I could sleep on the couch. I said I wanted to go home. She said I was upsetting her daughter, I said she was mean to me.

I remember holding the phone and my mum answered. I said “hi Mum.” She said “you want me to come get you?” I said “yes please.” She said “ask her Mum to help you pack up your things and get your coat on. I’ll be right there.”

And my mum showed up on her doorstep in pajama pants and a coat. The girl’s mum kept apologizing for me calling, my mum put up a hand and said “don’t apologize for my daughter. I want her to know she’s allowed to leave and I’ll be there for her at any time.”

I remember the little crowd of sleepover girls huddled in the far doorway that led to the bedrooms, watching all of this confused and silent. And I remember that mom apologizing. She didn’t seem to know what to say after my mum asked her to stop.

I had more incidents like that as I grew up. My mum did a lot around boundaries with me. I remember her marching me down the street to another girl’s house to ask for an apology in front of her parents.

I remember her telling 3 friends to sit in the front room with their bags packed while they waited for their parents to come get them, after I had told them all to “get out of my house” for teasing me and bullying me.

I remember her coaching me through a speech on how to resign and leave from a hostile work environment when I was in the middle of nowhere at a camp for the summer, and she offered money to get a cab to pick me and my friends up.

I can’t say I’ve always followed my gut on boundaries and discomfort. I can’t say I’ve never swallowed it in order to make others comfortable. But I can say what she taught me was important. It was and still is radical.

It’s radical to have boundaries. And to exercise them. Three things I think were really really important in what she did:

1. She always explicitly said “you can leave if you want to.”
2. She never questioned why, or whether I was overreacting.
3. She showed up.

But I think a lot about the girl’s mum apologizing and how... that’s the norm, actually. What my mum taught me was radical, what that girl’s mum was teaching was the norm. “Just deal with it, don’t trouble anyone, go back to sleep, it’ll be over soon, don’t ruin it.”

And I still get that message from a lot of places. But my mum taught me that I’m allowed to leave.

I see what a privilege that is as an adult. For some people, for some situations, there is no way out. But sometimes, also, we don’t leave because we think we’re not allowed.

So, just in case no one ever told you (or you need a reminder): YOU ARE ALLOWED TO LEAVE.

You can leave a date, a party, a job, a meeting, a commitment. You are allowed. If you’re worried about keeping your word remember that your boundaries are also your word, your integrity.

I wanted to tell this story because the message to stay to make others comfortable is so pervasive, that without actively teaching me that I’m allowed to leave, that’s what I would’ve absorbed.

Hell, I absorbed a lot of it anyway. As an adult, at that camp job, I remember her on the phone saying “what do you want to do?” And not knowing, until she said “do you want to leave?” And I said “can I?” She said “You can always leave. What do you need so you can leave?”

So, if you’re a person like me, who was taught that you’re allowed to leave, keep an eye out for those who weren’t. They may need the reminder. They may need to hear that it’s okay. They may need help. And keep telling yourself that you are allowed. You’re allowed to leave. 💜

Wow this is really taking off! Before it goes too far I wanted to say: I’m seeing this being gendered and while I am a woman and my mother is a woman there’s no gender on this message. I understand the impulse to teach your daughters this but please teach all children.

When you know that you are allowed to leave, when you exercise that boundary, the idea that others are allowed to leave also comes up. Boys stay in uncomfortable situations to fit in as well, they also deserve this lesson.

Trans, non binary and gender non conforming folks often shrink themselves for the comfort of those around them. They deserve this lesson too. Everyone is allowed to leave. No one is obliged to be uncomfortable for others’ comfort or enjoyment. 💜"
children  parenting  boundaries  radicalism  comfort  erynnbrook  discomfort  2018 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Barbara Ehrenreich's Radical Critique of Wellness Culture | The New Republic
"Ehrenreich contemplates with some satisfaction not just the approach of her own death but also the passing of her generation. As the boomers have aged, denial of death, she argues, has moved to the center of American culture, and a vast industrial ecosystem has bloomed to capitalize on it. Across twelve chapters, Ehrenreich surveys the health care system, the culture of old age, the world of “mindfulness,” and the interior workings of the body itself, and finds a fixation on controlling the body, encouraged by cynical and self-interested professionals in the name of “wellness.” Without opposing reasonable, routine maintenance, Ehrenreich observes that the care of the self has become a coercive and exploitative obligation: a string of endless medical tests, drugs, wellness practices, and exercise fads that threaten to become the point of life rather than its sustenance. Someone, obviously, is profiting from all this.

While innumerable think pieces have impugned millennials’ culture of “self-care”—and argued that the generation born in the 1980s and ’90s is fragile, consumerist, and distracted—Ehrenreich redirects such criticisms toward an older crowd. Her book sets out to refute the idea that it’s possible to control the course and shape of one’s own biological or emotional life, and dissects the desire to do so. “Agency is not concentrated in humans or their gods or favorite animals,” she writes. “It is dispersed throughout the universe, right down to the smallest imaginable scale.” We are not, that is, in charge of ourselves."



"While workout culture requires the strict ordering of the body, mindfulness culture has emerged to subject the brain to similarly stringent routines. Mindfulness gurus often begin from the assumption that our mental capacities have been warped and attenuated by the distractions of our age. We need re-centering. Mindfulness teaches that it is possible through discipline and practice to gain a sense of tranquility and focus. Such spiritual discipline, often taking the form of a faux-Buddhist meditation program, can of course be managed through an app on your phone, or, with increasing frequency, might be offered by your employer. Google, for example, keeps on staff a “chief motivator,” who specializes in “fitness for the mind,” while Adobe’s “Project Breathe” program allocates 15 minutes per day for employees to “recharge their batteries.” This fantastical hybrid of exertion and mysticism promises that with enough effort , you too can bend your mind back into shape.

“Whichever prevails in the mind-body duality, the hope, the goal—the cherished assumption,” Ehrenreich summarizes, “is that by working together, the mind and the body can act as a perfectly self-regulating machine.” In this vision, the self is a clockwork mechanism, ideally adapted by natural selection to its circumstances and needing upkeep only in the form of juice cleanses, meditation, CrossFit, and so on. Monitor your data forever and hope to live forever. Like workout culture, wellness is a form of conspicuous consumption. It is only the wealthy who have the resources to maintain the illusion of an integral and bounded self, capable of responsible self-care and thus worthy of social status. The same logic says that those who smoke (read: poor), or don’t eat right (poor again), or don’t exercise enough (also poor) have personally failed and somehow deserve their health problems and low life expectancy."



"Ehrenreich’s political agenda goes largely unstated in Natural Causes, but is nonetheless central to her argument. Since at least the mid-1970s, she has been engaged in a frustrated dialogue with her peers about how they choose to live. In her view, the New Left failed to grasp that its own professional-class origins, status anxieties, and cultural pretensions were the reason that it had not bridged the gap with the working class in the 1960s and 1970s. It was this gap that presented the New Right with its own political opportunity, leading to the ascent of Ronald Reagan and fueling decades of spiraling inequality, resurgent racism, and the backlash against feminism.

The inability of her contemporaries to see themselves with enough distance—either historical distance or from the vantage of elsewhere in the class system—is the subject of some of her best books: Fear of Falling, a study of middle-class insecurity, and Nickel and Dimed, her best-selling undercover report on the difficulties of low-wage employment. At some level, it’s what all her work has been about. In the final pages of Natural Causes, Ehrenreich stages a version of this lifelong dialogue with her peers. She tries to convince them, in the last act, to finally concede that the world does not revolve around them. They can, she proposes, depart without Sturm und Drang.
Two years ago, I sat in a shady backyard around a table of friends, all over sixty, when the conversation turned to the age-appropriate subject of death. Most of those present averred that they were not afraid of death, only of any suffering that might be involved in dying. I did my best to assure them that this could be minimized or eliminated by insisting on a nonmedical death, without the torment of heroic interventions to prolong life by a few hours or days.


It’s a final, existential version of the same argument she’s made forever: for members of her generation and class to see themselves with a touch more perspective.

Despite Ehrenreich’s efforts, this radical message hasn’t resonated among them as widely as she hoped. She has, meanwhile, worked on building institutions that may foster a different outlook in the years to come. In 2012, she founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, an impressive, foundation-backed venture to support journalists reporting on inequality. Ever alert to the threat of social inequality and the responsibility of middle-class radicals, she served until just last year as honorary co-chair of Democratic Socialists of America—that renewed organ of radicalism for the millennial precariat. She is not giving up. “It’s one thing,” she writes, “to die into a dead world and, metaphorically speaking, leave one’s bones to bleach on a desert lit only by a dying star. It is another thing to die into the actual world, which seethes with life, with agency other than our own, and at the very least, with endless possibility.”

It takes a special kind of courage to maintain such humility and optimism across a whole lifetime of losing an argument and documenting the consequences. Barbara Ehrenreich doesn’t meditate. She doesn’t believe in the integral self, coherent consciousness, or the mastery of spirit over matter. She thinks everything is dissolving and reforming, all the time. But she’s not in flux—quite the opposite. She’s never changed her mind, lost her way, or, as far as I can tell, even gotten worn out. There’s the tacit lesson of Natural Causes, conveyed by the author’s biography as much as the book’s content: To sustain political commitment and to manifest social solidarity—fundamentally humble and collective ways of being in the world—is the best self-care."
barbaraehrenreich  mindfulness  wellness  culture  health  boomers  babyboomers  2018  gabrielwinant  politics  self-care  death  generations  perspective  socialism  inequality  dsa  radicalism  millennials  medicine  balance  body  bodies  lifeexpectancy  exercise  self-improvement  westernmedicine  feminism 
may 2018 by robertogreco

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