Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Expect Resistance

I'm currently reading, among others, a book called Expect Resistance, written and published by the Crimethinc collective. I haven't gotten all that far, but so far, it's quite interesting and thought provoking... I figured I'd share a couple of short excerpts, to show you what I mean...

"Exchange economics presupposes a one-dimensional scale of value, according to which everything can be appraised: if an avocado costs a dollar, and a new sports car costs $20,000, then a sports car must be worth exactly twenty thousand avocados. But such equations are absurd. Can you calculate the financial value of a friendship, or the exchange rate of a clever joke for a meal tenderly prepared, the comparative worth of the sound of birds singing in the trees against the current market value of lumber? Those who would measure such things miss everything that is beautiful and unrepeatable about them; once one recognizes this, it becomes clear how pathological such calculations are in any context. To asses the commercial value of experiences and sensations, let alone trade in the very lives of the human beings around you with an eye to your own advantage, is to flatten the world for yourself and everyone you touch."

"Some call this a democracy--did you get a say in what the billboards you pass every morning say, what they go on repeating inside your head all day, the trees they cut down by your house to make room for the new gas station? How about the preservatives they put in the food you eat, or the conditions in the factories that produce them? What about your wages at work, or how much money the IRS takes from you? These aren't just inevitable "facts of life"--they are the manifestations of conflict as the system of human relations, every man for himself and force against us all. The leagues of intimidating red tape and the battering of woman, the biased news coverage and the inhumanity of factory farms, the jockeying for ascendance between colleagues and countries, all these are simultaneously expressions of the strife at the heart of our civilization and weapons which, used by factions fighting for survival on its terms, perpetuate it."



  1. Yeah, life's a bitch... Does the author propose an alternative that can be achieved without imposing force on some very reluctant people? Utopias can be fun to design. It's the testing process that kills you! :-)

    Seriously, I'm interested in what insights you gain from this book. Keep reading.

  2. @James The authors (it's written by a collective) are less interested in proposing grand ways of, say, changing the world in ten easy steps, and more interested in making the individual reader look at relationships, work, the natural world, and everything else in a new way. It's a call for individuals to reevaluate the way our society works, and to then do whatever they see as the best way to liberate both themselves and others. Other authors (one of my favorites being Derrick Jensen, for instance) focus more on solutions, but even with him the solutions are fairly broad, because most of the authors I read, and the political ideology I subscribe to, realize that both each situation and each person is different, so there is no one size fits all solution. To address your question of how a new way of life could be "imposed" without violence, I truly believe, and I feel all my research backs up the fact, that our civilization is unsustainable, and will collapse in the not too distant future. What we create after that will be up to all of us. I'm not a traditional anarchist (anarcho-communist, anarcho-syndicalist) because I see traditional anarchism as being entirely impossible to achieve, as well as being undesirable. They seek to simply get rid of all leaders and governments, and believe that everything else will continue running without trouble. We live in a society that is built on and maintained by violence, coercion, and hierarchies. You can't just get rid of those things and leave the structure still standing!

    I love Crimethinc's writing for their uplifting idealism and very thought provoking insights.... I'm quite enjoying working my way through their books, and will certainly continue to do so. :-)

  3. CrimethInc has been one of my hugest inspirations; I love their writing, style, and approach so much. I could honestly write an entire article on them, their influence, my opinions of their writings, etc. They have taken a lot of flak from others in the anarchist scene for being "lifestylists", too individualistic, too romanticized, and other things, but in my opinion that approach is exactly what is needed in this culture. The whole western world is based in media and one-sided information-war, and a deliberately-appealing countercurrent to that is a brilliant move in my opinion. At every turn people are being sold death dressed up as something romanticized, why not Life and freedom which actually ARE romantic and inspiring? As far as non-coercive alternatives go... all I can say is that if you exert enough subtle but calculated influence you can help change people's minds, and someone with a changed mind is likely to change their actions and habits as well. When this happens repeatedly and often enough, the tide of history can be turned.

    And of course there's the flipside, that when there is literally no more gasoline and the groceries can't be shipped in from elsewhere, then people will either fend for themselves or die. "Coercive"? I guess. How dare Nature operate according to those "coercive" laws? Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate needless suffering; I work in the caregiving profession so obviously I want to alleviate suffering rather than perpetuate it. But when you consider how much suffering has been caused as a direct result of western consumptive lifestyles... well, the idea of a karmic backlash to that is frightening to say the least. Frightening, yet inevitable, because... well, it's the law of nature, and as offensive and inconvenient as people find those laws, they are in place precisely to keep things in balance and to curb the sort of excess that has been allowed to proliferate. Generation after generation has tried to beat the rule of limits, yet you can't, because without limit and containment, things would expand and inflate indefinitely which is clearly impossible given the finite nature of our world. So honestly, the only "coercion" that's in store is whatever Nature and natural processes have for us. A big part of the problem is thousands of years of human arrogance, thinking that one more system might change things for the better, one more tweak in the structure might be all that's needed, etc., when in reality it's the structure itself that's bankrupt. Of course people are reluctant to let that fall, they've mortgaged their souls for their little piece of it, and honestly who wants to eat gopher and squash when you can have Big Macs and Frappucinnos, right? But when the trucks can't run anymore and the cows and coffee beans can't be delivered, people will have to face the worst demons of all, and that's the sheer force of their own addictions. I'm fighting it too, it's a massive struggle. But I figure it's better to start fighting it now rather than continuing to procrastinate. I know I'm rambling and preaching to the choir here, point being, I'm also really inspired by CrimethInc, and their style and approach. =)