Notes Toward the Formation of Anarchist Permaculture Collectives
1. Rate your job/ Planet of Slums – Young, northern hemispheric Anarchists entering the workplace are becoming more and more aware that their future work life holds nothing for them but an endless series of crap jobs: low wage, boring, slave labor, one job after another. At the same time, our southern hemispheric sisters and brothers come north because at least those crap jobs pay more than they do in the south. For an excellent analysis of the global distribution of crap labor and what it gets you, check out Planet of Slums, by Mike Davis.
2. Human happiness according to Spinoza, is the result of actions of self-improvement. What happens to young anarchists when they see no chance for improvement in their situation? Sadness, substance-abuse, mental anguish, health problems, inability to get along with others, poor-on-poor violence, all the things Wilhelm Reich saw in twenty years of counseling (Introduction to The Mass Psychology of Fascism). These problems exist in the south and in Indigenous communities as well.
3. At the same time, some young Anarchists already have kids or families depending on them to survive in the market economy: to pay rent, taxes, mortgages, medical care, school, food and transportation, shelter, internet and technology. Our relatives from the south and Indigenous relatives seem to know better how to share than the young northerners: the concept and practice of the Anarchist collective in the northern hemisphere isn’t getting much press these days. But sharing costs cuts them, leaving more for those who depend on us. A recent book by Roland Barthes, How to Live Together presents a nice ancient history of small group collectives with its rather ancient vocabulary. Barthes’ ideas could easily be expanded to provide for children and the elderly in a way similar to the Indigenous ‘longhouses’.
4. The problem with Permaculture is it takes time. One has to build a relationship with the land, to protect it, nurture it and take care of it over years, as our Indigenous relatives have shown us. The history of radical collectives tells us that experiments in collective living become targets for the capitalist/colonial powers – they’re broken up pretty quickly. Still, as stated by Sever in a recent Black Seed article, “…we need to begin feeding ourselves in every sense…”. The ideas of permaculture and building a relationship to the land seem essential to a sustainable Anarchism. Land acquisition remains as a subtext to alternatives to capitalist/colonialism.
5. Perhaps we will begin to see young Anarchists having ‘a chance of a chance’. Things are looking pretty bad for the low-income earners of El Norte: more than half of all children live below the poverty line, one in six adults have to use food shelters. Globally, about 10,000 children die every day from lack of clean water and basic antibiotics. More than 3 billion people live on 2 dollars a day or less. Things can only improve, no? Anarchists, lets learn how to ‘feed ourselves in every sense’ and live together!
– Sever. Land and Freedom, in Black Seed #1. http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/sever-land-and-freedom
– Barthes, Roland. How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Everyday Spaces. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.
– Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums . New York: Verso Press, 2006.
– Reich, Wilhelm. The Mass Psychology of Fascism. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980.