Open question to and about Zadie Smith, Orhan Pamuk, Grass and Atwood: agents of U.S. Empire or just ignorant?

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In The Guardian today we can read:

Turkey’s Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has said that the situation in his country “is going from bad to worse and even towards terrible” following the government’s attempts to block access to Twitter, as a phalanx of major writers, from Zadie Smith to Günter Grass, line up to state their “grave concern” about “the freedom of words” in Turkey today.

The authors, who also include Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Grass and Pamuk’s fellow Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek, have added their names to a joint letter from PEN International and English PEN which calls last week’s ban on Twitter “an unacceptable violation of the right to freedom of speech”. The Turkish government restricted access to the micro-blogging website, and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan indicated the ban could be extended further, saying he would not “leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook” and pledging to “take the necessary steps in the strongest way”.

So they are writers, but can they read? Are they in the know, or just talking out of their privileged arses, repeating stuff they picked up in their echo chambers of comfort?

Colonos invite these fine (elitist) writers to read this article, which shows that Twitter is a tool for power twats that s being used to manipulate entire population, subvert cultures, and destroy countries: US Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007, including a timeline from which an excerpt is pasted here:

2009-2010: In an April 2011 AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, admitted that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to admit that the US (emphasis added) “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.” AFP: “US Trains Activists to Evade Security Forces,” April 8, 2011.

2011: Posner’s US trained, funded, and equipped activists return to their respective countries across the Arab World to begin their “ripple effect.” Protests, vandalism , and arson sweep across Syria and “rooftop snipers” begin attacking both protesters and Syrian security forces, just as Western-backed movements were documented doing in Bangkok, Thailand one year earlier. With a similar gambit already unfolding in Libya, US senators begin threatening Syria with long planned and sought after military intervention. Land Destroyer: “Syria: Intervention Inevitable,” April 29, 2011.

And just the other day The Guardian also reported that funding has been awarded to research institutions exploring how false avatars – controlled by government agents – can be deployed in “social media” and discussion forums and so on, to control, distort, change, modify and do whatver else is necessary to keep the public opinion in line with the powers that be.

So, Zadie Smith, Orhan Pamuk, Grass and Atwood et al: what are you? Evil or ignorant?

Russell Brand says it.

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The viral Jeremy Paxman / Newsnight interview – or is it a monologue – with Russell Brand. It feels as if the lost voices of generations are suddenly being heard. Are you listening?

Against the grain: Crops, Towns, Government by James C. Scott

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This is a post with a bunch of quotes and an introduction to an informative book review.

First of all it is time recycle an old school statement:

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” – William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

There is a world out there for us to see. Not made of the stuff they told you in school. (By the way, did you see the new film by Erwin Wagenhofer called Alphabet? It’s tagline goes: “98% of all children come into this world highly gifted. After school it is only 2%”.)

Indeed, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught”, as that Wilde Oscar said. Recently an EU Parliament Report told us that “Europe Has 880,000 Slave Laborers” – they didnt say that in school, in fact they always said that we were the great liberators of the slaves. But there is more to it than that :”including 270,000 victims of sexual exploitation”.

Once the fog they filled our heads with has cleared, we see that we’re in a haze.

“The fact is that slaving was at the very centre of state-making. It is impossible to exaggerate the massive effects of this human commodity on stateless societies. Wars between states became a kind of booty capitalism, where the major prize was human traffic. The slave trade then completely transformed the non-state ‘tribal zone’. Some groups specialised in slave-raiding, mounting expeditions against weaker and more isolated groups and then selling them to intermediaries or directly at slave markets”.

Consider these words…

“Before, say, 1500, most populations had a sporting chance of remaining out of the clutches of states and empires, which were still relatively weak and, given low rates of urbanisation and forest clearance, still had access to foraged foods. On this account, our world of grains and states is a mere blink of the eye (0.25 per cent), in the historical adventure of our species.” (James C. Scott, 2013)

The work of James Scott is some of the finest that the academy has to offer. That doesn’t say a lot, of course, but it is certainly worth a read. His books are all interesting, even if some basic ideas are recycled, as is common in (academic) writing. Here is a selection:

  • Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play. Princeton University Press, 2012 ISBN 0-691-15529-1
  • The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. Yale University Press, 2009 ISBN 0-300-15228-0
  • Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press, 1998 ISBN 0-300-07016-0
  • Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. Yale University Press, 1990 ISBN 0-300-04705-3
  • Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. Yale University Press, 1985 ISBN 0-300-03336-2
  • The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia. Yale University Press, 1979 ISBN 0-300-01862-2

It is a review of a book by someone called Jared Semiprecious or something like that. Apparently not really that interesting in the end, but the review has some golden nuggets:

Crops, Towns, Government

James C. Scott

The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
Penguin, 498 pp, £28.99, September,

It’s a good bet a culture is in trouble when its best-known intellectuals start ransacking the cultural inventory of its ancestors and its contemporary inferiors for tips on how to live. The malaise is all the more remarkable when the culture in question is the modern American variant of Enlightenment rationalism and progress, a creed not known for self-doubt or failures of nerve. The deeper the trouble, the more we are seen to have lost our way, the further we must go spatially and temporally to find the cultural models that will help us. In the stronger versions of this quest, there is either a place – a Shangri-la – or a time, a Golden Age, that promises to reset our compass to true north. Anthropology and history implicitly promise to provide such models. Anthropology can show us radically different and satisfying forms of human affiliation and co-operation that do not depend on the nuclear family or inherited wealth. History can show that the social and political arrangements we take for granted are the contingent result of a unique historical conjuncture.

It might also be worth taking a look at Richard Manning’s ““Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization”. “The End of Capitalism”, who says that “A new world is on its way. We are building it, one day at a time”, says this about Dick Mannings musings:

“The book begins by exploring the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, in many ways superior to our own even at the height of industrial capitalism. Hunter-gatherers, it turns out, ate a wider variety of tasty foods, worked far less, and lived much more sensually and connected than “civilized” humans. About 10,000 years ago, certain groups of humans traded all this in for security, namely the ability to stay in one spot and harvest grain to be stored for future food.

What this crop manipulation produced, however, was the first wealth inequality known to the species, as leaders left working the fields to their followers. In time, these stationary and hierarchical societies expanded and conquered/killed their hunter-gatherer neighbors. Soon enough crops like wheat, corn, and rice spread across the globe through violence and disease.”

A paleo retreat on the rocks in Ardeche

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A plug for:

|on the rocks | paleo retreat |

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http://lagorcerocks.com

What our guests say:

“…a healthy portion of heaven on the rocks…”

Amy Hughes (England) – October 2013:

“This was our second visit on the rocks, which is situated in the beautiful Ardeche region and we really enjoyed our walks out through local woodland and to waterfalls. The village of Lagorce feels as if it is straight from another time in history with its unspoiled limestone buildings with vaulted ceilings. The retreat is possibly the most stunning example of this architecture and the views from the dining table can only be matched by the wonderful food upon it. We ate like kings and the food was local, fresh and organic.

We also learnt new recipes and gained valuable advice about the local area from our warm and welcoming hosts. I would really recommend this place to anyone seeking a quiet, healthy retreat that takes you far from the trappings of modern life.

We will back – again – next year!”

Stayed for two weeks, in September 2013.

“…connections between mental health and grains in your diet…”

Sarah Thomas (England) – February 2013:

“My husband and I stayed with Nina and Martin in January as part of a circuitous train journey through France. Coming for the landscape at such a peaceful time of year was already delightful enough, as we made our way in the winter sun deeper and deeper into the countryside to reach their remote medieval village, one hour from the nearest train station.

But upon arrival in their beautiful home we experienced just how fully they live and breathe their diet, even gathering acorns from the forest to make acorn flour. They shared their knowledge with us passionately and informed, whilst clearly responding instinctively to their bodies’ needs in a way most people’s busy lifestyles do not allow them to do.

My husband is suffering from depression, and we had not realised before our visit the extent of the connections between mental health and grains in your diet. Staying with them for four days allowed us to experience the benefits of a grain-free diet and begin to feel the difference it made, which was marked. This has been a real turning point for us, and we have continued to eat this way as much as possible upon returning home, with great results.

While there we visited a weekly organic vegetable pop up market, went gathering acorns in the forest, took a walk along the stunning mini cascades and rock pools of the river in the valley below, to a lavender farm where the farmer’s wife prepares artisanal lavender products at a very reasonable price. Our days were both full and relaxed.

Most of all, it was reaffirming to be with a couple our own age, who are living what they believe in, and not just talking about it.”

Stayed for four days, in January 2013.

“…community gardens, local markets and organic vineyards…”

Kerry Blair (Canada) – January 2013:

“Nina and Martin are exceptional hosts. My husband and I came away from our week with them feeling entirely content, refreshed and well nourished. They are passionate about food and highly conscious of its health and politico-social value, and this passion translates into an incredible amount of thought, care and artistry at work in their kitchen. Nina and Martin prepared (and invited us to share in the preparation of) absolutely sumptuous, palate pleasing, satisfying and highly nutritious meals using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients.

In addition to enjoying wonderful meals and opportunities to learn whilst in their kitchen, we were enchanted by the incredible setting of their home. They live in an intriguing little village situated in the picturesque Ardèche region of France. Each day Nina and Martin either accompanied us or pointed us in the direction of some special place or event. We walked along quiet forested trails to water falls that have scoured ancient rock into graceful curves; we explored medieval ruins and visited community gardens, local markets and organic vineyards; and we gazed in awe at the spectacular limestone formations at Les Cirque des Gens and the famed Pont d’Arc.

While staying with Nina and Martin gave us an opportunity to admire and appreciate the natural, cultural and historical beauty of a part of the world that is new to us, – what we learned and experienced as their guests would be hard to obtain through a conventional visit. Our time with them helped us deepen our understanding of ways we can improve our health and gave us the empowerment and tools to do so. We are extremely grateful to have been able to stay, eat, and become friends with Nina and Martin.”

Stayed for a week, in December 2012.

“…driven by passion rather than profit…”

Adelyn Blair (Canada) – January 2013:

I stayed on the rocks for 4 weeks in November/December and was sad to leave. Comfortable beds, breathtaking views, wholesome and delicious food and great company. One thing that distinguishes this place from many other businesses, is that Martin and Nina are driven by passion rather than profit. It shows in everything that they do!

Stayed for four weeks, November/December 2012

“…much to teach about health and sustainability…”

Marian Smallman (Canada) – January 2013:

“Beautiful surrounding country to explore during the day, sun-kissed hills laden with nut trees and fruit bearing bushes. There are ample opportunities for discovery in and around the village of Lagorce and the people are full of culture and many with a passion for nature. Retire to a comfortable healthy environment for the body and the soul with Nina, Martin and Leon. Excellent food, but even more enthralling is the conversation with two highly educated and charismatic people, who have so much to teach about health and sustainability. Highly recommend staying with these people.”

Stayed for three weeks, November/December 2012

“…knowledge about paleo and related diets…”

Nathanael Bonnell (USA) – January 2013:

“I stayed on the rocks for a week, arriving with only a little knowledge about paleo and related diets, and when I got there, through Martin and Nina’s books and especially through talking with them, I easily doubled what I knew. They’re very passionate about eating food that’s really healthy in a common-sense, proven way, and they’ve come up with some delicious things to eat along those lines. (May I recommend their chocolate and stir-fries?)

And besides that, Lagorce is a wonderful, friendly little place full of buildings out of a storybook. On the rocks is inside a wonderful, comfortable stone house hundreds of years old on top of the ridge that Lagorce is built on, so it has a view of the whole village and the valley below it and the forest on the other wall of the valley (beautiful in the fall). It might be a long time before I get to France again, but when I do I definitely want to come back to visit Martin and Nina.”

Stayed for a week, in December 2012.

“…cooking with local wild herbs…”

Nathan Rees (England) – November 2012:

“On the rocks is a wonderful place to take a break and learn how to manage your diet in a healthy way. Nina and Martin are lovely hosts and their food could inspire even a coffee lover like me to consider giving up my vices. The house is spacious and rustic, with a very French feel about it. I really enjoyed identifying and cooking with local wild herbs collected on walks in the hills that surround Lagorce. I would recommend this place to anyone seeking a quiet get away, to take a step back and improve the way they eat.”

Stayed twice for ten days, in April and October/November 2012.

“…a real haven…”

Amy Hughes (England) – November 2012:

“On the rocks in Lagorce is a real haven. The traditional rustic stone buildings are beautiful and the rooms spacious with vaulted ceilings and windows overlooking the beautiful village and opposing hillside. Nina and Martin are wonderful hosts; the food is made with fresh organic local produce and lots of love and they were very helpful in advising us of the finest beauty spots in the locality. The stars at night are beautiful with so little light pollution and the silence in the evening and early morning created a sense of calm that would be impossible to find at home. We have now visited in spring and autumn and the weather was beautiful, perfect for walking and cycling. I hope we will have the chance to come back.”

Stayed twice for ten days, in April and October/November 2012.

2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Press Release: Indigenous Leaders Alert the UNFCCC and the World to the Imminent Threat that REDD Poses to their Territories and Livelihoods

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Durban, South Africa (IPCCA). As the UNFCCC COP 17 opens in Durban, South Africa, a gathering of indigenous leaders from around the world discussing biocultural protocols and REDD warns the UNFCCC and the international community of the grave danger that REDD and market based solutions to climate change mitigation pose to their cultures, territories and livelihoods.

“For my people, the forest is sacred, it is life in all its essence, we can protect Pachamama only if this is respected. REDD and other market mechanisms have turned our relationship with forests into a business. As we are targeted, this is not only a new form of climate racism but also represents a false solution which undermines the climate regime” said Marlon Santi, a leader of the Sarayaku Quichua community of Ecuador.

The IPCCA leaders discussed their experiences with using a biocultural approach to assessing climate change impacts as well as the impacts on their livelihoods and the ecosystems found in their territories in order to develop appropriate responses. In forest ecosystems, impacts of REDD and market based mechanisms were analysed from diverse local contexts such as the Indian Adivasi and the Sapara Nationality of Ecuador to build a common understanding:

  • They commodify life and undermine holistic community values and governance
  • They block community access to forests and customary use
  • They lead to establishment of monoculture tree plantations which promote land grabbing
  • They are portrayed as vehicles for strengthening land tenure rights but in fact are used to weaken them
  • They are used to justify continued emissions in the North and thus are hypocritical false solutions to the climate crisis

“IPCCA is an example of how indigenous communities are undertaking climate change assessments on their own terms, and are illustrating the danger of market based mitigation mechanisms. Our knowledge systems and our distinctive spiritual relationship to our territories can contribute to a deeper, localized and holistic understanding of what we and the world is facing” said Alejandro Argumedo, coordinator of IPCCA. “Solutions that will indeed reduce emissions and ensure local livelihoods must come from including such local analysis.” The IPCCA network is building alliances with organizations such as the Global Forest Coallition to bring much needed indigenous and local voices to forums as the UNFCCC COP 17.

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