What is to be done, Honey?

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June 1, 2012 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
Honey van Blossom

Solar Living Institute in Hopland

In 1754, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, in his Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men that private property — which could not have been imagined before the neolithic revolution – was the beginning of the end of the human race.

“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine’ and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or by filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: ‘Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’”

Marx and Engles called the hunter-gatherer form of communism “primitive communism,” which had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation. Looking at the political and economic changes that evolved in response to agriculture, the enclosure acts, the industrial revolution, Marx and Engles concluded that scientific socialism meant the inevitable withering of the state as a product of social revolution.

In “The Worst Mistake in the History in the History of the Human Race,” Discovery, May 1987, pp 64-68, cited in Honey Travels Back in Time to Belly Button Hill, Jared Diamond argued persuasively that the invention of agriculture doomed us.

In 1862, Nikolay Chernshevsky wrote What Is to Be Done? — a novel that became an inspiration to later Russian revolutionaries about Rakmetov, a hero so utterly disciplined and dedicated to the Revolution he slept on a bed of nails and ate only raw steak. Chernevsky agitated for the overthrow of the autocracy and the creation of a socialist society based on the old peasant commune. The book inspired both Leo Tolstoy, who wrote a nonfiction What is to be Done? based on his ideas of moral responsibility, and Vladimir Lenin, who wrote a pamphlet called, What Is to Be Done? (1903)

Scholars consider Lenin’s What Is to Be Done the founding document of Bolshevism and interepret it either as an elitist approach to and manipulative use of working people or as a polemic for a coherent, strictly controlled party of dedicated revolutionaries as a basic necessity for revolution.

The state has not yet withered and those calling for government’s dimunition today look like reactionaries not revolutionaries.

Other things happened instead of revolution, and one of those things is an outgrowth of the civil rights movement of the 1960s to effect the promise of the Civil War amendments to the United States Constitution, the environmental movement of the 1970s (which itself was a child of New Deal-sponsored programs, which grew out of Transcendentalism), the environmental justice movement of the 1980s, Smart Growth (which may be largely greenwashing), and the condensation of all of these ideas in a misty cloud of ideas called Sustainability and Sustainable Development, and which is why politicians now frequently throw out words utterly meaningless in context that sound like “sustainable.”

When the Revolution happens, we’re going to need to do what to do. If it doesn’t happen, we’re still going to know what to do.

Right after the Summer of Love lots of people went “back to the land” in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The hippie anarcho-syndicalist communal living turned out, like all interactions between any Americans with each other, to be fraught with pseudo-psychology, political correctness taken so far the Green Party sometimes appeared to be a queue for the outpatient clinic at Board of Supervisor meetings in Ukiah, the bezerkness of what might be called, now that everything is called a community, the dope growing community – most wonderfully captured in T.C. Boyle’s Budding Prospects (1984), less delightfully in Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland, and somewhat more charmingly in Pynchon’s made-up Wanda Tinasky, supposedly a bag lady living under a bridge in the Anderson Valley, who wrote letters to the editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser between 1983 and 1988.

From this bouillabaisse of rednecks, the Russ Limbaugh fan club, lumber workers, FBI intrigue, Proctor and Gamble intrigue, DEA helicopters carrying in the air Christmas-tree sized marijuana plants, gun and rifle clubs, natural birthers, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties grew a promising movement towards native American tribal sovereignty and sustainability, the sustainable efforts of local governments and private businesses (California Yurts, Real Goods catalogue of energy efficient and non-polluting devices) and the non-profit Solar Living Center in Hopland. In late summer of 2012 is the Solfest, which partnered with the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah for a 2-day Solar and Sustainable Celebration.

The Solar Living Instute provides solar training through Greenworks, other sustainable training including biodiesel fuel training and beekeeping and green certification. SLI includes a 4,400 square foot organic farm, manure for which is provided free by the Anderson Valley Brewery. Environmental architect Sim van der Ryn designed the main showroom, which is kept cool through overhangs and manually controlled hemp awnings.

Might as well go there this summer. Also, the Pinoleville Pomo Nation is having its annual Big Time, and the Mendocino Music Festival is in July and there are microbreweries and many wine tasting events.

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