“The point of this podcast is not to say that charity is wrong or bad, or that we shouldn’t do it. However, what we should realize when we see these “feel good” stories in the media is that individual acts of charity allow us to live comfortably within a system of exploitation. When we see the few being helped by charity, we forget the unseen millions who didn’t win the lottery; we forget those who did not happen to be in the right place at the right time to have their story publicized.”
How to get involved in making systemic changes:
Join the fight to raise the minimum wage
Fight mass incarceration with Decarcerate PA
Support the Media Mobilizing Project
Support the Experimental Farm Network
Get involved with the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice
Get involved at A-Space
Regarding some of the contradictions of being anti-civ or critical of industrial society (or, how to negotiate certain “facts on the ground”):
There’s an Upworthy video making the rounds on facebook entitled ‘5 Years’ Worth Of Photos Show How Testosterone Affected One Person’s Life’. This heartwarming video shows a FTM trans person’s journey of self-realization. Of course a medical marvel like this would not have been possible 40 years ago, and yet here’s the thing – it’s not clear if it will be possible 40 years into the future if climate disruption, global warming, and resource wars take the huge toll that many are predicting.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that our fossil fuel powered industrial society has produced some wonderful (and necessary) innovations; things like eye glasses, heart surgeries, insulin, and chemotherapy have improved and saved many lives. So those who are anti-civ or critical of civ are often accused of wanting to take these things away, or accused of able-ism. Well, here’s the catch-22 situation we face. If the climate, pollution, and resource crises are not adequately addressed very soon, we’ll be lucky to have 19th century levels of technology in 40 – 50 years. Of course, many parts of the world are already living in 19th century conditions, so we need to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that different types of privilege play a big role in who currently gets access to the life saving and life enhancing marvels of the modern world and who does not.
Industrial society has given and yet it is now poised to take it all away like some malicious and maniacal genie from the proverbial bottle. The task the realists are presented with is how to reduce the damage of industry to our environment, allowing us enough clean air, water, and soil to live while still maintaining some industrial base capable of churning out these life enhancing and life saving things we’ve all gotten used to. Some say it’s not possible, that we need to find alternatives to the solutions of industrial society. Others point to the billions of (mostly poor and black and brown) people who are not benefiting from industry yet who are poised to become the first victims of the fossil fuel industry and western greed.
Can we replace fossil fuels and industrial chemicals with equally or more efficient clean, renewable energy?
Is there any clean energy that can sustain the life enhancing and life saving benefits we’ve become accustomed to – for all people and not just for a lucky and privileged few?
Is it possible to save the best of our industrial society while jettisoning what’s harmful, or is it an “all or nothing” situation?
Community organizer Patrice K. Armstead joins me to talk about gentrification and how the changing landscape of this city is threatening the North Philly Peace Park.
The North Philly Peace Park is under threat from planned development to the Sharswood section of Philadelphia. The proposed plan would pave over the Peace Park, erasing years of hard work, and replace it with “market rate” homes. Low income residents who have built a community in that area will be scattered to the wind. For almost three years the Peace Park has provided a way for inner city kids to connect with nature and each other; in the past year many people have been using the Peace Park as a source of healthy food. Will we sit back and watch it be destroyed?
For info on how you can get involved send a message to the North Philly Peace Park on facebook, or email Patrice at Parmstead@gmail.com
Despite claims that we’ve entered a “post-racial” era, racism is alive and well, thriving even, and anti-black racism in particular continues to escalate. Layla AbdelRahim and I first discussed this topic several years ago after the Treyvon Martin murder. The recent modern-day lynching of eighteen year old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO police officer has once again raised familiar issues, including the mainstream media’s propensity to posthumously blame the victims of racist violence for their own deaths.
Though she eschews labels, Layla tentatively describes herself as an anarcho-primitivist, specifically focusing her work on, among other things, the role of domestication and civilized narratives in shaping the socio-economic structures of society.
Click here to visit Layla’s website
Excerpt from the audio:
The criminality of the murder is not the question. For example, if you kill a wolf you will not be persecuted because, well, wolves are seen as a threat to domesticated animals and the land that has been taken by the humans – the humans who have been given the agency to consume and control, and who therefore have the right to kill. And this is the problem, the problem is not even the idea of teaching children to be racist or to be sadists; the idea is to show them, to train them from early childhood to know their place in this food chain, in this niche [and to teach them] whether or not they constitute the resources that are disposable or usable, with the right to live – if they perform according to the proscribed role they were given in that structure, in that hierarchy of resources. If they challenge, if they threaten the interests of the hierarchy then there’s no problem killing them. These acts are not an aberration, they’re a reconfirmation of this narrative that structures our socio-economic possibilities.
Audio of Project Safe’s presentation at the recent DIY Philly Skill Share Conference. “A theory addressing behaviors that carry risk in an environment of risk” encapsulates Project Safe’s philosophical approach to harm reduction.
Drug use and sex work have always been taboo subjects, so it was not until relatively recently that social justice activists began formulating strategies to reduce the harms of engaging in these behaviors. The first harm reduction activists emerged organically from communities struggling to hold onto their dignity and safety; many came from the so-called lower strata of society, those most likely to be harmed by the drug trade and sex work industries.
Click here for more info on Project Safe