Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What comes first?

Lua de Proverbia
Without exception, all communities that abide have a unique and specific ideology, or faith, or set of principles, which they accept unquestioningly, and which they attempt to practice to the greatest extent possible. I decided to use the term “ideology” because it is the most neutral term and gets us away from discussing the intricacies of religion versus other types of ideology. It may be argued that all ideologies possess an element of faith. Even faith in science is still just faith: the scientist believes that the truth is discoverable through experiment rather than, say, revelation, and, as is usually the case with ideology, it is pointless to argue either way. One either accepts it, and passes, or does not, and flunks out. If you join a community, you either accept its ideology, or you don't join.

This makes it quite unsurprising that all communities that persist over historical periods of time possess an ideology, and they all share certain traits with regard to it: they do not debate it or question it and they spend very little time articulating it, sometimes encapsulating it in a small number of dictums, sometimes leaving much unsaid (but understood by all) by acting in accordance with an unquestioned set of taboos or prescriptions. But it is never optional, and if acting in accordance with the ideology becomes impossible, then the community faces an existential crisis that can bring it to the brink of dissolution.

It is sometimes left entirely up to the observer to try to articulate the details of the ideology of a group based on its observed behaviors, which can often seem to be a meaningless set of superstitions. For instance, if you happen to be a Russian, then you must never let money pass hand to hand but set it down on some surface; you must never carry on a conversation or hand objects over a threshold; you must never leave an empty liquor or wine bottle standing on the table; you must look at yourself in the mirror if you leave the house and return because you forgot something; and so on and so forth. If you fail to abide by any of these, then that is seen as inviting bad luck on you and those around you. Is there an underlying ideology? Probably not.

Russian taboos and superstitions are run-of-the-mill, but the Roma have elevated the use of taboo to a totalistic system, an alternative cosmology that has safeguarded their separatism and ethnic purity for something like a thousand years even as their numbers have climbed to over ten million, making them one of the largest stateless ethnic groups on the planet. Their concept of marimé, which is translated as contamination or state defilement, and the myriad taboos that are designed to avoid it, extends to everything: relations with non-Roma, to other Roma, to one's own children, and even to one's own body. Marimé is a rather more serious matter than bad luck, and those seen as contaminating or contaminated are quite likely to be shunned, which is almost a death sentence for a member of a tight-knit community that relies on mutual self-help for survival.

The Hutterites have a uniquely well-articulated ideology based on one's conscious acceptance of Christ as one's personal savior. In seeking salvation, the task of the individual is to overcome his will and to dedicate himself to serving the church, which is one and the same as the community. The specific term used is Gelassenheit, or submission: one must give oneself up totally to God through humility, obedience and sincerity; one must also give up material possessions and to suffer, even unto martyrdom. The physical realm is to be used to provide a modest living, but beyond that any surplus or excess of wealth can be put to just one purpose: to glorify God and to spread the word of God to the fallen world beyond the church/community. But in general the world is to be shunned, for it is contaminating and full of vice. Once of the vices to be avoided is the vice of intellectualism: the Hutterites do not interpret the word of God or elaborate a doctrine because the word of God is there for all to see. Thus, there are no Hutterite theologians and no Hutterite priesthood. The spiritual authority of the church/community is direct and personal, and its goal is nothing less than to restore Christianity to the way Christ practiced it.

It is notable that adherence to the ideology is never absolute, and that there is always room for compromise. The Roma are sometimes forced to spend time in prison, where they have to use the same eating utensils as non-Roma inmates, breaking a taboo. The Hutterites violate their ban on newspapers and magazines to stay abreast of the latest developments in agriculture and to participate in local politics. The Amish allow themselves to be bussed to jobs where they earn money to pay taxes. The Orthodox Jews, who cannot operate equipment on Sabbath, program elevators in high-rise buildings to continuously cycle, stopping at every floor, so that they can get, albeit slowly, where they need to go. But such deviations from the true path must remain circumscribed, and motivated by necessity rather than urge or whim, or they can easily develop into an existential crisis. One of the worst examples of such an egregious violation of stated principles that I've heard of occurred at a permaculture class, where a meal was included with the course. The meal consisted of pasta and sauce... purchased at Walmart. In the context of an ideology of drawing sustenance directly from nature, is this equivalent to redefining Walmart as an edible forest garden? What's next? Fishing with dynamite? One begins to suspect that the permaculturalists teaching the course didn't believe what they were teaching and were simply there to collect the rather hefty tuition. This is the danger of ignoring ideology: the loss of esteem can be quite sudden, and painful.

How an ideology emerges to start with is usually something of a mystery. It may arrive fully formed from the mists of time, or be based on some foundational myths, or be introduced as a revelation, or some combination of these. As a counterexample, the Hutterites, as well as other Anabaptists (believers in adult baptism) got started by reading the Bible for themselves, and finding out that Christ never once mentioned a lot of the stuff the Roman priests were demanding of them, such as, specifically, infant baptism. While the priests of other denominations made excuses for introducing pedobaptism by throwing around big words like “theology” and “covenant,” the Anabaptists, seeing such intellectualism as a vice, simply stopped allowing it. This exposed them to persecution by Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican and Catholic authorities, only strengthening their resolve.

However it is arrived at, it would appear that there are three requirements with respect to community ideology: 1. it must exist; 2. it must not be questioned; and 3. it must have practical application. It is the last point—how it is applied in daily life—that results in much deliberation and discussion, because, although exceptions are inevitable, they must be motivated by something more than whim, taste, personal predilection, or comfort and pleasure.

One commonality that all community ideologies seem to share is that they put the community's interests first: they all seek to block out elements from surrounding society that they find to be undesirable, be they violence or vice or other harmful practices, and they all seek to promote practices that will nurture and safeguard the inner realm. Perhaps this is all the ideology, in its purest sense, that is really needed. But then what is considered undesirable and blocked out often comes down to a question of culture, individual taste and circumstance, and this gets complicated rather quickly.

The Amish are quite notorious for their rejection of numerous elements of the “English” culture that surrounds them. They exclude cars, preferring buggies. They do not allow electricity in the house, but they allow pay-phones to be installed outside. They do not allow motor vehicles of any sort, but allow stationary internal combustion engines for pumping water, threshing grain and so on. They do not allow pictures (since the Second Commandment says “Thou shalt not create graven images”) but do allow them in their schools, for teaching children. They do not purchase clothing, sewing it themselves from cloth purchased in bulk, but they do purchase their shoes. All of these practices make them, in the eyes of the surrounding population, quaint, or strange, or old-fashioned, or downright bizarre.

But what's really bizarre is that if you start with the simplest possible community ideology you can, which is “My family comes first,” and then get to work systematically blocking out all that obviously harms it, you will in due course find yourself some distance down the road toward becoming rather quite like the Amish yourself. I speak from experience. Here are some examples:

1. Most people drive, but cars are quite harmful, with traffic accidents a leading cause of death. They are harmful even if you manage to stay alive. Case in point: it is required that a carbon monoxide detector be installed on boats; if CO level goes above a certain threshold, it flashes “Evacuate!” and blares an alarm. But the CO detectors are not found in cars, for a very good reason: they'd be flashing “Evacuate!” in just about every highway tunnel and traffic jam. CO is harmful, even in relatively small doses, especially to little children. Therefore, we do not have a car. We do rent one, once in a while, if necessary.

2. Most people watch television, although it is probably the worst possible waste of time imaginable. (The US leads the world in time spent watching television per capita, with UK in second place.) Television “programming” is an apt term: it programs the mind with harmful cultural clichés and consumer behaviors, and is detrimental to maintaining a healthy culture. Therefore, we do not watch television (but we do watch Netflix). An exception is sometimes made for cultural and educational shows on channels that do not carry advertising.

3. Internet addiction is rampant. For many people, the pixels flashing on their screens replace more and more of the world, turning them into technology-dependent zombies. But Internet access is something of a necessity, and thus we have a rule: Internet cannot be used for entertainment. Exception: children can watch cartoons on Youtube (but only Russian ones, because American ones are violent). This is a hard rule to enforce, because the Internet has evolved to blur the line, and even when reading something useful, one is always just a click away from some ripe stinking nonsense.

4. Once you start reading the contents listings on packaged foods and learn what all the chemicals are and what they do to human metabolism (over 50% of Americans will have diabetes by 2020, that's what!) the obvious outcome is that both packaged foods from stores and fast food from restaurants is banned. All food must be prepared from scratch and from fresh ingredients. (By the way, this one step suddenly brings us into culinary alignment with the Roma, the Amish, the Hutterites and a fair number of other successful groups as well.)

5. Eliminating television and the Internet for entertainment puts the family largely out of reach of professional team sports, but, to make it explicit, these are banned as well. Professional team sports are a source of fake tribalism (while what's needed is the real thing). There is no such thing as Red Sox nation—just a bunch of people drinking beer while watching television. Plus, many team sports (American football and Hockey especially) glorify violence, undermining the message that violence is a symptom of a mental disorder. So, professional team sports are banned as well.

6. One of the most corrupting influences comes from marketing and advertising (with corporate underwriting in third place). I became aware of just how socially corrosive it is after working for an ad agency for a year. Most people would not buy what the ad agencies produce: nobody (but a cretin) goes to the Apple store and tries to pay for an iPod poster to frame and hang on the wall of their bedroom. And yet that is what we do when we buy advertised products: we buy the advertising. The solution is to block it out: we have a ban on publications that contain advertising, the ban on television takes care of TV ads, and AdBlocker Plus takes care of banner ads on the Internet. Some advertising does seep through, via billboards, product sponsorships and so on. The solution is to avoid any product or company that promotes itself in this “in your face” manner, and to find products and companies through careful research and word of mouth.

7. The military is another institution that promotes fake tribalism (instead of the real thing), perpetuates a culture of violence, plus (if you are even the tiniest bit religious) it's a bit of a concern that it routinely violates the First Commandment (“Thou shalt not kill”). The Bible provides no special dispensation for collateral damage. Serving in the military is a good way to get maimed, poisoned or killed. The military tends to find it politically expedient to deny that it caused a wide variety of mysterious injuries from which veterans suffer. The US military loses more people to suicide than to any other cause. It is therefore very important to not serve in the military. Refusing to serve in the military puts you in perfect agreement with the Roma, the Amish, the Hutterites, Orthodox Jews (even in Israel, although they seem to be in the process of losing their exemption) and many other communities that abide. Pacifism is definitely a best practice when it comes to communities that abide.

8. There are many Americans who are, on the one hand, exceptionally litigious, constantly running to the lawyers and the courts to resolve their conflicts, and, on the other, live in constant fear of lawsuits and of being held liable, demanding that people sign disclaimers and waivers and so on, and being forced to buy ridiculous amounts of liability insurance. It is best to avoid such people, and also to avoid lawyers and the courts. Doing so would align you with the Amish, who never sue and generally avoid the legal system, as well as the Roma, who only resort to official justice to bring false accusations against someone who has disobeyed an order from their internal tribal court, called kris, which is only summoned in dire situations. This is usually enough to bring the person into compliance, and the false accusation is then withdrawn.

I could go on and on, but just these few items should give you a flavor of the choices one is practically forced to make simply by taking just these two steps: accepting the “My family/tribe comes first” pledge, and translating it into action by eliminating all that can be shown, quite obviously and directly, to cause it harm. Once you manage to do this for your family, you will find yourself in a position to join forces with other families that have done the same, at which point you will be well on the way to forming a viable tribe.

Will such practices save the world? Of course not! But then is that world—a world of obese diabetics who have been turned into zombified consumers by countless hours of television-watching and Internet addiction—worth saving? And is this question even worth asking, seeing as there is a much more important question that is as yet unanswered, which is: What comes first?

21 comments:

HeyZeus said...

Dmitry... I live in a country where people care about nothing else but their families (Pakistan). It is NOT fun. There are no real professions or professionals, only kabals pretending to be academics or police or doctors etc., their primary purpose of existence to further their own interests. Things like religion and democracy are paid lip service but abandoned at the first sight of trouble. Everyone is a hypocrite and no one cares about anything else but themselves and their children. It makes people petty and conniving; their fake smiles betraying an absence of commitment to their stated objectives, as they pretend to be your estate agent or teacher or plumber or whatever. It's like living with a bunch of petty leprechauns trying hard to pretend they are after anything else but a pot of gold. This is hell and nothing about it is enjoyable.

kollapsnik said...

Yes, not much hope for "people who care about nothing else but their families." That's certainly not what this article is about. Interesting take on Pakistan, though.

Renovator said...

I made the “my family comes first” paradigm shift some years ago as well and find myself nodding along with your bullet points listed above. I've found that once this shift in mindset was made, I naturally started to associate with people of similar mindset and have at least one other family that I would now consider part of my family's "tribe" and they the same. I did not force the relationship though, it simply came to be based on mutual viewpoints and needs. I think this is a core point in your anarchic approach. Perhaps "Community" just happens?

The sticky part is then being surrounded by a world that is increasingly foreign and hostile and how to deal within it while trying to live without it as much as possible. Your answer with a "floating" community has quite a bit of merit, I think.

forrest said...

Many quibbles....

"The Amish" covers a multitude of petty Bibliodolatrous sects -- as they are forced to form a new sect with every significant shift of interpretation -- and many of them, still calling themselves 'Amish' of one sort or another, do drive cars. Generally, there will be a committee that decides, for a community, which technologies are harmless & which need to be watched, much as we do individually.

The essential thing for a community is to agree on ground rules, whatever these might turn out to be. How tightly these fit, whether they cramp a person, likewise varies.

One thing I observed from attending (as much as I could) a good Jewish Renewal synagogue -- was that they operated under the following rules:

1) The Torah is inspired, and nothing in it, mistakes included, is there by accident.

2) Thou shalt go over the Torah every year, diligently taking it apart & reassembling it, freely trying out all the various interpretations, new, old, humorous etc, that come up in that process.

One can have an ideology that encourages a fairly wide range of serious thinking!

Glenn said...

"Most people would not buy what the ad agencies produce: nobody (but a cretin) goes to the Apple store and tries to pay for an iPod poster to frame and hang on the wall of their bedroom."

Maybe not most people, but I find it disturbing that so many will buy a t-shirt or hat that amounts to a poster for sport teams and the brands their heroes wear. I am always amused that Tiger Woods wears his own initialized logo on his hat, presumably to entice a fan to purchase one similar.

Chris said...

Dmitry, I wonder how your own tribe subsists. Do you cohabitate with other families, share resources and labor? My partner and I are working to escape the pyramid scheme, which of course involves the hypocrisy of buying land, but the main challenges we face are lack of time and money to invest in building our new life when today's reality (mortgage, bills) is still eating up lots of both.

I am finding myself more concerned about building community than meeting many other more basic physical requirements, because community is in fact a prerequisite for survival during collapse. We are starting with extended family and friends, having conversations about how we would like to have everyone cohabitating on our "farm". As we look for land, I am focusing on areas close enough to towns that can provide some necessities and community. Our families both live near the Chesapeake Bay, so the proximity to navigable coastal waterways is a huge plus.

I guess the hard part is, how to build community and relationships that will work during the "long emergency" when most people don't see it coming? I would love to start a sustainable ecovillage, but we can't buy enough land alone, and we don't wish to wait long enough to organize a larger group. I would love it if there were an existing ecovillage, but there aren't any of those near us. We are starting with an extended family homestead, and hoping we can create community in place, with neighbors.

I would be interested to hear your personal experiences on living in community.

Wolfgang Brinck said...

Lots of good points here especially re media and food.
In my family, we have adopted without really realizing it all sorts of food taboos which are hard to justify to anyone that doesn't have the same taboos, but that nevertheless naturally align us with other people that have similar food taboos. We shun foods that contain GMOs or foods which we suspect might contain GMOs, in other words pretty much anything not labelled organic. We also avoid any meat products that involve cruelty, in other words, pretty much anything that comes out of a factory. The upshot of observing these taboos is that we spend a lot of time every day preparing meals from basic ingredients and shopping at farmer's markets where we can interview the vendors about their individual farming practices, which by the way they are happy to do. After reading the book, Eating Animals, we found ourselves interviewing an egg vendor on how many square inches his chickens had in their shed, how much time outside his free range chickens got and so on. Likewise, the guy selling sweet corn was happy to tell us that his sweet corn was not a genetically modified organism.
Of course one cannot interview the shelf stocker at the supermarket about the origins of their food and as a consequence we darken their doors infrequently and when we do, only to buy detergent or other things not available at the farmers market.
Likewise, we eat at restaurants infrequently because we find again and again that for the most part, we can prepare better tasting food at home.
And so it seems that a few taboos can have a large impact on how one spends their day.
Likewise, I avoid TV and movies for the most part, not as a taboo, but rather because I find the content unsavory. It appears to me that much of what passes for entertainment is in fact a gruel heavily laced with propaganda for
a way of life that I find unattractive. I know that I do not want to watch any movie where the poster has someone with a gun in their hand. Perhaps I should say that movies tend to be a gruel consisting of propaganda thinly laced with a plot line.
Of course, what affords us the luxury of shopping at farmers markets and preparing our own foods is that we don't have jobs that require us to spend most of our days on the job. In fact, we do not have good jobs. We have no jobs at all.
So what sort of community are we a part of? Who knows. We feed people at our house. The ones we like, we invite back. The ones we don't like we avoid.
Lacking jobs, we realize that we do not need to associate with people we don't like for purposes of networking for our next job. There is no next job for us. This simplifies our social life immensely.
Who knows, perhaps our community is the jobless community.

Lao Dan said...

"Without exception, all communities that abide have a unique and specific ideology, or faith, or set of principles, which they accept unquestioningly, and which they attempt to practice to the greatest extent possible."

This is a fact and it is not unique to the formation of communities. It is also one of the central tenets of societies that alas, in late-modernity, seems to be lost to almost everyone.

What you call ideology I call "worldview"; a set of principles about "what is reality" that implies the rejection of what goes against the grain... (historically: animism then religions and philosophies and lastly modernity)


Why do societies, or any human grouping for that matter, need the sharing of a common worldview? Because it is the substance that nourishes societal cohesion and thus allows it to grow.

Why is societal cohesion a societal necessity? Because it is, in the last instance, what allows societies to reproduce themselves. No societal cohesion left implies indeed that the society or the group is dyeing out.

After having fragmented, along the lines of the belief systems of so many interests, Western societies, in late modernity, have finally atomized. This is the point of high consumerism when everyone has been manipulated to think he detains the truth about everything (hyper-individualism "ala" Twitter). Unfortunately that left those societies without any trace of cohesion between their individual particles. That's when those societies were set on the slippery slope of collapse...

The disappearance of the substance that generates societal cohesion implies that what communities or human groupings will need most during the process of entering in "what comes after modernity" is precisely that substance that allows societal cohesion to solidify. That is the ideology you refer to in your introduction. Unfortunately the word is tainted with such negative perceptions that it would be better to refer to another one.

Thanks for this very interesting discussion about communities.

k-dog said...

Three requirements for an ideology of sustainability.

1) It must exist; 2) It must not be questioned; and 3) It must have practical application.


An ideology of sustainability exists but is under constant attack by well funded and official organizations bent on suppression of any intellectual examination or questioning of the foundations on which western society operates. Science deniers and liars of all colors constantly manufacture propaganda intended to portray a misleading and false portrait of the world and reality as it really is.

Those who have any interest in the long term survivability of the human race are refereed to as 'doomers'. A term so full of cognitive dissonance it sticks like glue. Opposition to the ideology of sustainability prevents it's full intellectual development.

The ideology of sustainability must not be questioned. The ideology of sustainability requires that questioning never cease. As T. S. Eliot said:

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."


The foundations on which the ideology of sustainability must always be questioned.

That the ideology of sustainability is an anti-anti-intellectual ideology shall not be questioned.

The health and survivability of the human race is the most practical application any ideology could possibly have and the ideology of sustainability is the actual survivability and health of future generations. A most August of all motivations and the most practical application possible. The bite of short term consequences from any decisions made to facilitate long term human survivability is softened by knowing that a great practical good is served.

I enjoyed this essay greatly. A tall clear glass of truth and insight chilled to a perfect temperature and it leaves me satisfied. - K-Dog

Roille Figners said...

It's interesting how confused you get when you try to view either of the USA's two major political parties in terms of the "unique and specific ideology" they're offering. Even in my lifetime, you used to be able to do it. Now, if you put all those memories out of your mind, start fresh and just evaluate them on their current messaging, you find ideology has all but gone out of today's politics. There are just a few incoherent talking points on either side, pertaining to things irrelevant, hollow or patently false. And of course when you look at their actions and implementations (i.e. their true ideology as demonstrated by a body of actions), you find that it is disconnected not only from the watery broth of their stated "ideology" but also from itself, i.e. it is incoherent. That tells you all you need to know about the USA as a community.

Thinner Buddha said...

I likewise made the shift away from the material existence that is glamorized in the media. It was amazing how much better life was after.

1. I wasn't watching TV, so I had about 2 hours a day for other priorities.
2. I wasn't viewing advertising, so I rarely found myself wanting.
3. I wasn't viewing advertising, so I needed less money (and had more extra to buy true priority items).

I'm used to the change now, so it doesn't seem odd. I do laugh regularly, when I see people who are starved for time due to their lack of direction.

In a prior post, we reviewed community sizes and it was suggested that 75 to 150 people is ideal. I think a lot of people envision a collection of 35-40 homes when they think of community. There are other effective models. Here's a link to one I particularly like:

http://www.goldismoney2.com/showthread.php?49362-Hakka-People-amp-Earthbuildings-Of-Fujian-Province&highlight=hakka

Kyddyl said...

One critically important element is missing that is common to all groups discussed. That is the formal group organization. The Hutterites have colonies, the Amish Districts, the Roma often have well knit local groups often based on quasi ethnicity. There are Irish Roma, Italian, Russian etc. The Mormons have wards. The commonality of all these are that everyone stays in their "home" group. While the Amish may occasionally attend church in anther district the Hutterites do so even less. The Mormons are strictly members of assigned wards. The various boundaries may move but the members are assigned their group and movement between groups or neighboring churches is discouraged by group consensus or by a bishop. Very unlike say, Catholics who may attend any Catholic Church anywhere at any time and not face rebuke.

Another binding commonality is found in dress, openly worn or discreetly, that serves as a group identifier and "reminder" for the individual. Hutterites, Amish and Mennonites often can recognize, from a distance, where a subject is from and how "liberal" they are by dress alone.

Many thousands of Anabaptists also speak as their first language a form of German which further insulates the groups. They first learn English in school. Most report "thinking" in German.

So, tempting as it may be to idealize religious/ethnic groups the "bones" of any successful specialized community need to be carefully analyzed. These groups will not be easily reproduced as there are hundreds of thousands of persons in most of these well established groups that have very high birth rates. One of the only really cohesive groups to succeed, without rampant interior reproduction, were the Shakers.

In today's context perhaps Mormonism as practiced in Utah and closely surrounding areas might appeal and are all too easily joined. There is strong group conformity, emphasis on preparedness large families and strict boundaries. It is not uncommon for members to be very hard on non Mormon neighbors even though their leadership discourages such actions. Still, if you are the dependent type they offer a viable option, unlike the other groups who are quite closed.

DaShui said...

Have u forgot about the Mormans?

UI got to look at a financial statement of a rich Morman. 10s of millions of dollars but no debt. I assume they have some sort of informal method of raising money, that keeps them from wasting money on interest. But u have to wear funny underwear.

Gomez said...

Sailboat living and roaming about, with a bang-up bicycle, covers most of these issues. Interesting to see how a call for a sea gypsy tribe develops.... I suspect not well. Sea Roma... hmmmmm. Tough to give up on the wonderful internet entertainment of music feeds though. Great bullet points for success and thanks.

rapier said...

The Amish or Roma should be considered tribes. 10,000 years of human history has been the story of the movement against tribes as the primary model of human organization. The new model of organization became the Nation or State. I am agnostic on if the State became dominant because that is what humans want or just because the State is more successful in the use of violence to break tribal bonds and thus their organizing power.

Nobody is ready to go back and it is difficult to see tribes organizing spontaneously. Maybe over 3 or 4 generations.

Mike said...

I knew there was a good reason to steer clear of that tribal hate cult in Boston, better known as the Red Sox!

k-dog said...

Tow that barge, lift that bale, build that community. This is so relevant I had to drag the carcass to the campfire.

A Model of Identity and Community

ph0rque said...

Hi Dmitry, what do you think of the militarizing of police in the US? http://gilesbowkett.blogspot.com/2013/08/its-not-militarization-its.html

michigan native said...

44 years ago...almost. Joe Cocker had some great advice for us http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDhDUSmHvHQ

If only I were born 15 years earlier.....

Nate Mullikin said...

"Faith in science" is an oxymoron. Science stands alone among the ideologies as requiring trust and repeatability and is diametrically opposed to belief, which is conviction in the absence of evidence. A true and honest scientist hypothesizes and reasons, but could never believe anything.

I do not have faith that the chair will hold be up, I trust- based on thousands of years of experience in chair building- that the chair will hold me up. This is a critical distinction.

Timothy Brown's Web Blog said...

I agree with the guidelines that you have written of that work for your family. I wish I could get thaere, in action, with someone. At middle age, without wife & children, the challenge of finding another apostate in the steamy Swamp becomes the the first task. But how does one find that nonbeliever--the fellow traveler--in all the background noise?

I see the harm to one's self and family in not following through with the guidelines you write about (or any of the others that might work under different circumstances) and I see the power of liberation in making them happen. But they have to happen, though, with some first "other." Maybe they have to start even as two people who will eventually become family get to know one another. The power of one, in a belief system, is pretty weak. And it seems that this is crucial--that we are all, anymore, all-alone together, and virtualized. This notion is bordering on paradox. Nevertheless, if I go along as I have been I will continue to live in a singular condition of believing one set of values and acting as though those values don't matter while the white noise of our collapsing culture eliminates another hearing me as much as they are eliminated from me hearing them while they act in a similar cognitive dissonance.

Existing in my pseudo-community that is The Gator Nation my townsfolk put a lot of emotional energy into what I understand as an 18-week-long advertisement promoting corporatism and militarism. Enlightening even one (soul or) mate and "cooperating" with them away from the individuals who excitedly partake of the non-binding and fake tribal communal connection in the form of the community "us" winning seems very daunting in deed.

Having family at the outset while discovering together successful guidelines to confront collapse may, after all, be the easier thing done than finding one to form family with in the first place. And without that formation more of us may not survive than you perhaps have envisioned. On this point, I sometimes go "full-depressed Bulgarian."