Inventing a new way to live, one that will allow us, as a species, to go on living, is what economists call a "wild problem." It will take a mighty imaginative leap, really a heave of consciousness. But we can do it. We have to.

— Frederic Jameson

I. The Task

The time for tiny tweaks to the status quo is over. We've run out of time for that. The only thing that will save us is massive buy-in to a major paradigm shift, a different way of living and loving on planet Earth. A lighter, looser, sparer one. More, because less.

Here's how people typically change their minds. They do it the way a climber scales a rock face, inching out beyond the last point of protection — so that if they fall, they fall only as far as what they last believed.

Our rethinks are not big stretches, in other words. Just variations on what we think right now.

So it's worth asking: in the year 2024, are humans actually able to throw over the side a lifestyle we've been raised to think is somehow our birth right? Are we capable of making a leap like that?

"It's just the way things are."

There are lots of things in life we never really give a second thought to. We do it this way because, well, that's all we've ever known. We assume that wiser heads than ours put it all in place.

Of course that's often bullshit.

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Defying the Straight Line

He couldn't stand straight lines and right angles, which aren't much found in nature. Things not made by us mostly curve. Nothing worthwhile is plum, level or square.

So observed Gaetano Pesce, the great Italian designer, who died at age 84.

From this man's brow burst organic, protoplasmic designs for things like bookcases and sofas, blazing with intense, saturated color.

One of them went supernova: the zaftig UP5 armchair, dubbed La Mama, was a shout-out to feminism. Women, he felt, are "victims of male prejudices and fears and stupidity." (As a young macho guy, he too was guilty of that same pig-headedness, he admitted, before he got knocked off that horse by a woman he adored.)

He kicked against a world the rest of us live in without giving it a second thought.

The design of modern cities appalled him. He chided the architects: what you've built is "the very image of non-freedom." In an exhibit for the Louvre, he made office towers out of meat, which gradually rotted until the stench became overpowering.

He started out nonlinear and just got gooier, until by the time he was in his eighties he was pretty much just liquid. "As liquid as time," he said.

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Julian's freedom is our freedom.

14 years ago, when Julian Assange leaked US army intelligence documents about the Baghdad airstrikes on Wikileaks — and then more incriminating documents, including Baghdad and Afghanistan war logs — we thought: “Now we’re getting somewhere ... now our political system will heave.”

It didn’t.

But now we know what happens to whistleblowers when they stick their neck out.

So it takes incredible courage. But here’s the thing: it shouldn't be up to some brave individual to step up and illuminate systemic institutional violence. Those secrets should never be kept.

Secret-keepers should feel shame — crippling embarrassment.

This is what we holler from the rooftops — until keeping secrets becomes unconscionable: #MakeSecrecyTaboo

Step 1: We change the way we talk about secrecy. We start talking about it the way we talk about germs, viruses, bribery, insider trading — inherently filthy, something that needs to be excised from the body politic.

Step 2: We embark on an all-out fight to get rid of secrecy at all levels of our democratic system.

No more hush hush stuff at city hall! No more hidden police videos. No more closed-door trade deals. Or in-camera grand jury deliberations. Or secret presidential liaisons with foreign leaders.

We mandate jail-time for politicians and CEOs who do secret things. We shame them the way we shame people who lie, pay bribes, commit sexual harassment.

We ridicule and punish government departments that issue redacted documents. We jump on secrecy whenever and wherever we see it starting to build, from City Hall to the CIA.

If we can get this done, get transparency enshrined, then total openness can become a critical part of the mythology of the 21st century.

The stakes are huge. As long as elites and powerful forces are able to concoct wars and geopolitics in secret, we the people will never see a single day of peace on Earth. Not a single minute. Hatred, greed, jealousy, fear may be the ingredients of war, but secrecy is the heat that it needs to rise ... So long as secrecy prevails, peace, unity and brotherhood will always remain dreams.

But the truth shall set us free.

Our Groundbreaking Issue

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CBC Bias - an open letter

The following letter was sent to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Executives on June 6th, 2024 signed by over 500 members of the Canadian documentary and larger cultural community.

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Breakthrough: CBC has announced that one of the production executives is no longer on the documentary team

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What Would The Buddha Do?

Maybe every generation feels confronted by some crisis that will determine the fate of the planet. But unless your head is buried in the sand, it’s not possible to be ignorant of the extraordinary planetary crisis that confronts all of us today. Environmental collapse no longer merely threatens: we are well into it and it’s already apparent that civilization as we know it is going to be transformed in some very uncomfortable ways by the mutually-reinforcing breakdown of ecological systems, especially global climate change, ozone depletion, rapid disappearance of many species, and various types of pollution, including some we don’t know about yet.

Although our globalizing economic system is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the biosphere, the ceos who direct this system (as much as anyone controls it) can’t plan much further than the next quarterly report, anymore than politicians can think further than the next election. Overpopulation, pandemics, and the increasing deprivation of basic necessities for vast numbers of people threaten social breakdown, while the media – profit-making enterprises whose primary focus is the bottom-line, rather than investigating and revealing the truth – distract us with infotainment and assurances that the solution is “more of the same”: keep the faith, hang in there long enough and eventually technological development and economic growth, more consumerism and greater GNP will resolve our problems.

As if that were not enough, our ignorant, corrupt and arrogant leaders, or rather rulers, have shown themselves to be inept at everything except lying and gaining power. Now that their deceit and incompetence are coming back to haunt them, their popularity has been plummeting – but at the same time they have been consolidating their power. The faces will change, while the power structure remains much the same, unless we find ways to do something about it.

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A

A Long-Forgotten Truth

At the most precise moment in history when it seemed a completely mechanical, vertical and isolated form of existence, the Gaza genocide has sparked a long-forgotten truth: that we (the people) are creatures of community; that we only find true joy and meaning in connecting with other people. That we cannot be happy when others around us suffer. Palestine is an actual and concrete struggle but it is also, and crucially so, an instrument of philosophical liberation of universal importance.

And these kids are holding onto it as a buoy, so as not to drown in an ocean of cold and meaningless rituals that have no resonance with the human soul: be born, learn a craft, accumulate material things, obey the system, have a family, die. They don’t want it. They looked into their screens and there they found life, and what it really means. They want Palestinians to stop being mass murdered, displaced, and dehumanized, and they want the same thing for themselves. They want to feel human, and they reject the system that tries so desperately to humiliate, denigrate, and dismantle them. The Palestinian Revolution may yet prove to be more consequential than the French one.

— Alon Mizrahi

When you immigrated to the holy land, when you were just a tiny fraction of the people there, you could have come with an open hand, ready to share the land with the indigenous people there.

But no. You came with a closed fist.

Yes it was a tough neighborhood; you were not welcome; wars were launched against you. But even still, you could have done it differently. In those all-important early days, when trust is forged or fractured, you drove Palestinians out of their villages, massacring many. That was your original sin — your Nakba.

And then in the years that followed, you closed borders, built walls, expanded settlements, set up two-tiered land and water and justice systems. You persecuted and jailed those who resisted ... “mowed the grass” in Gaza whenever it grew too high. You ignored international law, the Geneva convention and UN Security Council resolutions. And you refused to ever consider the right of refugees to return.

Admit it, O people of Israel: you failed to respect the humanity and dignity of generations of Palestinians. You treated them like subservient, second-class citizens — never as equals.

With the insight of a people persecuted for millennia, exterminated in pogroms and mass-murdered in a Holocaust, you could have found, in your wise rabbinic tradition, a way for Arabs and Jews to live together. But you didn’t want to share the land. You wanted it all. And in the process, you turned your Zionist project into a nightmare; the West Bank into a patchwork of disconnected enclaves surrounded by your settlements; Gaza into an open-air prison — and now a killing field.

It’s too late to rewrite history. But you can change the script you’re holding in your hands.

Show us. The world waits for you to conquer your fears and, in the years to come, emerge as a shining example of peaceful coexistence for the people of the 21st century to emulate.

O People of Israel, the time has come to loosen up and play some jazz.

— Kalle Lasn

We create a new world by simply letting go . . . cultivating a certain looseness of mind . . .

. . . opting for small rather than imposing things.

Muted colors.

Understatement instead of hyperbole.

Not the action but that pregnant moment before the action.

We abandon the spectacle . . . and revel instead in the intimacies of everyday life: the touch of a lover, a chat with a bright-eyed stranger, a quiet moment in the wild.

We activate mystical feelings of oneness with nature!

We abandon our devices and learn to have fun again. Just crazy, uninhibited fun.(Where did that go?)

From Issue #

173

10 Years to Save the World

Lone Wolf Activism

Live Without Dead Time

The only thing that gives me satisfaction lately is going out and getting my nose dirty. Pulling off some little act of subversion — like placing an OUT OF ORDER sign on an ATM, or taping an Ultimatum to World Leaders poster on a bus stop shelter. Once in awhile I'll drop by the economics department of the University of British Columbia and pin KICKITOVER MANIFESTOs on professors’ doors. In future I might, I dunno, let the air out of some SUV tires; place a stink bomb in a bank; throw a handful of pixel dust in Justin Trudeau’s face. Such acts of civil disobedience aren’t exactly denting the universe. But they always turn my day around. Like, now I have the strength to fight another day.

I wonder if a lot of people around the world feel the same way. That the old activism — marching back and forth across our cities waving banners and chanting slogans — just doesn’t hack it anymore. To repair the climate, keep corporations in check, shift economic paradigms, vanquish the mindlords and fix the the really big scary existential stuff, we need a more intimate, visceral kind of activism — a revolutionary fervor from the inside out.

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Love your towel . . . give it a name . . . talk to it . . . rub your face in it day and night . . . when it starts to fray, don’t ditch it . . . keep hugging it . . . let it grow old . . . watch it fall apart bit by bit . . . and then, one fine day when you know in your heart that the day has finally come . . . give it one last hug and compost it into your garden.

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Our world is failing.

Climate shocks are displacing millions.

Inequality is stoking massive civil unrest.

Genocidal wars are breaking out with increasing frequency.

We may be heading for total global collapse.

But it doesn’t have to be this way ... this could also turn out to be the most exciting, the most successful era in human history.

A Prophet From Gaza

An Interview with Kohei Saito

Author of Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto

AB: The big reveal of your recent work is the contents of these newly discovered notebooks that Marx wrote late in life. We learn that he had a nuanced understanding of ecology and earth systems. I think it’s a big surprise to many that Marx had any kind of environmental sensitivity at all! But you’re sort of dusting him off for a new generation.

KS: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people believed that Marx had nothing more to say. But then a few things happened. One was the economic crisis of 2008. Then three years later we had the Fukushima nuclear disaster. At that point the problems with capitalism were becoming hard to ignore. I started thinking... okay, capitalism has something to do with this — the maximum use of energy and resources is a characteristic of our daily economic activity under this system. But Marx seemed so outdated.

Then I was lucky enough to get invited onto a project to edit these late notebooks of Marx. And I saw this deep investigation of natural sciences: biology, agriculture, chemistry, geology. Marx dove into so many different topics, from soil erosion to deforestation to extinction of species at the hands of humans. I was like: wow. Because we think of Marx as basically focused on the exploitation of workers. But looking at these notebooks, another concept emerges: metabolism.

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Help Dump Trump

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Hamas, at heart, are freedom fighters.

There, I said it. And now I'll probably pay for it.

Because there are boundaries around how we can talk about Oct 7. You can support the Palestinians: yes. But showing any sympathy at all for Hamas, is beyond the pale — you'll get doxxed, cancelled, vilified as an antisemite and worse.

But fuck it, I'll say it anyway: They're freedom fighters!

What these young men actually did on Oct 7 was brutal and barbaric and in many cases impossible to defend. But why they did it, that's easier to understand. When you put a certain kind of person in a chokehold for long enough, they go off in ways you're not going to like. Imagine you — and your people — are fenced in, caged up in an open-air prison for sixteen years. You have no hope, no dignity, no future. You're mowed down by remote-control machine guns if you wander too close to the razor-wire fence. Your daily caloric intake is restricted to near-starvation levels. Your children routinely have suicidal thoughts. And there's no light at the end of this — you're trapped like an animal.

So what do you do? You burst out of your cage with feral ferocity — you're a barbaric terrorist yes, yes, yes — but fuck it, you're a freedom fighter too.

— Kalle Lasn

I am four.

I am four. A man who is supposed to take care of me touches me in a way that I know is wrong, even when I don't have the vocabulary to explain it.

When my mother, white with rage, complains to my family, she is told off.

In Kerala there is a saying: whether the leaf encroaches on the thorn or the thorn encroaches on the leaf, it's the leaf that tears. In other words, it is not their job to protect the girl; it is the mothers' responsibility to protect her daughter.

I am eleven.

I hear what's said about me: Too bossy. Talks too much. Doesn't have enough girlfriends. Doesn't help out in the kitchen.

At a family vacation, a man six times my age puts his disgusting mouth on mine without my consent. My aunts and uncles are in the room just next door.

Many years later, recounting this story to my mother, I realize the violence I experienced was a mere slight compared to what she and her mother and her grandmother were subjected to.

Injustice is passed on generation to generation. If you're lucky, the violence gets diluted a little.

From Issue #

172

Collapse of the West

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Mindbomb

This issue is a feverish plunge into a spiritual reckoning — a dive into the dead-end moment when our attention drifts, our conscience heaves and it suddenly becomes obvious that, despite all our technological prowess and material might, we in the West may not be the good guys after all.

Nat Turner's Rebellion:

Echoes of Resistance from Virginia to Gaza

Nat Turner was born in Virginia in 1800, the son of slaves and the property of plantation owners.

His rebellion, which was launched August 21, 1831, and lasted two days and two nights, saw the killing of some fifty-five white men, women, and children, some (including the family of the man who owned him) in their sleep. To begin with, the rebels numbered just six besides Turner, but by the end they had recruited sixty to their cause. The plan was to go from plantation to plantation, house to house, blazing a trail of terror on their way to the county seat, where Turner aimed to raid the armory for weapons and ammunition. Today the seat of Southampton County is known as Courtland, but back then it was called — what else? — Jerusalem.

Turner's rebels never reached Jerusalem. They were met by white militias just a few miles away and either captured or killed. In the frenzy that followed, some three dozen Black people were slain in extrajudicial killings. Thirty were tried before a panel of slaveholding judges and condemned to death, though twelve later had their sentences commuted. Turner remained a fugitive for almost two months before he was caught and hanged on November 11, 1831.

A day before the first convicted rebel was executed, William Lloyd Garrison, the publisher of the abolitionist paper The Liberator, wrote:

True, the rebellion is quelled. Yet laugh not in your carnival of crime Too proudly, ye oppressors! You have seen, it is to be feared, but the beginning of sorrows.

Bioconsciousness

Every one of the 195 countries on earth is itself a living organism — an autonomous component within the larger biological unit.

Every citizen is a cell within the body politic. Very likely Gaia herself is one of many living planets peppered throughout the universe.

If that sounds overly touchy-feely, it's only because our horizons have been squeezed so radically by hyper rationalism that we can no longer feel the deeper dimensions of being human. But now that we're entering the planetary endgame, we'd damn well better find a way to feel it again.

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If you understand your country as a fragile, hypersensitive, living organism, the questions become very basic: How do you keep her fed and safe and self-sustaining? How do you keep the people happy? How do you encourage them to play fairly with each other? How do you empower them to make wise decisions?

Suddenly "politics" is no longer just a bloodless exercise that we can choose to dabble in or not. It isn't just about reading indicators (housing starts, polling integrity, polity scores) or tweaking the mixing board (electoral boundaries, reserve requirements, cabinet size). It isn't about crowding under the umbrella of your nation's military might or rallying around its sloganeering. It isn't even about being on the Left or the Right.

Instead, it's something else entirely, something personal and universal at once, an overarching concept that captures every aspect of being, staying alive and thriving on our fragile planet.

Call it biopolitics.

You wake up in the morning and think, "Hallelujah" my country is alive, and I am part of it. I'm going to nourish this organism: feed it, prune it, protect it. My involvement in politics is as natural as fish schooling up. I shed a portion of my self, my rights, my me-first instincts, to serve a greater good.

The personal payoff is that, as your politics expands and matures in this biocentric way, you feel less lonely, more involved. And a new personal mantra bubbles up.

I connect, therefore I am.

As Bruno Latour so poignantly pointed out before he died, bioconsciousness holds out the promise of a renaissance-like reset of the sciences, the arts, the law, and politics... it offers us hope for a new kind of civilization: one in which we put aside human mastery and learn the 'languages' of rivers, mountains, oil pipelines, baboons, voodoo dolls, and viruses. For these are the many murmurs of Earth itself, growing louder and louder.

The easy thing to do right now is pick a side. To let darkness get me all stirred up, convince me I know who’s right, put up my dukes and deny the humanity of the wrongdoer. But isn’t this line of thinking what leads to all bloodshed?

I’ve done too much wrong myself to be playing this game. How can I make these kind of judgments without weighing my own actions on the same scales?

I am trying to live a different way. One where, even if I find it difficult, I don’t just love my neighbors, I love my enemies, too.

Love is the ultimate revolutionary act — a beautiful paradox. Though it always protects, it does not dishonor others. Though it keeps no record of wrong, it also doesn’t delight in evil. Though it delights in truth, it is also slow to anger. Love is not the feeling TV, movies, or romance novels are selling. That’s just passion, and passion doesn’t last.

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Scrolling (by Geo Law)

Honey, I shrunk my life

Taking “degrowth” seriously

Of all the problems facing humanity, there’s arguably only one that really matters: how do we achieve carbon-neutrality quickly enough to save our bacon?

People who haven’t just flat fucking given up (looking at you, Paul Kingsnorth) mostly count themselves as tech optimists; they believe we can science our way out of this mess – by pivoting to renewable energy, and tweaking our consumer behavior in the ways that matter most.

But more and more people whose opinions count say such measures are doomed to fail. They amount to tapping the brakes, when there’s just not enough runway left for that. We need to slam on the emergency brake, as the Japanese philosopher Kohei Saito puts it – to avert environmental and social catastrophe.

We’re talking about a major, really unprecedented paradigm shift. Which exposes the question under the question: Can it even be done? Is material growth inevitable? Or is it, as Wendell Berry once put it, “evitable”?

Growth is a funny thing: it’s great until it isn’t. There comes a point, in every natural system on Earth, where growth triumphantly peaks. After that, more growth starts doing more harm than good. It becomes “malign, cancerous, obese and environmentally destructive,” as the Canadian research scientist Vaclav Smil said in his seminal book, Growth: from Microorganisms to Megacities. The curve of growth’s effects looks like an upside-down smile, and all the developed countries are now on the downslope, in the zone of what Smil calls “anthropogenic insults to ecosystems.” In other words: a shit storm on the horizon, about to make land.

the New Asceticism

When consumer culture collided with the digital environment, something new emerged. Something new but ancient: a plague. Only this one isn’t attacking bodies. It’s attacking minds.

We are all addicts now, with devastating mental-health effects. The only way to break the cycle is by voluntarily taking on the pain of doing without.

Welcome to the New Asceticism.

[PSYCHO]

Smooth apes with brains still wired for scarcity are lurching around in a world of plenty.

[selfie-click]

And by plenty, we’re talking overabundance. Wishes instantly fulfilled. More calories within reach than our ancestors could have chased down in a month.

See, life is paradox, and the paradox of plenty is this: You’d think that instantly gratified desires would be a recipe for happiness. But the opposite is true.

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