Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Space for Me

I recently posted something on my Facebook account that caused some question among folks. It is:

"I am now officially a member of the Planetary Society. I actually feel better about being a part of and supporting this, moreso than any other political project that I can think of, radical or mainstream."

Behind this statement is a bunch of stuff that lead me to want to write that. Let me elaborate...

For the past few months I have been feeling increasingly disappointed, disillusioned and ultimately disgusted with the subculture, or subcultures, that call themselves "anarchist". I have already written about this before, so you may be asking, what else is new? Well, what's new are a couple of different recent incidents, including my favorite anarchist book publisher and one of my favorite anarchist authors having a very public falling-out, a big public spectacle around the purging of a well-known anarchist author for being a white nationalist, and some anarchists where I live here in Minneapolis resorting to using the powers of the U.S. federal government to resolve a dispute between them and another group of local anarchists.

This is not to say that there are absolutely no projects out there that are anarchist, or anarchistic, that I do not find to be inspiring or at least interesting. The part of the world known as "Rojava" continues to hold much promise in this regard, although in many ways it is off-limits to Westerners since going there can get one jail-time (since many Western governments officially consider the PKK to be "terrorists") and they do not speak English there anyway, they speak the Kurdish language. Also, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities seems very exciting to me nowadays, with a number of new communities forming that want to be a part of it, including a number of new forming urban communities. Neither of these two projects, however, adorn themselves with the label "anarchist".

Regarding my own affiliation with anarchism, some friends and myself recently recorded a podcast conversation where I elaborated upon my own perspectives on things, and subsequently this conversation was roundly ignored by other anarchists, except for people expressing upset about the website where this recording resides. Also, for a while now I have considered myself to be a "Buddhist anarchist", and now I see that the Wikipedia entry on "Buddhist Anarchism" no longer exists, and instead searching for that term takes one to the entry on Gary Snyder. Taken altogether, this leads me to feel as if I have no space for me within the "anarchist" subculture, that whatever space I might have had within it has been dismissed.

Coincidentally, I now have a job where much of my time and energy goes to (is sucked into) this job. Yes, this is one, among many, signs of the soul-crushing nature of capitalism, wage-slavery, civilization, what-have-you, but like what has happened to me before, having this job enables me to redirect my energy away from feeling invested in the failing project of "anarchism" and into something else, something that is actually making me some money.

I do, however, still feel a need to be a part of something and to belong with a group of people who are doing things that I more or less believe in. Just having a job, residing in an apartment building and consuming things does not meet these needs for me. Enter: The Planetary Society. I was once a member of this organization way back, like when I was a young teenager. Then my interest drifted apart from them, and I pretty much forgot about them for a long time. In recent years they have once again entered my sphere of awareness, mainly because of the new leadership of the organization, under the helm of the big charismatic media personality Bill Nye. The world of space science has been quite exciting and interesting in recent years, what with the landing on the comet that happened last year, the New Horizons probe exploring of Pluto, the recent confirmation of water on Mars, and the continuing discovery of planets that are very similar to Earth. The Planetary Society itself has also had a big success with it's recent test flight of a solar-powered spacecraft.

You may be wondering now why I have this interest in all this space stuff. The reason is that I view all life on this planet as being inter-connected, and that with human beings especially we are all in it together, with all of our actions affecting each-other, for better and for worse. We all share the same planet, and if we try hard enough, we can even transcend this planet to go on to other places as well. I see space science and exploration as being something that has the potential to unite humanity in ways that are more productive and forward-thinking than the old ways based on nationalism, political ideology and religion. Surviving and going deeper into outer space requires systems thinking and serious thought about what is necessary for life to survive and thrive. This line of thinking is also desperately needed right now regarding our own ecological situation here on Earth. I am hoping that these kinds of thoughts about other planets and such could also carry over to our thinking about our own home planet right now.

I also have to say that it is a relief for me to not be thinking so intently about various political things all the time, nor to get caught up in a vortex of self-reflective navel-gazing, and to instead think about other things in this universe above and beyond all that we know. So, that is where I am at right now.


Duchesse said...

Ian, happy to read you have a sense of relief and new engagement. You continually explore and make connections among many disciplines and movements. What I admire is that you actually work at projects that reflect these, not just (or only, LOL) navel-gaze. said...

happy to read you have a sense of relief and new engagement. You continually explore and make connections among many disciplines and movements.