3 articles from wired.com: Gilder ----------------- wheat grafitti ------------- hacks by day, squats by night -------------- reviews of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America: Since 1945. By George H. Nash. ----- --------- the moral minority (bioethics; also via wired) ------------- potlatch thread at progressive economists (csf) ----------- Intuitive farming down under (via acresusa.com) ------------ lbo on the american history of anarchism -----------------  wired.com/wired/archive/10.07/gilder_pr.html Archive | 10.07 - Jul 2002 | Feature The Madness of King George George Gilder listened to the technology, and became guru of the telecosm. The markets listened to his newsletter, and followed him into the Global Crossing abyss. yet he's never stopped believing. By Gary Rivlin The lunch plates were cleared long ago, and the waitress gazes vacantly out over an otherwise empty dining room. But George Gilder, his legs propped on a nearby chair, seems rooted in place, not quite ready to leave. We're lingering at a restaurant down the street from his office in Great Barrington, a hamlet set along a rural highway that winds through the southern tip of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. Here, one of the tech world's more famous - and controversial - prophets is contemplating how he could have been so right over the past half-dozen years and yet seen everything turn out so terribly wrong. A look of anguish clouds his face. "I knew that it was going to crash, I really did," Gilder says, looking out a window on to Main Street. Since 1996, he has published the Gilder Technology Report, a monthly newsletter that in its heyday was arguably the most influential tout sheet on Wall Street. He glances my way and notices my arched eyebrows. I had plowed through several years' worth of issues, and while I read page after page of praise for a lengthy list of seemingly promising telecommunications companies, I saw nary a hint of warning in anticipation of the Nasdaq's March 2000 tumble and the financial tumult that followed. He adds quickly, "I told people in early 2000 they should sell half their shares in these companies." Then he says, in a tone of self-rebuke: "I didn't say it often. I didn't put it in a newsletter." He made the recommendation to sell, he admits, only within the limited confines of the Telecosm Lounge, his online salon for newsletter subscribers. He fumbles for words, starting one sentence, then another, before growing uncharacteristically silent and staring off into the distance. For a moment, he seems to be imagining what might have been if things had turned out differently. Gilder, 62, is the author of a dozen books; he has been shouted down by feminists on The Dick Cavett Show in the 1970s, faced off with Dan Rather over trickle-down economics on 60 Minutes in the 1980s, and debated the future of technology with the likes of Andy Grove and Bob Metcalfe in the 1990s. Now many of his partisans are calling for the tar and feathers. He starts another sentence, and again cuts himself off. Suddenly he squares his body, turns to me, and expels a slight, disbelieving laugh. "When you're up there surfing," he says, "the beach looks beautiful. You never think about what the sand in your face might feel like until after you've crashed." For a short stretch during the late 1990s, Gilder's newsletter made him a very wealthy man. Anyone taking a cursory look at it might wonder why. Every issue is densely freighted with talk of lambdas, petahertz, and erbium-doped fiber amplifiers. The eighth and final page, however, explains how so geeky a publication attained, at its zenith, an annual subscription base of $20 million. It's on the back page that Gilder lists the stocks he has dubbed "telecosmic" - companies that have most faithfully and fully embraced the "ascendant" telecom technologies in which he believes so wholly and deeply. "For a few years in row there, I was the best stock picker in the world," Gilder says ruefully. "But last year you could say" - here, for emphasis, he repeats each word as a sentence unto itself - "I. Was. The. Worst." Most of the companies listed have lost at least 90 percent of their value over the past two years, if they're even in business anymore. None exemplifies Gilder's rise and fall more than Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy - the fourth-largest ever - in January. Even in a portfolio of flops, the scope and depth of this particular debacle stands out. "It will change the world economy," Gilder wrote a few years ago about the company. After reading its master plan, which called for the laying of fiber-optic cables across the world's oceans and between its great cities, Gilder proclaimed that for 10 years he had been searching for a business this audacious and awe-inspiring. He declared Global Crossing his favorite stock, and staked his financial future on it. While he avoided investing in practically every company he wrote about because of the potential for charges of conflict of interest, this was a notable exception. "Global Crossing going bankrupt?" Gilder asks, a look of disbelief on his face. "I would've been willing to bet my house against it." In effect he did. Just a few years ago, he was the toast of Wall Street and commanded as much as $100,000 per speech. Now, he confesses, he's broke and has a lien against his home. During a period when blind optimism got the better of so many, no one was more blithely optimistic about our wired future than Gilder. Beginning in the mid-'90s, he advanced the argument that the businesses which most aggressively embrace fiber optics, wireless communication, and other telecommunications breakthroughs would soar in the meteoric fashion of an Intel. It was Gilder, as much as anyone, who helped trigger the hundreds of billions of dollars invested to create competing fiber networks. Then everything imploded, and company after company went under. The telecom sector proved to be an even greater financial debacle than the dotcoms. Yet he's still convinced he was dead-on right in most of his prognostications. And the damn of it may be that Gilder has a point. In addition to being famously optimistic, Gilder is also a contrarian. In the mid-1990s -†while the rest of the world was grousing about the slowness with which images and large packets moved over the network, and some very smart people fretted that the Internet would collapse under its own weight - Gilder was already talking about the coming age of network abundance. And being Gilder, he didn't stop there. He vividly imagined a "new epoch of spirit and faith" in which all of us would live in the "majestic cumulative power, truth, and transcendence of contemporary science and wealth." He also coined the termtelecosm to describe the merging of newer technologies, especially fiber optics, with existing telecommunications systems. Gilder first spied the revolutionary potential of fiber optics at the start of the 1990s, when he shared a conference podium with Will Hicks, one of the field's luminaries. Hicks had predicted that fiber-optic cable, if it were made thin enough, could transmit bolts of light like photons shooting out of a ray gun. Gilder recalls the moment as one of the rare times he encountered someone even more Panglossian than himself. "I had always taken it for granted," he would later write, "that in any assemblage of pundits, I would be the most cornucopian - the most hyperbolically assured that silicon could save the world." The predictions Gilder has made in the intervening decade suggest that he vowed to never again permit anyone else to convey a vision of the world more exuberant than his own. In 1996 he foresaw that, because of broadband's potential to deliver online learning, within five years "the most deprived ghetto child in the most benighted project will gain educational opportunities exceeding those of today's suburban preppy." It was a preposterous assertion, and hardly the only one that seems absurd in the harsh fluorescent light of the morning. He also claimed that the Web would soon bring on the quick death of both the US Postal Service and television. But none of this rendered Gilder's optimism any less contagious given the light-headed exhilaration of the times. Yet to dismiss Gilder as just another poster boy for the reckless optimism of the late '90s would be a mistake, for the technical analysis undergirding even his more utopian flights of fancy was prescient. Forget terms like megabits, gigabits, or even terabits when describing the flow of data over the Internet. Soon enough, we'll be measuring things in petabits, or 1 quadrillion (1,000 trillion) bits, because of fiber optics - information traveling via photons flying over strands of glass fiber. The only question is whether we'll see this day as quickly as Gilder imagines. He asserts that by 2004, networks of glass superhighways will deliver 8 petabits per second over optical cables. "I listen very closely to what George says, and then automatically add five years," says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who first encountered Gilder in the early 1990s when Schmidt was Sun's CTO. The potential of fiber optics is indeed staggering, though not entirely without precedent, and therein lies Gilder's greatest contribution to the field. He opened minds to the technology by drawing on his understanding of past innovation; Moore's law accurately anticipated that the density of transistors on a computer chip would double every 18 months. Gilder decided to make a prediction of his own, and in 1998 he unveiled an axiom he dubbed the law of the telecosm: The world's total supply of bandwidth will double roughly every four months - or more than four times faster than the rate of advances in computer horsepower. Has it panned out? Yes and no. By mid-2000, Gilder had already recalculated his theorem (and immodestly renamed it in his honor): Bandwidth would double every six months. Gilder notes that several years passed before Moore's law revved up to its mind-bending pace. Then he shifts into deep geek mode, rattling off arcana from a recent newsletter in which he compares a fiber-based telecommunications system available in 1995 with one the Columbia, Maryland-based Corvis is selling today. Corvis now offers a 280-wavelength system, compared with a 4-wavelength version available in 1995. Whereas seven years ago each wavelength could transmit data at a rate of 620 megabits per second, each can now transmit 10 gigabits of information per second, which means today's system is 16 times faster. There's been a sixfold increase in the number of fibers that can be jacketed in each cable, and today an impulse needs to be regenerated only every 2,000 miles, compared with every 300 miles back in 1995. By Gilder's calculations, that represents an 11,000-fold advance in just over six years - which indeed works out to a doubling roughly every six months or so. Eric Schmidt calculates that bandwidth has been doubling more like every 12 months (an estimate confirmed by Probe Research, which has been studying Internet traffic since 1997). But to him, that hardly detracts from Gilder's overall point. "As far as I know, George was the first to see that infinite bandwidth was going to have a similar kind of impact on our world as the microprocessor," he says. "And on that fundamental point, he's been proven absolutely right." Time has also proven Gilder fundamentally correct about other, less-sweeping technological prophecies. Throughout the last decade, Gilder has been associated most closely with two highly technical debates. One concerns wave-division multiplexing, a means of increasing bandwidth over a fiber-optic network by transmitting multiple signals simultaneously. If not for WDM, Gilder argues, it would cost the telecom industry trillions more dollars in capital expenditures on less-efficient equipment to accommodate Internet traffic. For years, the telco establishment resisted WDM, but eventually even the most bottom line-minded firms embraced it. Gilder has also been a proponent of code division multiple access, which he maintains is a more efficient and elegant way to split the wireless spectrum. "Gilder has won that argument," says Probe's Hilary Mine, an analyst specializing in telecommunications. CDMA is now a core technology in one-third of US cell phones. "I think the guy has been a real visionary," says CNET founder Halsey Minor, who has been reading Gilder since the early 1990s. "He, more than anybody else, woke us up to this coming explosion in telecom. He wasn't right about everything, but he was right about a lot." "My miscalculations were the commercial effect of this revolution, especially as I chose particular companies that were spearheads," Gilder says. "The companies did function as spears, but spears often break." The technologies, he says, lived up to their promise even as the market for them collapsed. "The investment part didn't pan out entirely, particularly for the infrastructure players, but the expansion of traffic is real, and the contribution of optics to enable the expansion of traffic is real," he contends. He knows he shouldn't utter the next line, but the congenitally candid Gilder seems incapable of biting his tongue. "My subscribers hate when I say things like this, but I think we'll look back on the current period as a fairly trivial event." To buttress his point, Gilder draws a parallel to the tech collapse of the mid-1980s, which compelled some to proclaim the death of the PC era. "We've seen this kind of thing happen over and over again through the history of enterprise," he says. "It's enormously disappointing for the visionaries, yet it's not the visionaries but the people who inherit the infrastructure they've built who typically prosper from it." It's that final line, of course, that is likely to infuriate the habitués of the Telecosm Lounge. One can anticipate the postings of these people, some of whom have lost millions by following Gilder's investment advice. The only question is whether it will be Networkbull, Optionbob, or someone else who writes, "Nice of you tell us that now, George!" Gilder is a son of the Berkshires who lives in the red farmhouse in which he grew up. A true New England WASP, he has the vocabulary of an Oxford scholar and the carriage of an aristocrat. There's a jaunty, patrician manner in the way he walks, shoulders high and back, chin thrust forward as if he learned to hold his head by watching clips of FDR. He has bright blue eyes and a broad smile that sits slightly off-kilter on his face, and his hair hovers crazily, as if trapped in an electromagnetic experiment. He generally exudes an aura of unkempt disarray; in our two days together he wore the same outfit and seemed oblivious to the penny-sized splotch of whiskers on his chin. One of Gilder's great-grandfathers was Louis Comfort Tiffany, the glassmaker; another was the editor of Century magazine and a friend of Theodore Roosevelt's. As Gilder describes it, he grew up "shabby gentry." Today, friends describe him as singularly uninterested in earthly possessions. One colleague jokingly says that Gilder is so true to his hills Yankee roots "he has furniture in his living room that even Goodwill wouldn't take." His father, Richard Gilder, a writer, was killed during World War II; however, Richard's college roommate, David Rockefeller, made sure that George secured spots at Exeter Academy and Harvard. Gilder was expelled from the latter during his freshman year for poor grades but readmitted after a short stint in the Marines, and he graduated in 1962 with a BA in government. Through most of his twenties and thirties, Gilder toiled as a freelance writer, reasonably successful but constantly broke. His first two books, Sexual Suicide and Naked Nomads, might best be described as antigay, antiwelfare, antifeminist screeds in which he argues that equal pay between the sexes is in fact antifamily. They won him notoriety among feminists but little in the way of royalties. Gilder's breakthrough proved to be his fifth book, Wealth and Poverty, published in 1981. Released shortly into Ronald Reagan's tenure, it hailed the entrepreneurial spirit as the most effective cure for poverty, thereby securing Gilder's place as one of the new president's supply-side gurus. The volume sold more than 1 million copies, and the 41-year-old Gilder found himself suddenly rich and famous. Yet it was precisely at that point, despite having a wife and two kids (they'd eventually have four) and no background in the hard sciences, that he decided to chuck his career as a political gadfly and teach himself physics. How does he explain a choice that seems at once preposterous and prescient? Peering into the future, he imagined a restless life tilling the same tired soil yet never quite matching the success of Wealth and Poverty. Another factor, of course, was that he could suddenly afford the folly of a whim. Gilder's decision didn't arrive entirely from out of the blue. He'd devoted a whole chapter of Wealth and Poverty to the semiconductor industry(though he now confesses that his views were based almost solely on an article he had read in Time). The parsimonious Gilder seemed enchanted by the fact that silicon was really nothing but sand, so readily abundant a raw material. He was friends with National Semiconductor board chair Peter Sprague, who had mentioned to Gilder that they soon would "put scores of transistors not on the head but the point of a pin." Above his bed at home, Gilder has a famous Blake quotation about seeing all the world in a single grain of sand. "I loved the idea that the computer was a world in a grain of sand," he says. Over the next five years, he split time between coasts, studying at Caltech under the eminent physicist Carver Mead, who became his mentor and sage. Gilder took classes when possible but mainly studied on his own. He hired a tutor to teach him calculus so that he could better understand physics. In all, he figures he read "hundreds of books," most of them textbooks, to learn the sciences of the microprocessor. The years of self-banishment served him well. His resulting work, Microcosm, published in 1989, influenced a generation of people, including former FCC chair Reed Hundt. "Microcosm is a great visionary document," Hundt says. "It helped change my thinking." If anything, Gilder's next book, Life After Television, published in 1990, proved even more prophetic. A strong anti-TV bias prompted Gilder to predict its imminent demise at the hands of the PC - but he also spotted the potential for convergence between the tube and the microchip and, before Tim Berners-Lee had conceived of the World Wide Web, wrote about "a crystalline web of glass and light." "Listen to the technology," Carver Mead had counseled his disciple. And fiber optics seemed the perfect subject matter for the fervently ascetic Gilder. Photons and light waves, of course, are weightless and ephemeral, the very embodiment of a nonmaterial world. There's a cosmic perfection in a technology that can move libraries' worth of information around the globe at the speed of light. "Listen to the technology" - it had proved an invaluable mantra as Gilder delved more deeply into the science of light and electromagnetic particles. By the mid-1990s, however, it was hard not to listen also to the sound of money. The Gilder Technology Report wasn't Gilder's idea so much as it was a notion planted in his head by two money managers overseeing some of his financial planning. Late in 1995, Chuck Frank and David Minor proposed that the three go into business together. By that point Gilder was writing regularly for Forbes and its technology supplement, Forbes ASAP. (He also did occasional pieces for this magazine and is still a contributing writer.) Frank and Minor proposed that Gilder's writing be repackaged as research, which they in turn would sell to investment banks, but that idea proved a bust when almost no banks expressed interest. As an alternative, Gilder suggested a monthly newsletter. He contacted his friend Steve Forbes, and a deal was struck between Forbes Publishing and the newly formed Gilder Technology Group: Gilder would write the report; Forbes would handle the publishing, marketing, and distribution; and the two companies would split the proceeds. The newsletter was launched in mid-1996 with an initial run of 8,000. The primary audience was networking techies drawn to its data-rich charts and, of course, to Gilder's unique and passionate take on new technologies. In the fall of 1997, about 350 people paid $4,000 apiece to attend his first Telecosm conference, a two-day affair at the Ritz-Carlton near Palm Springs, California. For Gilder that would've been enough. Even with a modest circulation of 10,000, the newsletter, which cost subscribers $295 a year, was netting millions of dollars in revenue, and the conference contributed hundreds of thousands more to the company coffers. He was also taking in around $50,000 per speech, a few times a month. He had more than enough to keep himself busy: columns, articles, and another book that was several years overdue. A modestly successful business, however, wasn't good enough, especially given the overheated times and the ambitions of at least one of his partners. Inside Gilder's circle, people refer to it simply as "the list" - the companies Gilder has singled out as worthy of an investor's interest. Gilder says he can't recall exactly how it was decided that they'd include fewer charts so the list could run on the report's final page, but the impact of that decision is plain to him. "Ultimately, I was now publishing an investment newsletter," he says. In 1997, Rich Karlgaard, then the publisher of Forbes ASAP, wrote the first of several columns praising Gilder for his stock-picking prowess. "Nobody ... can spot a gigadollar sure thing in a queue of photons" like Gilder, wrote Karlgaard, who is now the publisher of Forbes. He included a toll-free number for potential subscribers but failed to reveal the magazine's stake in the enterprise he was touting. Gilder hardly played the hapless bystander. He began slipping stock tips into his articles. In one for Forbes in 1999, for instance, he advised those wanting to "make a killing over the next five years" to buy shares in either Globalstar ("a supreme telecosmic play") or the Loral Corp. (Globalstar declared bankruptcy this past February, and shares in Loral are down 88 percent since Gilder's recommendation.) In another piece, published in 1997, Gilder suggested that readers short Microsoft. (An investor who took Gilder's advice and shorted $10,000 of Microsoft stock would have lost as much as $25,000, depending on when he or she decided to sell.) Gilder also gushed over the stock market potential of a litany of companies that have either gone bankrupt or are trading at a fraction of their 1999 share price. Gilder's list performed well in 1998, but his portfolio's 1999 performance was unreal. "I had six of the top nine stocks on the S&P, and four of the top eight on the Nasdaq," he boasts. A Karlgaard column, written just as the Nasdaq was in the early paroxysms of its great fall, noted that Gilder's basket of stock picks had racked up ("Is your blood pressure in check?") a 247 percent return in the prior 10 months. "Grow rich on the coming technology revolution," blared the promotional materials Forbes Publishing mailed out soliciting subscriptions to Gilder's newsletter. At its apogee, at the end of 2000, it had more than 70,000 paying subscribers, representing $20 million in revenue. The Gilder Technology Report represented only one, albeit large, piece of the growing empire. Gilder started hiring people to write additional newsletters on niche topics such as online storage, and the annual Telecosm conference gave birth to several regional Telecosms. The company also added a series of investment conferences to the calendar - six in 2000. Each brought in another million dollars, according to Gilder. He moved his burgeoning company into an 8,000-square-foot office in Great Barrington that had taken the better part of a year to refurbish in order to accommodate a staff of two dozen. Meanwhile, Gilder's partners were anything but satisfied. When Frank proposed a hedge fund, Gilder said no, despite the enormous fees such an enterprise would have earned investing money on behalf of rich individuals; he felt it would ensnare them in too many conflicts of interest. Similarly, he said no to a Telecosm venture fund and other lucrative-sounding schemes. "Because the company was started with the expectations of doing these things, my repulsion was seen, understandably, as a betrayal," says Gilder. (Minor generally confirmed Gilder's recollections; Frank did not respond to several messages left on his cell phone.) So in March of 2000, at the market's peak, he bought out his partners and started over as Gilder Publishing LLC. "I thought we'd go public," he says. "Merrill Lynch and Hambrecht were competing to be underwriters. There was talk of a $200 million valuation. I thought we were rich. What was $8.5 million for me to buy out my partners?" At around that time, he also decided to spend $2.5 million on The American Spectator, a money-losing conservative political journal. "Effectively we let $11 million walk out the door at precisely the worst time, just as we were about to go off a cliff." All the while, Gilder was feeling haunted by the immense responsibility. "In retrospect, it's obvious that I should've subtly said, 'Hey, things have gotten out of hand at JDS Uniphase, and it's not worth what you'd have to pay for it,'" he says. Each month, he thought about providing a warning to his subscribers, and he decided against it every time. He had witnessed firsthand what others had dubbed the "Gilder effect": the steep spike in a stock after he added that company to his list. It wasn't unheard of for the price of a stock to jump by more than 50 percent within an hour of a newsletter's release. "If I had said, 'Hey, this is a top, you should all sell,' it would've been a cataclysmic event," he says. "I'd think about telling people that they should sell half their holdings, and each time I'd conclude that my subscribers would be enraged. I also wondered what I'd precipitate if I did it." Fully 50 percent of his readers had signed up for the report at what Gilder now calls the "hysterical peak" of the market. "Half of my subscribers would have been eternally grateful [for a warning], but the other half -†the new ones - would've been enraged because they had just come in," he says. "It was quite terrifying. I really didn't know what to do." In the end he did nothing. And soon enough, he had an entirely new set of distractions to fret over. "In the past, we'd sell out our investor conferences within two weeks," Gilder says. "But in 2001, we sent out the same literature and the same invitations, and five or seven people signed up." He lost the deposits that were placed to reserve hotel space for the gatherings. Newsletter renewal rates plummeted. A huge tax bill came due. By spring 2002, he'd laid off nearly half of his staff. "You can be just fabulously flush one moment, and then the next, you can't make that last million-dollar payment to your partners, and there's suddenly a lien on your house," he says. Gilder, who had always cast the entrepreneur in the most flattering of light, had been granted a far more intimate, less appealing glimpse of life inside a startup. Any analysis of where Gilder went wrong has to begin with his near-evangelical faith in J-curves and the perfectibility of humankind. The notion of a new economy that created its own set of rules represented no great leap for this man who was inclined to see history as the determined march from savage to enlightened being. Likewise, the rocketing success on Wall Street of companies staking their future on a transcendent technology such as fiber optics confirmed everything he had come to believe in over his lifetime. "The bull market fit George's broad vision quite nicely," says Spencer Reiss, editor of The American Spectator (and a longtime Wired contributor). For years Gilder had been perceived as a wild-eyed prophet yelling into the wind. Suddenly he was endorsed by the masses. "For George this wasn't about money, but ultimately a vindication of his thinking," Reiss adds. Gilder embraces new technologies with the fervor of a missionary. Rather than declare Java an interesting new programming language worthy of adoption, he trumpeted it in 1995 as if it were the Second Coming - and now admits that he greatly overestimated its short-term impact. It wasn't enough that he spied the remarkable impact of fiber optics before anyone else, nor was he satisfied predicting that bandwidth would replace computing power as the driving force of technological innovation. Gilder dedicates the last several chapters of Telecosm to celebrating the "transfiguration" of society that will surely follow once we cast off the "copper cages" of existing technologies. In Gilder's broadband utopia, we will no longer be bothered by telemarketers, time-wasting advertisements, or onerous government forms. We'll overthrow the tyranny of mass media, advance world peace, and generally find ourselves enjoying an era marked by an abundance of leisure time. "If there was no George Gilder, the venture capitalists and investment bankers would've invented one," says Fred Hickey, editor of a newsletter called the High-Tech Strategist. "They needed some kind of pied piper to put the words on paper to justify the insanity of paying any price for anything that offered any kind of technical promise." To Gilder's critics, he ignores the real workings of the telecosm. Indeed, despite a past steeped in economic policy issues, Gilder consistently downplayed the enormous impact of regulation. "There's no way you do telecom work without factoring in the regulatory piece," says Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications and a telecom analyst who has been following the industry for 20 years. "He was either naive or just refused to factor that into the mix." Gilder had taken economics courses at Harvard, but they hardly taught him the gimlet-eyed analytics or understanding of business fundamentals that are crucial to success as a stock picker. One of Gilder's bedrock beliefs is that we have left behind the era of the microcosm - a time marked by an abundance of transistors and a scarcity of bandwidth - and entered the era of the telecosm, in which bandwidth is abundant and transistors scarce, given a migration to ever-smaller devices. "That argument is generally true," says Google's Schmidt. "The error George made is to assume that the economics of surplus are positive for investors, when in fact surplus means cutthroat price competition, over-provisioning, and all the things we're seeing happen in the telecom sector." "The realities of business play only a cameo role in George's theories," says Howard Anderson, founder of the Yankee Group and a part-time professor at MIT, who has observed the telecom industry for more than three decades. "His thought was 'Build it and they will come.'" When Global Crossing floated billions of dollars' worth of junk bonds to build out its worldwide fiber network, Gilder celebrated the decision as bold and visionary. He blames Global Crossing's bankruptcy, and the bankruptcies suffered by more than a dozen large telecom companies, on both a "deflationary environment hugely hostile to debtors" and Alan Greenspan's boom-time "obsession" with raising interest rates to tamp down the stock market. Gilder refuses to acknowledge that the company's main problem was a lack of demand, and when pressed on the point tends to provide a history lesson about the heroic role junk bonds played in the success of companies such as MCI and McCaw Cellular Communications. "In a different environment, these companies would have survived and thrived," Gilder insists. "With no advance warning, the financial climate suddenly became very, very hostile to debtors." Still, he allows, "I led a whole bunch of credulous people to finance this huge buildout of fiber." And ultimately he blames himself for all those hundreds of millions of dollars investors lost based on his predictions. "I accepted the laurels when they were being offered," Gilder says. "Now I really have to eat crow and not skulk off to the corner and claim 'I'm just a technologist.'" Gilder was in Silicon Valley when the news came, at the end of January, that Global Crossing had filed for bankruptcy protection. In the Telecosm Lounge, people were in shock. Gilder had stuck by the company even as share prices fell; if anything, he supported the stock more fervently. "Your current qualms will seem insignificant," he had declared midway through 2001, in response to frightened investors. Upon hearing the official news that their shares in Global Crossing were indeed worthless, some posters were philosophical. A few were angry, like the man who asked Gilder, "Are you a villain or just naive?" But mainly people seemed annoyed that for days their high priest remained silent despite their suffering. One loyalist even sought investment advice: "All I ask is for you to give us one stock right now which will offer the greatest upside potential with the least amount of risk to make up for Global Crossing," wrote a poster named Phil. A different kind of man, feeling chastened after a disaster of such magnitude, would have declined. By then a full 50 percent of his subscribers had fled the Gilder Technology Report, and there had been similar circulation drops at his four other newsletters. His list of telecosmic stocks had lost 75 percent of their value since the start of 2000. He'd lost his own fortune. Yet, incredibly, when Gilder finally appeared in the Telecosm Lounge nine days later, he had an answer for Phil: "I would buy National Semiconductor." So what has Gilder learned from his flirtation with imponderable riches? Everything and nothing. He expresses relief that he can return to what he knows best, studying the inner workings of cutting-edge technology. He expresses deep regret for the role he played in the telecom crash. But Gilder is first and foremost a man of faith. He continues to add new companies to his list, and he still tries to predict the future. "My view is that all this stuff is going to come back very rapidly," he says, citing the wisdom that results from "being old enough to have lived through many cycles." Science can now place 280 wavelengths on a single fiber and transmit data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second. Soon we'll be measuring the flow in petabits. All of the world's knowledge is near-instantly available. Ghetto kids will have access to the same information as rich preppies. Government can't help but come to its senses. A recovery - nay, the next boom! - is just around the corner. That, at least, is what the technology is telling him. Gary Rivlin is the author of several books, including The Godfather of Silicon Valley. Copyright © 1993-2002 The Condé Nast Publications Inc. All rights reserved. Copyright © 1994-2002 Wired Digital, Inc. All rights reserved. -------------------- wired.com/wired/archive/10.08/crop.html Wheat Graffiti A roundup of the top of the crops By Daniel Pinchbeck THEY SHOW UP EVERY SUMMER: spirals and interlocking rings, alchemical and shamanic symbols, massive mandalas and Mandelbrot sets, all cut into swaths of land &mdash; some as large as two football fields set side by side. These patterns, made from swirled wheat and flattened rapeseed, first appeared in the fields of southern England 30 years ago. Their mysterious origin caused a media frenzy until 1991, when two local farmers claimed responsibility for a few of the early formations. The press, satisfied that the whole thing was a hoax, decamped. But crop circles never went away. From the Netherlands to Japan to the farmlands of Canada and the Midwest, hundreds of new glyphs materialize every year &mdash; and they're growing in both size and complexity. The spectacle has inspired a fresh crop of media attention. Signs, by Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan, debuts August 2 starring Mel Gibson as a Pennsylvania farmer who discovers supernatural communications in his cornfields. Also coming in August is Crop Circles: Quest for Truth, a documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmaker William Gazecki. The film focuses on the robust New Age subculture of "croppies." In England, as many as 10,000 believers spend their summers tromping across the verdant hills of Wiltshire and Glastonbury prospecting for new formations. They include not only the expected druids, dowsers, and Deadheads but also more levelheaded types &mdash; engineers, astronomers, laser scientists, and biophysicists. These croppies find a kind of scientific beauty and mystery in the phenomenon. Gerald Hawkins, former chair of the astronomy department at Boston University, thinks the artistry of the circles is based on mathematics. He has found hidden geometrical forms - pentagrams, hexagons, and other shapes &mdash; underlying the figures he's analyzed. Then there's Colin Andrews, an electrical engineer with a grant from billionaire UFOlogist Laurance Rockefeller, who claims to have found a change in Earth's magnetic field where the glyphs appear. Noting the recent increase in crop circles, Andrews says, "You begin to get the distinct impression that there is some kind of program running here." Andrews, when pressed, tells of dozens of strange events that have befallen him during his 18-year-long obsession: stopped clocks, inexplicable power surges, ruined film. But the wildest stories come from the cult croppie philosopher Michael Glickman, a former architect who has been chasing circles since the 1980s. "The circlemakers are using shape and number and form to access parts of our being that have become culturally deactivated," he says. Glickman's theory is that the signs point to some type of dimensional shift due to arrive in December 2012: "Part of the program is reactivation &mdash; that is separate from whatever hard information they might be bringing." Glickman's "hard information" refers to a moment at the end of last summer's growing season when crop circles turned away from the abstract. On August 14, an enigmatic human face, expertly executed in halftones, turned up next to a huge radio transmitter in Chilbolton, England. A few days later, a glyph appeared that many croppies believe to be an alien response to a SETI radio transmission sent into space almost 30 years ago. Formed out of expertly twisted wheat, the pattern shows a strand of DNA made with silicon instead of phosphorous, a transmission device of unknown design, an alternate solar system, and an extraterrestrial with a wide head. One thing is for sure: The formation proves beyond a doubt that the life-form responsible for it has a superevolved sense of humor. In the words of Seth Shostak, senior astronomer for the SETI Institute, it's "good fun and a nice example of grain graffiti" &mdash; but not worth taking seriously. "If aliens wanted to communicate with us, why would they use such a low-bandwidth method?" he asks. "Why not just leave an Encyclopedia Galactica on our doorstep?" He also notes that SETI's original signal was aimed at the star cluster M13, which means it will not reach its target for 24,972 more years. The institute, he says, "has no interest in investigating the phenomenon further." GOT THE MESSAGE? In 1974, an encoded radio transmission was fired into deep space &mdash; the so-called Arecibo message. Its contents included the numerals 1 through 10, the atomic numbers of elements important to human life, a depiction of the physical structure of DNA, our solar system, a human figure, and the radio dish used to send the message. Three decades later, a crop circle in an English field appeared to reply &mdash; with some interesting amendments (see below). Silicon (atomic number 14) added to list of life giving elements An altered strand of DNA A new population value: 21.3 billion An altered solar system A picture of a big-headed humanoid, who stands 3 feet, 4 inches tall A completely different transmitter ---------------- Last January, Adrian Lamo awoke in the abandoned building near Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Bridge where he'd been squatting, went to a public computer with an Internet connection, and found a leak in the Excite@Home's supposedly airtight company network. Just another day in the life of a young man who may be the world's most famous homeless hacker. More than a year later, Lamo is becoming widely known in hacker circles for tiptoeing into the networks of companies like Yahoo and WorldCom -- and then telling the corporate guys how he got there. Administrators at several of the companies he's hacked have called Lamo brilliant and "helpful" for helping fix these gaps in network defenses. Critics blast Lamo as a charlatan who preens for the spotlight. "(Is) anyone impressed with Lamo's skills(?) He is not doing anything particularly amazing. He has not found some new security concept. He is just looking for basic holes," wrote one poster to the SecurityFocus website. To such barbs, Oxblood Ruffian, a veteran of the hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow, replied, "It's like dancing. Anyone can dance. But not many people can dance like Michael Jackson." Lamo's latest move: using a back door in The New York Times' intranet to snag the home phone numbers of over 3,000 Op-Ed contributors, including Vint Cerf, Warren Beatty and Rush Limbaugh. Although Lamo (pronounced LAHM-oh) did nothing more mischievous with the information than include himself in its roster of experts, the Times is considering pressing charges, according to spokeswoman Christine Mohan. Hacking is a federal crime, currently punishable by five years in jail. Prison would be an ironic twist for Lamo -- it'd be the first time in years he would have a steady place to stay. Living out of a backpack, getting online from university libraries and Kinko's laptop stations, the slightly built, boyish Lamo wanders the country's coasts by Amtrak and Greyhound bus. "I have a laptop in Pittsburgh, a change of clothes in D.C. It kind of redefines the term multi-jurisdictional," Lamo said with a mild stutter. "It'll be hard to get warrants for it all." He spends most of his nights on friends' couches. But when hospitality wears thin, he takes shelter in city skeletons -- like the crumbling Philadelphia restaurant supply shop, or the old officers' quarters at the Presidio in San Francisco. Lamo said he found his way into the colonial-era military complex by randomly trying doorknobs until he found one that rattled. It's a pretty good metaphor, he adds, for how he hacks. Company networks use proxy software to let internal employees out to the public Internet. It's a one-way door, essentially. But if proxy servers aren't configured correctly, these doors can swing both ways, allowing outsiders in through the corporate firewall, said Chris Wyspoal, an executive with security firm @Stake. Lamo peeks around for these swinging doors and lets himself in with widely used hacker tools. It's not technically complex at all. Lamo found an open proxy on The New York Times' network in less than two minutes. So it's understandable that many who consider themselves black belts in the computer arts regard Lamo's notoriety with more than a bit of skepticism. A poster to SecurityFocus' site complains, "The only thing 'hacked' here is the media." "The only way to get a publicly traded company to recognize that they're acting retarded is to kick 'em in the nuts. And you do that through the media," wrote Ira Wing, 29, who's been one of Lamo's closest confidants since the mid-1990s when the two met at PlanetOut, the gay and lesbian media firm where Wing worked and Lamo volunteered. Lamo had long tried to point out security flaws to corporate network administrators, Wing said. But even after his first well-publicized intrusion -- a late-2000 pilfering of AOL instant messenger accounts -- the suits weren't about to pay attention to some hacker kid who didn't even have a high school diploma. Despite his good intentions, Lamo may still go to jail for what he's doing. ---------------- ========== http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.08/view.html?pg=2 The Moral Minority We all lose when we leave right and wrong to a clique of ethics experts. By Denise Caruso VIEW Can We Eliminate the Need For Sleep? The Moral Minority The Anti-Corporate Tech Exec Microsoft Is Bad, Uncertainty Is Worse It was no less a scientific superstar than James Watson himself — cofounder of the US's Human Genome Project and Nobel discoverer of DNA — who imbued the amorphous field of bioethics with the political and moral suasion it commands today. He did so in the time-honored way: by throwing money at it. In 1989, Watson stunned the scientific community when he committed 3 percent of the genome project's $3 billion budget to ethics research. Why? "To preempt the critics," as he later put it. It worked, and now bioethicists are sprouting up like mushrooms in the postgenome world. They advise Congress, regulatory agencies, biotech startups, and big pharma on issues of brutal perplexity: Human cloning. Stem cell research. Whether the sequence for anthrax should be published on the Internet. Privacy of DNA databases. Gene patents. The circumstances of informed consent. Nanomachines that munch the plaque off our artery walls. And so on. It is widely assumed by both detractors and supporters of genetically modified anything that bioethicists are biased in the same way expert witnesses are. Most biotech companies keep an ethicist on retainer, if not on staff. But leave aside for a moment the inherent conflicts. Why cede a moral monopoly to any group of people? The whole concept of bioethics — as a distinct and separate practice — is bankrupt. Bioethicists are, by definition, well-intentioned. But what mortal could fairly balance the concerns of so many stakeholders — from research scientists who fear for their academic freedom to native cultures concerned about losing biological diversity to genetically modified crops? More to the point: Why should they be expected to shoulder such responsibility? Anyone who has served on a jury knows that most sentient beings, given good information, are capable of reaching a fair moral consensus. So let's find a consensual way to navigate the world that allows progress but mitigates risk. WHAT MORTAL CAN BALANCE EVERYONE'S CONCERNS? The most appropriate metaphor for this approach is the open house, as suggested by Michael Fortun, a researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. This open house isn't exactly a party, given that some of the invitees may be more inclined to insult than toast one another. But the moral challenge is to keep the door open and invite as many people as possible - from biologists, politicians, and biotech execs to citizens, artists, and farmers - with everyone engaged in the conversation, listening, questioning, responding. "Real ethics is about remaining open to the Other," says Fortun, "which also means remaining open to the future, which means remaining open to what you don't know." This is messy stuff, just like real life. It means putting science in its place as merely another participant in the discussion, instead of perpetuating its role as the arbiter of progress. It means actually listening to people who may not believe that subjecting the planet to Market Forces Über Alles is an optimal approach, and to others who may not concur that Mother (Nature) Always Knows Best. It most certainly means increasing our tolerance for ambiguity, a state of mind very few people willingly embrace. REAL ETHICS MEANS BEING OPEN TO THE UNKNOWN The alternative is to continue to concentrate an enormous amount of power into the hands of "experts." No matter how well-intentioned, it's absurd to assume that a few select minds can posit the full array of scenarios better than a broad coalition. What's the worst that can happen? Market collapses triggered by a spooked public catalyzed by some unforeseen consequence, global activism that halts positive technological progress, compensation claims on a massive scale when acts of God are redefined as acts of corporate malfeasance, and the like. The worst, of course, is an irreversible biological event of catastrophic proportions. None of these scenarios are out of the question. The open-house approach to dealing with complex scientific risk has worked in other countries, around issues like nuclear waste disposal and mad cow disease. In Denmark, Sweden, and the UK, for example, groups of stakeholders have been carefully selected and convened to debate these kinds of issues. Sometimes these forums are even sponsored by their governments. Even more remarkably, those governments sometimes are required to respond in accordance with their citizens' recommendations. In the US, we call the approach democracy. Denise Caruso (caruso@hybridvigor.org ) is founder and director of The Hybrid Vigor Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to new approaches to problem solving. ------------------  http://rescomp.wustl.edu/~cla/witness/gottfried.htm The Conservative Movement by Paul Gottfried the by Daniel P. McCarthy The Conservative Movement is the most succinct survey of the American right available. It is also the best. Dr. Gottfried's book is exceptional in treating both the political and intellectual dimensions of American conservatism, and in describing conservatism not as one movement but as a succession of interlocking movements. This nuanced approach to American conservatism(s) allows Gottfried to achieve more in 196 pages than a volume like George Nash's Conservative Intellectual Movement In American Since 1945 can in twice that space. Gottfried's first two chapters examine the formative decades of the postwar right, the '50s and '60s. Earlier in the 20th century American politics was nearly monolithic, as symbolized by Franklin Roosevelt's election to four consecutive terms as president. There was an inchoate American right at that time, a coalition opposed to FDR and characterized by a loose program of laissez-faire economics, opposition to entry into World War II, and a fondness for high culture. This was the "Old Right" of H. L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock and Colonel McCormick, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune. This right was composed more of newspapermen and academics than of professional politicians. The right of the 50's and 60's would be much different. The Old Right did continue into the fifties, Gottfried stresses, particularly in the form of Frank Chodorov's libertarian journal The Freeman and in the disciples of Ludwig von Mises, such as Friedrich von Hayek. Two other strains of conservatism differentiated themselves in the fifties however. One was the traditionalist conservatism of Russell Kirk, who in 1953 published the seminal work The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana and founded the journal Modern Age in 1957. Traditionalism emphasized prescription and revelation in contrast to libertarian rationalism. The other major development in 1950's conservatism was the founding of National Review in 1955, which ushered in the era of a more actively political right defined above all by opposition to communism. Gottfried's chapter on the '60s describes the development and then aftermath of the Goldwater movement, an integral part of which had been Young Americans for Freedom, a national conservative youth organization founded in 1961. The sixties also saw the influx of more Catholics into conservative leadership, which brought with it a more traditionalist and less laissez-faire flavor. This was also the period in which the gap between traditionalists and libertarians widened into a chasm -- a chasm which National Review straddled in the form of "fusionism," which in theory combined elements of libertarianism and traditionalism, but in practice subsumed both under militant anti-communism. At the same time as political conservatism lead to the Goldwater nomination and, eventually, the Nixon presidency, intellectual conservatism dwindled in America's university. Gottfried devotes a chapter to this development. In the sixties and seventies several developments in the sciences buttressed conservative beliefs, in particular sociobiology began to confirm something like the conservative view of human nature and refute certain tenets of feminism and other egalitarian ideologies. Yet "of greater consequence" than the findings of sociobiology was "the steady withdrawal of conservative scholars...from the mainstream of academic debate." Conservatives outside of academia increasingly criticized universities as bastions of leftism; Gottfried characterizes these attacks on academic freedom as having an "inquisitorial ring" at times. The next two chapters describe two conservative movements that developed in the 1970s, which despite similar names are very different. The first of these is neoconservatism. Many neoconservatives had at one point been Trotskyists and almost all of them had been Democrats. As the left of the 1970's became increasingly culturally radicalized and given to violent protests, these intellectuals moved into conservative circles. The neoconservatives included many of the writers associated with Commentary magazine, including its editors Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, as well as social scientists like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Seymour Martin Lipset. The neoconservatives were staunchly anti-communist and opposed to black and feminist radicalism, but were more sympathetic to a "mixed economy" with socialist and capitalist elements than previous varieties of conservatism had been. The other new subspecies on conservative that emerged in the 1970s was the populist "New Right." This movement was distinguished by its emphasis on technology over ideology. Richard Viguerie, one leader of the New Right, pioneered direct mail fundraising. Another New Right leader, Paul Weyrich, established the Heritage Foundation, one of the first conservative think tanks. Weyrich was also instrumental in bringing fundamentalist Protestants into right-wing political activism and suggested the name "Moral Majority" for Rev. Jerry Falwell's organization. The New Right was populist, morally traditionalist (strongly opposed to abortion, for example) and notably was critical of big business as well as big government. While largely associated with the Republican Party, the New Right was eager to oppose moderate Republicans and support conservative Democrats. By the 1980s the conservative movement was a movement of disparate factions. What kept them all together? In part it was money, and Gottfried's penultimate chapter follows the dollars from major donors to conservative foundations to conservative groups, publications and intellectuals. Gottfried demonstrates that over time these foundations, some of which had their origin in the anti-New Deal Old Right, have come to be aligned with neoconservatives. The financial support that organizations like the Heritage Foundation receive from these sources has kept the New Right, whose political and fundraising power has dimmed, on friendly terms with neoconservatism. Foundation money has also helped build bridges between certain libertarians, such as those associated with the Reason Foundation and its magazine Reason, and neoconservatives. These libertarians agree with neoconservatives on the need for certain state functions, such as the military, and they share a zeal for exporting American-style democracy and capitalism abroad. Both agree with Francis Fukuyama that American democracy and capitalism represent "the end of history." Gottfried's final chapter describes the latest variations of American conservatism, variations which echo in many ways the anti-New Deal Old Right. These are the paleoconservatives, associated with the Rockford Institute and Chronicles Magazine, and the paleo-libertarians associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute and www.lewrockwell.com . Both "paleo" groups oppose the federal power more than any other movement since the Old Right and both have predilections for high culture and traditional morality. The paleocons differentiated themselves from the rest of the conservative movement in the 1980s when they lost a handful of high-profile battles against neocons for positions in the Reagan Administration and the Washington Times newspaper. In the 1990s the paleocons were associated with Patrick Buchanan's presidential campaigns. Initially the paleo-libertarians were too but grew disillusioned with Buchanan's protectionism. The paleo-libertarians differ from other libertarians in being more culturally conservative and in being firmly anarcho-capitalist. Gottfried himself is a writer for Chronicles and www.lewrockwell.com , he's a paleoconservative and as such the last two chapters, which deal heavily with the clashes between paleos and neocons, are told from that perspective. The facts are indisputable, but Gottfried's interpretations and selections might be controversial among other figures on the right. If this is risky territory for an academic treatise, it is nevertheless Gottfried's willingness to enter such a minefield which makes The Conservative Movement so enjoyable and instructive. Anyone on the right or left ought to find great value in Gottfried's book as an unflinchingly frank and accurate depiction of the various postwar conservative movements. (Home) <../witness.htm> ------------------- Kevin Heitman is a maverick farmer in the Moruwa district, northwest of Perth, Western Australia. The region is fairly hostile to farming — hot and dry, and the soils prone to salinity. Yet Heitman is well known for his cropping successes as well as his amazing dowsing abilities. In 1998 he won the top crop award in the state — for the best crop on the lowest rainfall — a result which has mystified many, but now engages scientific investigation. The farm is run as a clover-leaf system, generally running sheep for 2 years on rye grass and growing wheat the next year, with a stocking rate of one and a half sheep to the acre. It has had up to 11,000 sheep, but was de-stocked to a mere 1,200 when prices were low. Back in the ’60s there was a four-year rotational cycle, in the good years of the ’80s this went down to a two-year cycle. In the ’90s wool prices were down, so cropping was increased. Now better wool prices have brought an increase in stock numbers to 4,500, with a one-year-on/one-year-off rotation in the good paddocks. Hay is cut and taken over to the weaker paddocks. “I’ve been mining the soil for the last six years” Heitman lamented. Planting time is selected at a time close to the new moon and when soil moisture levels are adequate. In Moruwa this starts around the first of May. Heitman has been experimenting with ways of improving his wheat crop for some 30 years. “I started by magnetizing the grain to see if it would grow faster. It certainly did!” “In South Australia, the agriculture department has done successful trials on magnetizing seeds and watering crops with magnetized water. So it is accepted there, but the Western Australian farming community is generally more skeptical” he told me. Heitman showed me how he clamps magnets around the outlet of his air seeder, so that seed is passed through the magnetic field before it hits the soil (see photo). He also magnetizes water used on the crops, as well. I got to see Heitman’s new liquid fertilizer sprayer tank (for liquid cow manure, seaweed, etc.) that he has developed, with a generous-size nozzle and magnets around the outlet. Heitman has also worked on improving the farm’s soil fertility by selecting soil from areas with exceptional growth. “I fermented this soil with fish-meal and flour and then sprayed the mixture over the rest of the farm. This has resulted in a massive increase in yield and quality,” he enthused. Heitman uses three 5,000 gallon tanks full of water for his brewing, to which he adds the fish-meal and flour plus the good soil (with rocks and coarse bits screened out). This is aerated with a compressor, with a hose swirling around inside the tanks. After three weeks, the brew smells like mushrooms and is misted out over the paddocks before rain. With Western Australia in its fifth year of drought, common sense guided him to halve his cropping area in 2001— from 12,000 acres down to 6,000 — while some neighbors have doubled theirs to try to compensate for losses incurred over the last few years (some borrowing as much as $600,000 to plant crops). His gut feelings told him it would be another dry year — which it was — and it always guides his cropping decisions, as well as what he learns from internet weather reports. He predicts another two dry years and then seven good years — after which he intends to retire! Heitman’s wife, Betty, is also good on following hunches and took a gamble in 2001 with a new “wonder” crop — seradella, a legume from low-rainfall regions. The harvest was full-on when I visited, and she was ecstatic to report a very good result. After harvest, Heitman told me that both the wheat and serradella had done very well despite the very low rainfall — only 6.5 inches all year. In 1998  Heitman’s successful farming efforts were acknowledged when he won Western Australia’s Top Crop Award for the biggest yield and the best grain on the lowest rainfall. “But no-one around here asked me how I did it!” Despite consistently getting a 3 to 4 percent higher yield than neighbouring farms, he finds it hard to convince other farmers who are reluctant to try some of the secrets he is happy to share. “They don’t want to change,” Heitman concludes. Fortunately, a few scientists have shown an interest in Heitman’s work, and he is in contact with four agronomists. Dr. Margaret Roper of the CSIRO in Perth has been researching the soil bacteria that Heitman has been using, discovering some 300 varieties. The spraying of these beneficial microbes onto the soil has seen wheat yields at Heitman’s up by some 50 percent on the average in some cases. Now farmer groups around the country are trialling the best microbes that Roper has been breeding up over the last two years. Not only are resulting crops heavier, but plants are healthier and greener, too. DESIGNING INNOVATIONS Neighbors did start to take notice when Heitman recently built a $500,000 shed. This is one huge shed, and what he is doing inside it is even more intriguing. Heitman tinkers in his spare time devising new innovations for his existing farm machinery and playing around with a few new invention ideas. He is working on a device to harness the power of lightning strikes, based on the Tesla coil, and a perpetual motion machine. He is also having a go at building a seed-cleaner for the serradella, to remove the herbicide-resistant rye-grass seed. Having been quoted $12,000 to clean 80 tons of seed, he decided to take up the challenge himself. When it is achieved, he will be planting some 2,500 acres of serradella this year and may be able to do some lot feeding of sheep with the seed seconds from the cleaning operation, as well. PSYCHIC ABILITIES As a young boy, Heitman grew up with the ability to see people’s etheric bodies. He would note where the etheric colors were distorted around injury zones and knew that his dying mother had passed away when her aura disappeared. Nowadays he has gained a reputation as a hands-on healer, and people queue up at the pub when he arrives to receive treatments. Heitman rubs his hands together to set up an enhanced energy field, then channels energy through them to relieve various ailments, aches and pains. He claims there is nothing special about this ability and often shows people how to do it for themselves. When Heitman was 12 his father had instructed him in water divining, a skill which had been passed down through generations. To Heitman it was as easy as learning to ride a bicycle, and his natural sensitivity developed further. Then he started to see the underground streams rather than relying on his divining rods. Nowadays, Heitman water divines from his motor glider. “I can see the electro-magnetic field created by the underground streams from 10,000 feet — it’s quick, and it’s fun!” he says. He has trained many people in dowsing techniques at the local agricultural expos, such as the Dowerin Field Days. Recently he flew at 8,000 feet to follow a 35-yard-wide underground stream for 20 miles to find the best spot to sink a fresh water bore — amidst salt lakes. A driller friend put down a test hole to the depth that Heitman had divined, and the water they found there was very fresh. DISCOVERING GEOPATHIC STRESS When his grandmother died from cancer in 1958, Heitman observed that she had been sleeping over an underground stream. Later, an uncle and neighbors who died from cancer were found to have also been over underground streams. “This led me to investigate as many cases of cancer as I could,” he explained. “I went to the home of a child who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. The child was sleeping over a crossover field — this is where two underground streams cross. When the boy went to Hayman Island on holiday, the tumour disappeared. A second boy with a brain tumour was also sleeping over a crossover field. When he went away to school, the tumour stopped growing — but when he came home during the holidays, the tumour grew.” The realization that moving away from an electromagnetic field can cure  cancer spurred him on to water divine over 450 homes over the last 20 years. He says that in 100 percent of the cancer cases that he has checked the people were sleeping over underground streams (geopathic stress zones). Heitman also made observations about the effect of geopathic stress on emu chicks when he was farming these birds. One of his five emu chick pens was affected by geopathic stress, and those chicks did not grow. Twelve of them died, and a necropsy revealed they were deficient in vitamin B12. The others were healthy and grew normally, and when the stunted chicks were moved to other pens, they had no further problems. Children are particularly affected by geopathic stress, Heitman found, and often will not grow well and have difficulties at school. People who are affected in the work place don’t work very well and are often unwell and having strange aches and pains. “Just by moving their desk and office chair by half a meter, their well-being can change dramatically, and also their work output,” Heitman explained, pointing out to me that “gypsies never get cancer.” Heitman now has a theory that organisms exposed to geopathic stress react as if the body is in an out-of-control growth spurt, causing the hormones to direct a mineral shutdown. If this continues for more than three years, the body becomes mineral deficient, and they will eventually sicken and die, he believes. Heitman often has prophetic visions and makes all kinds of predictions. He predicted the destructive events of September 11, but with not enough specifics to be able to warn anyone. Recently he made a very specific prediction for a man at a pub who wanted to check out his abilities: “I reckon you are going to be picked up for drunk driving in about 9 minutes,” he told the man as they were both about to leave. Nine minutes later, after the man had driven just 30 yards down the road, Heitman’s prediction came to pass. LANDCARE The Heitman property is something of an oasis, as Heitman loves trees and has been planting them around the farm for some 30 years, with tens of thousands planted in wildlife corridors and a fenced off swampland naturally regenerating. A drastically rising salty water table was killing off most of the trees in this swamp until he took the bold decision to put in a 15-kilometer drain to take the salt water into the creek system, which drains to the sea. (This was done without the blessing of the local council.) With the water table reduced, the trees have come back to life and are thriving — a beautiful sight. Across the drain on the neighbor’s property the swamp was not so lush, with far less regeneration. “What’s the difference?” I asked Heitman. “Mind power!” was the answer. The Salmon gum trees Heitman had planted years ago were gorgeous, with their pink trunks. “Salmon gums like to grow over underground water streams, as well as River Red Gums, and this helps to keep the salty water table down, while they don’t mind the geopathic stress,” Heitman noted. He has observed that in these drought times many trees growing over underground streams are dying. Heitman recently won an award for an ingenious tree nursery design he has developed, with an easy watering system. Last year, he tells me, they planted some 15,000 trees on the 50,000 acre property, but with the low rainfall only a couple survived. He is undeterred, however, and enthusiastic about the success of the direct seeding of local wattle seed (pre-treated with boiling water) into rip lines. The resulting seedlings are thriving. Tough plants, these wattles will fix nitrogen and improve soil life. His next project is to have a go at revegetating a 300-acre salt lake in the region. It was a great pleasure to meet Heitman and his family, who were very busy with the harvest when I visited, yet gave freely of their time to show me so much. I can only hope that the wonderful example they are setting is encouragement for others to take notice and follow suit. Alanna Moore is an environmental journalist and author living in central Victoria, Australia. She is the author of Backyard Poultry Naturally and Stone Age Farming, both available from the Acres U.S.A. bookstore. She has a website at geomantica.com and can be contacted via e-mail at . --------------- lbo -------------- Ah, am I hallucinating? "Really existing socialism, " and , "True Socialism, " make their reprise. As if, many marxists from Rudolf Bahro from the ol' GDR, Paul Sweezy in, "Post-Revolutionary Society, " published after the debacles in Poland and the GPCR ("Great Prolatarian Cultural Revolution.") and Charles Bettelheim (see his long resignation letter to the China-France Frienship Society in the special double issue of MR circa 1978 if memory serves. Answered in subsequent issues by Joan Robinson, Michael Yates and a then maoist Robert Leiken, later a flack for the Contras.) Is this 1952 or 2002? In all my reading of left periodicals and discussion bulletins, and not just those from the USA, from the period before WWII to the present, in the series, "Radical Periodicals in the US, " the Greenwood Press reprints, there are zillions of debates about the trajectory of the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cuban, Ethiopian, etc. Revolutions. Just one example, in Socialist Register in 1980, Ralph Miliband, examined the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Frank is on the SR list. Has he any familiarity w/any volumes of the SR? Does he also anathmatize Colin Leys and Robert Brenner as Kautskyite Revisionist Devils as does another internut loon? Tim Wohlforth is an acquaintance of mine, David I kibbitz w/ a bit. Usually disagree w/ him but appeciate his pov's. Bogdan, in the one time I've been around him seems the archetype of the Old Left intellectual. Go to the HX section of the College of Marin library and skim these vols. if they have them. "Marxism and the USSR, " by Paul Bellis. "The Alternative in Eastern Europe, " by R. Bahro. "Class Struggles in the USSR, " C. Bettelheim. "The Prophets Children, " Tim's autobio. "Cuba: The Radical Face of Stalinism, " Left View Books. By a John Lister in the UK. Active in Trotskyist politics there. "The Evolution of Communism, " by Adam Westoby, a late UK marxist. "The Revolution In Peril, " by French Trot, Jeanette Habel, Verso Books. "The Tragedy of Afghanistan, " blanking on the authors name, a Pakistani leftist, preface by Fred Halliday, Verso Books, mid-80's. "Radical Paradoxes: Dilemmas of the American Left, 1945-1973, " by Peter Clecak, examines Sweezy, Baran, Marcuse, Mills and the Old and New Left. One interesting bit thee, btw, was to see that the CPUSA within a yr. of MR being launched condemned Sweezy as a Revisionist! Michael Pugliese ------ Doug and y'all about how to consolidate and deepen the social gains of the Cuban Revolution? Michael, the neo-Trot rascal, 'sez, organize from below all the revolutionary nationalist sectors of the Cuban people, let the Partido Social Democratico, for example, mobilize along w/the folks around the Varela Project, led by an ex-marxist sociologist, call for extra-parliamentary stuggle to open up the political system. Retain the system of CDR's but, make them the core of a workers militia to resist any invasion. Now, they are just neighborhood snoops that cut off rations at the slightest sign of dissidence. Political Revolution from below, with an explicit set of positions that would resist any pressures, from Gusanos from Miami, in potential alliance w/Cuban CP nomenklatura that could be the new Cuban bourgeoisie ala the pattern in the fSU, PRC, etc. I've seen, "The Battle of Chile, " too many times not to know a bit about the Imperialist Menace. The above, well, it's naive and utopian. I think once Fidel is gone there will be a bloody capitalist restoration. Otto Reich will choose the next Maximum Leader, betcha it's the son of Jorge mas Canosa ;-( Michael Pugliese -------------------- michael pugliese wrote: > My suggestions, Doug and y'all about how to consolidate and >deepen the social gains of the Cuban Revolution? -------- The question was how do you sustain the revolution in the face of attacks, overt and covert, from the U.S. I don't think you answered that until: --------- > The above, well, it's naive and utopian. I think once Fidel >is gone there will be a bloody capitalist restoration. Otto Reich >will choose the next Maximum Leader, betcha it's the son of Jorge >mas Canosa ;-( ----------- ...when you pretty much concede that without some kind of authoritarian structure, you can't. I'm not at all happy with that answer, but it seems inescapable. Doug --------------------- http://nuance.dhs.org/lbo-talk/current/0656.html individual anarchism thread --- starts here (0365): I have just been reading some articles on 'individualist anarchism' which I never knew about until recently. I was wondering if anyone else is knowledgeable about this strand of thought, based on Mises and 'Austrian economics' and Murray Rothbard. What interests me is finally finding a concrete confirmation of what I had long thought, namely that the term 'libertarian' provides exactly a point where extreme leftwing thinking and extreme rightwing thinking converge, so that left to right is not a continuum but rather a circle. Actually I'm quite delighted to have this idea illustrated for me. The extreme leftwing elements are opposition to the state and all politics, including a radical abstentionism from parliamentarianism (which I applaud), and the extreme rightwing elements include support for not only capitalism and private property, but also American isolationism. I take it as given that these people no longer have any connections with the communist anarchist tradition, but I was wondering whether they have much influence - I take it that this is mainly an American phenomenon. And is it a million miles away from Chomsky's position, I wonder. Tahir -------------- Rothbard and his ilk have almost nothing to do with individualist anarchism. Individualist anarchists like Benjamin Tucker considered themselves anti-capitalist AND Tucker considered himself a socialist. I suggest reading this section of the anarchist FAQ for more info on individualist anarchism - www.infoshop.org/faq/secGcon.html For more info on bogus anarchists like Rothbard see www.infoshop.org/faq/secFcon.html LIBERTARIANISM: BOGUS ANARCHY Peter Sabatini A distinct mainstream movement specific to the United States, Libertarianism had its inception during the 1960s. In 1971 it formed into a political party and went on to make a strong showing in several elections.[1] Libertarianism is at times referred to as ``anarchism,'' and certain of its adherents call themselves ``anarchists,'' e.g., the economist James Buchanan.[2] More significant, the work of US individualist anarchists (Benjamin Tucker et al.) is cited by some Libertarians.[3] Accordingly, it may rightly be asked whether Libertarianism is in fact anarchism. Exactly what is the relationship between the two? To properly decide the question requires a synopsis of anarchist history. The chronology of anarchism within the United States corresponds to what transpired in Europe and other locations. An organized anarchist movement imbued with a revolutionary collectivist, then communist, orientation came to fruition in the late 1870s. At that time, Chicago was a primary center of anarchist activity within the USA, due in part to its large immigrant population.[4] (Chicago was also where the Haymarket affair occurred in 1886. An unknown assailant threw a bomb as police broke up a public protest demonstration. Many radicals were arrested, and several hanged on the flimsiest of evidence.) Despite off and on political repression, the US anarchist movement continued in an expansive mode until the mid-1890s, when it then began to flounder. By 1900, anarchy was visibly in decline.[5] But like its counterpart in Europe, anarchism's marginalization in the United States was temporarily slowed by the arrival of syndicalism. North American syndicalism appeared 1904-1905 in the form of a militant unionism known as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Anarchists entered the IWW along with revolutionary socialists. The alliance did not last long.[6] Internal squabbles soon split the IWW, and for a time there existed anarchist and socialist versions. Finally, with involvement of the US in WWI, the anarchist IWW, and anarchism in general, dropped from the public domain.[7] Anarchy in the USA consisted not only of the Bakunin-collectivist/syndicalist and Kropotkin-communist strains, but also the Proudhon-mutualist/individualist variant associated most closely with Benjamin Tucker. Individualist anarchy actually had a longer history of duration within the United States than the other two, but not only because Proudhon preceded Bakunin and Kropotkin. There were other individualist anarchists before Tucker who had ties to various radical movements which predate Proudhon. Within the United States of early to mid-19th century, there appeared an array of communal and "utopian" counterculture groups (including the so-called free love movement). William Godwin's anarchism exerted an ideological influence on some of this, but more so the socialism of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier.[8] After success of his British venture, Owen himself established a cooperative community within the United States at New Harmony, Indiana during 1825. One member of this commune was Josiah Warren (1798-1874), considered to be the first individualist anarchist.[9] After New Harmony failed Warren shifted his ideological loyalties from socialism to anarchism (which was no great leap, given that Owen's socialism had been predicated on Godwin's anarchism).[10] Then he founded his own commune ("Modern Times") and propounded an individualist doctrine which nicely dovetailed with Proudhon's mutualism arriving from abroad.[11] Warren's activities attracted a number of converts, some of whom helped to further develop American mutualism. The most important of these were Ezra Heywood (1829-1893), William B. Greene (1819-1878), and Lysander Spooner (1808-1887). The advent of the Civil War put an end to much of the utopian movement and its communal living experiments. Individualist anarchism was itself reduced to an agitprop journalistic enterprise of some measurable popularity.[12] And in this form it found its most eloquent voice with Benjamin Tucker and his magazine Liberty. Tucker had been acquainted with Heywood and other individualist anarchists, and he subsequently converted to mutualism.[13] Thereafter he served as the movement's chief polemist and guiding hand. The Proudhonist anarchy that Tucker represented was largely superseded in Europe by revolutionary collectivism and anarcho-communism. The same changeover occurred in the US, although mainly among subgroups of working class immigrants who were settling in urban areas. For these recent immigrants caught up in tenuous circumstances within the vortex of emerging corporate capitalism, a revolutionary anarchy had greater relevancy than go slow mutualism. On the other hand, individualist anarchism also persisted within the United States because it had the support of a different (more established, middle class, and formally educated) audience that represented the earlier stream of indigenous North American radicalism reflecting this region's unique, and rapidly fading, decentralized economic development. Although individualist and communist anarchy are fundamentally one and the same doctrine, their respective supporters still ended up at loggerheads over tactical differences.[14] But in any event, the clash between the two variants was ultimately resolved by factors beyond their control. Just as anarcho-communism entered a political twilight zone in the 1890s, American mutualism did likewise. Tucker's bookstore operation burned down in 1908, and this not only terminated publication of Liberty, but also what remained of the individualist anarchism ``movement.'' The aggregate of support upon which this thread of thought had depended was already in dissipation.[15] Individualist anarchy after 1900 receded rapidly to the radical outback. What then does any of this have to do with Libertarianism? In effect, nothing, aside from a few unsupported claims. Libertarianism is not anarchism, but actually a form of liberalism. It does, however, have a point of origin that is traceable to the same juncture as anarchism's marginalization. So in this limited sense there is a shared commonality. To be more precise, the rapid industrialization that occurred within the United States after the Civil War went hand in glove with a sizable expansion of the American state.[16] At the turn of the century, local entrepreneurial (proprietorship/partnership) business was overshadowed in short order by transnational corporate capitalism.[17] The catastrophic transformation of US society that followed in the wake of corporate capitalism fueled not only left wing radicalism (anarchism and socialism), but also some prominent right wing opposition from dissident elements anchored within liberalism. The various stratum comprising the capitalist class responded differentially to these transpiring events as a function of their respective position of benefit. Small business that remained as such came to greatly resent the economic advantage corporate capitalism secured to itself, and the sweeping changes the latter imposed on the presumed ground rules of bourgeois competition.[18] Nevertheless, because capitalism is liberalism's raison d'tre, small business operators had little choice but to blame the state for their financial woes, otherwise they moved themselves to another ideological camp (anti-capitalism). Hence, the enlarged state was imputed as the primary cause for capitalism's ``aberration'' into its monopoly form, and thus it became the scapegoat for small business complaint. Such sentiments are found vented within a small body of literature extending from this time, e.g., Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, The State (1935); what may now rightly be called proto-Libertarianism.[19] As a self-identified ideological movement, however, Libertarianism took more definite shape from the 1940s onward through the writings of novelist Ayn Rand. The exaltation of liberal individualism and minimal state laissez-faire capitalism that permeates Rand's fictional work as a chronic theme attracted a cult following within the United States. To further accommodate supporters, Rand fashioned her own popular philosophy (``Objectivism'') and a membership organization. Many of those who would later form the nucleus of Libertarianism came out of Objectivism, including two of its chief theoreticians, John Hospers and Murray Rothbard.[20] Another conduit into Libertarianism carried a breakaway faction from William F. Buckley's college youth club, the Edmund Burke-style conservative Young Americans For Freedom.[21] More academic input arrived from the Austrian school of neoclassical economics promulgated by F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises (of which the economist Rothbard subscribes).[22] All these marginal streams intermingled during the mid to late 1960s, and finally settled out as Libertarianism in the early 1970s.[23] It is no coincidence that Libertarianism solidified and conspicuously appeared on the scene just after the United States entered an economic downturn (at the same time Keynesian economics was discredited and neoclassical theory staged a comeback). The world-wide retrenchment of capitalism that began in the late 1960s broke the ideological strangle hold of a particular variant of (Locke-Rousseau) liberalism, thereby allowing the public airing of other (Locke-Burke) strains representing disaffected elements within the capitalist class, including small business interests. Libertarianism was one aspect of this New Right offensive. It appeared to be something sui generis. Libertarianism provided a simplistic status quo explanation to an anxious middle class threatened by the unfathomed malaise of capitalism and growing societal deterioration, i.e., blame the state. And this prevalent grasping at straws attitude accounts for the success of Robert Nozick's popularization of Libertarianism, Anarchy, State, And Utopia (1974). It rode the crest of this polemic rift within liberalism. The book was deemed controversial, even extreme, by establishment liberals (and social democrats long pacified by the welfare state), who, secure in power for decades, were now under sustained attack by their own right wing. Yet at bedrock, Nozick's treatise was nothing more than old wine in a new bottle, an updating of John Locke.[24] Libertarianism is not anarchism. Some Libertarians readily admit this. For example, Ayn Rand, the radical egoist, expressly disavows the communal individuality of Stirner in favor of liberalism's stark individualism.[25] Plus Robert Nozick makes pointed reference to the US individualist anarchists, and summarily dismisses them.[26] This explicit rejection of anarchism is evidence of the basic liberalist ideology that Libertarians hold dear. But more specifically, within the movement itself there exist factional interests.[27] There are Libertarians who emphasize lifestyle issues and civil liberties (an amplification of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty). They want the state out of their "private" lives, e.g., in drug use and sexual activity. Others are chiefly concerned with economics. They champion laissez-faire/``free-market''/ neoclassical economics, and fault the state for corrupting ``natural'' capitalism. Although both groups despise the state intensely, neither wants to completely do away with it. This minimal state position, sufficient by itself to debar Libertarianism from classification as anarchism, is embraced by Rand, Buchanan, Hospers, and Nozick.[28] More revealing, however, is why Libertarians retain the state. What they always insist on maintaining are the state's coercive apparatuses of law, police, and military.[29] The reason flows directly from their view of human nature, which is a hallmark of liberalism, not anarchism. That is, Libertarianism ascribes social problems within society (crime, poverty, etc.) to an inherent disposition of humans (re: why Locke argues people leave the ``state of nature''), hence the constant need for ``impartial'' force supplied by the state. Human corruption and degeneracy stemming from structural externalities as a function of power is never admitted because Libertarianism, like liberalism, fully supports capitalism. It does not object to its power, centralization, economic inequality, hierarchy, and authority. The ``liberty'' to exploit labor and amass property unencumbered by the state is the quintessence of capitalism, and the credo of Libertarianism ne liberalism, all of which is the utter negation of anarchism. Lastly to be addressed is the apparent anomaly of Murray Rothbard. Within Libertarianism, Rothbard represents a minority perspective that actually argues for the total elimination of the state. However Rothbard's claim as an anarchist is quickly voided when it is shown that he only wants an end to the public state. In its place he allows countless private states, with each person supplying their own police force, army, and law, or else purchasing these services from capitalist venders.[30] Rothbard has no problem whatsoever with the amassing of wealth, therefore those with more capital will inevitably have greater coercive force at their disposal, just as they do now. Additionally, in those rare moments when Rothbard (or any other Libertarian) does draw upon individualist anarchism, he is always highly selective about what he pulls out. Most of the doctrine's core principles, being decidedly anti-Libertarianism, are conveniently ignored, and so what remains is shrill anti-statism conjoined to a vacuous freedom in hackneyed defense of capitalism. In sum, the ``anarchy'' of Libertarianism reduces to a liberal fraud. David Wieck's critique of Rothbard, applicable to Libertarianism in general, will close this discussion. ``Out of the history of anarchist thought and action Rothbard has pulled forth a single thread, the thread of individualism, and defines that individualism in a way alien even to the spirit of a Max Stirner or a Benjamin Tucker, whose heritage I presume he would claim - to say nothing of how alien is his way to the spirit of Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, and the historically anonymous persons who through their thoughts and action have tried to give anarchism a living meaning. Out of this thread Rothbard manufactures one more bourgeois ideology.''[31] --------------------- I remember a book on the college library stacks, "The American as Anarchist, " by deLeon, that reviews this tradition. http:// www.blancmange.net/tmh/articles/ deleon.shtml Have never read it but, think that Albert Jay Nock, "Our Enemy: The State, " is influential among these ideoogues. A very good book, I've read most of, "The Conservative Intellectual Tradition in America, " by George Nash, ISI Press, includes Nock. Some URL's. http://www.free-market.net/directorybytopic/anarchism/ http://www.zetetics.com/mac/topics.html#feminism http://www.zetetics.com/mac/agora1.htm http://www.blancmange.net/tmh/anarch2.html http://www.libertysearch.com/directory/Philosophy/individualist_anarch ism/ M.P. ---------------- Rothbard, Mises and the like are proponets of laisse-faire capitalism, not anarchism. Starting after WW2 a small group of right-wingers tried to appropriate the terms Libertarian and Anarchist to apply to their capitalist philosophy. They suceeded in appropriating the term libertarian but failed with anarchist. So-called "anarcho"-capitalists have about as much to do with anarchism as national socialism has to do with socialism. In order to make their rewriting of language less obvious some have tried to rewrite history so that Anarcho-Individualists from the 19th century like Banjamin Tucker appear within their capitalist tradition. Which is obviously absurd since Benjamin Tucker and other Anarcho-Individualists explicity attacked capitalism and called themselves socialists. ----------- > I take it as given that these people no longer have any connections with the communist anarchist tradition, but I was wondering whether they >have much influence - I take it that this is mainly an American phenomenon. ------------- Yes, it's mainly an American. They have virtually no influence on anything other then posting a lot on usenet. -- Joe R. Golowka JoeG@ieee.org Anarchist FAQ - http://www.anarchyfaq.org "If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, then every Post-War American president would have to be hanged." - Noam Chomsky ----------------------- Seriously, I know a very good way to find out if someone who says they are 'libertarian' is anyone to talk to about politics and the state: ask them a few questions regarding what they think about US foreign policy, military, intelligence and state secrets. If they actually think the US has an inherent, arbitrary right to use violent, offensive, deadly force against people in other countries, then I know I'm wasting my time. If they want to eliminate what little government outside of military and intelligence actually gets done at the federal level, without touching the national security state, then I know I'm wasting my time. Charles Jannuzi ---------------- I think there was a 19th century German call Max Stirner who as a sort of proto-randite. He preached a form of individualist anarchism based on absolute personal selfishness - including a right do anything you had the strength to get away with. I heard gossip that his wife left him because he was too sexually selfish for her; I found this too juicy to research and spoil with an actual fact. In all fairness some people have argued to me that this view unfairly caricatures Stirner. If you have way too much free time on your hands, and want to decide for yourself, you can find his key essay at: http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/stirner/theego0.html ----------------------- In all fairness some people have argued to me that this view unfairly > caricatures Stirner. --------------- It does. Unlike Rand, Stirner was opposed to Private Property (as it restricts individual liberty). One can argue for anarcho-communism on the basis of Stirnerite individualism. ----- ---------lbo on farming -------- 1198 WSJ visits the Brecht Forum, discovers THE Woman 'Global Bourgeoisie' Other lecturers were less gloomy. An articulate, if chirpy, young woman named Lisa Featherstone gave an update on the anti-globalists who disrupt meetings of the World Trade Organization or "wherever else global bourgeoisie get together." She said that the slogan "another world is possible" had become "ubiquitous" on campuses. Young people had even taken to "anti-capitalist lifestyles." She cited the Anti-Authoritarian Baby-Sitters Club, where "the fiercest looking men" give up a day of protesting to stay at home and watch the kids. At the mention of this novelty, an argument erupted in the back of the room. Josh, a graduate student, said that the lives of the protesters were shot through with what Marx referred to as the fetishism of commodities. Their love of organic food, he implied, was greater than their love of the oppressed who grow it. Ms. Featherstone conceded the point. She mentioned that organic farming might actually be "more exploitative" than large, mechanized farms, "because it requires more stooping." Several people nodded their heads approvingly, happy to learn something new. Finally, "Capital" had something fresh to teach! Another world is possible indeed. Mr. McGuire is a free-lance writer in New York. Updated July 19, 2002 ------------------ On Fri, 19 Jul 2002, the WSJ visited the Brecht Forum, discovered THE Woman: > Lisa Featherstone and violated the first rule of publicity by spelling her name wrong. She's *Liza* Featherstone, of course. Still, pretty nice profile (and pretty high-powered company, even if the reporter was oblivious to that fact). But I have a question about a recurrent Henwood/Featherstone theme: > Josh, a graduate student, said that the lives of the protesters were > shot through with what Marx referred to as the fetishism of commodities. > Their love of organic food, he implied, was greater than their love of > the oppressed who grow it. Ms. Featherstone conceded the point. She > mentioned that organic farming might actually be "more exploitative" > than large, mechanized farms, "because it requires more stooping." I was wondering what the proper comparison point is here. I mean, clearly square tomatoes that can be picked with mechanical harvesters use less stoop labor than those picked by hand. But do organic tomatoes actually take any more stooping than, say, those Holland stem tomatoes you see everywhere? (Or their better but less famous equivalents?) Because then the division isn't really between organic/inorganic, but between people who feel they have to have fresh vegetables -- organic or inorganic being irrelevant -- and people who think frozen and canned vegetables are good enough. In which case, there are more of us inadvertantly in favor of stoop labor than at first meets the eye. It's not just the organic foodies. It's all of us who selfishly care about the taste of our vegetables. If anyone knows of someone who has seriously tried to answer the question of how different ways of raising vegetables affect the life of the people who pick them -- with which vegetables there is a tradeoff between mechanization and quality -- and whether fresh vegetables and decent labor conditions are simply incompatible -- I'd be interested in reading it. Also I'd be interested in the farm labor situation in a country like France, which seems to have a lot more fresh produce and (subsidized) small farms. Has an army of exploited poor laborers silently blanketing the countryside always been necessary to make the miracle of French produce possible? Or is it self-exploited farmers who somehow think it's worht it when they own the place? I emphasize that I ask these questions out of complete ignorance and curiousity. Michael ---------------------- http://nuance.dhs.org/lbo-talk/current/1218.html Tomato harvesting machinery only became pursued seriously after the farm workers began to organize. The harvesters have awful jobs -- the machines only mean that there are fewer of them. The other work added by growing organically mostly consists in taking more care to watch out for problems. Here is a section from my Transcending the Economy book: While farm labor may be among the hardest, most dangerous work in our society, many people regard gardening as a pleasant diversion. While the United Farm Workers Union represents mostly downtrodden workers, a good number of wealthy people are proud affiliates of their blue-blood garden clubs. Over and above the time that they spend in their gardens, many gardeners enthusiastically devote considerable leisure time to conversing or reading in order to become better gardeners. In addition, many gardeners also willingly spend substantial sums for equipment and supplies to use in their gardens. What, then, is the underlying difference between farm work and gardening? Farm work typically entails hard physical labor, but many gardeners also exert themselves in their gardens. The difference lies in the context of gardening. Gardeners, unlike farm workers, freely choose to be gardeners. During their free time when they work in their gardens, they want to be gardening. Nobody tells them what to do. Of course, gardeners are not entirely free to follow their whims. The rhythms of the seasons and the sudden shifts in the weather dictate some of what the gardeners do, but gardeners generally accept these demands beforehand. As the psychologist, John Neulinger says: "Everyone knows the difference between doing something because one has to and doing something because one wants to" (Neulinger 1981, p. 15). We should also keep in mind that society respects gardeners. Our newspapers regularly print features of interest to gardeners. Some even have special sections to appeal to their affluent gardening readers. All the while, the lives of farm workers generally pass virtually unnoticed. After all, in our society, farm work is not "respectable work," in the sense that well-to-do families would not approve of their children becoming farmworkers. This respect contributes to the allure of gardening. If we paid farm workers as well as those who labor on Wall Street and accorded farm workers the sort of dignity that college professors enjoy, parents might still try to steer their children away from farm work because of the frequent exposure to potentially lethal toxins. But then, if society esteemed farm workers, farmer owners would not and could not spray them with impunity. -- Michael Perelman Economics Department California State University Chico, CA 95929 Tel. 530-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu ------------------ Well, organic farming would take care of the toxins. But if we paid them as well as Wall Streeters, could we afford the produce? Or even if we paid them as much as say, automobile assembly line workers? Michael -------------------- 1242 Re: WSJ visits the Brecht Forum, discovers THE Woman Michael Pollak wrote: >Still, pretty nice profile (and pretty high-powered company, even if the >reporter was oblivious to that fact). But I have a question about a >recurrent Henwood/Featherstone theme: > >> Josh, a graduate student, said that the lives of the protesters were >> shot through with what Marx referred to as the fetishism of commodities. >> Their love of organic food, he implied, was greater than their love of >> the oppressed who grow it. Ms. Featherstone conceded the point. She >> mentioned that organic farming might actually be "more exploitative" >> than large, mechanized farms, "because it requires more stooping." > >I was wondering what the proper comparison point is here. I mean, clearly >square tomatoes that can be picked with mechanical harvesters use less >stoop labor than those picked by hand. But do organic tomatoes actually >take any more stooping than, say, those Holland stem tomatoes you see >everywhere? (Or their better but less famous equivalents?) Because then >the division isn't really between organic/inorganic, but between people >who feel they have to have fresh vegetables -- organic or inorganic being >irrelevant -- and people who think frozen and canned vegetables are good >enough. > >In which case, there are more of us inadvertantly in favor of stoop labor >than at first meets the eye. It's not just the organic foodies. It's all >of us who selfishly care about the taste of our vegetables. > >If anyone knows of someone who has seriously tried to answer the question >of how different ways of raising vegetables affect the life of the people >who pick them -- with which vegetables there is a tradeoff between >mechanization and quality -- and whether fresh vegetables and decent labor >conditions are simply incompatible -- I'd be interested in reading it. I got this piece of info years ago from an O'Connor student at UC-Santa Cruz, who was studying the organic industry of Northern California. My point in flogging it is to trouble upper-middle-class enviros, who think they're helping the earth with their sensitive lifestyle choices, but not bothering to notice the human labor involved. Recycling, too, produces lots of awful jobs sorting trash for low pay. Which isn't to say that organic produce isn't better or that recycling is bad. It is to say that styles of consumption can't change much, and can make some things worse, unless production arrangements are revised. And who knows what could happen if agro-science research were modified so that better taste and better treatment of workers and the earth were the goals, rather than maximizing sales and profits? Doug ------------------ On Sat, 20 Jul 2002, Doug Henwood wrote: > I got this piece of info years ago from an O'Connor student at > UC-Santa Cruz, who was studying the organic industry of Northern > California. ------------- Out of curiousity, do you remember his name? I wonder if he ever wrote it up somewhere? I do now remember having read something about Northern California organic strawberries and their requiring more care that had to be done by hand. And I guess in general it makes sense that organic ways of controlling bugs would be more labor intensive than just spreading insecticide. And that if you use less weedkiller, you end up with more weeds to pick. ------------------------------ Industrial ecology has the potential for being the institutional pathway of a water and sewer socialism for the 21st century. Ian ------------------ counterpunch Bruce Cockburn: popgun populism isn't enough --- merican Journal The Hog Wallow Pop-Gun Populism Isn't Enough by Alexander Cockburn When did the great executive stock option hog wallow really start? You can go back to the deregulatory push under Carter in the late Seventies, then move into the Reagan Eighties when corporate purchases of shares really took off. This was the era of the leveraged buy-out and merger-mania, assisted by tax laws that favored capital gains over stockholder dividends, and allowed corporations to write off interest payments entirely. Between 1983 and l990 72.5 per cent of all US net equity purchases were bought by non-financial corporations. At the end of this spree the debt laden corporations withdrew to their tents for three years of necessary restraint and repose, until in 1994 they roared into action once more, plunging themselves into debt to finance their share purchases. This was the start of the options game. Between 1994 and 1998 non-financial companies sank themselves in debt by either repurchasing their own shares or acquiring shares as a result of mergers. The annual value of the repurchases quadrupled, testimony to the most hectic, sustained orgy of self-aggrandizement by an executive class in the history of capitalism. For these and ensuing reflections and specific numbers figures I'm mostly indebted to Robert Brenner's prescient The Boom and The Bubble, published this spring with impeccable timing by Verso; also Robin Blackburn's long awaited book (also from Verso) on the past and future of pensions, Banking on Death. Why did these chief executive officers, and chief financial officers, and boards of directors chose to burden their companies with debt? Since stock prices were going up, companies needing money could have raised funds by issuing shares, rather than borrowing money to buy shares back. Top corporate officers stood to make vast killings on their options, and by the unstinting efforts of legislators such as Senator Joe Lieberman they were spared the inconvenience of having to report to stockholders the cost of these same options. Enlightened legislators had also been thoughtful enough to rewrite the tax laws in such a manner that corporations are allowed to deduct these same costs from company income. As Brenner remarks, US law "thus encourages corporations to exaggerate their earnings in public for the benefit of their stockholders, while deflating them in private for the benefit of the Internal Revenue Service." It's fun these days to read all the jubilant punditeers who favor Democrats now lashing Bush and Cheney for the way they made their fortunes while repining the glories of the Clinton boom when the dollar was mighty and the middle classes gazed into their 401(k) nest eggs with the devotion of Jonson's Volpone eyeing his trove. "Good morning to the day; and, next, my gold: Open the shrine, that I may see my saint." Bush and Cheney deserve the punishment. But when it comes to political parties the seaminess is seamless. The Clinton boom was lofted in large part by the helium of bubble accountancy. Brenner cites a Bear, Stearns study reviewing all S&P 500 companies in 1999 that calculated their net income in that year would have been 6 per cent lower had stock options been counted as an expense. Earnings at Yahoo, Broadcom, JDS Uniphase and the others would either have been wiped out or gone deeply negative. By the end of 1999 average annual pay of CEOs at 362 of America's largest corporations had swollen to $12.4 million, more than six times what it was in 1990. The top option pay-out was to Charles Wang, boss of Computer Associates International, who got $650 million in restricted shares, towering far above Ken Lay's scrawny salary of $5.4 million and shares worth $49 million. As the Nineties blew themselves out, the corporate culture applauded on a weekly basis by such bullfrogs of the bubble as Thomas Friedman saw average CEO pay at America's 362 largest companies rise to a level 475 times larger than that of the average manufacturing worker. The executive suites of America's largest companies became a vast hog wallow. CEOs and finance officers would borrow millions from some complicit bank, using the money to drive up company stock prices, thereby inflating the value of their options. Brenner offers us the memorable figure of $1.22 trillion as the total of borrowing by non-financial corporations between 1994 and 1999, inclusive. Of that sum, corporations used just 15.3 per cent for capital expenditures. They used 57 per cent of it, $697.4 billion, to buy back stock and thus enrich themselves. Surely the wildest smash and grab in the history of corporate thievery. When the bubble burst, the parachutes opened, golden in a darkening sky. Blackburn cites the packages of two departing Lucent executives, Richard McGinn and Deborah Hopkins, a CFO. Whereas the laying off of 10,500 employees was dealt with in less than a page of Lucent's quarterly report in August of 2001, it took a 15-page attachment to outline the treasures allotted to McGinn (just under $13 million after running Lucent for barely three years) and to Hopkins (at Lucent for less than a year, departing with almost $5 million. Michael Bonsignore, ousted as boss of Honeywell, got a $9 million settlement, plus a commitment that he continue to be treated as a chief executive, with "executive transportation" and "financial and tax-planning services" for the rest of his life. Makes your blood boil, doesn't it? Isn't it time we had a "New Covenant for economic change that empowers people". Aye to that! "Never again should Washington reward those who speculate in paper, instead of those who put people first." Hurrah! Whistle the tune and memorize the words (Bill Clinton's in 1992). Prime yourself for a bout of rhetorical populism, necessary to soothe popular indignation. There are villains in this story, an entire piranha-elite. And there are victims, the people whose pension funds were pumped dry to flood the hog wallow with loot. One great battleground of the next decades across much of the world will revolve around pensions and issues of asset-based welfare for the swelling ranks of older folk. Here in the US privatization of Social Security has been only staved off because Bill Clinton couldn't keep his hand from his zipper and again because George Bush's credentials as a voucher for the ethics of private enterprise have taken a fierce beating. But the wolves will be back, and pop-gun populism (a brawnier SEC, etc etc) won't hold them off. The Democrats will no more defend the people from the predations of capital than they can protect the Bill of Rights. (In the most recent snoop bill pushed through the House, only three voted against a measure which allows life sentences for "malicious computer hacking": Dennis Kucinich, and two Republicans, Jeff Miller of Florida and the great Texas libertarian, Ron Paul.) It was the Democrats in the US senate in early July who rallied in defense of the accounting "principles" that permit the present deceptive treatment of stock options. Not just Joe Lieberman, the whore of Connecticut, but Tom Daschle of the Northern plains. Pop-gun populism is not enough. Socialize accumulation! Details soon. ---------pen-l on potlatch --------- [RE: [PEN-L:27812] Re: Re: Re: Re: Market Socialism - an apology already] Michael Perelman wrote: >I appreciate that we have avoided a rehash of the market socialism debate. With regard to the surplus, many traditional societies consumed the surplus in the form of a ceremony at the end of the year rather than engaging in accumulation.< Doug writes:>You nostalgic for that practice, or is there something to be said for accumulation?< Much as he enjoys a potlatch, I would bet that Michael would like the accumulation of surplus to be democratically planned. Speaking of potlaches, the Kwakiutl tradition, I recently discoverd that I'd been to one (if not several of them). The Kwakiutl "big men" would destroy much of their wealth and/or redistribute it to others in the tribe each year, in order to reinforce their status. This would take place in big festivals. Well, my wedding was like that, with my father-in-law as the "big man" (though my mother-in-law was the main decision-maker on this one). Now there's a lumber company named Potlatch. Is that part of its celebration of waste? Is there an anthropologist in the house? if so, please correct me if I am wrong about the nature of the potlatch. A lot of beer has flowed through my brain since Frosh anthro. JD ----------------------- The potlatch has generated a lot of debate in Marxist anthropological circles. Some see it as an incipient form of capitalism, while others (rightly, I believe) see it as typical tributary form. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Northwest Indians had moved further in the direction of class society than any other North American Indian society. They built large villages, kept slaves and made war. Eleanor Leacock compared their social structure to feudal Japan. Louis Proyect ----------------------- Not an anthropologist Jim, but I have been working on a paper on property rights and redistribution among Canadian aboriginals. Here is the definition of potlatch from the New Canadian Encyclopedia. Paul Potlatch, a highly regulated event historically common to most Northwest Coast native groups (see NATIVE PEOPLE, NORTHWEST COAST). The potlatch, from the Chinook word Patshatl, validated status, rank and established claims to names, powers and privileges. Wealth in the form of utilitarian goods such as blankets, carved cedar boxes, food and fish or canoes, and prestige items such as slaves and COPPERS were accumulated to be bestowed on others or even destroyed with great ceremony. Potlatches were held to celebrate initiation, to mourn the dead, or to mark the investiture of chiefs in a continuing series of often competitive exchanges between CLANS, lineages and rival groups. Louis, Re slavery: it was considered universal in the coastal north west though my understanding is that it was less prevalent among the more peaceful Salish in the south and more or less non-existent among the plateau and interior indians (interior Salish, Kutenai and the Algonquian and Athapaskan speaking peoples and the inland Tlingit). It was largely a product of war though the slaves became part of the household of the 'owner' and as I understand it, many were eventually absorbed into the tribe. And they did have a class structure with an aristocracy and commoner class which was kin and moitie (clan) based. Paul ----------------------- > How about US Thanksgiving feasts today? Or, is there a thin > link between > potlatches and conspicuous consumption? ------------- a real potlatch differs from my wedding because of differing social context. The Kwakiutl "big men" were the leaders of their society, while the potlatches seem to have been necessary to keep them in power, maintaining the status quo. On the other hand, my father-in-law's "potlatch" (our wedding) involved more conspicuous consumption, of proving his social status as an individual.[*] A lot of capitalists -- especially much richer ones -- don't seem to engage in conspicuous consumption at all, since their status is well-secured as long as the stock market stays reasonably high and the SEC doesn't find out what they're doing. Their "conspicuous consumption" is for personal pleasure (e.g., cocaine, big cars). Folks lower down the capitalist pyramid suffer from more status anxiety and thus have to be more conspicuous. [*] One of the things about our wedding is that my in-laws couldn't even think of not inviting any of their relatives or friends or acquaintances. JD ----------------------- One way to contrast conspicuous consumption and Potlatch is to speak of gift economies and commodity economies. There was some interesting work done on this by Chris Gregory in "Gifts and Commodities" , I think this was in 1982; the theoretical background for his stuff is a weird concoction of Levi-Straus, Marcel Maus and Sraffa. The idea is that whilst the commodity form alienates the worker from the his/ her labour - his/her labour confronts him/her as something non-human, objective - precisely the opposite happens with a gift. In a gift economy objects are anthropomorphized. So, for instance, in a the Trobriand Islanders' Kula, the gifts are given names, and each is treated as a personality, with a history and disposition which has to be taken into consideration in exchanges. The shells in a sense retain the person who gave them. Thus, in gift exchanges, unlike commodity exchanges, strong social bonds are created - the gift is not alienated from the giver, rather it binds the recipient into a social relation. If I buy an apple at the store, I don't eat part of my shopkeeper, but that is precisely the sort of metaphor which occurs in Papua New Guinean feasts. Gregory observes that in gift economies production is relatively anarchic, ie. the division of labour is not as developed, regimented or enforced as it is in our commodity economy. However, gift exchanges are a way in which consumption is quite carefully regimented, and consumption takes place according to divisions of kinship. (By contrast, our society has relatively anarchic methods of consumption) Ultimately, the network of gift exchanges reaches its apex in the organization of marriages. As Levi-Straus said, "women are the ultimate gift." So the structure regulates reproduction, rather than production, by mobilising social relationships, rather than extracting surplus values. The bottom line is that commodity economies make commodities to make more commodities, whereas gift economies gift exchanges create and regulate personal relationships. Gregory's work was well received at the time, although he proposed a mathematical representation (!) which failed to impress many people. Subsequently, one of his students (whose name I forget) applied the theory to western gift exchanges. The argument was (I think) that gift exchanges continue to work within capitalism, but in a highly suppressed and literally domesticated form. Whereas in gift economies there is nothing homely about gift exchanges, in our society such activity is mostly relegated to the private sphere. Could we describe a generous giver - or a strategising gift giver who tries to manipulate people with gifts - as operating a 'gift economy'? Yes and no - it seems to me that the principle at work is similar: someone gives me a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine and every time I look at it I feel obliged to reciprocate. But outside the household, the network of gifts is severed in our society: I could not reciprocate and get away with it, whereas the consequences of not reciprocating in PNG or in Potlatch are decisive. Thiago Oppermann ----------------------- se History": In the summer of 1885 George Dawson's work for the Geological Survey of Canada brought him to "the northern part of Vancouver Island and its vicinity." A self-styled ethnographer, Dawson found time among his other duties to write his Notes and Observations on the Kwakiool People . . . and present them to the Royal Society of Canada in May 1887. His paper repeats the simultaneous balancing of contrary assertions that organizes Macdonald's (or Vankoughnet's) 1882 account of the "Totlache"': the pot-latch is once again-and at once-an act of gift giving and a circular economy of expenditure and return. Like Macdonald (or Vankoughnet), Dawson locates the people he calls the "Kwakiool" beyond the outermost limit of Europe and its civilizing influence. "The difficulties attendant on any effort toward the improvement of the condition and mode of life of the coast tribes of British Columbia, are very grave," he writes, emphasizing that "the actual results of missionary labours, such as those carried on by Mr. Hall among the Kwakiool, and other self-sacrificing persons elsewhere, are in most cases, to all appearance, small." He offers two reasons why the "Kwakiool" have not raised themselves into the hierarchy of Euro-Canadian civilization. The first-which echoes Blenkinsop's 1874 report from Barkley Sound-is that their traditions are like stones holding them down in a state of near bestiality. Weighed down by a culture that is sheer nature, they "herd" together like animals. "It is difficult to induce individuals to abandon their old customs and bad habits," he says, "and nearly impossible to prevent them from relapsing from time to time, owing to the fact that they still live promiscuously among and herd together with the mass of the tribe". Yet the main reason why the "Kwakiool" have failed to become white-and for Dawson this is the second obstacle to their progress-is whiteness itself. Like the Sproat of the 1860s, Dawson maintains that in recent years "the Kwakiool, equally with other tribes, have became [sic] in a word 'demoralised.' " Though they have given up their traditions-the same ones that hold them down-shedding this weight has not lifted them any higher. Instead ithas stripped them of "their spirit and self-respect ... replacing it by nothing." They find work on farms at harvest time, he says, but do little more than eat for the rest of the year. What has brought about this crisis? The process of "demoralisation" has been under way only "[sjince the arrival of the whites". The "Kwakiool" were not uncivilized until the lack of civilization arrived on their shores from Europe, and the greatest obstacle to their upward movement into civilization is nothing less than civilization itself. For Dawson, as for Sproat, Europe-in-Canada is at once a force that draws people to the height of human achievement and a weight pulling them down to the level of animals who can barely feed themselves-although eating is almost all they do. Among the "old customs and bad habits" that weigh heaviest on the "Kwakiool," though not so heavy a restraint as progress itself, is the "pernicious effect of the extension and frequent recurrence of the potlatch" which, in a further proliferation of names, is also known "as pus-a andya-hooit, these terms probably denoting special forms of the ceremony appropriate to certain occasions. In speaking of the custom," adds Dawson, "I will, however, use the commonly recognised word potlatch as being the most convenient." He warns that the custom is spreading: "Mr. George Blenkinsop" and "the Rev. A. J. Hall" have observed its growth firsthand. It appears, therefore, that as the "Kwakiool" approach absolute "demoralisation," they are at once abandoning their traditions and pursuing them with increased intensity, as if their long descent into death were actually enriching their cultural life. The potlatch, as Dawson describes it, is "a struggle for social pre-eminence" that takes the form of a ceremonial distribution of blankets: whoever can accumulate and then give away the most blankets gains enhanced prestige within a social hierarchy. To lose is a public humiliation: "should the aspirant [to a position of eminence] be beaten," says Dawson, "[he or she] would feel mortified and ashamed." Determined to prevail at any cost, "wives even rob their husbands to assist a brother, or some other relative, in amassing blankets" and competing for social status. This is a theme that will become typical, indeed stereotypical, in the ethnography of the Kwakwa-ka'wakw for years to come: the potlatch is a war fought with property. -- Louis Proyect ----------------------- The notion of gifts transmitting the soul of their giver is not an abstract extrapolation of social theory, but for me, a lived reality. For example, my best friend and I have routinely exchanged gifts of hand-made clothes, sweaters, jam, etc. for the last twenty-five years. What I notice about the gift giving is that 1) nobody cares if we're even (there's the underlying sense that as there is mutual good will...all will even out in the end. 2) The clothing/sweaters tend to last forever because they are part of the friendship and so they are never deemed interchangeable with anything else nor dispensable 3) wearing them furnishes not only the material warmth of the wool/cotton/etc of which they are made, but also the emotional warmth of being held in your friend's arms...of being cared for and protected. Obviously, a gift-based economy, creating a sense of objects as nodes in a nexus of mutual caretaking, would be much more stable than a commodity-based economy whose main character is to destroy/conceal the social/human relations between commodity producers. Before everyone scoffs at the obvious impracticality of extending domestic exchanges to the larger arena of economic life....how do you exchange a carburator?...a septic system...etc., consider the possibility of a culture that reinforces the idea of the creation and use of objects as an ongoing exchange with nature and with organized/productive society -- as mutual gift giving. Consider how much more stable and environmentally supportive the gift exchange metaphor might prove to be compared to the blighted and blighting commodity. Joanna ----------------------- Gift exchanging people are often very, very, very, very keen to know if they are "even" or not. Probably the most famous PNG case is the Melpa, who are dealt with by Andrew Strathern in "The Rope of Moka". Essentially, Moka is a network of exchanges where at each presentation has to be bigger than the last. So I give you fifteen pigs and a bunch of low quality shells, you out-gift me with twenty pigs and a beautiful gold-lip shell. Then I have to out-gift you, to "make moka" - fulfill social expectations, raise to the occasion. Very proficient moka co-ordinators , who are usually astonishingly good orators, become Big Men. There is a particularly good ethnographic film about one such Big Man, named Ongka, which follows him as he goes about making moka. It is called Ongka's Big Moka. The gifts included thousands of Kina (the PNG currency, at the time it was on partiy with the Australian dollar), a four- wheel-drive, hundreds of very large pigs, etc... Early observers of such exchanges called the increase in the gift "interest." But there is a key difference between Moka and interest: whereas someone who loans money to receive more money does so with the intention of maximizing income, the gift-giver wants to maximise outflows. The important thing is not to end up with tons of shells and a four-wheel-drive, but to forge the right sort of social relationships, acquire lots of wives, etc... Nevertheless, this still requires careful accounting. This can be tricky if your number system only has words halfway up to a dozen, but there is some very clever ways of getting around this (eg. J. Mimica, "Intimations of Infinity" on Angan number systems.) If you see pictures of Melpa Big Men, you will notice a series of three-inch rods woven into a pendant which they wear around their necks. The longer the pendant, the more Moka one has made. Don't want to loose track of that. Interestingly, Highlanders - the area where competitive exchanges are most prevalent - have adapted relatively well to the capitalist economy. This has had some interesting effects. For one thing, it has not eliminated Moka, on the contrary, Strathern uses the term "efflorescence" to describe how Moka has thrived upon the new opportunities for exchanges. Chris Gregory makes much of this interface in his book "Gifts and Commodities." Did the competitive exchanges prepare the Highlanders for the capitalist economy? That is one explanation which is popular, but there were crucial differences in the way the Highlands were colonized. But that's a long story.... Sorry to switch from the pacific northwest to PNG, but that's where most of my reading on this has been. Thiago Oppermann ----------------------- ghts. Akerlof and Yellen have a gift-exchange model of efficiency wages (Was this one of the ideas he got the pseudo Nobel for?) which is very useful in the institutional analysis of labour markets. What interests me more is the idea (from Polanyi) of 'generalized reciprocity', the idea that people give 'gifts', not in the expectation that they will get something 'equal' in return from any specific individual, but rather, when they need help or something else, they will have it offered to them as a gift. Perhaps the best example is the Canadian blood service. Most people give blood freely not in the expectation that they will need blood in exchange some time in the future, but rather because (a) they know others need it and (b) they know at some time in the future they may need blood and they trust that free blood will be available if and when they need it. But there is no sense of equality or exchange. Such generalized reciprocity is a feature of western Canadian (rural) society. When I was building my house and barn in the rural area I put out a general call for anyone interested to come join a 'house/barn raising bee.' We had douzens of volunteers, not in the expectation that I would help them build a house or whatever, but when the flood came in the city, I volunteered to lift sandbags -- not for their houses specifically, but for the urban people most affected. There was no sence of specific obligation or debt, or any concept individual reciprocity -- just the general concept that if people help me, I have an obligation to reciprocate. But there is no sense of equal exchange but rather -- do I dare say it -- from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. I do think this concept of general reciprocity is far more important in the contemporary economy than most would recognize. At least that is my Canadian experience. Paul Phillips, Economics, University of Manitoba ------------------------- Absolutely: "what goes around, comes around" moreover, if you think of it deeply, it's also obvious (though paradoxical) that the only way you can keep what you have is by sharing it. Joanna ------------------- Paul writes: >What interests me more is the idea (from Polanyi) of 'generalized reciprocity', the idea that people give 'gifts', not in the expectation that they will get something 'equal' in return from any specific individual, but rather, when they need help or something else, they will have it offered to them as a gift.< There's a good example among cigarette smokers: most of them "bum" cigarettes off of each other, but not in expectation of equal exchange at some point. However, they are willing to give nicotine sticks to others. Some "bum" as a way to "quit smoking," while others give cigarettes away to assuage guilt about smoking. Unlike market exchange, this helps build a community. The community is shored up by its common status as pariahs. Jim Devine jdevine@lmu.edu ------------------