TIME & LOCATION: The meeting took place on October 25, 2017 in an undisclosed location in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
PRESENT: Edmonds (host & facilitator), Ley, Gulian, Fred, Brian, Giovanni, Earl (note-taker), Gabriel, Geoff, Alex, Gendry (alias), Brendan, and Samantha (“uninvited”)
0) The meeting began with Edmonds reading the following excerpt/handout:
‘You will hear today all that you need in order to understand the purposes of the Enemy. There is naught that you can do, other than to resist, with hope or without it. But you do not stand alone. You will learn that your trouble is but part of the trouble of all the western world. The Ring! What shall we do with the Ring? That is the doom that we must deem.
‘That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.‘
‘Now, therefore, things shall be openly spoken that have been hidden from all but a few until this day.’
Part A – Worldly, Historical, and Future Problems
1) Sub-topic 1 – Oligarchy (introduced by Giovanni). The powerful were believed to be a major problem by all, but questions of what power is and where they got it (are hierarchies ontologically real) were discussed. Critical commentary from several members, and a salient question was if oligarchy is responsible primarily for the world’s ills, or if something systemic and infrastructural is more to blame. The idea summarized that oligarchs themselves are still in the prison: “Property and money are the prison, the oligarchs merely the current prison guards.”
2) Sub-topic 2 – Racism (introduced by Earl). Racism is a major problem, yet after discussion it was believed to be a symptomatic resultant of other oppressions that has only become foundational to the racists’ identities as culturally learned. Also the concept of white privilege was downplayed in favor of a new understanding of “colored disprivilege”. Further, a unique struggle not normally elaborated in acceptable discourse was discussed, namely that many whites (WASPs) have deep community (and previously resource) deficits that explain the roots of their aggressive individual and national policies throughout history. Further discussion was tabled to allow for the next sub-topic which grew from the racism discussion.
3) Sub-topic 3 – Imperialism (introduced by Gabe). Lenin’s work on imperialism was averred to, and the notion of capitalism as a disease that will inevitably keep spreading, if allowed, was generally agreed to. Along these lines, it was posited that imperialism is not just the “macro” taking over of resources on other continents, or planets (an eventuality?), but also should include the control of biological life at the cellular (genetic modification) and even down to the quantum control of sub-atomic particles (accelerators and quantum computing). Imperialism comes from an internal weakness on the part of the oppressor, so despite its widespread devastation, it is still symptomatic in its origins.
4) Sub-topic 4 – Suburban clusterfuck (introduced by Edmonds). Credit was given to James Howard Kunstler as a general introducer of the suburban perils (physical and psychological) as well as the coiner of the term, though none were sure if that was truly the case. Dependence on electrical grids, food and resource supply chains, automation (tabled), depression, sameness versus difference grew out of this discussion. Also, cities as death-traps for a variety of similar reasons of fragility, but also violating and perverting to an extreme degree Dunbar’s number. There were a plenitude of apocalyptic scenarios put forth which one member pointed out was ironic to be coming from such a mundane thing as suburbia.
5) Sub-topic 5 – Civilization(S) (introduced by Gendry). The discussion of urban and suburban woes naturally went to civilization-as-a-whole (initially), where problems of sedentism were expounded upon. But there were some ardent defenses of sedentism, with references to scholarly work that said not all sedentary people in early history and pre-history needed to create ecologically destructive agricultural practices. It was pointed out that it was in fact nomadic people that often became the conquerors, but this idea was then problematized by the fact that most nomadic people were not “imperialistic” like this and that imperialism stemmed from intrinsic weaknesses in relation to a given land, especially were that land already occupied and “distorted” by sedentism. There was agreement that the effects of civilization to create climate change, by way of soil erosion and poor/ignorant land management, including domestication of animals and crops for mono-cropping, were huge factors in causing desertification and atmospheric carbon increases.
6) Sub-topic 6 – Propaganda (introduced by Alex). It was agreed that the powerful have always utilized multiple methods to coerce people, often resorting to misinformation instead of overt violence (for example through exaggeration or outright lying). Western representative democracy was forwarded as a prime, ongoing example of propaganda: representative democracy is when oligarchs take up acting. Propaganda was found to be a deep cultural force that goes beyond just social class, governmental, and economic oppression, but it can be found in parallel in all sorts of everyday relationships where manipulation is consciously or unconsciously utilized. The question to see if it’s pre-civilized went in to a discussion of other animals such as birds, namely peacocks, to know if the bright feathers males flaunted were representative of their virility or a sapping of their energy for the sake of a veneer; the oily sheen on a dog’s coat or even on a leafy plant were mentioned, too. Contemporary propaganda was agreed to be holistically inefficient, mentally enervating, and a parasitical draw on available resources that could be used elsewhere, except when it was itself highly artistic and its own end regardless of the distorted representation for another end.
7) Sub-topic 7 – Identity-Politics (introduced by Gabe). There was no consensus on whether or not identity politics was itself a problem or representative of many problems existing and a means to counter them. A conciliatory approach offered by one of the members on how to approach identity politics was that it depended on what the unifying identity was, and if it was a pre-existing alienated group defined by the oppressor, or an identity created by a loose group of marginalized (and not-so-marginalized) people to vent, gain attention, and/or seize power. The reconcilement centered on the idea that even if the problems for which the identity-based group was created were not solved, and even if new problems were created by the social group rising from their challenges, there often resulted positive internal community growth that filled the vacuum, and the issue(s) themselves could be viewed at the least as a vehicle to unite people in to community which they were all lacking. The discussion then became more genealogical in how identity politics ever arose, and then was tabled.
7a) 15 minute break followed by a 5 minute quiet reflection on the topics covered so far, and then a singular generation of a list of problems not yet covered so far.
8) Sub-topic 8 – Legality (introduced by Brendan). Brendan started off saying that law trials are not about justice, they are a sport between highly paid professionals who compete at the onlookers expense. This served as a beginning to the discussion which went quite deeper in to evaluations of what legality really is. It was put forth that more often than not that even were laws able to not contradict and negate other laws (for which biased and unbalanced lawyers and judges were paid to sort out), that the human channeling of energy in to legal systems over the millennia, regardless of the cohesion and coherence of the justice system, has been synonymous with greater and greater purging from the individual person an innate sense of vigilance and justice. Laws are the blindspot of justice, and now with an entire legal class, the laws have divorced everyday sense of ethics, which is in effect how the human disease can unleash itself on the Earth without any self-checks or thoughts to do so. Environmental stewardship was such an example of innate human consciousness that it needed to linguistic codification, and yet it has now taken centuries of destruction of the environment on the part of humans to finally render it in to law, and it is still ineffectual because it is contradicted by the rights of governments and individuals (corporations namely) to rape the land. Justice is a terribly long walk of the pen, with countless victims written over along the way; or is it?
9) Sub-topic 9 – Industrialization/Technology/Globalization (introduced by Brian). Though the topic of industrialization seems to have been overlapped with already in the sub-topics of imperialism and civilization, the discussion was qualified for additional insights that Brian, and then others following him, surfaced. Firstly, because many non-primitivist socialist-utopian affinities were present in group members, it was important that a discussion around the role of technology be had, presuming that the technology was in the hands of, for example, a gift-economy or worker-run city whereby it wasn’t used for individual profit, but for social progress. Industrialism for human use at the hands of worker-councils should be a good thing, if it could be done ecologically. However this very question became a central problem, and the open question remained on whether or not all technology or just certain technology is bad for the planet. The deep attachments to technology were admitted to on the part of all, however whether or not this was a bad thing or merely part of evolution was discussed. Some reductio ad absurdum examples entered the discussion but will not be listed in these notes. Suburbia was brought up again in this discussion but with attention to the many roads that industrialism required to connect the parts for the conquering of evermore of the land to convert it in to industrial use (if this was the type of industrialism that even a humane socialist economy would seek for). It remained an open question if industry could ever reach a utopian point where it was not destructive to any living things as was aspired to (presumably) in the Soviet Union.
10) Sub-topic 10 – Money (introduced by Fred). A discussion of mediation in general that first focused on money, but expanded to particularly the quantification and reification of consumer goods and services so that they might be translated in to monetary quantities, and the chafing down of all things to fit in to the cash nexus or other human categories of thought, and physicalitys that conformed with artifices. The social losses incurred when money was given legitimacy were discussed, and how other/older forms of kinship and resource sharing were weeded out; a huge quantity of money middle-men that emerged to bureaucratically manipulate it giving way eventually to huge “money making” institutions; money is the clothes that imperialists are dressed in. Also, intrinsic problems of money will always exist, it was argued even were there benevolent money-managers (such as automated robots, tabled for later).
11) Sub-topic 11 – Science (introduced by Geoff). The science sub-topic discussion continued right where industrialism and money left off, but quickly mixed in philosophical ideas revolving around what reification really is and if it’s the method of science to do so (dissecting and then analyzing). What is science really and if is used as a term so broadly is it really multiple things conflated together? Is it just mere empirical observation? How does science choose its objects and what mereological assumptions does it make? Representationalism (and misrepresentation) are cultural and shifting far more than they are objective, and yet this is the way of science that constantly disproves itself, meaning it is a long history of being wrong, outside of the aspect of science that is the humble recording of observations and drawing minute conclusions. Thomas Kuhn was indicated though his name couldn’t be remembered at the time. Specific examples of science’s direct impact were brought up. Science enabled nuclear power (or was it the human imagination, and science shouldn’t be given deistic agency?), and now in peace time there are black-holes created routinely with great hubris, and great danger. Will modified organisms really be helpful in evolving the planet forward, or are they a murder of life with life’s own corpse? Discussion went further, into the imperialism of knowledge, the unceasing human quest to know things, that has been conflated with evolution of the species; it has led to a great weakening of the human because of the time investment into obsessing about knowledge piles to the loss of in-body time that humans need. The poor posture overweight cubiclite was referenced.
12) Sub-topic 12 – Science/Fiction (introduced as “Artificial Intelligence” by Giovanni). Edmonds chose to title it Science/Fiction for writing purposes and to include a broader discussion beyond artificial intelligence. Immediately too the question was injected of if artificial intelligence can even attain artificial consciousness, for machines are not self-healing and evolving organically and are uncontained by programming, yet computers seem to have this fundamental restraint. If artificial intelligence is created (presumably organically and not electronically), or even if machines advanced enough to be almost autonomous and controlled by the oligarchy entirely, they would be deadly to all humans that didn’t serve some purpose. Ley had lots of background in science fiction and had written an unpublished essay titled “Fictional Today, Experimental Tomorrow: The Real Dangers Of Science Fiction” where he argued that the human imagination was very important to defend us against most crises, which are preventable if we take their precursors in our imagination (this in parallel to using intuition to sense the future). However, Ley said imaginations can conjure futures that are radically different yet could then be realized by a determined people that imprison the present for their own twisting purposes. Science fiction does just this, as it provides enough of a blueprint (it seizes the imagination) that we then force (engineer) the present in to. Engineers are not neutral actors in all of this but actively decide which of a myriad of directions reality will go in. Comedian Bill Burr’s routine on Steve Jobs was mentioned as exemplary of this arbitrarity.
Further, and perhaps most dangerously, science fiction goes to normalize dystopian situations and neutralize our critical ethics faculties to something that would otherwise be quite shocking. The “saw this in a movie” effect is widespread and has allowed great leaps in perversion and destruction on the part of governments and corporations. The abnormal is so quickly made normal and digestible through movies (again, propaganda)
13) Sub-topic 13 – Health (introduced by Gulian). Gulian confessed he had been thinking about this topic all along because of the variety of food options we all were partaking in, some very healthy and some very poor food choices “winter storage foods built for sieges”. Lack of sunlight exposure and the work of Stephanie Seneff were asked to be included in these notes, too, which he mentioned briefly but self-tabled. He took a show of hands to point out who of us were fading during this second half of the meeting, and who was still going strong. He did this from a standing position, standing being something only he and Edmonds did during the meeting that he pointed out. He went on to say how adversely affected modern human health is by all the previous sub-topics we had previously listed, and a vicious feedback loop ties them all together. And it was agreed that if our own health was not managed in preventative ways not dependent on the parasitical medical-industrial complex, we could not hope to fight these other issues. But questions of how to do this, and what makes a person feel healthy and whole beyond merely eating healthy and exercising bodily and spiritually were discussed. Samantha, a dweller in the location of the meeting who is a practicing nutritionist, happened to overhear the discussion and offered some practical tips for all of us including intermittent fasting, using a salt-water infused water drink called “sole”, and sleeping at the same time every night. The need to express our creative energy was brought up as a health initiative, particularly sexual contact and release, and also very important skin contact such as cuddling.
14) Sub-topic 14 – Sexism (introduced by Samantha) – This meeting, as Samantha pointed out and others admitted noticing earlier, didn’t formerly include one women, or one openly LGBTQQ person (as far as she knew). How could the world’s problems hope to be alleviated and turned without the voices of the other? There was discussion of how to go about including others who they didn’t happen to be acquainted with, and how to not make it merely in to a tokenizing inclusion, as would be the case with several of the member’s wives. Also the assumption that all those who identify somewhere in the LGBTQQ spectrum, or too as straight women, feel oppressed, and would have any interest in taking on the task of evaluating the world’s problems and then saving the world. Rights to be nude entered the discussion, and one member, followed by two others, stripped for effect and to re-normalize the surroundings.
15) Sub-topic 15 – The Over-looked “ism” (introduced by Edmonds). Edmonds confided that this he was hoping to end with, in what he saw as an overarching problem not yet clearly defined or considered. There were a few headings under which the idea might be introduced, and he chose it under it’s negative terming as an ism, namely ageism. He felt that the fight against ageism opened itself to a proactive fight rather than a reactive and defensive fight, as has been and would be the case when fighting most of the other causes of global death and oppression (because they were fighting to defend something that enabled a different version of rot to dwindle within. Fighting for the youth to continue is what life inevitably had always done, and not through destruction but creation and cultivation. It was a fight far beyond mere cultural contrivance, but in line and with momentum coming deep from instincts and the whole trajectory of life on Earth. The Earth had chosen billions of years ago to have reproduction as the part of how life continues, and humans had now severely interrupted this. Ageism against the youth was discussed and agreed to as a major issue to cap off the problem listing phase. Another member pointed out that the humanizing of the event as an ism against humans might fail to include what was really the fight for life on the planet, whether animal, plant, fungi, or other. The sixth mass extinction if allowed to continue would eventually preclude fights against any other of the problems, and yet solve many of the human-made ills on the Earth, but for few species left to benefit from.
Part B – World Saving, History Redeeming, and Future Freeing
It was agreed upon that this portion of the meeting would be extremely brief and focus upon devising solutions for one of the single problems listed. To the surprise of all, one member put forth a motion, and then another seconded it. Including this process was quite spontaneous, and to Edmonds’s delight it was in favor of the problem just elucidated. “For the children!” said Alex with a fist raised, and then all raised their fists and said it again. Alex then shared powerfully that we ought to not focus on the Enemy, referring to the LOTR reading where “the Enemy” was underlined, but on the friends. Giovanni then ventured that restoration permaculture is the best way to be “pro-life” wherever anyone of any status and means happened to find themselves. He shared a specific idea he had been contemplating on how to make the “Water Is Life” movement more proactive using permaculture. Essentially his idea was that instead of just defending by use of laws and pleading, westerners or indigenous peoples should actively make new sources of water and “green the desert” through swales and pond creations to inspire people to create once again what had been lost. All the members agreed to go and research permaculture, and Fred, also a permaculturalist, shared that he would work to revive the “Permaculture Campaign” that he had launched earlier that year and had let fall to the wayside. The meeting was closed with the idea that they would meet again in the future after having chewed on and researched what was discussed (and reviewing this document), coming up with any proactive campaigns that might be suitable. A last comment and commitment was by Gendry who had shared that he was already looking at intentional communities to visit on IC.org, and that another best thing to do for the future generations was to provide them with the option to be part of a tribe. Several others thought it was a good idea and told him to forward information to their emails and that an intentional community exploration sub-committee should exist alongside the permaculture researching.
So concludes the minutes on the Council of Edmond, October 25, 2017, 100 years after the Russian Revolution, and 1001 years before the Council of Elrond, in the Third Age of this world.