This is where I scribble on the web. Sort of a public notebook.
10,885 words

The Spectrum of Allies

Excerpt from The Climate Resistance Handbook

Campaigns make a mistake when they focus only on their active allies and active opposition.

Because most people aren’t in either of those categories! The rest of the people might be broadly thought of as “the public.” This tool is about breaking down the idea of “the public” and really seeing where our support lives.

On the left side, we have our active allies. Active opponents are on the right.

In between might be passive allies or passive opponents — folks who might agree or disagree with you but aren’t doing anything about it. Or they may be neutrals — truly undecided, completely uninformed, or truly apathetic.

The tool brings with it some good news. Campaigns don’t succeed by getting everyone to agree with us!

Most successful campaigns never get their active opposition to change their minds. So let them go. Instead, support for their position is pulled away by shifting the passives and neutrals one step in our direction (for example, moving neutrals so that they become passive allies).

Groups often waste a huge amount of time obsessing over the active opposition, even though they rarely move.

The spectrum of allies tool can be used in meetings to think about where people and groups stand on an issue. Healthy debates can emerge during this process, and it can expose our need for research. For example, “Where does that union local stand on this issue?” Debates may emerge about who to reach out to in order to help persuade other groups.

When using this tool, it’s important to remind people to be specific. Instead of naming broad groups like “labor” or “children support groups,” it’s best to name specific groups or organisations. That’s because the spectrum of allies is an organising tool — it’s useful in figuring out who you are going to reach. That means the groups should be listed with names of people who can be contacted so you can reach out and engage with them.


We don’t need to convince everyone to become active allies to achieve our goals. Take the abolitionist movement against slavery in the United States, as an example. If you add up every petition signed, every meeting, every public action — not even 1% of the population were active allies. Yet the movement was successful.

We therefore don’t have to become hyper-focused on moving our active opponents. Our work is to steadily move passive allies, neutrals, and passive opponents in our direction. We keep our active allies engaged.

Move the Rock

Excerpt from The Climate Resistance Handbook

Sometimes when groups decide to pick governments as their target, they fall into the trap of thinking like lobbyists. Lobbyists don’t focus on what the public wants. They have private meetings, expensive dinners, and fancy events to persuade government officials.

Fossil fuel companies have spent millions on lobbying. They're very experienced at that. That is their domain.

So what's the movement's way of changing government's minds?

It’s by seeing politicians as a balloon.

A balloon floats in the wind. If you blow on it, it can be pushed one way or the other. It follows the wind, like politicians who can change their opinions and stances easily.

But politicians are tied to a rock. If we swat at them, they may sway to the left or the right. But, tied down, they can only go so far. Instead of batting at them, we should move the rock: people’s activated social values.

Depending on our government, the string might be longer or shorter. But politicians know they can only be pushed so far one way or the other.

If they absolutely violate social norms, they are in trouble.

This is critical.

For example, I didn’t think very much about climate change a number of years ago. I cared about the environment. And if you asked me, I’d tell you I cared about climate change. So I had the value — but it wasn’t activated.

I didn’t really need someone to teach me about the issue. I needed someone to get me active, so that I was engaging politicians, my neighbors, colleagues, friends. When a friend asked me if I wanted to help them join a campaign on climate change — I said yes. I became activated.

Our goal in moving the rock is to build campaigns that encourage people to act on their values.

Replace Endless Actions With Goals

Excerpt from The Climate Resistance Handbook

"I was part of a group trying to stop the US war in Iraq. We were able to organise a march of 2,000 people in my city. That’s a big turnout. And we got good press coverage.

So we did it again.

This time we got 10,000 people in the streets. I was one of the emcees for the rally and couldn’t see to the end of the march. At that time, it was the largest march I had ever been part of organising. The feeling was amazing.

So what did we do next?

We didn’t vary our tactics. We did it again. This time, we only got 1,500 people marching. And less press coverage.

Then how did we feel? Pretty bad.

And what did we do next?

Another march. Just a few hundred came this time — and virtually no press.

The problem was that we didn’t really have a plan. We just had a tactic. So we kept using the tactic because that’s what we knew. We were doing endless actions."


Imagine you’re a politician, and you’re the target of a campaign.

People are outside your offices urging you to do something. You had to sneak in the back door so you wouldn’t have to face them. You are feeling the pressure.

But will they be around the next day? Will they keep the pressure on?

If you can wait until the pressure is over, then you are unlikely to make the change.

Government officials (and most targets) regularly just wait until people do their big action. If the activists are lucky, the official gets some bad press for a few days. But the pressure does not stay. They wait until the heat blows over. Then they keep doing the bad thing.


Campaigns assess: Is our capacity growing? That doesn’t just mean more people, but also stronger people — people with more skill, stronger relationships, more willingness to do riskier things — and more people.

Myths of Social Movements

excerpt from 'The Climate Resistance Handbook #study-circle

Myth: Movements are lit like a match.

Movements don't appear from nowhere. It often takes many tries by different groups before movements succeed. The myth that movements "suddenly appear" ignores the early stages. It ignores how we have to build up small networks . It makes big actions seem more important than the early, small ones. And it skips over skill-building and studying other movements.

Myth: Movements are built by heroic figurehead leaders.

When we think of famous movements, we may only think of Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, or Mandela (or Greta, or Manzoor Pashteen). But movements are more than heroic leaders. Some movements have them. Some movements don't But all movements are built by many organisations, groups, and loose-knit networks that organise and act together for change. No organisation, action,, or individual speaks for an entire movement.

Myth: Movements require complete internal unity.

People act as though past movements had a clear vision, a clear plan, and all agreed. But that was never the case. The young Mongolian activists argued and disagreed. They had internal splits about tactics and policies. Successful movements always have internal disagreements and division. Working for unity is great - and so is accepting the reality that we are not all going to see things the same way.

Myth: Petitions (or any single action) are a movement.

This myth goes like this: Want to stop the fossil fuel industry? Get a big petition! Or get everyone to do a big social media share! Or a big march!

But in reality, no single tactic is a movement. A movement requires many different types of tactics. Some tactics, anyone can do. Others will require higher personal risk than most people are willing to take. Some tactics, maybe only some people can do, like a lawyer filing a lawsuit or the mine workers going out on strike. Movements require ltos of different types of tactics - and relying on just one action will not result in change.

Myth: Movements succeed when they mobilise large, mass actions.

Countless times the refrain is heard: "We just need to have a giant march."

However, movements don't win because of singular actions, however big. That can lead us to always try to organise big actions. Then we dismiss small actions, like those done in rural areas, communities who just joined us or powerful but experimental tactics. And we can't just keep organising for one big action. Movements need ongoing resistance - otherwise, the people in power can just wait until the event is over and continue ignoring movement requests.

Myth: Movements only work in democratic countries, or where they don't have police repression.

Nonviolent social movements have overthrown powerful, oppressive regimes in the Philippines, Chile, Bolivia, Madagascar, Nepal, Czechoslovakia, Indonesia, Serbia, Mali and Ukraine, to name a few.

Powerful social movements occur frequently in repressive countries. In democratic regimes, people may rely on traditional channels for advocating social change (courts, elections, etc). But in places with harsh rulers, they have saved a step: People already know those institutions won't save us. We have to organise ourselves.

Myth: movements need media attention to win.

This myth is common. And it's true that media can help influence public opinion. But it's not healthy for a movement to associate the health of the movement with how much media coverage it's getting ... If we believe we are effective because the media are covering us, then what happens when the media get bored and decide to stop covering us?


Each of these myths makes us look outside of ourselves. We look for the heroic leader, the right circumstances, or what the newspapers say about us. That’s not power. Movements are most effective when we look inward and find strength in ourselves and our relationships.

It is easy to use spending money as a mental confirmation that something of value is being obtained. We can equally choose to relish and recognize value in experience, atmosphere, sensuality, or company. The more we make such choices, the less urge we have to treat ourselves by 'buying something nice' when life feels hard. That urge might become transformed into a yen to go lie in the park on a blanket and watch clouds for an hour. And before you protest that such experiential pleasures take time that most modern humans don't have, let us remind that time is exactly what you can choose to have more of when you spend less money...

The Art of Frugal Hedonism

The Climate Resistance Handbook

reading notes #study-circle

Foreword

Around the year 2030, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO 2 emissions by at least 50%.

Introduction

"Over the next few days, the glow of the action faded. I became aware of a second feeling. It was close to a stomach-clenching worry. I feared it wasn't enough or that the action hadn't worked as well as we had hoped. I saw that nothing immediately changed afterwards, even though we felt so powerful.

I sat with two different feelings: the feeling of success and the worry that we didn't really make a change."

What's strategic here? How do my local actions add up to real changes? How do we move from one-time actions to a whole movement, where all kinds of people from all walks of life are joined together in common cause?

"Change does not happen just because an issue is important. People have to wage a struggle ... Movements win because they channel these feelings of urgency, anger, fear — and our sense of this being wrong — into a force for change."

Chapter 1: Movements

Hashbat then faced the question every movement faces over and over again: What next?

The youth took two paths quickly. The first was to create an organisational structure so they could make decisions and decide their goals. They also needed to choose tactics — the actions they thought would get them to their goal. They settled on a name — the Mongolian Democratic Union (MDU). They created a citizens' manifesto, with goals such as democratic elections in which any parties would be free to run.

The second decision was to switch tactics, and escalate. Doing the same tactics would become routine. They didn’t want to be routine — they wanted to make possible what wasn’t possible before. And they wanted tactics that would apply pressure on the government to give in to their demands.

They also knew they had to recruit allies. They reached out to a wide range of civil society groups. Five hundred workers at a nearby mine stopped work for one hour in solidarity. Monks joined and offered their support. Teachers went out on their own strikes.

Change was in the air. The pressure mounted on the government, which tried negotiations and offering weak compromises to stop the energy. But the youth — and now the other groups, too — refused to accept anything more than their core goals. This brought in more allies and opened up the space for more tactics. And they won.

Social Movements Are Like a Wave

There are lots of lessons on how social movements win in this story.
You win by using a range of tactics. You escalate so that you keep applying more force on your opposition. You win by ignoring the people who say you can’t win. You organise allies, you sacrifice, and you keep active.

"When we're in the middle of a movement, it can look chaotic and disorderly. Movements are not clean. They are messy. And when inside them, we are painfully aware of their shortcomings."

Myths of Social Movements

Let's be honest, at least 90% of what you call "useful and educational" is entertainment for you. At best, we can call it "infotainment", information that is being presented in an entertaining manner. There is nothing wrong with that. I love infotainment. However, if you are educating yourself on random topics that have no real practical benefit to you, at least be honest with yourself, you are entertaining yourself.

...

If you actually want to get something done or get somewhere in life, the only thing that makes sense is to collect information for a specific purpose and then actually USE the information that you have just collected.

overheard on reddit

My revolution is entirely boring.

Minimize my participation in systems that hurt
Maximize participation in systems I support
Save resources & money
Gather and practice skills

Buy as local as possible, when possible

Volunteer for community events, political candidates that help humans,
Mutual support of aligned people
Actions

Don't own more than I need
Don't desire what is inaccessible to most

Stay realistic by focusing on money and actions instead of words

So boring I can do this daily

overheard on Mastodon

The Culturalization of Politics

#study-circle-reading Slavoj Zizek #paraphrased

"Why are so many problems today perceived as problems of intolerance, rather than as problems of inequality, exploitation, or injustice?"

"The immediate answer lies in the liberal multiculturalist's basic ideological operation: the culturisation of politics"

"Political differences — differences conditioned by political inequality or economic exploitation — are naturalised and neutralised into "cultural" differences, that is, into different "ways of life" which are something given, something that cannot be overcome."

"This demands a response in the terms Walter Benjamin offers: from culturalisation of politics to politicisation of culture."



"The basic opposition on which the entire liberal vision relies is that between those who are ruled by culture, totally determined by the lifeworld into which they are born, and those who merely "enjoy" their culture, who are elevated above it, free to choose it."

"This brings us to the next paradox: the ultimate source of barbarism is culture itself, one's direct identification with a particular culture, which renders one intolerant towards other cultures, while it is the individual who is universal, the site of universality, insofar as she extricates herself from and elevates herself above her particular culture."

"Since, however, every individual has to be somehow particularised, has to dwell in a particular lifeworld, the only way to resolve this deadlock is to split the individual into universal and particular, public and private"

"In liberalism, culture survives, but as privatised: as a way of life, a set of beliefs and practices, not the public network of norms and rules. Culture is transubstantiated: the same sets of beliefs and practices change from the binding power of a collective into an expression of personal and private idiosyncrasies."

"The philosophical underpinning of this ideology of the universal liberal subject is the Cartesian subject. This subject is conceived of as capable of stepping outside his particular cultural/social roots and asserting his full autonomy and universality."

"The grounding experience of Descartes's position of universal doubt is precisely a "multicultural" experience of how one's own tradition is no better than what appears to use the "eccentric traditions of others ... This is why, for a Cartesian philosopher, ethnic roots, national identity, and so on are simply not a category of truth."

"To put it in precise Kantian terms, when we reflect upon our ethnic roots, we engage in a private use of reason, constrained by contingent dogmatic presuppositionsm that is we act as "immature" individuals, not as free human beings who dwell in the dimension of the universality of reason."



"the private is the space of our idiosyncrasies, where creativity and wild imagination rule and moral considerations are (almost) suspended, while the public is the space of social interaction, where we should obey the rules so that we do not hurt others;"

"Since, in our societies, a gendered division of labour still predominates which confers a male twist on basic liberal categories (autonomy, public activity, competition) and relegates women to the private sphere of family solidarity, liberalism itself in its opposition of private and public, harbours male dominance."

At the heart of every blockchain is its consenus algorithm: the scheme it uses to ensure that every participant agrees that the same blocks are made of the same data and chained together in the same way. Proof of work is the original cryptocurrency consensus scheme. In essence, it works as follows:

  • Transactions on the blockchain are grouped together into blocks
  • Blocks are used to generate problems to be solbed that have the following properties:

    - Solutions are difficult to compute but easy to verify
    - Difficulty of finding solutions is precisely quantifiable
    - Solutions are provably inseparable from the block they secure

  • To verify blocks, blockchain users solve these problems, which is known as mining

  • The first user to successfully mine a block announces the solution to the entire network and is rewarded with cryptocurrency

Each successive block refers to the previous block and creates a chain of blocks, hence the term "blockchain". Although there are multiple blockchains, the correct one is the one that has the most work put into it, which is why solution difficulty has to be quantifiable.

source

"My waking, working life, like my dream life, can sometimes feel like a series of epiphanies that are just beyond my reach — nonsensical symbols that I can't read and invisible objects that I can't see. I still dont know where ideas come from, but I now seem to at least know something about my own methods for finding them, which I keep holding on to even as the realities of my professional and personal life evolve. I read around and talk to colleagues, trying to keep a steady flow of new ideas in my daily work. Honestly, the homework never stops, it just isn't graded."

source

"Map becomes territory, and as anyone who has kept a journal knows, soon you witness the present as you plan to record it, seeking out events good or bad that are likely to yield something worth recording. As the old try and fail to teach the young, life comes at you past."

The Tower

to-read

"I have learned to not listen to what companies say, because they never really commit to it. Google: “don’t be evil”. Facebook: “WhatsApp will remain independent and free of ads”. Etc. Companies need to be understood not as personalities, but as game theoretic agents following the simple rules of capitalism."

via andre staltz

the null hypothe-cis

Cis is treated as the null hypothesis. It doesn’t require any evidence. It’s just the assumed given. All suspects are presumed cisgender until proven guilty of transsexuality in a court of painful self-exploration. But this isn’t a viable, logical, “skeptical” way to approach the situation. In fact it’s not a case of a hypothesis being weighed against a null hypothesis (like “there’s a flying teapot orbiting the Earth” vs. “there is no flying teapot orbiting the Earth”), it is simply two competing hypotheses. Two hypotheses that should be held to equal standards and their likelihood weighed against one another.

the null hypothe-cis

I feel like there are maybe 5-6 moments connecting now to the moment of my death. A small series of nows. And then I will be heaving on my deathbed (or anywhere else) struggling to stay alive. Struggling to make sense of my brief experience of consciousness.