Monday :: Sep 5, 2005

Common Ground


by Duckman GR

Athenae has a post up about the ethics and bloggers panel that was held in Philly over the weekend, the Eschacon, and she has one hell of a good idea.

It's the kind of thing many people have been writing about, indeed, it's a thread that really runs throughout many of the progressive blogs. It's the sense of community, of the common good that we all feel, that we all live within as we go about our lives.

It's the denial of that theme that has been exposed in Louisiana this week, it's the essential difference between the progressive left and the greed mongering "free" market right.

When greedy and weak men like hastert question the thought of rebuilding NO, their thoughts are of the costs and free market, the opportunity for more price gouging and carpet bagging, more for me and none for thee. But as some old dead guy once wrote,

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls, may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me...may have caused it to toll for me...and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne, Meditation XVII

A New Deal for New Orleans, Rebuilding and Renewal for All Americans

As bushco operates their biggest and most desparate CYA operation ever, we need to fully understand this concept that Donne wrote about some 400 years ago.

No Man is an Island, yet seemingly, bushco thinks so, that the air they breath, the water they drink, the goods and services they take without second thought, all these things do not spring fully formed from the ground for their pleasuring. No, they come from us all, or they come from the earth we all live upon, this brilliant system of thermodynamics, energy and entropy, Einstein and Euclid and Hawking.

There's an article in Sierra Magazine by Jonathan Rowe, that talks about one way of viewing this common ground Athenae sees, that many of us see in our own ways, and well worth a read, bears much consideration as a way to view our circumstances.

As he says, [t]he environment isn't just about nature anymore. It has become a metaphor for a battle against market — and sometimes governmental — encroachment that extends to virtually every corner of our society. Everything is up for grabs. Everything is for sale. Politicians and the media are essentially oblivious, up to and including, it seems, disaster relief.

continued below for a bit of a read.

We have a shared heritage, history, belief system, yes, a variety of these but shared by many, a system that exists outside of the "free market," that holy grail of the right, that leaves so much disatisfaction, emptiness, hunger for something more.

3 Dog Night said that One is the loneliest number, and within the notion of the commons, rightly missing. And in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama people are showing what that commons is. And what stands in their way? Self serving, cowardice, incompetence, greed, criminality. People want to help, to share, to work together yet are denied at every turn, christ, even Wal-Mart is on the ball here, but not bushco.

And why not? Why won't these criminals let people do the right thing? Why won't they let people take the risks they're clearly willing to take, are trained for, are available for?

It doesn't fit into the free market world they occupy. It runs counter to their ideas on life, capital, power. How selfish are bush, cheney, religious fanatics, to impose their world view on every one else, pfred felps and hisssss hate, free marketeers raping and looting and pillaging the commons? And who gave them this right, because it wasn't me, I'll tell you right now.

There is a great part of our world that is not in the "free market" and that thought must give Big Time Dick heart palpatations. But it's true, Dick!!

Something is missing from our world, this construct that big money, big business, big media, increasingly sell to us. Us owners. If the sky is a commons, then it belongs to all of us. Why should our government bestow upon corporations the right to sully our sky for free — a right they can turn around and sell for money?

Okay, I swear I'm getting there A.

What better way to show, nay, DEMONSTRATE, our committment to our Democratic Principles and our committment to our Commons then to rebuild New Orleans, rebuilt Biloxi, rebuild the wetlands and barrier islands and marshes and tidal flows, the whole interconnected system that people first came to, and built upon, then a New Deal for New Orleans?

Put the displaced of the region to work, call upon all Americans to share in the sacrifice, create a National Service Plan for Gulf Reconstruction and require College and High School students, those ignorant Bush girls, the homeless, the hopeless, the hopeful and the helpful to serve some time either there or in the military, reinstate the estate tax, repeal some of bushco's tax cuts for the wealthy, hell, charge every stinkin taxpayer, which includes me, and yes, I need to take a shower, 10 bucks or something, every business the same, and get to work.

Think of what Mr. Rowe writes here:

A while back a sign appeared by the road there. "SOON TO BE BUILT ON THIS SITE," it said, and my insides went code red. I thought of bulldozers, asphalt, a mange of houses with glandular disorders. Then I saw the smaller print. "Thanks to your help, absolutely nothing."

The sign was the work of a local organization raising funds to buy the land so that developers couldn't. The large type triggered something many Americans feel: a brooding sense of vulnerability and impending loss. This sense begins with wilderness and open space but doesn't end there. Everywhere we look, something we thought was off-limits to the market is falling prey to it: schools, the gene pool, children's imagination and play, urban water systems. Coalbed-methane development is decimating the natural ecology of the West, just as Wal-Marts are destroying the social ecology of Main Streets.

It is significant, then, that an old term is reappearing to describe what is being threatened. It is "the commons," the realm of life that is distinct from both the market and the state and is the shared heritage of us all. ... Lawrence Lessig, an author and lawyer, describes the innovation commons of the Internet and the public domain of knowledge. Others are talking about the atmospheric commons, the commons of public squares, and the commons of quiet.

The "market" doesn't own everything. As has been amply demonstrated in the past week, it can't solve everything. It's inescapable that we are all in this together, even if some can't, or won't, see it.

I relate a little personal anecdote to illustrate what we're up against.

I’m at the gas station, filling up the LEV Honda Civic, 33+ MPG, when this guy comes out of the store, heading towards his tandem axle, dual cab, F-350 truck. He’s bitching about the damn Democrats, damn Ted Kennedy, won’t let us drill in ANWR because of some pristine bullshit. And they said the same thing about the caribou when they were building the Alaska Pipeline, and the caribou have increased since then.

Damn Democrats? As he pumped about 40 gallons of gas into his 10 MPG behemoth on a Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but think, “Damn republicans!”

Never mind that he is a huge part of the problem, that his ignorance, his disconnect from reality, exacerbates the demand that has lead in some part to this pass. Never mind that his acquiescence to this lifestyle, this greed and self indulgence, places us squarely in the hands of those he despises and fears, the Arabs and the Chinese. Forget that his comfort is superior to the common good. And forget that it’s impossible to separate oneself from the commonalities of our daily lives.

Forget all that. Look at the brick our construct is founded on. The Earth we stand on. The Air we breathe. The Water that sustains all life. The commons, the community, the common ground, the common good. We’re social creatures, after all, whether it’s hanging out, lording it over, talking, singing, working, we prefer to do things together, or at least in front of people. We’re bound to each other by the places we live. What Donne said. No man is an island. We need to start acting that way, and Athenae has a way.

Duckman GR :: 5:58 PM :: Comments (14) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!