Forum Posts

robert.m.kirchner
May 20, 2021
In Brit Shalom Group
Stories From Gaza Sunday, 3pm ET (12pm PT) with Ahmed Helou, CfPPeace activist from Gaza and Haneen Abualsoud, Gazan writer, author & activist Moderated by Rana Salman, CfPeace Palestinian Director Gaza is reeling. Throughout the past week, citizens of Gaza have seen buildings flattened and watched cities crumble to the ground. Yet, this is by no means a new reality for Gazans. Palestinians across Gaza have persevered and resisted through over 50 years of occupation and over 10 years under a blockade in what is considered the world’s largest open-air prison. Join us for a discussion with Ahmed and Haneen, as they share their personal stories, testimonies from their friends and family currently living in Gaza, and most importantly, what brings them hope during this desperate time. [contact Beth Schuman at <Beth@afcfp.org> to register] The world is listening - and we are speaking out, for justice, equality, and a better future. Check out our featured appearances below and help spread our call for peace! Tune in above to hear our Israeli Coordinator Tuly Flint condemn the ongoing oppressions of Palestinians and demand an end to the violence. And below, watch Osama Eliwat and Ayala Shalev speak with BBC World News to discuss Combatants for Peace's mission for justice and peace.
0
0
4
robert.m.kirchner
May 18, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
The Shmitah workbook mentions community fruit tree mapping as a possible project. Fortunately, in Edmonton this has already been done, see https://edmontonfoodcouncil.org/2017/07/24/edmontons-edible-fruit-trees-map/. You can find the location of fruit trees on public land anywhere in the city. The map seems to need updating though.
0
1
4
robert.m.kirchner
Feb 04, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
If we agree that economic relocalization is important and desirable, including relocalization of food, there are several approaches that can be taken. This film illustrates an all-or-nothing approach for a limited period of time, an experiment to see how difficult it is. What concerns me about this approach is that many people will see the film and think, 'Yecch: blood, mud, and moose nose! I'm never going to be able to live like that. Forget local food.' I think it would be more inspiring and constructive to see if a family could live on say 60% local food on a long-term basis. Could they take it up to 80% local without serious experience of deprivation? How hard would it be to expand beyond food, to clothing and other consumer goods? I liked when the mother (Suzanne?) raised the issue of public subsidies for long-haul transportation infrastructure rather than an infrastructure for local self-sufficiency. Indeed, our non-local distribution system is a creature of public subsidies and legal protections that favour big business, as I argue in my 'What is Capitalism?' article.
0
0
6
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 25, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
Dear Shmitahniks, In this group, I don't think I have to spell out the connection between care for the earth and opposition to fossil-fuel extraction, particularly that dirtiest-of-all oil from the Alberta tar sands, and dangerous pipeline infrastructure to transport it. In 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau had the federal government step in and buy the Trans-Mountain Pipeline (TMX), to publicly subsidize this project in the face of the collapse of its economic viability. A good friend of mine, Ruth Walmsley, a Vancouver Quaker, has been courageously resisting the TMX for years. I pass on this fundraising appeal from her, to support water protectors like her in reversing a legal injunction against their protest movement. I was able to give a small donation, and I hope you will consider supporting them as well. * * * I’ve been involved with a group called PPST-Protect the Planet Stop TMX since last August, when we started a aerial camp / tree-sit in Burnaby to protect trees / salmon-bearing rivers etc. in the path of Trans Mountain pipeline construction. We are now mounting a legal challenge aimed at setting aside the injunction granted to TMX to suppress public protest against the pipeline expansion project. By highlighting the inconsistencies inherent in the Trudeau government declaring a climate emergency, then purchasing a pipeline which will accelerate climate change, this case can contribute to the growing pressure to cancel the project. We are scheduled to have our court hearing on March 3, 2021. We need to raise $20,000 in legal fees to move forward with this. Read about it here: http://fnd.us/91l9h0?ref=sh_79sB98. The success of meeting our fundraising goal depends on all of us reaching out and sharing this Fundrazr with our friends and families and social media networks. Deep appreciation for all your support! Peace, Ruth
0
0
6
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 16, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
Since we'll be discussing digital currencies soon, I thought it might be interesting to look at this DisCO movement, that critiques blockchain technology and explores alternative design principles: https://disco.coop/2019/08/last-night-a-distributed-cooperative-organization-saved-my-life-a-brief-introduction-to-discos/
0
2
8
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 15, 2021
In Brit Shalom Group
Here's a review of a book examining nonviolent resistance movements against Nazism, Nazi occupation, or particular Nazi policies. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/non-violence-against-nazis-interview-with-george-paxton/
0
0
5
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 14, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
Macaques in Bali steal tourists' electronics and other high-value items to demand food as 'ransom'. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/jan/14/balis-thieving-monkeys-seek-bigger-ransoms-for-high-value-swag-study
0
0
5
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 12, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
In conjunction with Tu b'Shvat, the new year of the trees, on Sunday the 24th of January at 11 am Edmonton Time (1 pm ET) there will be an online screening of Heidi Grunebaum and Mark Kaplan’s feature-length documentary film, The Village Under the Forest (Grey Matter Media, 2013). Trees have long served political purposes, both symbolic and practical, in Israel/Palestine. The Jewish National Fund has long raised funds, in its Blue Box campaign, to plant trees to "make the desert bloom" in Israel. This film explores the dark side of this campaign, in which environmentally disastrous pine forests were planted to hide the ruins of Palestinian villages, destroyed during/after the expulsions of 1948, and to prevent the villagers' return. After the film, we will have a discussion with filmmaker Heidi Grunebaum. You must register in advance for this meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUsduyqrDorG9awEp1HpdXuc05Cz5OKiEza After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
0
0
2
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 12, 2021
In Brit Shalom Group
In conjunction with Tu b'Shvat, the new year of the trees, on Sunday the 24th of January at 11 am Edmonton Time (1 pm ET) there will be an online screening of Heidi Grunebaum and Mark Kaplan’s feature-length documentary film, The Village Under the Forest (Grey Matter Media, 2013). Trees have long served political purposes, both symbolic and practical, in Israel/Palestine. The Jewish National Fund has long raised funds, in its Blue Box campaign, to plant trees to "make the desert bloom" in Israel. This film explores the dark side of this campaign, in which environmentally disastrous pine forests were planted to hide the ruins of Palestinian villages, destroyed during/after the expulsions of 1948, and to prevent the villagers' return. After the film, we will have a discussion with filmmaker Heidi Grunebaum. You must register in advance for this meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUsduyqrDorG9awEp1HpdXuc05Cz5OKiEza After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
0
0
6
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 07, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
That text from the apostle Paul is I Timothy 6:10. The King James translation gives it as ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’, but modern translations say ‘all kinds of evil’, i.e. less of an absolute categorical pronouncement and more of a simple observation. Our assignment as I understand it was to look for attitudes towards money, particularly in non-White cultures. This subject is dealt with in great detail in David Graeber’s Debt: the First 5,000 Years. I’ll just focus here on a small part of what Graeber uncovers in this wide-ranging anthropological study. First, he takes aim at mainstream economists’ story on the origin of money. That is, in ‘primitive’ societies all exchange was by barter, but this was inconvenient, because barter depends on the ‘double coincidence of needs’. A shoemaker can barter with a potato farmer just in case the shoemaker happens to need potatoes and the farmer happens to need shoes, otherwise no exchange is possible. To get around this problem, money was invented. But this story is demonstrably false. The overwhelming consensus of anthropological research shows that in pre-modern local economies, people exchanged goods and services on a quasi-gift basis – no explicit quid pro quo, but a general understanding that if my neighbour does me a favour today, I vaguely ‘owe them one’ at some future occasion. The point is not to exact repayment: indeed, lots of neighbours ‘owing you one’ is a very desirable social position to be in. In such a world, people basically stay put; the debt is ‘secured’, so to speak, by the web of ongoing relationships that comprise village society. Coinage was first introduced in the kingdoms of Asia Minor around 600-500 BCE, and thence spread throughout the ancient Near East. Graeber asks, if a king wants precious metals, why would he bother minting coins, why not just use his army to seize the mines and own it all outright? The answer is that coinage solves the administrative problem of provisioning the king’s army. Although villagers exchange things amongst themselves on a quasi-gift basis, they are unlikely to do so with untrusted transients like soldiers. Soldiers are paid by the king in coins, and villagers have to pay taxes in coins to the king, so the villagers must accept coins from the soldiers in return for provisions. This development was recapitulated in recent centuries in the context of European capitalist colonization. Indigenous populations had to be induced to work in White-owned mines, plantations, etc. Outright enslavement was costly to maintain. So colonial administrators levied taxes on the indigenous populations, which had to be paid in currency. This forced indigenous populations into the money economy, serving as labour for colonial overlords and markets for European-manufactured goods. This is not to say that pre-modern societies uniformly lacked any notion of money, or sophisticated economies. Graeber scours world history, examining, for example, traditional economies of ‘honour’, where wealth is closely tied to men’s ability to sexually subjugate women. In ancient Ireland, for example, female slaves were used almost as an abstract unit of currency for the reckoning of debts and the quantification of wealth. Graeber has a lot more to say on a wide range of related topics, but I can’t summarize it all here. Basically he’s arguing against the idea of money as a commodity (i.e. that it has to be backed by precious objects like gold or silver), instead maintaining that it is simply the reification of a relation of debt. Like other social relations, debt can and should therefore be cancelled when it becomes harmful to the society.
0
0
7
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 01, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
Here is a short (14 minutes) video essay by journalist Chris Hedges, who pithily and candidly sums up many of the issues we've been discussing in Sh'mitah Class, regarding the spiritual malaise and idolatry (his word) of our economic system. https://youtu.be/lpk5WG-arRE
0
0
2
robert.m.kirchner
Jan 01, 2021
In Shabbat of the Earth
One convenient explanation is that shifts in the climate have to do with “human activity” or “humanity.” There is even a name used to describe this period of history—the Anthropocene, a proposed name for a new geological epoch. Carvalho of UNEP recently said, “Humanity must act with evidence-based urgency, ambition, and innovation to change the trajectory for this ecosystem.” Blaming “humanity” in general is far too vague. It fails to accurately point the finger where it must be pointed. Firstly, the term Anthropocene obscures the fact that it is the massive productive powers of capitalism that generated carbon emissions based on the use of fossil fuels. It is not some vague term such as Anthropocene that explains the explosion of carbon emissions, but it is the social formation called capitalism that is central to global warming. Secondly, since capitalism developed in an uneven way, with certain countries (the North) benefitting by use of force—what is called imperialism—these countries disproportionately benefited from the productive powers of capitalism. They have historically spewed the most carbon into the atmosphere and continue to do so on a per capita basis. Any policy that does not acknowledge the 1992 Rio formula of “common but differentiated responsibilities” will fail to see that while countries in Europe and North America benefitted and continue to benefit from fossil fuels, other places did not and do not benefit and, are yet, the most likely to be adversely impacted by rising temperatures. Thirdly, the most important impediments to change have not been “humanity” but the corporate power and the United States government that not only diluted the 2015 Paris Agreement but then refused to be bound by the tepid agreements. It is telling that countries such as Jamaica and Mongolia updated their climate plans to the United Nations before the end of 2020—as mandated by the Paris Agreement—although these countries produce a tiny fraction of global carbon emissions. The funds that were committed to developing countries for their participation in the process have virtually dried up while external debt has ballooned. This shows a lack of basic seriousness from the “international community.”
0
0
4
robert.m.kirchner
Dec 25, 2020
In Shabbat of the Earth
This is an article I wrote for a Quaker publication. It deals somewhat with Quaker history, but the larger issue is an analysis of what's wrong with capitalism, and what kind of alternative can we envision.
1
0
5
robert.m.kirchner
Nov 21, 2020
In Shabbat of the Earth
Marx and his disciples, for their own reasons, colluded in the conflation of capitalism with 'free market' ideology. Both Marxist and mainstream economists favoured economic concentration, in the hands of a socialist government, or in the hands of large corporations. So we've been told, from both the Marxist left and the capitalist right, that the only alternative to capitalism is a state-owned command economy. But an obvious alternative is a decentralized economy where people own and control their own businesses, either as sole proprietors or as members of workers' cooperatives. I'm happy to talk more about these ideas to anyone who is interested.
1
1
9
robert.m.kirchner
Nov 21, 2020
In Shabbat of the Earth
The topic of capitalism came up again last week. Forgive me if you heard this rant from me before, but this is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but often without clarity as to what the term means historically. It is often conflated with a 'free market'. But markets have existed throughout human history, wherever people have engaged in consensual transactions. Capitalism however is a specific historic development, arising in Western Europe over the course of the 16th to 19th centuries, and from thence imposed on the rest of the world. Its essence is the predominance of employer-employee relations in production. That is, a relatively small number of people own most of the productive capital (hence, 'capitalists' and 'capitalism'), and the rest of society mostly lives by selling their labour to the capitalists in return for wages, while the capitalists get to keep the profit of their employees' production. You may ask, how did this vastly unequal distribution of capital arise in the first place? The answer is, not through any free market mechanisms, but through massive violence and robbery, usually state-sponsored -- e.g. enclosures of common lands, the transatlantic slave trade, colonial conquest, and dispossession of indigenous peoples. The ideology of the 'free market' is something that capitalists use for propaganda purposes when it suits them, but they cast it aside when it gets in their way. In fact, in the early 20th century as big corporations were forming and centralizing markets on a national scale for the first time, the big-business capitalists and their apologists regularly denounced the chaos of the free market and called on government regulation to prevent the 'cutthroat competition' that prevented further consolidation. See the work of historian Gabriel Kolko.
1
0
8
robert.m.kirchner
Nov 20, 2020
In Shabbat of the Earth
This article makes a point that I've long felt: our society is in a deep mass psychosis. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/11/20/i-am-greta-isnt-about-climate-change-its-about-the-elusiveness-of-sanity-in-an-insane-world/
1
0
6
robert.m.kirchner
Nov 17, 2020
In General Discussions
This forum is cool. The question on my mind for tonight is this: rather than thinking about a literal return to sh'mitah observance, what actions can we take today that bring us closer to both social justice and ecological sanity?
0
0
8
R

robert.m.kirchner

More actions