As we had discussed, Nadia and I set out on a tour of some San Antonio permaculture sites. The tour began at 9, just south of downtown. The building was eye catching, with colorful paintings on the northern wall. I parked right in front of this large mural and took a moment to examine it.
I walked around front to see what was happening. Nadia had not arrived yet, so I walked by the building, which was apparently closed up. The gate to the left of the door was inviting, but also closed. In the yard behind was a beautiful garden and a few small structures. Definitely an interesting project.
It wasn’t long before I heard the door open and someone came out to greet me. It was Brian, who worked at the site. Brian opened the gate and we went in. He showed me the gardens, the work shed, the outdoor kitchen and the hang out area. He told me about Roots of Change, which was affiliated with the Southwest Workers Union. A very populist sort of movement, it seemed, with focus on helping people, raising standards of living, furthering education, and urban renewal. Permaculture is a wonderful tool for all of these things, and I enjoyed seeing a more social application of permaculture. Their grounds were not well suited for food production for a whole community, but they displayed clever arrangement of useful plants amidst landscaping also suited for groups of people hanging out and eating.
Politically, the vibe was definitely left-leaning, with perhaps the biggest tell-tale being the portrait of Che on the main mural wall. A contentious issue, that man. I loved the movie Motorcycle Diaries, and I always understood Che Guvarra to have been a revolutionary hero, until it was brought to my attention that he created a regime that was murderous and vile like all the rest of them. A zealous warrior becoming a dictator? Say it ain’t so!
Sadly, all too often it is so. Reading into guys like Lenin, Trotsky, Che, or Castro, you find that they were at some point idealists, who championed a cause they believed in. I seriously doubt they intended to oppress humanity when they started out. The men they became once they had power and the policies they would create, reveal the risk of an idealistic revolution taking up arms and occupying office.
The ideal we are striving for, we who wish for revolution, is a peaceful society, free from any kind of oppression. A world where none use violence to dominate. This vision is a simplification. The reality is much more complicated, and it seems to work better when we split off into sub groups, much like we see in Protestant Christianity. We’re not all going to agree on the same rules. We need to organize ourselves into communities that have general agreement about how administer a society where none (not even the administrators) may use initiatory violence. This means no forced collection of revenue, and no deployment of force against non-violent, victimless crimes.
I don’t think any of the communist revolutionaries worded their philosophies this way, or if they did, they did not follow this principle. If we had a revolution that was based on this ideal, would it go differently? Some of us would like to think so. It’s really not the slogans that have to change though. It’s human nature. Being a voluntaryist implies more than political opinion. True voluntaryism is a spiritual journey, of sorts. Inner work. We must find peace within ourselves before we can ever hope to create a society of peace. Many of us rail against tyranny, while implementing our little dictatorships in whatever capacity we are able. Our oppression is a program that we are all running, and taking out the saps sitting at the top of the whole mess changes nothing.
I think Che was probably an awesome warrior for freedom when he was younger, but he turned to the dark side and became a dictator. Sad story. Especially for the many people who were killed under his regime.
But this is our story. We’re living under oppression, and we are in many ways demanding that oppression. Our selfish, lazy, or addiction-guided choices are steering us right into the coral, and if we ever want to change course, we must cleanse our vessels and our minds, and then change our consumer choices.
That being said, I don’t think left/right, communist/capitalist arguments are very constructive. Agorism and Permaculture are better concepts on which to base a grassroots movement that could actually change the world. Rallies, slogans, protests and marches aren’t working. It’s time for real action to make things better. It won’t be as sensational, it won’t be overnight. It will just gradually transform our world, very subtly at first. We clean up our land, our towns, our homes and our lives. We simplify our consumer choices, localize our economic flow, and tune out the programming that connects us to our oppression. This is my perspective, and such has been my attempt in life for many years now.
Part of what results from dropping the divisive attitude is a deep appreciation of the many diverse ways in which people are organize to make a difference. There are so many brightly inspired people working on creative, world changing ideas. Part of my goal with Permagora is to find them and talk to them. I don’t care what flag they fly, so long as they are creating something beautiful and having a positive impact.
Many thanks to Brian for his informative tour, and to Nadia for guiding me to all these wonderful places. Roots of Change was the first stop on a day of permaculture site visits, and this series will include all of those, plus a permaculture project in San Marcos. Lots of great things are happening, and I’m happy to be bringing you the latest localization highlights. This is where the movement is taking place. In people’s neighborhoods, farms, and backyards. How we use the land is everything. Let’s use it well.