Cultivating Independent Opinion

“Governments [and corporations] create all this fear. They have constituted themselves protectors of the people, and the people are no longer self-reliant but depend upon the Government and expect it to protect them… Throughout the World today, the direction of education is in the hands of Governments [and corporations]. The teaching given in the schools is controlled by them. The result is that there is no public opinion– that is to say no independent opinion. What is called democracy is a democracy only in name. Everywhere people have the right to vote. Nevertheless, real [political & economic] power remains in the hands of a few and it is assumed that whatever they do is right. They create “public opinion” and then take their stand upon it… The problems of the people should be solved by the people themselves in their own strength.”– Vinoba Bhave



Namaste beloved siblings satyagrahis citizens of the World!

May this message find you equanimous and fearless.

State Violence Against Children (in the UK and across the Planet)

As many of you might noticed, the ripples of insurgent learning are all over our Pale Blue Pearl. The reaction of some administrations are particularly disturbing. With our fearless hearts full of love, let’s ride this violent wave and uncover the real interests of the totalitarianism of corporate capitalism death machine once and for all: a heartless system controlled by a few people willing to point guns at students and to charge them with horses for profit sake.


It is time to stop this madness with courage and love. The first step towards healing is to recognize the disease. Many of us are still in denial. This system is broken and we need a new one that celebrates not mediocrity, submission and death but creativity, learning and life. Let’s use these stories to raise awareness among the “general public” and to persuade more “neutral” people to join our efforts to liberate public spaces and transform public learning. Here are some articles I found useful to spread the word:


  • This article from a fellow journalist caught in the middle of evident state violence against children.
  • And a 7 minute video + article from the Guardian with a fearless satyagrahi making a stand around an “abandoned police van.”
It is clear to me, that the “abandoned patrols” are a setup to justify police violence. Do you remember how the huge AC Transit bus “got stuck” very conveniently in the middle of Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, during the March 4th civil disobedience actions? We creatively overcome the provocation and continued to walk on the streets towards Oakland and the FREEway. I also recognize that while violence is impractical and immoral, sometimes it is the only way some of us find to bring attention to a dramatic conflict that has been ignored. Or as sister Laurie puts it:


“I’m worried that today, those children feel like they’ve done something wrong, when they are, in fact, the only people in the country so far who’ve had the guts to stand up for what’s right.”


The challenge is: how to raise awareness of silly setups and state violence, without pacifying the conflict by discouraging those who have been willing to express their anger? Well, that’s the nonviolent (true) anarchist way: to channel all that energy toward constructive purposes–the new system we are co-creating–and to courageously step up for our collective dignity. As a very close brother said:


“Easy to condemn the violence of the students at Millbank, while accepting the violence of everyday life and economic slavery. LEARNING IS NOT A COMMODITY. The real vandalism is not a few Millbank windows broken but ~£9000 fees destroying the hopes of so many young people going to university.”


What if we use resources not to build nuclear weapons as the University of California does, not to bailout the bankers with ~30 trillion dollars, not to build drones to kill human beings as if it were a video game, not to finance the wars in the parts of the Planet we call Iraq and Afghanistan with ~10 trillion dollars… what if we use all these resources to invest in public learning, health care, permaculture and restorative justice?


Police Harassment in Berkeley

One of the reasons I’m still around on this part of the Planet we call the U.S. is because I used the 4th & 5th amendments: our right to remain silent** (not to mention the unconditional love of dear family members calling Arpaio’s jail every single hour of the kidnap). We are not telling lies to jailers or police officers. We are choosing, respectfully, to not speak with them (at least until they leave that miserable job). It requires a certain level of inner strength to ask the agents to leave our homes –always putting human dignity first, for them and for us– but I encourage us all to practice. We did it in Arizona and, at some degree, it works. We practice with daily labor workers by using Popular Theater (ala UCMeP) to be ready for the occasion. We all might want to practice with our housemates/roommates. It gives us a power they cannot take from us. And it actually backfires at them. Ask for their names and ID numbers. Video tape them! Take pictures, so that next time they think twice before harassing students at their homes on Thanksgiving.

I’d be delighted to be part of some sort of Theater Street Mob + “Community Justice Team” to compassionately confront these agents with uncontrolled minds. It is time to put a fierce mirror on their face to let them see how ugly it is what they are doing.
What’s the alternative? For those of you around the Bay Area I invite you to do some research/work around UniTierra Califas and the Autonomus University of the Mission…


Please let me know how I can be of service.
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
Undocumented and unafraid,
Pancho
PS: ** After all, all those silent Mondays paid off…😉

About Pancho

To live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify humanity.
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4 Responses to Cultivating Independent Opinion

  1. Pingback: Cultivating Independent Opinion | Earthling Opinion « Parents 4 democratic Schools

  2. somikraha says:

    As a big fan of Pancho and Pancho-anarchism, I stand a little confused by your piece. It will be great if you can provide some clarity to the following:

    1. Did Vinoba actually include corporations or was that your correction of his omission?

    If it was the latter, then some follow-ups …

    2. I looked up the word “corporation” on Merriam-Webster just to be sure I understood what that word meant. The first meaning that came up was “a group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild.” As far as I know, such guilds have existed ever since trade has existed. The second meaning was “a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.” As far as I know, this too has existed for a while now, especially during Vinoba’s time. My question then is why Vinoba made such a massive omission in his criticism? Did something change dramatically since 1982 (the year of his passing)?

    3. The passage that you’ve quoted, without the correction, seems to me as a call for a removal of coercion in society in the name of public service, public goods, etc. The last line of Vinoba is potent – put another way, he seems to be saying, “Leave people alone to solve their own problems and stop meddling in their affairs.” Vinoba was not a person to advocate indifference. And yet, this message. I’ve found the same refrain in Gandhi’s writings in “Hind Swaraj or Self-Rule.” Why would two people who cared so deeply about others and constantly served others advocate leaving people alone when it came to government? What were they thinking?

    4. The reason I bring all this up is that I believe you are doing something very important – you are challenging the foundation of things that are taken for granted. In such an undertaking, my biggest lesson from Gandhi has been his attempt to see the full picture. Even when India was burning with all kinds of angry movements against abuse by landlords on the landless, Gandhi refused to be violent, and he saw the good of working together with landowners. He opposed Ambedkar (one of the key voices who shaped India’s constitution), who was saw the landowners as an exploitative force, much like the corporations of today. In perhaps the best tribute to Gandhi, Ambedkar criticized the man as follows, in a book titled Gandhi: The Enemy of the Harijans:

    Mr. Gandhi does not wish to hurt the propertied class. He is even opposed to a campaign against them. He has no passion for economic equality. Referring to the propertied class Mr. Gandhi said quite recently that he does not wish to destroy the hen that lays the golden egg. His solution for the economic conflict between the owners and the workers, between the rich and the poor, between the landlords and the tenants and between the employers and the employees is very simple. The owners need not deprive themselves of their property. All they need do is to declare themselves trustees for the poor. Of course, the trust is to be a voluntary one carrying only a spiritual obligation.

    Ambedkar scoffed at this and felt it was unrealistic, and a revolution was needed. Indeed, until Vinoba undertook Bhoodan, it would have been hard to believe.

    On the other hand, China followed Ambedkar’s logic and went for violent revolution. As many landowners as possible were killed, and their land was given to the landless. Since the landless didn’t know what to do with it, the government took it back and the landless became landless again, with 20 years of a devastated economy. Although I support Vinoba and Gandhi’s position from an intrinsic value standpoint, even if I were to look at it solely from the perspective of prudential value, the evidence by far supports their approach over Ambedkar’s.

    • Pancho says:

      Namaste dear beloved hermano Somik and CF-ideas family!🙂

      May this email find you absorbing all the collective wisdom around us.

      Mr. Raha dislikes my approach to corporations… ha! ;o) [I just read the back and forth between Chopra and Shukla and also the Gates and Ridley exchange. These brothers really need to be in the same room, share a hot meal and hug before any further intellectual replies. Immature people tend to emphasize trivial differences instead of important likenesses.]

      I really enjoy your feedback hermano, and I am enjoying even more the way I am learning from you. As a fierce mirror, I’m not surprised to notice that I’m also a big fan of hermano Somik and your superb analysis and decision skills🙂

      I’ll try to do my best to provide some (intrinsic)light with the intention to increase your questions to keep learning together.

      1. Did Vinoba actually include corporations or was that your correction of his omission?

      Is Science a process? Is the spiritual practice a process or is it static? How are Science and the soul combined in the evolution of consciousness?

      I see it more as a contribution/adaptation rather than a correction. If the contribution/adaptation is proven to be untruth, let it die.

      2. …Corporation: “a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.” As far as I know, this too has existed for a while now, especially during Vinoba’s time. My question then is why Vinoba made such a massive omission in his criticism? Did something change dramatically since 1982 (the year of his passing)?

      What are the implications of the fall of the Berlin Wall? How is NAFTA and the uprising of the Zapatistas related? How the perspective of humanity was changed since the first discovery of an extrasolar planet? What is “the Web”? and who are those punks of Charity Focus whose influence has change my life forever?😉

      One should reconsider perpetually one’s reasons for doing something, because it might be that the circumstances have changed. I understand that the intrinsic values might be the same –nonviolence, self-reliance and fearlessness are as old as the hills!– but the systemic conditions are always changing. Every moment is a new moment in which we can contribute from collective intelligence to collective wisdom. Anicca Anicca Anicca!🙂

      3. The passage that you’ve quoted, without the correction…

      Nowadays, how do corporations play a role in “public education”? When virtual private entities attack the foundations of learning for profit sake, and these entities are protected by legaloid tricks–systemic games supported by governments that benefit 1% of the 1% of humanity– how do we connect the dots? How Novartis Corporation (Syngenta, the GMO sister of Monsanto), Bechtel (nuclear weapons) and BP–British Petroleum– (biofuels) are related —here, here and here— with one of the most prestigious public universities on the Planet, as the University of California Berkeley? How the real threat to share corporate secrets will change the relationships among governments, corporations and the people?

      …seems to me as a call for a removal of coercion in society in the name of public service, public goods, etc. The last line of Vinoba is potent – put another way, he seems to be saying, “Leave people alone to solve their own problems and stop meddling in their affairs.” Vinoba was not a person to advocate indifference. And yet, this message. I’ve found the same refrain in Gandhi’s writings in “Hind Swaraj or Self-Rule.” Why would two people who cared so deeply about others and constantly served others advocate leaving people alone when it came to government? What were they thinking?

      🙂

      I don’t know but my feeling is that they were looking for self-reliance and autonomy. Nai Talim or New Education was a pragmatic idea that Gandhi started working on since he was in the part of the Planet we call South Africa. His fundamental idea was to have an “ideal society consisting of small, self-reliant communities with his ideal citizen being an industrious, self-respecting and generous individual living in a small cooperative community.” Later, Vinoba develop the idea further as a means of social transformation. He often said:

      “We should have to unlearn much of what we had learned, and start afresh.”

      “A new ideology of education based on justice, cooperative endeavour, productive work and respect for human individuality, is a most powerful guarantee of peace, justice and humanity. It should be continued whatever the political changes.”

      When any of these intrinsic values are attacked by a government [or a corporation ;-)], our responsibility–as satyagrahis– is to ask our selves: how do we equanimously respond to embrace love and truth to foster our collective dignity? Once we know the answer we must act. Courage is contagious.

      4. The reason I bring all this up is that I believe you are doing something very important – you are challenging the foundation of things that are taken for granted. In such an undertaking, my biggest lesson from Gandhi has been his attempt to see the full picture. Even when India was burning with all kinds of angry movements against abuse by landlords on the landless, Gandhi refused to be violent, and he saw the good of working together with landowners. He opposed Ambedkar (one of the key voices who shaped India’s constitution), who was saw the landowners as an exploitative force, much like the corporations of today…

      🙂 I hear you hermano our means are our ends. Violence is just the manifestation of the conflict. The challenge is how to raise awareness of state/corporate structural violence, without pacifying the conflict by discouraging those who have been willing to express their anger? Anger is an emotion that forgot how to breath, it is a way to poorly address a conflict, however, it is better than indifference and cowardliness. Gandhi was very clear on this:

      “My creed of nonviolence is an extremely active force. It has no room for cowardice or even weakness. There is hope for a violent man to be some day nonviolent, but there is none for a coward.”

      “Personally, I would like the Congress, as I would like the whole world, to accept nonviolence as the law of life in every department, social, political and domestic. But there is no room for cowardliness.”

      Regarding to see the full picture… it is not that I’m advocating for violence against the people who work for corporations/governments, at all. They are our brothers and sisters too, and they need our service more than anybody on this Planet. I don’t know if there is a more dramatic and sad thing than spiritual poverty. Those are the poorest of the poor. We know that the third way, nonviolence, is the superb way to address conflict and achieve harmony with them. We must win their hearts with our unearned pain.

      So as you, beloved hermano Somik, I had many realizations since the first time I read Hind Swaraj up in the branches of a now-gone Redwood tree. Since that day, I’ve been making the following analogy, in my mind and heart, about independence: the British were to Indians as (most) Corporations are to the Earth Community. The difference is that the people who work for the vicious corporations/governments are part of the Earth Community too. They cannot “Quit Earth” but they can “Quit The System, Join Us.”

      What does corporate personhood mean? How does it look like? Should not education be independent of government/corporate authority? Should it not be a natural function of a responsible local society? What did we do once we knew? Some responses of the Earth Community here.

      I am not against the people who work in corporations. I am against their rule. Corporations are not persons. So far, they are virtual entities with lack of accountability. That’s why I am against some of them and I’m happy to know that because of some bottom-up pressure, now there is a new animal called B Corp.

      There is a good deal of unlearning to be done.

      It is an honor to be part of this kind and courageous insurgent learning.

      I love you hermano Somik not because of the awesome questions and analysis you always provide, but because who you are.

      I love you all and I look forward to seeing many of you tonight at Wednesdays. This corporation of Wednesdays, I do love!!!🙂

      In radical love,
      Pancho

  3. somikraha says:

    Hermano,

    No doubt on our shared values, so I will take the liberty to continue to focus only on the minor differences, which I think can be resolved. The points are very few, and, needless to say, I am in agreement with most of the other things that you’ve written.

    First, I don’t dislike your approach on corporations, but given that you are on such an important mission, the best service I can render is to help you polish the edges.🙂

    #1 was a clarification question, and I certainly agree with you that we are at liberty to evolve.🙂 Just wanted to check who I would be directing my questions to. (Thankfully, it was you).

    #2 – I agree with whatever you’ve said. It is true that some things are always changing. At the same time, it is also true that some things don’t change very much😉. I find it hard to believe that people are any more selfish now than they used to be 20 years back. Basic human nature has always seen the entire spectrum. Whenever people give voice to their negative qualities, other people counter it by giving voice to their positive qualities, and vice versa. I think Vinoba and Gandhi recognized this very deeply and were politically engaged as well, while being rooted in spirituality. For these reasons, I hesitate to regard their stance as an omission, or that the times have changed dramatically to call for a revision.

    #3 – My objection to your comments on corporations is not around the veracity of your examples. Indeed, corporations have done a lot of harm. My objection is on completely ignoring the majority of the corporations who have done a lot of good, and believing that there is only one type of corporation. The problem is related to how we make inferences, and is given a term – “availability bias.” If corporations don’t do anything wrong, no newspaper will print “Today, this corporation did not steal, did not bribe, did not kill.” On the other hand, if they did any of these three things, that would be news. Our brains are wired in such a way that when we see the exception all the time, we start to think of it as the norm. Most people think there’s so much violence in the world. When you and I meet on a Wednesday to meditate, it does not make the news (except for the iJourney comments perhaps🙂. Why? No one died, no one was hurt, people had a good time and worked on themselves. In summary, we often make the big mistake of treating the absence of evidence as the evidence of absence. We need to understand this about our nature and debias ourselves.

    However, your objection to corporations merits further inquiry. All the ones you mentioned come into a special category. They are all in fields that are highly regulated – which means, to do their business, they will hire lobbyists in Washington. All businesses that are tightly coupled with regulation are the ones that have the highest incentive to lobby and bribe. We don’t realize this and make things much worse, when, instead of asking to level the playing field, we ask for more regulation. The very fact that these businesses have emerged and have had so much freedom to do what they do is, I believe, the result of our society’s bad karma – not only did we help them setup shop with more regulation, we also ensured with our insistence that those who want to do good have little hope of entering the field with such a high regulatory bar. I’ve tried to explain this here.

    #4 – You write: So as you, beloved hermano Somik, I had many realizations since the first time I read Hind Swaraj up in the branches of a now-gone Redwood tree. Since that day, I’ve been making the following analogy, in my mind and heart, about independence: the British were to Indians as (most) Corporations are to the Earth Community. The difference is that the people who work for the vicious corporations/governments are part of the Earth Community too. They cannot “Quit Earth” but they can “Quit The System, Join Us.”

    This is the only other thing I have strong reservations on. When the British left India, it was exactly as Gandhi had predicted – the color of governance changed from white to brown. That’s all. We got independence, but not freedom. Today, Kashmir is burning in India, and the Kashmiris, who have learned little from India’s independence, are making the same mistake – asking for independence instead of freedom. As you well know, Gandhi wrote in Hind Swaraj, in very unparliamentary language, what he thought of the government structure of the West, and he thought it would be a curse upon India to follow that. We did exactly the opposite of what he proposed. Nehru, 10 years after independence, noted that India had lost its way, and maybe he should have followed Gandhi’s ideas. It would be a mistake to think that I am condoning the British rule in India. On the contrary, I am arguing that what we ended up with is much worse, notwithstanding all of the India shining rhetoric.

    There’s no question that a lot of work can be done and needs to be done. And there is no doubt in my mind that if any of this work involves coercion, it will backfire, no matter how noble we believe it is. My hope is that any proposed revolution or evolution rests primarily on a voluntary, non-coercive foundation. Only when we have reached the stage of non-coercion, can we begin to talk about manifesting ahimsa in our social structures.

    Love you too, Pancho!

    Regards,
    Somik

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