michaeljohnson's blog

Please, for the sake of our movements, some humility and self-criticism.

Every movement for social change involves  long periods of great frustration that can even lead to despair as well as sudden moments of breakthrough opportunities that spur hope and confidence. Unfortunately these moments of breakthrough also produce star-struck fantasies of unrealistic expectations. Such fantasies and mis-visions are a major way we shoot ourselves in the feet. Often, even, shoot our feet off.

"It's you, it's me, it's us."
 

This blog is connected to TTC 6, which I posted yesterday.

I am watching a PBS series of short documentaries on Shakespeare called Shakespeare Uncovered. They are really good. They are opening up his mind and his writing to me as never before. Also showing how dramatic writing can be more powerful and more precise than my didactic prose.

With cold, clear eyes and a warm, loving heart.

We embody our culture. Each of us in our unique way.

Our culture is many things in many complex ways. One of them is that it is very oppressive.

MOVEMENTS MOVING TOGETHER  6.

When I try to explain what solidarity (or social or social-solidarity) economics is all about to someone who has never heard of it, I often ask them to imagine a rainforest, those awsome ecosystems that are often called such things as "incubators of life" and "lungs of the planet."  I quote from Wikipedia to help them make their picture:

THE EVERGREEN EXPERIMENT.

GEO recently posted a link to a must-read article on the Evergreen experiment in Cleveland: Can the Co-ops Save Us. It’s a must-read because it is an excellent piece of journalism by Steve Friess that reports on the financial and economic side of the experiment, its warts and its roses.

The Marriage of Abuse and Vulnerability.

The title comes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I don’t know if his theme relates to the theme of “two under-cultures” or not. The title does relate, however, at least superficially.

One thing I use my blog for is to think about themes that I think are strategically critical for the success of democracy movements. Recently I have been focusing on empowerment of ordinary people. Below I kind of sketch out the main lines I have been thinking along.

The idea to start a series of blogs on this theme came to me as I read a blog from a friend who is exploring what’s going on in Palestine. The story she tells in her blog is very moving. Great example of ordinary people empowering themselves. And she writes well. I urge you to read it.

I think we are in rather desperate need of a sharp, rigorous cooperative/empathic economics that goes after this kind of thing with intellectual brutality and compassion for all of us struggling with love relationships:

Sexual Behavior as Predicted by a Social Exchange Model: Three Tests of Sexual Economics

TRANSPARENCY AND TRUST                                                                                                

In this series of blogs I am developing a narrative about how we maintain and change ourselves and our cultures. Here’s the core of it (taken from the first in the series):

In this series of blogs I am developing a narrative about how we maintain and change ourselves and our cultures. Here’s the core of it (taken from the first in the series):

This may be a challenge to read. It’s unusually long, but particularly because the first part gets a bit dry and conceptual. However, I share an intense story to bring that to life, and then I reflect on that story.

IN PRAISE OF BRENÉ BROWN  

Blame and punishment head toward destructive outcomes. Empathy and loving move toward creation. The first are grounded in an relational under-culture of scarcity and fear; the second, in a relational under-culture of abundance and basic goodness. Both of these relational under-cultures are intertwined within every individual I have known (whatever their original culture), within every situation I have been in, within every social change movement I identify with, in every historical event I have read about.

INTERNAL OPPRESSION. 

Three keys to that ‘other world’ we know is possible: empathy, sane rationality, and compassion. Empathy is our biological capacity that enables us to get another in their reality. That other includes everyone and everything, human and non-human. Empathy gives rationality the gut-level information it needs to make sane decisions, to keep it from running amok. It makes compassion—the deep caring for someone or something you have gotten—possible.

In MMT 2 I identified four key questions confronting any effort to bring autonomous democratic movements together. In MMT 3 I discussed the first one, and here I want to get into the second one, on which I think the whole game rides.

We did some crazy stuff in the 60s, but here's one for the books:

Burglars Who Took On F.B.I. Abandon Shadows

SENSITIVITY.   That "other world" that we know is possible becomes realized much more by our becoming its people than by the projects and institutions we create on that journey. We create from what we are far more than from what we think we should be. And we create stuff outside us to help us become more aligned with what is possible. So let us focus on our projects and institutions emerging and developing out of our continually becoming more cooperative and democratic beings, not from who we are now.

Floating like a butterfly and humming like a mockingbird                                                                                                                                                              

Here's one reflection on the first of the four questions I identified in Movements Moving Together 2:

michael johnson

FOUR IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

What I am trying to do in this series of Movements Moving Together (MMT) blogs is think out loud about how movements that want to advance democracy more deeply and broadly into our cultures can work together in this multi-century project that is probably in its 3rd century at this point.

Here’s a short TED talk that might send you off wondering about empathy and compassion.

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