Las Indias in English

Towards a New World

las Indias Cooperative Group

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 80 ~ January 27th, 2015 ~ 6 ~ 4 15

Epicurus and Kinkade

kat kinkadeAfter reading Kat Kinkade‘s Is it Utopia Yet?probably the least understandable idea, from an Indiano point of view, would be her concept of open community. According to it, a community has a set of rules, and if you accept them, you can theoretically become a member.

utopia kat kinkadeAs a result, communitarian culture evolves not only through community experience and members’ contributions, but through the changing ideological profile of the different waves of newcomers. Kinkade wonders many times “how could we reach this point,” meaning how could the community absorb so much influence from “New Age” practices and evolve so far from its founding scientific approach to reality.

Indianos take part in an Epicurean communitarian tradition: the community is a “society” of friends. From the Epicurean point of view, friendship (fraternity) and knowledge are the central goals of community itself. So, you will accept and look for people you can become friends with. But you also will put another condition on them: to share basic common contexts, in order to be able to learn together. Consequently, community is something that happens within a cultural and philosophical common ground, not just a set of rules open to everybody.

Why “communities of friends” provide more diversity and freedom

cornucopia de floresAlso related to this Epicurean view, we think community must provide “abundance” in as many fields as possible. [Disclaimer: “abundance” means diversity, not overconsumption or waste.] In the book, there is a creepy Stalinist scene where the community censures the author for installing a microwave oven in Twin Oaks. It is not even an economic issue, the oven was a donation from a friend. Nobody intended to make it mandatory to use it. So, where was the problem? It was, from our point of view, an ideological problem: community took over individual needs, limiting individual action. Assembly artificially produced scarcity and homogenization.

From an Epicurean point of view, community cannot determine what anyone’s needs are, and cannot take sovereignty over individual or personal preferences. Egalitarianism never will work if it assumes everybody’s needs are the same. Each community use to have a characteristic consumption pattern because as we said before, they chose and were chosen within a similar culture, with similar values. But inside a common culture there will be still diversity. In an egalitarian community, there will inevitably be different consumption levels and particular preferences and tastes.

But, as a consequence of shared values and cultural practices, if people have this cultural common ground, everyone’s different needs will fit into the community budget without serious problems, as it happens in income-sharing couples and families all around the world every day. So, the famous “common bank account” can live perfectly well along with personal accounts without questioning the “community of goods,” with only one condition: individuals must commit not to save money in their bank accounts. Something similar happens in other “big” egalitarian communities as, in example, Nieder Kaufungen.

In conclusion

Could American egalitarianism discover interesting ideas in Epicurean communitarian traditions? I would guess so… and we would love to participate in any discussions with materials and thoughts.

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 80 ~ January 12th, 2015 ~ 8 ~ 1 57

A basic dictionary of the “Sharing Economy,” “Sharing Cities,” and communitarianism

cosas a compartir

“Sharing” is more than a trend: for some, it is the engine of their businesses, for others, the touchstone from which to design cities to live in; for some, a way of life. But in any case, it would be good to differentiate these three environments to understand what they really represent and their limits. We must not let the good feelings and words that really mean things end up being emptied and defrauding us.

Sharing as a commercial service = Sharing Economy

The boom in the “sharing economy” is a new dot-com boom. Making it possible for the people “share” objects and services through a platform has become a standard formula for investors, and hundreds of start-ups are presented as the “new Uber”. At the same time a basic criticism emerges more and more: the users share, but the the owners of the platform – the creators and investors – take a substantial part of the benefit created. New business models, like Sensorica or Enspiral propose alternative forms of distribution. But in the end, what are we talking about?

  • compartiendo en peer byCollaborative consumption. The name collaborative consumption refers to a set of practices that substitute or develop services for a community, region or collective through systems that let them share different resources. Among them, a web platform or app establishes the procedure and ways to do it, centralizing the participants around itself.
    • Co-consumption (shared consumption). Neighbors share objects and durable consumer goods that “aren’t worth the trouble to buy.” The best-known model to establish this kind of network would be “Peer by.”
    • Car-sharing. Clubs and businesses that rent cars by the hour or by mileage to a network of “associated” users that pay a small monthly fee. Originally, members of the network shared their cars with others that didn’t have one of their own, but scaling the model, especially with the appearance of giant businesses like “ZipCar,” led to the fleets being owned by the business. What’s original about the model consists of offering an alternative for regular and professional use of the car, as opposed to traditional rental businesses, which are centered on occasional and tourist use. On the other hand, Audi has recently begun to offer prepare buyers’ new cars for micro-car-sharing in its catalog, which seems to indicate a future where “adaptation for sharing” will be among the options for model of other brands.In some subsectors, like RVs, the original role of the platforms is maintained, and, like “Je Loué mon Camping Car,” mediate with a commission between RV owners and those who want rent them for vacations.
    • uberRide sharing (shared-cost travel). Businesses like “Blablacar” put travelers in contact, allowing them share vehicles and trip costs. A variation on this model is the polemical “Uber,” seen by taxi drivers as a form of unregulated competition.
    • Couch Surfing. (In Spanish, “hospitality services.”) Originally networks of private individuals who offered free accommodation in their houses, like “Pasporta Servo,” born twenty years before the web existed. Since becoming a commercial model, hand in hand with platforms like “Airbnb” or “Knok,” they have evolved into global online services of room or apartment rental between private individuals. Some platforms like “WWOOF” specialize in work exchange for accommodation.
    • eat withCo-dining. Platforms that allow that professional chefs or aficionados to organize dinners and thematic meals in private homes or txokos — never restaurants — for an established price. There are several businesses and many clubs with very similar models. An example would be “Eat with.”
    • Co-living. A model that started, initially non-commercially, when life-long “apartment sharing” added dynamics, activities and projects as part of the offer in the search for housemates, as in the example of “Rainbow Mansion.” It soon became a new form of real-estate business in which networks like “Embassy Network” make it possible for someone who has rented a coliving room enjoys a “right of use” in other houses in the network, using an online platform to make reservations and announce their stays.
  • coworkingCollaborative production. Services of collaborative production allow people and small organizations to share spaces, tools and skills in the development of products, services or commercial artwork.
    • Co-working. At the most basic level, sharing work space. Like other services, it began as a spontaneous form of collaboration between freelancers — who were building an environment and relationships — and businesses that were optimizing the use of office space and were building relationships. Soon, it made the leap to a real-estate business: everywhere, investors appeared who outfitted workspaces to share and added stimulus programs to facilitate networking and, in some cases, even help in the incubation of business ideas.
    • Co-design and co-creation. Platforms like “Sensorica” create spaces and provide tools for discussion and industrial design to different professionals who collaborate on the design and development of a product and finally participate of the results of its sale. A similar format has been explored by musicians and other artists, with platforms like “RedPanal.”
    • kickstarterCo-financing. Surely the most transformative facet of the “sharing economy.” If “Kiva” let thousands of people finance microenterprises in poverty zones with minimal management costs, “Kickstarter” allowed for the financing of projects of direct economy without their promoters having to commit to surrendering ownership. In fact, the “crowdfunding” model turns purchasing in advance and symbolic support into an alternative to funding as such through capital investment or a loan.

Sharing as a city model = Sharing Cities

car sharingAs we’ve seen, a good part of these services were born of groups of citizens with a genuine desire to share. When the models were consolidated, they were converted or adopted by businesses. But that was the evolution necessary? For many, it’s a legitimate question that coincides with criticism of the model “smart city,” understood by many as the corporate and controlling city model. From that conversation, the emergent concept of the “sharing city” would be born. This is about applying to the city what was learned from the “sharing economy” to achieve greater well-being with a more efficient use of public resources from the joint work of citizen groups, businesses and local administrations.

  • Shared transportation. The integration of car-sharing and bicycle rental on public transportation networks, following the Bremen model, is beginning to spread across both the USA and Europe.
  • Administration as citizen platform. Sharing services and consumer goods allows a more efficient use of resources and therefore reduces waste and its treatment and management costs. That’s what “Zero Waste,” waste-treatment business of South Australia’s government, thought, and so it launched “Share and Save.” It’s an open-source web platform that lists and geopositions all activities and citizen exchanges oriented to sharing all kinds of things.
  • guifi netServices and distributed infrastructures. These are movements that make real the possibility of creating abundance through participation and citizen collaboration in distributed networks. They have demonstrated their ability in matters as apparently difficult and costly as the generation of a free (libre) citizen telecommunications infrastructure on the guifi.net model — or renewable energy — somenergia.coop- where models and technological alternatives for distributed production are emerging.
  • The new urban commons. With the economic crisis, many city halls gave space to self-managed and open groups of citizens for all manner of social activities that were incorporated into public services. It’s a new urban “commons” of spaces and services that is taking the lead not only in entertainment-educational services — like urban gardens — but that also serve as a base for new municipal systems of citizenship co-management like accompanying senior citizens with volunteers, etc.

Sharing as a lifestyle = Communitarianism

Putting sharing at the center of life itself and not only of business or city models, has been, since Antiquity, the objective of the communitarian movement and the focus of its experience.

  • creando una vida juntosIntentional communities. Since the meaning of “community” is so different depending on the cultural and ideological context of the person using it, the concept of “intentional community,” born in the USA, has a certain bias that makes it difficult to comprehend outside of Anglo-Saxon culture. Generally, it is used for groups that, normally bound by a common social or religious ideology, and moved by the desire to live under under certain “community standards,” decide to build a town together, inhabit the same neighborhood, or share a house. This almost never means that they share ownership of the houses more than temporarily, and only on very rare occasions do they work together in a cooperative or businesses owned in common. At the center of the idea of the “intentional community” is “community standards,” values and rules of shared co-existence in a given place. The creators of this kind of community create them to live in accordance with them, and normally, the most important part of the foundation is the founders designing of the set of norms, neighborly practices, and decision-making systems that they will use in their coexistence. That is why it turns out to be clearer to separate “intentional communities” from the communities of shared economy.
    • rawnsley ecoaldea australiaCo-housing. A term (the English word is not translated in Spanish) that describes communities with services and facilities shared among homeowners. Influenced by the ideas of the German social-democratic theoretician August Bebel, since the beginning of the twentieth century, a part of social housing and housing cooperatives in Germany, Austria, Holland and other European countries begin to incorporate common services: kitchen, dining room, kindergarten, laundry room, etc.- as a way of building interaction and commitment between their members over time. The model endures up to today, having spread to the USA (where it took its current name) and shaped neighborhood buildings custom-designed to develop a community social life of their own.
    • ecoaldea en inglaterraEcovillages. A term that arose in the nineties to talk about settlements founded on “community standards,” whose objective is to minimize the environmental impact of the group. Ecovillages were created out of more or less sophisticated versions of housing cooperatives, with the group as a whole buying the lands, and later dividing it up among the members, normally after building a certain amount of basic infrastructure.
    • Thematic cities and towns. Beyond ecovillages, reconstructed or recovered towns, new settlements and even “experimental” cities like the famous “Auroville” in India or “Celebration,” the town created by Disney within their initiative called “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT), work under a similar model, which mixes private property with a rigid “internal constitution” that seeks to maintain the continuity and integrity of a given community experience.
  • Egalitarian communities. This is the name for communities that hold resources that sustain it in common, starting with the land, and including the facilities and the product of the labor of their members. The distribution is carried out jointly as a function of the needs of each of members. They are mostly ruled by decision-making systems based on consensus.
    • villa locomunaIncome-sharing communities. These are communities that share the ownership of housing — normally a large house, a building or a group of small buildings — in which members put their revenue into a common fund. Although this kind of community was born and became stable in Israel in the ’70s, it soon spread across Germany and the Nordic countries. Their members not only seek a community life, but completely mutualize life risks and create strong solidarity networks. The model spread to the US with the real-estate crisis, when groups of youth were able to buy buildings at a low cost and establish themselves in them.
    • Nieder KaufungenProductive communities. These are egalitarian communities that not only share their income, but also produce together. They are the product of the egalitarian European idea according to which the center of society, and therefore of social problems, is in production and in the manner in which things are produced. That’s why the idea of producing together — which means “learning together” — under a structure of shared responsibilities, distributing the result according to the needs of every one, is the common element of the communitarian model, which has been followed by egalitarian colonies of the nineteenth century, Israeli kibbutzim, and the large networks of European and American egalitarian communities of today.
      • hilado para las redes en Twin OaksAgrarian communities. The most widespread model in Germany and Austria, in the Francophone world, and USA. These are agrarian settlements that, while they have developed industry and services, like the famous Twin Oaks community in Virginia or Nieder Kaufungen in Germany, continue to have a strong agricultural component and their life, products and relationship with their surroundings are marked by being outside of big cities.
      • Urban communities. These were born at the beginning of the twenty-first century, associated with the development of cooperativism of new technological services and with the idea of phyle, first in the Spanish-speaking world and later in the US. In both places, they are groups born out of conversation on the Internet. They produce services and products of high value added linked to the green economy, the direct economy or P2P production. Over the long term, their social model is focused on building broader transnational networks with other agrarian and urban egalitarian communities, but also with cooperatives and small enterprises, to all together develop autonomous systems of social protection for their members.

Conclusion

Sharing is one of the values on the rise of the world that is coming out of the crisis. It informs the new business and city models, but also the new lifestyles and the objectives of the small groups and alternative models around which new ideas and ways of making things are catalyzed. But in any case, it’s good to be clear on what the possibilities and context of each of these facets are. Let’s make sure we don’t erode the meaning of the word, and with it, the trust and hope it transmits today.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

Carolina Ruggero

Carolina Ruggero 2 ~ January 8th, 2015 ~ 6 ~ 1 4

People or landscapes

Mapa del FuerteI don’t know many urban models. I grew up in a typical square one and then, when I was grown, I met medieval cities, with their concentric streets and walls.

A few months ago, visiting the Archeological Museum in Oviedo, I looked at the models of the fortified villages, with their walls, and I wondered what they defended themselves against. They defended themselves against the other fortified villages but, beyond being people of very violent habits, they defended themselves against scarcity.

CastroWhat is considered scarce at any moment shapes the places we choose to live: from ports to windows, from the gardens and public parks to basements, from the wide streets to a market or a storehouse.The air, the light, the views, isolation, overcrowding, bridges, the sewers, common lands, schools and workshops, all are part of our lifestyle, whether desired or imposed.

Ciudad utópicaCities often have limits that are both historical and natural, other times they can expand as far as the horizon allows. Speculation, the State, weather conditions, real powers, real communities… all are part of forming the city and the immediate perceptions we have of them. But what happens when there are real or imagined communities that swim up stream and try locate their lifestyle in accordance with the place where they live?

Status

countryCountry clubs, suburbs, gated communities… are all ways of organizing the territory in such a way that that public spaces belong to the homeowners or the companies that administrate them. However, their major objective is the to provide a certain social status to their neighbors, providing items that are considered scarce: a socially homogeneous community of neighbors, fresh air, security, isolation. Distinction.

Barrio cerradoIn some cities, the value of gated suburbs has came to mean so many things that there are even some that have the feel and layout of a poor neighborhood on the outskirts. Surely their inhabitants seek to differentiate themselves from their neighbors who live similarly but without a fence and a barrier in the doorway, maybe to feel a little closer to those in the same area who built neighborhoods with houses like something you’d see in a movie, with golf courses and swimming pools; neighborhoods where it’s the weekend every day of the year.

These neighborhoods grew out of a narrative of the search for more security (in any of the different definitions of the term), green space, peace and quiet, enjoyment and health, above all for the children. A kind of “back to basics” that the city doesn’t allow.

Is this not a similar narrative to ecovillages’ narratives?

ecoaldeaDoesn’t someone who decides go to live in an ecovillage also declare they are getting “back to basics” in a way that blames the city for denying us our values? Aren’t they also seeking distinction?

I’m mainly talking about the ecovillages that have practically the same real estate business model (which happen to be the majority), even if they swap pools for common gardens.

People or landscapes

From the most luxurious, exclusive or original private neighborhoods to the most untamed experiences, it seems that the goal is a landscape, a scene that coincides with a fantasy. Your neighbors will have that fantasy in common.

plano-nordeltaAs a member of the upper crust, you will look for matches with those want the same scenario for their lives, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a golf course or a common garden, that’s the point of contact. There is no common project, or shared objectives, only the need for distinction.

A different life project that does not include the variable “with whom will I move forward and how?” is just a search for a landscape. To leave the city, with the randomness of its common spaces and its neighbors, to build a fiction with people you decide to treat as equals because of their similar taste in pools or bricks, is less than a tourist experience, and is very different from projects between people who want to create alternative realities. Possible worlds.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 80 ~ January 3rd, 2015 ~ 8 ~ 0 101

Four bets on change that will come in 2015

manifestacion

  1. Bruce Sterling said back in 2002 that the new political movements that would reflect the social changes that were taking shape with the start of the century would have “passion for the vote.” In the English-speaking world, we had an advance this year with Loomio, and in our cultural surroundings, with the release of the code of Democracia OS. But things are already moving politically and socially with the founding of Podemos and the debates on how to create mass online participation.

    Bet 1 2015 will be the year hundreds of municipalities start up the first systems of citizen co-government using the Internet.

  2. We began 2014 with mandatory single servings of olive oil, a law that sought transfer rents from small producers and restaurants to oil multinationals. The cherry on top of the electric reform was to make us pay big electric companies for the solar energy we produced ourselves, and we closed 2014 with the AEDE tax and the government saying that “the Government created the legislation just the way the editors of the mass media proposed it.” In 2015, things will be clear even to the most blind: the only future project Big Business is capable of in our day is trying to capture more and more rents through the State. Imagination is only useful for feeding a self-interested nationalism in which, at best, innovation means that multinationals get grants to compete against the young and the innovative.

    Bet 2 With this narrative and this political collusion, Big Business will become even more unpopular in 2015. The startup narrative will go from an uninspiring media mantra to being denounced as pure and simple speculation in jobs.

  3. In contrast, the technological revolution is moving more than ever. If it doesn’t seem to fascinate the major media any more, that’s because what interests them and what they support are technologies that recentralize power, especially economic power. They give the cold shoulder, and sometimes bared fangs, to new technologies and social practices that redistribute power. But, even though there’s no hype, these things are unstoppable. With the pioneers of the direct economy maturing and opening factories in the middle of industrial desertification, the idea of crisis of scale will become part of social debate, and industrial policies driven by citizen participation will focus on new models of production.

    Bet 3 If last year was the year of collaborative consumption, this will be the year of the emergence of a direct economy that brings the industrial world closer to the P2P mode of production.

  4. In an environment of alternative reflections and P2P movements, if in 2014 the rise of Syriza and Podemos served to show that a change of scene was starting to happen in Europe, 2015, with the forseeable electoral triumphs of “new Left,” will bring the focus back towards what that scenario allows. The P2P Foundation will go into greater depth with its “Open Coop” model with allies like the CICand its own interpretation of the phyle, initiatives born at the periphery of the Anglo-Saxon world like Enspiral and Sensorica wll turn platform models that serve as an interface between the market and hacker networks and SMEs into a “replicable system.” Meanwhile, our own, dear Anĉovoligo will continue growing and organizing networks and activities after its debut last October.

    Bet 4 In 2015, the topic among activists and researchers of P2P and other alternative models will not be theoretical debate, but rather in the practical organization of networks and little transnational “clusters” of cooperatives and P2P collectives with a view to creating a space productive of their own, a phyle. We will likely see — and have — big slip-ups and many attempts that come to nothing, but also the first seeds of a new kind of networks that are able to “take care of” their members beyond sporadic solidarity.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

0 101

María Rodríguez

María Rodríguez 8 ~ December 27th, 2014 ~ 1 ~ 0 12

Christmas is when a new world begins

mirando el futuroWhen the time arrives to come together to celebrate the winter Solstice, the Nativity of the Lord, or the birth of Mithra, when we prepare to send congratulations and good wishes by letter, e-mail, or instant messaging, we inadvertently make a balance, an update of the “database” of the nodes of our year: How some of the bonds have strengthened or weakened, how new friends have emerged, or how the connections with others that we had temporarily lost have regained their strength.

día de la ancovoligo gijónThis year in las Indias this exercise was very special. 2014 has been a year of discoveries and rediscoveries. It all started with our search for an interesting life, a search responding to the need to confront the discourses of irresponsibility, and to better appreciate the value of the “ethos” that makes possible the autonomy and individual initiative without which there is no prospect of community or change. As Alan wrote in last year’s editorial, we were aiming for:

looking into the past in order to rescue ways of living that inspire questions whose answers sow the seeds of conversation in our environment.

Thus we stumbled onto Gionvanni Vella and his invention of the anchovy as we know it. A story of love, adventure, and travel, whose moral was clear: exchange, the floating population, roads, and routes, either for trade or pilgrimage, are the real articulators of growth and progress.

nealFrom the “ethos,” the celebration of a way of being, we were transitioning towards finding ways of doing. And indeed, that post was the birth of the Anĉovoligo, a project that, by definition, had to come from the union of many. So we started to travel, to meet new people, and rebuilding our connection with those we already knew. It was a beautiful itinerary that took us from Paris to Murcia, from Bordeaux to Tarragona, from Bilbao to Coruña, from Gdansk to Toulusse, from Rio de Janeiro to Tbilisi. Always cities, never countries. And at the center of the new road was Gijón, where we found those who felt Gionvanni Vella’s curiosity and concern, and wanted to share the excitement of building a new world.

Among those new connections we now have once more large organizations as consulting customers, with whom we have spent much time and have learned a lot. But the new knowledge is coming to us from new places.

New views for a new year

Paul BlundellIn the process of carrying out a critical gaze “inward,” Paul’s visit allowed us to discover a whole world of egalitarian communities in which we find many of our own experiences reflected. This new line of work was soon complemented by the work and hours of conversation with Bié and Diana, who gave us new clues to understand what they call the “community experience.”

Still more important for our view of the market and the world, the Anĉovoligo made us start to rethink the relationship between collaborative consumption, direct economy, and p2p production. The latter has been (and is being) a big step, because as always, we the Indianos always experience firsthand before proposing anything to anyone else, and the jump into new scales and activities implies having to learn and experiment more than ever.

Towards a new world

arbuinoSo starting today, the subtitle of the blog will change in all our pages from “An interesting life” to “Towards a new world,” because our next year will be spent exploring the new world of production that we are just starting to figure out.

We are on Christmas Eve. The day in which the Sun itself teaches us what resilience is all about. Out there, in the increasing cold of a society with more than a few symptoms of decay, there are also signs and movements in the background that aim for change. A change that will be productive and give new prominence to the community, or simply won’t be. That’s why tonight, this year, Christmas is, perhaps a bit more than usual, a special and particularly valuable moment, because Christmas is when a new world begins.

Translated by Alan Furth from the original in Spanish.

Natalia Fernández

Natalia Fernández 11 ~ December 26th, 2014 ~ 8 ~ 2 4

2015: The year in which you will change your wristwatch and start using a bowtie

e-tie SonyNext year Sony will market FES, its first electronic-paper smartwatch, through a spin-off company, Fashion Enterteinment.

Fes watch faceThe release comes in the wake of stagnant 2013-2018 sales forecasts for e-books. With this new product Sony seeks to maintain the production of electronic paper and use their advantages to launch a differential product in the “wrist devices” niche. Electronic ink is slower when refreshing the screen, but for that same reason it allows greater autonomy, so there are talks about up to 60 days without recharging. The material is flexible, super-light, ultra-thin, and comfortable on the skin. One of the most striking features of the FES is its design. A minimalist framework with customizable patterns, textures, and finishes for the bracelet. Also, a DIY kit could be launched next year, making it the ideal product for lovers of both watchmaking and technology.

Makuake Fes watch partyHowever, as promising as it seems, the product started as a test project for Sony. That’s why they used a second brand, and published the device in a crowdfunding platform to assess the response from potential users. As the head of communications for the project said, “we hid the Sony brand because we wanted to test the real value of the product, whether there would be demand for our concept.” And there is.

FES has tripled its financial objectives, and over 150 people will receive their first watch next May.

The year in which you will go back to using a bowtie

In view of the results, the company decided to invest in the development of a new type of device: fashion accessories. A line that is casual, fashionable, collectable, and targeted for a young segment that even if not able to change their mobile phones all too often, are willing and able to complete their look with techie accessories.

Sony designers must certainly be enjoying this new challenge. Bowties, brooches, shells, and even lingerie, are some of the protypes that the company has shown to the public.

Once the art of producing electronic paper has been mastered, the rest is a matter of imagination. Next season we will see much more than books.

Translated by Alan Furth from the original in Spanish.

María Rodríguez

María Rodríguez 8 ~ December 18th, 2014 ~ 6 ~ 0 1

Band of Brothers and the sense of belonging

In the study of human relations according to Adler, and of the formation of so-called intentional communities, it is interesting to note those that arise “accidentally,” but that nonetheless are still authentic communities. This is not the case of the traditional family, which despite being a non-intentional community (children do not choose to be part of that community) has a will for union and is based on a communal culture. We are talking about communities that arise as the result of union against adversity.

Easy-CompanyAnd as we are in times of rain, hail, snow, and evenings that invite telethons, let’s remember a jewel of 2001, “Band of Brothers,” again by HBO, co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, where we can see examples of community-building and many of the Adlerian theories about human behavior in action.

The series of ten chapters recounts the experiences of the “Easy Company” of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army in World War II, from the Normandy landing until the Victory in Europe Day. The script is based on Stephen Ambrose‘s famous book, which in turn is based largely on the testimony of surviving members of the “Easy” Company.

Although the series has its so typically American cheesy moments it is quite realistic, and above all it manages to convey very well the emotional dynamics that take place within a group of men undergoing protracted stress, who have to share everything sometimes in situations of extreme scarcity, and whose lives depend mainly on luck but also largely on their peers.

The case of Captain Herbert Sobel

Desembarco de NormandíaThe first company commander before going into battle on D-Day was Captain Herbert M. Sobel, famous for his hardness and inflexibility during trainings. Thanks to that the Company became one of the best in the battalion, but all agree that many of his disciplinary measures were excessive. When combat simulations started, Sobel proved to be totally null, practically unable to read a map.

The arbitrariness of his hard punishments and his incompetent maneuvers made him loose the respect of his men. When this became evident, the arbitrariness and disproportion of the punishments increased, which led to the mutiny of several sergeants when Lieutenant Winters (an official just below Sobel and true leader of the company) was going to be court-martialed for refusing to accept yet another absurd punishment.

The mutiny of the sergeants was the first manifestation of true union of the Company, and Sobel’s excess was his first serious pathological behavior. Apparently Sobel came from a traumatic childhood with many unresolved issues, and expressed his insecurities causing fear and abusing his power. This behavior increasingly distanced him from his men, who in turn could not help but censoring his defects in the field rather than helping him to solve them. In short, Sobel was left alone: none of his men was willing to die for him, much less to die for his fault.

The sergeants mutinied being aware that they risked the punishment of being shot. Only the proximity of D-Day delivered them from death, and the high command was smart enough to move Sobel to another destination.

Replacements and casualties

band-of-brothers-picDuring D-Day and the Battle of Carentan the Company lost many of its men, who had lived, suffered, and fought together for more than two years (counting trainings). When replacements arrive before the start of Operation Market Garden, most of them young, inexperienced boys, they are received with coldness and even hostility. The reason is clear: they will die soon, no one wants to assume the emotional cost of getting to know them, of getting to feel they are part of the family.

The prophecy about their fate is a consequence of their lack of experience, but it is also self-fulfilling. As nobody wants to grow fond of them they never manage to integrate, and that that “lack of belonging” makes them make more mistakes, feel weak and vulnerable, more alone, and therefore with more chances of being caught by the hail of bullets and mortars than their peers.

Private Webster receives a similar treatment when he comes back after a long time off, as well as Lieutenant Jones, a pretentious replacement officer fresh out of West Point with no real experience. While other wounded soldiers voluntarily asked to go back to battle in the Ardennes, Webster uses all the time off he is allowed, including rehabilitation, and arrives when the worst has passed and company morale is at rock bottom due to tiredness and the large number of men killed in combat.

Despite his attempts to regain the affection of his colleagues, all treat him with contempt. He is also one of the few universitie graduates in the company. This, coupled with his absence during the worst times make others stop recognizing him as an equal. He no longer shares any context with the rest of the company and abandoned them when they needed him most. Although he feels he did what he had to by complying with the established layoff time, for others his behavior only shows a clear lack of commitment. “If he was a true brother” he would have asked to go back to battle with his people.

Panic

liptonIt is hard to believe that after a hard training with Captain Sobel and parachuting in a hail of enemy fire someone can suffer a panic attack, but it’s actually quite normal. In fact, for them the real war began after the landing.

During the first battle, Private Blithe is disabled by what is known as “hysterical” or “psychosomatic” blindness. He goes blind due to panic. When Lieutenant Winters tells him not to worry about anything and that he will be sent back, Blithe starts crying and only manages to say “I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.” His panic comes from the fear of failing his equals, of not being up to the task. Paralyzed by fear of failure and being excluded, he self-sabotages by excluding himself.

Lieutenant Winters, whose natural leadership comes from his capacity for empathy, simply takes his hand and gently reassures him, making him feel that all is well, that even if he leaves he will not lose his love and respect. Automatically, Blithe regains his sight.

The next panic attack occurs in a decisive operation. Dike, the commanding officer, occupying that place due to his seniority and good family connections, cannot lead even a lapdog. In the middle of the operation (the assault on Foy), a classic example of what not to do, he suffers a panic attack and only his replacement by Lt. Speirs in the middle of the battle keeps all his men from dying (see video).

Again, Dike is simply well connected and his insecurities result in a gross incompetence and an almost permanent mental absence (in the words of Sergeant Lipton, “Dike is simply not there”), and this produces a total lack of integration and connection with others that feeds the vicious circle.

“We happy few”

photography8After Victory Day, Sergeant Powers wins the lottery to be sent home before the official date. When leaving, he expresses a deep concern: “I don’t know how I’m going to explain all this at home.”

The problem with this kind of communities is that they are temporary and its members are forced to separate and return to environments where no one can understand what they have been through. The ties that bind them can never be broken and the distance between them can sometimes be very traumatic. Winters said in his memoirs that 50 years after the end of the war not a single day went by without him thinking of his men.

In the testimonies of veterans included in the series there is a remarkable thing they all do, each in his own way: they all place themselves in the background to cede the leadership, heroism, and merit, to others; they all highlight how proud they are to have been part part of a group conformed by their companions. Again, at the center of all, we have the sense of belonging. Winters ends up saying, with tears in his eyes, that when his grandson asked him if he was a hero during the war, he answered “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”

David de Ugarte

David de Ugarte 80 ~ December 15th, 2014 ~ 6 ~ 5 38

A very brief history of the meaning of “community”

comunidad
KibutzFew words have become so polysemous as “community.” During its medieval origins, it became the basis of the earliest forms of democratic sovereignty, but the Revolt of the Comuneros of 1520 made the term synonymous with rebellion and assembly revolt. Quevedo uses the term in that sense, as well as, to some extent, the subtle and always critical Cervantes.

The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert recovers its guild meaning, defining it as the “union of individuals exercising the same art or occupation under certain common rules, forming a political body,” a definition that prepared the extension of its use during “the century of revolutions” to mean any form of local sovereignty supported by schemes of shared ownership.

cabetCabet, much more popular than Fourier in the 1840’s, calls his egalitarian colonies “communities,” and therefore defines a social system based on them as “communism.” The term was so successful among the “anti” of the moment that it came to define movements with little or no interest in creating phalansteries or cooperative colonies. Thus, within a decade, “community” and “communism” were claimed by two groups that were rarely openly antagonistic, but definitely competed for the attention of the restless and discontented as their respective propaganda apparatuses ignored each other.

On the left, only some Jewish emigrants, influenced by the ideas of an ultraminoritary Russian socialist party, Poale Zion, recover from 1909 onwards the term to name their settlements in Palestine. Based on sharing goods, labor, and savings, the movement “of the communities” will become the largest voluntary social experiment of the century. Paradoxically, it will not renew the term “community” in the rest of the world, but only its Hebrew form: “kibbutz.”

kibutzFrom the thirties, however, Tönnies and Weber in the field of sociology, and Adler in that of psychology, develop a definition of community – “Gemeinschaft” – that will gain momentum in the eighties, reaching political science and history as “real community.” The distinction is highlighted by Benedict Anderson in opposition to the nation, the quintessential “imagined community.”

Under this definition, a community is any group united by interpersonal relationships where all members know and recognize others in an equal belonging that implies personal and collective rights. The nuclear or extensive family, and to a lesser extent the premodern guild, become the model of “community” for an educated person.

Meanwhile, in the US the word community overlapped territorial characteristics with ideological meanings. The importance of dissenting religious groups in the culture of the Anglo-Saxon colonization of North America associated towns and settlements to certain Christian cults. The tension between the illustrated political values of the young state and the particular beliefs of each church was in part transferred to the always controversial definition of powers between states and federal government. But it also gave gave birth to a new concept: the “community standards,” which reinforced the association between place of residence and voluntary acceptance of a more or less lax and extensive set of particular rules.

The “community standards” had in Anglo-Saxon America a similar role to local cultures in Europe: showing a diversity boasted by the growing national identity, but still constituting the definition of the primary group to which good part of the farming population belonged, and thus arousing suspicion among the illustrated urban classes. But as religious identity was diluted as the main feature of belonging within North American culture, the word “community” increasingly evoked the faint obligations of good neighborliness materialized in voluntary and charitable work organized by churches. “Community” tended to mean a set of people, regardless of whether they knew each other, who shared a physical or social space. Universities, developments, associations of all kinds, and more recently, online networks, became defined as communities with their own “standards,” which were now only tacit or explicit rules of coexistence and cooperation.

So when the conversation became global, “community” started to mean almost anything, from living in the same city to sharing everything. “Community” is now one of those words that arouse an emotional and positive consensus. But it is relevant to ask ourselves, when two people use it in the same conversation, whether they really mean the same thing.

Translated by Alan Furth from the original in Spanish.

Natalia Fernández

Natalia Fernández 11 ~ December 4th, 2014 ~ 8 ~ 0 39

Space makers

Astronauta en el espacio3D printers have reached space. The first, installed in the International Space Station, just printed its first object. The astronaut excitedly said, “It’s a big milestone, not only for NASA and Made In Space, but for humanity as a whole.” Both Neal Armstrong and “Butch” Wilmore are leaders of this unique moment, from which there is no turning back. They blazed a trail, which was as uncertain as all trails are that lead to better futures.

Placa Made In SpaceForty-five years ago, the symbol of the conquest of the space was the first footprints on the moon. They marked the beginning of exploration. The faceplate that recently came out of the 3D printer has a very different purpose, that of the construction of a new world. Following this first achievement, little by little, space stations will stop being sites where everything arrives in packet-mail from the Earth, in those little compartments where all kinds of trash accumulates until they are abandoned, like we saw in Gravity.

How does a 3D printer get into space?

Aaron KemmerJason Dunn grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, convinced that when he was big, he would work at NASA or for one of its big contractors dedicated to space exploration. But investment in the space program was shrinking little by little. The aerospace industry underwent restructuring, facilities were dismantled, hundreds of jobs were lost… being an employee of NASA didn’t seem to be the best route.

Jason DunnIn 2006, when Dunn first heard about the new private aerospace industry, he accepted the challenge. In 2008, he created his first space business, EarthRise Space Incorporated, and participated in the Google Lunar XPrize. In 2010, he signed up at Singularity University, where he met Aaron Kemmer. Together, they decided to found Made In Space.

Made In Space was created with the objective of allowing humanity be an interplanetary species. The first step to achieve that objective is the possibility of building hardware in space.

A roadmap in 3 steps

Zero Gravity PrinterIt was an ambitious mission that began with a very simple goal: to reduce the cost of shipping of materials and supplies to space stations by starting industrial production in space. For this, he designed a roadmap with 3 steps: Learn how make a 3D printer work in a atmosphere of microgravity; Design a printer; Launch it.

And so was that Dunn came to NASA, not as a hopeful employee, but as a project member. After 30,000 hours of testing and 400 orbits, the Zero Gravity printer was ready to go into space. This past September, it was launched to the International Space Station, to be installed on its base after a long trip. After some minor adjustments, a few days ago, it finished printing the first object, a faceplate that proudly bears the logo of Made In Space… and that of NASA.

When someone asks Dunn what his are plans for the next ten years, you knows the answer will be impressive. He assures us that the next Industrial Revolution will be in space.

Moon base 3d printedMade in Space is the beginning of a change in the surroundings of programming and design, a dizzying development of free repositories to print all kinds of objects (including nano-satellites) that allow us to go further in exploration and in semi-permanent settlements. In the near future, sending and following a satellite from a mobile app will be as common as flying a drone is today. For Dunn and Kemmer, the P2P aerospace revolution will bring hundreds of thousands of citizens into the exploration of space and will go far beyond what any State has been able to do so far.

It might give us vertigo or seem incredible, but P2P production could finally open the doors of the lunar colonies of Philip K. Dick or Heinlein. The first human settlers will be makers who will accept the challenge and the joy of creating their own tools.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

María Rodríguez

María Rodríguez 8 ~ December 1st, 2014 ~ 0 4

What is not seen

Family-Watching-TVThe evidence that the film industry is in critical condition is stronger than ever. A general identity crisis is reinforced by professionals fleeing towards the production of TV series. It is hard to find more than five or six films a year worth seeing. We no longer ask that films blow our minds or make us think: only that they entertain us for a while, or that at least they don’t upset or depress us.

We see this happening with Interstellar, one of the latest bets of the year which, despite having a somewhat tired theme, is headed by Christopher Nolan, who at least passed all the film directing courses at school. In the world of romantic comedy, which is going through one of its worst moments, it seems that the classic formula of the hero overcoming obstacles and frustrations through bravery and effort to get the love of the girl is the only one that works, at least as long as the pace is sustained and the actors know what they are doing. See Cuban Fury or Chef.

But the audiovisual addicts among us have no reason to complain. The quality and variety of television productions have remained constant since HBO revolutionized the small screen earlier in the century. Diversity and webTV allow us to watch more series than ever, series that will be better or worse, will help us think or disconnect, and will engage more or less – but at least they are well done.

But regardless of their quality, there are assimilated absences, incomprehensible errors, things that become invisible by force of habit: a phenomenon caused by the dominant culture.

el-principeThe numerical superiority of American and British productions over Spanish, French, German, etc., is obvious. But here we run into a serious and intractable problem: Spanish productions are, with few exceptions, terribly bad. They are poorly directed, poorly produced, poorly interpreted, and scripts, despite often being the only decent element, also cry to the heavens. So it is normal to see more series in English. If we decided to boycott the “audiovisual Anglo-invasion” the only option would be to stop watching TV because there is no way of putting up with so much trash, and the solution, as we are seeing, is not to “protect” the national product.

But even in the interesting Spanish productions we see these strange invisibilizing effects I’m talking about. First, the series are shot and happen by default in Madrid unless they are produced by a regional chain. When the script requires breaking with that centrality, as in Caso Wanninkhof, or recently in El Príncipe, we find that the main characters speak with a strong Valladolid accent (which is how well-off people from Madrid speak), despite being locals from Mijas, Castillejos, or Ceuta.

crematorioThe friendly and conservative series, which aspired to represent the average Spanish family – Farmacia de guardia, Médico de familia, or Los Serrano – happened in Madrid with Madrid characters except these significant exceptions: the assistant in Médico de familia is Andalusian; in Los Serrano – the story of a remarriage with children from previous marriages that start living together – the Andalusian is a waiter, and the wife and daughters are from Barcelona.

When a series – a quite good one, for a change – happens in Valencia, it is because the plot is about corruption in the real estate business. When set in Asturias, it is to make a local version of Northern Exposure: a cold, strange, distant, and extremely isolated location (Alaska).

And the fact that Anglos produce good quality series doesn’t mean that they don’t do the same. It’s hard for me to watch Tyrant, despite being so interesting, due to how artificial it seems that the dictatorial court of an imaginary country of the Middle East communicates entirely in English, albeit with a perfect Syrian-Lebanese accent. The same happens in Homeland, where every single Pakistani or Iranian informant speaks English as if they just came out of Oxford. It is surely quite complicated to make a series for the English-speaking public in another language, making subtitles necessary, but if Mel Gibson did it, why not Fox?

Although we have seen that localizations are gaining variety, the number of them that take place in New York or Los Angeles is still much higher, followed closely by Washington and surrounding areas. When series take place out of the East Coast or California it is only to tell sordid stories in disturbing scenarios, to say the least: True Detective, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, or Fargo. It seems as if although the series might be a masterpiece, it tries to make sure no one ever dares go to these places, much less go there on vacation or move there. People will surely think, as they probably already do, that Louisiana is a dangerous and violent place full of sects and strange people.

true-detective-fieldOf course, there also are serial murderers in New York, but they are accompanied by Carrie Bradshaw wearing heels, Rachel and Ross wondering whether they should marry or not, Patty Hewes intimidating the court, or Don Draper drinking a dry martini. New York, like Madrid or Barcelona, engulfs the periphery, invisibilizing it except for showing the anomalies of others.

As the history of spaghetti sauce has shown, there is not (or should not be) a correct culture. Let’s not forget that value is almost always born in the periphery and that the center swallows and homogenizes, so the innovation and diversity necessary to continue living swept up by change are not usually accompanied by the “right” accent, the “right” language, or the “right” origin.
Nueva York

Translated by Alan Furth from the original in Spanish.

What is «las Indias»?

David de Ugarte80 ~ ~ January 13th, 2015 ~ 0 15

The New Global Militant

ucraniaYesterday I watched a PBS documentary about the rise of ISIS. Around minute 43, a phrase caught my attention. Explaining how ISIS arrived to a tipping point in recruitment, the script noted that the group itself had been surprised at the massive response of a generation who

wants to be part of something special, they want to be part of something successful

Today, an report in “El País” quoting “Le Parisien” includes a statement of the lawyer of one of the murderers of the massacre of Paris describing him as:

a clueless guy who did not know what to do with his life and who met people who made ​​him feel important

I guess it is quite clear in jihadism but in reality is the generalization of these feelings that make militant movements of all kinds reach their tipping point. What happens these days is that we are nearing the time when the new political movements begin to be credible winners. And people are pointing to star in a historic change… the most credible in every different place or circumstance.

Of course will not produce the same results if is ISIS who capitalize that feeling in Syria and Iraq or if it will be the new PKK in Kurdistan. And if we look at Europe Ukrainian nationalism has not the same values than SYRIZA or Podemos. But from the point of view of network analysis it is a very similar phenomenum: The protagonist of the great social movements is changing worldwide.

The time of the young European jihadist who was able to destroy himself as a way to defy an unquestionable power has passed away as the time of the cyberactivist who wanted to change social consensus promoting new social conversations.

Lets remember two slogans from the quotes: “feel important” and “be part of something successful”. Those will be the magic words of all the mobilizing discourses during the coming years.

Manuel Ortega4 ~ August 24th, 2014 ~ 0 3

“Not-English” is the world’s most spoken language

bla_blaIn many conversations about the expansion of languages and the use of English as a lingua franca, we hear statements about English being the most spoken language in the world. It is important to remember that the reality is quite different, the most spoken language in the world is “not-English,” i.e., all the other languages. The figures, which can be found in “The World Factbook,” clearly reflect this reality. In the light of this fact, it should also be noted that beyond the figures, the important points to note in the discussion about overcoming language barriers and the adoption of a lingua franca, are others, namely the rents and power structures supported by the adoption of a national language as a lingua franca, in this case English, and its limitations beyond superficial interactions.

Functional English, like all jargon, is useful for superficial interactions. For example, when a waiter in a cafe in Antalya describes the view of the sea as very beautiful. But it reaches its limits in the context of university education, a higher intellectual function that fully mobilizes our language skills. Because only on rare occasions do we see the same level of precision and nuance in a learned language as in the mother tongue. That iron law of linguistic competence is confirmed even in countries known for their knowledge of English.

David de Ugarte80 ~ July 26th, 2014 ~ 1 31

Bruce Sterling against the disguised recentralization of the “Sharing Economy” and “Smart Cities”

brucesterlingWhat happens if the taxis of major cities are replaced by Uber? What if a central part of your urban transportation system depends on an app based on California? Do you think that a city hall could stand up to an multinational with the kind of battles it wages against taxi unions? What happens when your streets and your cars are commodities that are coordinated thanks to software and a set of rules that you don’t control? And perhaps the most clarifying: Do you really think that in California would let its transportation system be run from Barcelona?

All these questions are part of the conclusions Bruce Sterling draws about “Smart Cities.” The discourse on the “Sharing Economy” has detoured the debate and hidden the project of recentralization of networks and the power of the Internet giants. But it’s still there. And as the father of cyberpunk reminds us, it not only has political consequences in the city, but globally, and geopolitically.

So, does Sterling want to close the door on the “Sharing Economy” or the “Smart City?” Absolutely not. He’s simply reminding us that is a battlefield on which the different subjects must recognize what network structures and what architectures of power create a world where we have space. And in recentralization, there’s no space for citizenship.

Translated by Steve Herrick from the original (in Spanish)

David de Ugarte80 ~ ~ July 13th, 2014 ~ 1 21

Community and happiness

imageThe Philosopher’s Mail, the blog of Alain de Botton and the followers of atheism 2.0, published an article about the Epicureans. Its most interesting aspect is that, in a nutshell, it proposes that Epicurean communitarianism is based on its founder’s minimalist definition of happiness:

With his analysis of happiness in hand, Epicurus made three important innovations:

Firstly, he decided that he would live together with friends. Enough of seeing them only now and then. He bought a modestly priced plot of land outside of Athens and built a place where he and his friends could live side by side on a permanent basis. Everyone had their rooms, and there were common areas downstairs and in the grounds. That way, the residents would always be surrounded by people who shared their outlooks, were entertaining and kind. Children were looked after in rota. Everyone ate together. One could chat in the corridors late at night. It was the world’s first proper commune.

Secondly, everyone in the commune stopped working for other people. They accepted cuts in their income in return for being able to focus on fulfilling work. Some of Epicurus’s friends devoted themselves to farming, others to cooking, a few to making furniture and art. They had far less money, but ample intrinsic satisfaction.

And thirdly, Epicurus and his friends devoted themselves to finding calm through rational analysis and insight. They spent periods of every day reflecting on their anxieties, improving their understanding of their psyches and mastering the great questions of philosophy.

Epicurus’s experiment in living caught on. Epicurean communities opened up all around the Mediterranean and drew in thousands of followers. The centres thrived for generations – until they were brutally suppressed by a jealous and aggressive Christian Church in the 5th century. But even then, their essence survived when many of them were turned into monasteries.

De Botton forgets that that Epicurean, familiar, and mixed monasticism of the 5th century, common and even dominant in places like the Iberian peninsula and the island of Ireland, was gradually enclosed from Rome and finally removed with the Gregorian reform. The spirit of Epicurean communitarianism would then begin to thrive in a very different environment. But that’s another story.

Translated by Alan Furth from the Spanish original.

las Indias21 ~ May 17th, 2014 ~ 1 5

Market activism

Aesires en acción (From Indianopedia) Market activism is our term for the design and trade of products with the goal of spreading values and ideas. The name was coined in 2012 by Juanjo Pina from “aesirs,” based on a previous debate on entrepreneuralism held by “las Indias Group of Cooperatives” since 2009, linking the idea of the phyle to the medieval arts and guilds:

We believe the kind of knowledge that enables us to make beautiful and socially useful things cannot be reduced to technical knowledge. It must contain a social meaning, a work ethic and a worldview. Goods offered in the marketplace carry with them a vision of the world, of social projects and a moral points of view.

Some examples

  • In 2007 the indianos combatted «rankism», a narrative on the blogsphere spread by the media that we saw as a danger to its distributed structure. As a response, we developed feevy, the first dynamic blog-roll for blogs. It not only made it easy to link and share audiences between blogs, it made it obvious that the “star blogger system” was just a media myth. Feevy had soon 60,000 users/blogs, making it possible to map hundred of thousands of blogs in Spanish and how they were connected. We called this map the map of flowers, and was, itself, a refutation of the narrative imposed by the mainstream media. Feevy, carefully developed not to use personal data, was programmed as free software, and its platform sold later to a a big firm.
  • Since 2011, the whole “neovenetianist milieu” did its best to transform its knowledge into useful tools to combat the European unemployment crisis:
  • In 2010, Alain de Botton launched his atheism 2.0. His main tool would be “The School of life,” an international chain of stores supplying consumer goods, courses and motivational seminars for businesses

las Indias21 ~ April 22nd, 2014 ~ 0 3

Vote for Guerrilla Translation in the 2014 OuiShare Awards

Our friends of Guerrilla Translation are among the nominees for the 2014 Ouishare Awards. You can vote for them or in any case know a little more about them and this Awards.

las Indias21 ~ February 11th, 2014 ~ 3 2

The fruits of an interesting life

festival-de-las-linternasToday our front page has a new banner: series. That’s what we have called the thematic threads that have been forming since we started to focus “El Correo de las Indias” on the idea of an interesting life. And in fact, the first series tries precisely to answer the question what is an interesting life? This leitmotif that was born in another series, the only one now finished: “Towards a new narrative,” by Juan Urrutia. And of course, we can’t leave out our love of cooking, our pulp heroes, and Go. They all continue growing and will appear again in the future. For the moment take a peek, and we hope that you’ll like them.

(Note from your translator: if there are older posts you want to see translated, please leave a comment!)

David de Ugarte80 ~ February 7th, 2014 ~ 0 15

What’s left when the state falls?

These days, the press all over the world is talking about the Michoacan self-defense movement, since the Mexican State is confronting them, after letting the “Knights Templar” camp there for years. This mafia was the beneficiary of decomposition, accelerated by the State itself, of the formerly, and sadly celebrated “Michoacan family.” The debate is now the typical trap of decomposition between the defense of the monopoly on violence by the state and the verification of a captured and corrupt state that for years abandoned the life and treasure of thousands of people to a terrible mafia.

So rather than entering the debate, I’d like to draw attention to an element of “self-defense” and the form that its process of legitimation took: the reemergence of a series of forms, like open town councils, which come from the birth of urban democracy in medieval Europe.

These forms are not “natural,” but rather cultural and historical. Born with urban development, they became revolutionary in community revolts, and reappeared in the open crisis of the Napoleonic wars – which led to the birth of the Mexican State – and during the large civilian conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries. And now they return in the middle of decomposition. Quijote told Sancho on the path to the island of Barataria to “be careful of your vassals or they will take the government from you or form communities by themselves.” The “Long live the commoners!” shout is heard in the Michoacan town halls. In my view, there are issues here to reflect upon and learn from.

las Indias21 ~ February 5th, 2014 ~ 0 1

Interesting people

marianoypilarTomorrow we will publish a beautiful post by Mariano Gistain answering what is an interesting life to you?

Before him, Michel Bauwens and Kevin Carson paved the way, and Steve Herrick, Daniel Bellón and Mar Abad not only wrote and provided posts, but joined the team to present us with new articles.

So, the most gratifying thing about “El Correo de las Indias” in this new stage is not, as we expected, debates about the direct economy, or even the exploration of new topics and ways of living… but rather the friends, the people who are joining us to do it… and surely, those still to come!

Steve Herrick7 ~ December 14th, 2012 ~ 9 6

Seeking feedback

English-speakers, I need to hear from you.

There is a thriving cooperative movement in Spain and throughout Latin America. In the English-speaking world, and in the US particularly, we hear nothing about it (apart from Mondragon). Some members of my co-op want to remedy this situation. This would likely take the form of an e-book with around a half-dozen essays in it, written by academics and established movement members, and translated by us. It would sell for around $2, and assuming the first one does at all well, there would be more.  I received several generous donations for my work on the Indiano Manifesto (thank you again!), which gives me hope that a larger number of people would support this work with smaller amounts.

So, the question for you is, would it be worth $2 to you to hear what Spanish-speaking cooperators are doing these days, in their own words, professionally translated by fellow cooperators? What topics would be most interesting to you, or, conversely, least interesting?

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