Anyone who pays attention to anything I say might have noticed my commenting and general presence have been a little light over the past few days; whether at work or at home, I have barely been at my desk or at my house over the period. Last week was a killer, and I just could not spend the time on the blog I would like to. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I don’t do this for a living, but for fun. I’m aware that the huge queue of comments bogs things down and makes the page run slow – sometimes even crashing the browser (which is funny when you think about it, because so far I have used only 4.14 MB of my allowable space, which barely moves the needle, for the whole blog. How long does it normally take your computer to crunch up 4 MB? Typically not very long), but I can’t seem to get posts out any faster, and I am loathe to discourage free-thinking comments because the Russia-watcher blogosphere agrees we have hands-down the best comment section on the web: I am in awe of the amount of great information, thought and discussion generated by you guys.
Very much in that spirit comes this post, by Johan Meyer. A recent commenter here, Johan is a South African from Saskatchewan – a little like a griffin in a garage in that the two seem to have little in common but a shared first letter – and I think we have quickly learned to respect his intellect and be intrigued by his thinking and analysis. In this post, Johan articulates the need for volunteerism to change the narrative and the direction in North America – a very timely point to make, as I have frequently said it is easy to criticize but much harder to propose solutions. See what you think. Johan?
“In prosperous times migration, outside of work responsibility and vacation, is a rite of old age – one’s responsibilities are taken care of, and one seeks to visit the places that stirred one’s imagination in youth. A few move early, and adopt new homes, but mostly, people go through life in the regions of their birth.
Entire continents are in migration. People flee poverty, disease, and -often foreign-sponsored – political regimes. Others flee with the loot. Neither group is very welcome with their hosts, whether within their native continents, or in ‘the west’.
The host societies grow loath to provide further training and employment of the migrants and their descendants, leading variously to crime – migrants are often housed, with the native underclass, in dilapidated older structures with lead paint, or near freeways, where they may breath the leaded exhaust fumes – now more remaining exhaust fallout, and the arriving generation is often from high lead poisoning countries; riots – crime and unemployment lead to contempt from the police; terrorism – a new generation finds meaning in instrumental yet fringe ideologies addressed mainly to them, such that they become others’ soldiers. The lucky ones end up in ethnic mafias, or employed in dead-end service jobs. By fleeing, their parents failed to escape.
Spending money on these migrants keeps them alive, in food and employment deserts, while the host tax payers ask where the return is on this investment; ditto with jails. The refugees end up with the underclass of their hosts. The native component of this underclass is growing, however, as the middle class is liquidated, and educational opportunities are drowned in debt-scams. People will fight for the same jobs, or join the informal economy. In response, protest movements are growing; they ask the established authorities for change.
An excessively criminal generation is now nearing administrative age – those born (in North America – other age sets apply to other areas; the causes are lead petrol/gasoline and paint – between 1970 and 1980 are now joining the ranks of bureaucrats and senior management. This is a generation disproportionately marked by instant gratification – forget investment in the next generation; narcotic consumption; irresponsibility – it is not their fault that their policies were implemented and failed; long fingers – contracts awarded to friends may cost more in the long run than public workers, but in the long run someone else is elected or given administrative responsibility; and the institutions and experience of previous generations can be sold to avoid selling a bond, so a bonus is in order. It is to this generation of administrators that protesters left and right address themselves.
Protest movements seem to operate under the assumption that their protest serves to inform societal administrators of popular sentiment, such that a threat of reelection should suffice. Yet popular sentiment and social science concur that we are living in a (still liberal) oligarchy – one may more or less speak one’s mind, but not get policies such as are not offered. If one wants something ‘special,’ one must do it oneself, and one might need some assistance from people who have done it before – a set of volunteers. The volunteers would need real world experience, rather than our ever present ‘volunteer’ masters of Derrida and Company, building up their resumes in the hope of an eventual paycheck.
Strelkov mentioned that he is part of a Russian volunteer movement, in which capacity he helped in Yugoslavia and Transnistria. Yet a volunteer need not be military, and need not leave his or her home city.
The state of education alone, under attack from the multitude of varieties of New Math and Whole Word Reading (the latter so unpopular that they had to sneak in Chomsky’s name to justify it at least a year after Hayes and others destroyed the claims in its favour) is grounds already for volunteer after-hours teaching; the removal of Euclidean geometry leaves a generation that lacks basic intuition of logic; the modus tollens is regarded as dubious, while affirmation of the consequent and denial of the antecedent get a pass. The idiocy of our societal propaganda is not obvious to all.
When the teachers are volunteers, and the students come of their own volition – and are free to leave – real education can occur, and a stronger bond can form between generations. Once the material is mastered, the students can tutor, thus strengthening the bonds within a generation.
Likewise, technicians, technologists and sometimes even scientists, can teach a self-motivated group how to maintain and operate abandoned equipment, and make new equipment. This will become more important as practical education becomes less available.
This kind of volunteering need not be sold as overtly political. It would occur best in a hobby club setting, for example, model train building, vehicular repair/racing, graphics/demo programming (in primary school, in South Africa, we would write BASIC programs that involved 3D graphics including rotating objects, based on cursory introductions written for our then maturity level, and then we would experiment with the math and programming; our school teachers generally couldn’t program). Amateur radio is hopelessly expensive and geared toward pre-built hardware, yet modestly intelligent children can learn to build radio sets, including etching printed circuit boards. Star gazing and satellite spotting/tracking go hand in hand. Economic information can be gathered, and the statements, policies and migration of bureaucratic and political personnel can be tracked. The examples multiply themselves.
What a healthy volunteer movement does for a society is take some of the initiative away from unaccountable authorities, and provides networks for independent gathering, dissemination and evaluation of information.
As skill is developed in training one’s own (recall that Strelkov’s main achievement was on the job training – the fighters didn’t suddenly begin to lose when he left), one may begin looking further afield, perhaps abroad – a more intelligent and self-disciplined generation isn’t due for another decade. Perhaps in thirty years, migration will become a rite of old age in the over-impoverished regions. As such movements grow around the world, the rise of questionable regimes and general stupidity and violence becomes more of a challenge to the powers that would be.”