The Fat of the Land

A Book Review

I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a while and talk about a book. The Fat of the Land by John Seymour is a classic “back to the land” memoir in the vein of 10 Acres Enough,  and The One-Straw RevolutionSeymour1. John Seymour is a fantastic writer and a personal hero of mine. It was largely his influence that put me on the path to rural Japan in 2011. The life we led there was hard but extremely fulfilling and in the short time we were there our family built many of our most cherished memories.

The Fat of the land tells the story of John and Sally Seymour’s adventure on an off-the-grid rural English 5 acre smallholding in the late 1950s. It was the beginning of a life path that would make Seymour one of the most influential voices in a new, more holistic approach to farming, and beyond that to living, our connection to nature, our food, and the soil. Reading this book brought it all right back to me and reaffirmed my longtime goal of one day living close to the land on a small holding of my own.

In the meantime our little suburban “micro-holding” will be sufficient for gardening as our kids grow up and TLG and I focus on “money-grubbing” as John Seymour puts it. I highly recommend this book to all of those who feel the call of the soil in their blood.

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Some Perspective is in Order

Ideology Deaths

Global Death toll attributable to various ideologies in the last century

Okay let’s get this out of the way right up front. Nazi’s and Racists can go to hell, and while I’m at it Commies can join them. In fact Commies can go first; after all, they’ve killed more people.

Firstly I will say that there are many people out there who clearly “get it” and are looking at what is happening with a clear and “integrated” perspective. I would count Kieth Preston among those and I found his synopsis of the events in Charlottesville to be extremely helpful in trying to sift through the fog of the mainstream media’s coverage.

The bottom line is, Trump is right, both sides are to blame. Both sides came ready for a fight. If you are going to go to something like that, you must accept responsibility for the danger you are putting yourself in. I’m not saying that excuses driving cars into crowds, not even close. What I am saying is that the entire event was a powder-keg of violence just waiting to explode, and the people that participated, particularly the White Nationalists and the Antifa, went there knowing that.

Fundamentally, this would have been a non-event had the State been doing their supposed job of protecting the public. Instead they were nowhere to be seen, and just allowed the two groups to clash violently. This, of course, is to the State’s advantage. Divide and conquer is a time honored tactic. Keep the population at war with itself and ruling them is a piece of cake.

But the irony of ironies is that these “White Nationalists” and their “Antifa” opponents are ideologically far more similar to each other than they realize. Both are rooted in the  authoritarian (BLUE) vMeme wave.  What we see again here is the struggle between Agency and Communion through a BLUE (values oriented authoritarian) lens. Now BLUE is a communal wave, which is why communists have always far outnumbered fascists (and also why communism is responsible for so much more death) but the two share the same ideological roots in socialism. Perhaps some historical perspective is in order.

Social Developement

Socialism is a GREEN vMeme ideology in general but it took root in a part of the world (19th century Central/Eastern Europe) that still had a deeply BLUE (Aristocratic-Traditional) social order. The British (and Americans) and the French had their ORANGE revolutions in the late 18th century, but at the turn of the 20th Century, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, as well as Japan and China in Asia, were still under the heel of BLUE Aristocratic social orders.  Since BLUE and GREEN are both Communally oriented waves, it was easier for the still nascent GREEN wave to take up the ideological reigns of those societies. The problem with that was it did not pull the social consciousness of those societies all the way through ORANGE and into proper GREEN Socialism, but rather put a socialist veneer over a fundamentally BLUE (traditional/authoritarian) social order.

Both the competing authoritarian social orders (“Communism” and “Fascism”) of the early 20th century can be looked at in this light, and they are really two sides of the same coin, with very little ideological difference between them fundamentally. Both are communally oriented. Both take on the very BLUE narrative of a heroic struggle against some evil “other” (The Bourgeoisie, The Jews, Western Imperialists, etc.) while championing the always-virtuous in-group (The Proletariat, The Aryans, The Yamato-damashii). The primary differences between them are economic and memetic; in “communism” private industry is nationalized completely and the “great struggle” is looked at as primarily a social-class struggle, while in “fascism” private industry is only partially nationalized and industrialists are allowed to keep their companies private so long as they serve the State, and there the “great struggle” is looked at as primarily a cultural/racial struggle.

It seems as though, during the early 20th century, the countries with more industrialized economies tended to adopt Fascism, while Communism was adopted by the more rural/agrarian based economies.  Because Fascism emerged in the 1920’s and 1930’s with more industrial might, it was rightly seen by the ORANGE western powers as the greater threat. WWII can thus be understood in that light as a final global struggle between BLUE and ORANGE vMemes. The BLUE vMeme persisted after WWII in Russia, China, Spain and other places, but gradually over the next 50 years those countries would also come to adopt ORANGE social consciousness and make political reforms on their own.

In the 1940’s ORANGE saved us from Pathological BLUE, even as it was about to be eclipsed in “the west” by GREEN in the following decades. Eventually GREEN Socialism did win in the west. It gave the world many wonderful and beautiful things; universal suffrage, social equality, environmentalism, and pluralism. What we are witnessing now in clashes like Charlottesville and Berkeley is really an ages old fight between Communal (Antifa) and Agentic (White Nationalist) expressions of the BLUE vMeme.

Fortunately for us (unlike the early 20th century) the total numbers in these groups are so low as to be effectively insignificant. There may be a few thousand of these White Nationalists across the entire country. I’ll be generous and call it 0.003% of the total population of the US. On the other hand, Antifa far out number them at maybe a couple tens of thousands across the US (hard to estimate) so let’s say, again being generous, 0.006% of the population. So we’re talking in total less than 1 in 10,000 of us are actively one of these idiots. Perhaps 1 in 1000 of us, again being super generous, have sympathies one way or another. The rest of us, 99.9% of us, think both sides are crazy.

So lets have a little bit of perspective.

 

 

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Lines of Development

Sometimes it’s helpful to reference how various developmental models map in comparison to each other. The following table is my own creation, so I take responsibility for any flaws. I tried to stitch together several commonly referenced developmental models; Graves/Beck’s Spiral Dynamics, Wilbur’s “Integral Model,” Fowler’s stages of faith, Gebser’s structures of consciousness, Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, and Loevinger’s stages of ego development.

Then I added my own referential categories such as a Three Tier structure I prefer (as opposed to the traditional SD two tier structure), my agentic/communal spectrum, stages of cultural expression (art, literature, philosophy etc.),  Structures of Social (political) Organization, Rough Historical timeline, approximate age of emergence (minimum threshold based on my observation only), and Hypothetical IQ threshold (extremely speculative on my part at this point but something I’d like to explore further).

Anyway, it was useful to me as a way to organize a lot of different lines of thought into a single table. Hopefully others may help me to refine this further.

Developmental Model

Developmental Model  (PDF)

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What the * is the Alt-Right?

I’ve been reading a lot from Hanzi Freinacht lately on his website metamoderna.org. I highly recommend reading through his website. He has some really profound and excellent insights into the coming paradigm shift out of “post-modernism.”  I especially like his ideas around “Game Change” and “Proto-Synthesis,” and the idea of constructing a grand narrative of everything. This of course is the goal of the Integral paradigm (or metamodern if you like Hanzi’s term better). Today I read another piece he wrote entitled What the * is the Alt-Right?

Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait….

My comment on the piece which should also appear in his comments is below:

I actually agree with most of what you write in the body of this piece, but I disagree completely with your conclusion. For example, I’m not at all sure that the broader “alt-right” (in the very broad sense that I think we’re discussing) is just “a bunch of white guys” unless you can point to some demographic study or something. For example if we’re talking about representation on social media of “Alt-Right” or “Alt-Lite” viewpoints I see a lot of POC and LGBTQ’s and “Ex-Feminists” on popular youtube channels and twitter who are rejecting postmodernism. But even if it were the case that a lot of young white boys gravitate toward the Alt-Right, so what? I can understand that as easily as I can understand young women gravitating toward 3rd wave feminism. As you might put it, they are playing the Game.

But as I said before I think the Alt-Right and Alt-Left are just two ends of the same spectrum. The thing with the Alt Right is that postmodernism is a left-leaning paradigm, whereas post-postmodernism (metamodernism) will be a right-leaning one (following the historical Gravesian warm-cool-warm-cool pattern). The pendulum must swing and the Alt-left will be to metamodernism what libertarians were to postmodernism (i.e. a minority counterbalance). At least that’s my prediction. Right now we are in a phase of Rejection, which is why it appears that the Alt-Right offers nothing but anti-postmodernism. We’d be saying the same thing of postmodernism vis-a-vis modernism if we were having this conversation in the opening decades of the 20th century.

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The Unlikely Athlete

The story of how my son taught me that “Grit,” – Determination, Discipline, Hard Work and Passion – can overcome a lack of raw talent.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Is There Anything Grit Can’t Do?”  reminded me of this piece I started to write and then stopped half way through about a year ago, and inspired me to finish it. It strays a bit from the regular topics I write about but I thought it an interesting anecdote worth sharing:

If you had told me six years ago that in a few short years my son would be playing soccer at the top levels available to his age-group, and traveling around the country to participate in huge national tournaments, I would have thought you were crazy. “First of all,” I would have said, “I am not going to be one of those crazy soccer-dads who spend thousands of dollars every year to live vicariously through their poor kids. And secondly, my son is not naturally athletic anyway. His talents are in Music, Art and Math, not sports.” I would have thought that you were crazy to claim that my wonderful, smart, funny, clumsy, skinny, uncoordinated little guy without an athletic bone in his body, would one day prefer playing soccer to almost any other activity imaginable.

My response would have been pure projection. I was not an athlete. I, like him, was clumsy, skinny, and uncoordinated as a kid. I was terrible at playing as part of a team. The only sports I ever tried with any success were solo sports like cross country, or skiing. I never lasted more than a single season in any team sport I tried. I focused on art, on academics, and later, on role playing games. As a kid, I was a nerd, and I grew to viscerally dislike “Jocks” who in my estimation had athletic talent and little else. To me, they were mostly just dumb and mean. Sports and athletics was just useless caveman bullshit.

I projected all of this, my own childhood experience, on my son. I assumed he was like me. I assumed this because he seemed so much like me at that age. I was wrong. Physically he was very much like me. But from his mother he had inherited an unwavering single minded tenacity that I didn’t have at that age.

After we first moved to Japan in 2011, my wife wanted to get the kids into some activities so that they could make friends in the neighborhood. As it happened, there was a soccer club that practiced just up the hill from my in-law’s place, so she enrolled him in the club. He was in first grade and he’d never really touched a ball before then. The coaches placed him with the kindergarten age group.

During practice, rather than practice with his team, he would run off to the playground and play by himself. This went on for weeks, until as he recounted to me recently, “One day I was on the slide and I saw this kid dribbling the ball through a bunch of other kids, weaving around them with the ball at his feet, and then he shoots and scores, and I thought, ‘Wow! that was cool. I wanna do that.'”

At the next practice he didn’t go to the playground, but he soon discovered that dribbling and scoring like that was not so easy. I remember that time because we’d walk home every night after practice and he’d be crying, frustrated at his lack of ability. I remember repeatedly telling him three things:

  1. He didn’t have to play soccer if he didn’t want to.
  2. If he wanted to get better he’d have to practice a lot on his own because…
  3. The other boys had been playing for two years already, so he was starting behind.
Liam O'Doherty 1stG

Practicing Juggling for hours on end (1st grade)

I remember he asked me one evening how much practice it would take him to become “a pro” at soccer by the age of 18. It was the first time he’d mentioned wanting to be a pro soccer player. I thought it was pretty cute, and reminded me of when I wanted to be an astronaut or a rock star. So I told him (he was 6 years old, but very mathematically minded) about Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule” popularized by his book, Outliers: The Story of SuccessI told him to figure out, based on that rule, how many hours a week he needed to train in order to become a pro. I don’t know if the 10,000 hour rule has any merit or not but I knew that giving my son a concrete rule like that would either motivate him or give him a dose of reality (or both as it turned out).

That night he told me that in no uncertain terms, he HAD to practice or play soccer at least 2-3 hours every day, seven days a week, in order to become a pro. And to my complete astonishment, that is exactly what he did.

For the first two years he continued to struggle with his chosen passion, with a lot of tears, scrapes and bruises, and worse; the constant frustration of being so far behind his peers in ability, and athleticism that he had to play with kids a year younger than him. But his persistence, passion and perseverance were little by little paying off. He was getting better.

His passion extended to soccer knowledge, and he absorbed magazines, books and televised games at every opportunity. He quickly latched on to his all-time hero Neymar Jr. as the type of soccer player he wanted to be; creative, technical, hard to predict, and beautiful to watch. But his knowledge about soccer players in general, their strengths and weaknesses and play styles became encyclopedic, whether they played in Europe, Japan, or America he knew them all.

In the end of second grade, he was finally put on the roster with his own age group. He wasn’t a starter, but the coaches saw his passion for the sport and his work ethic. More importantly, he could see himself getting better, and that motivated him to keep going. In a soccer tournament in Third grade he received a tiny MVP trophy from the tournament organizers. It was the first time he’d ever received any kind of soccer related award. To this day, it’s his most prized trophy. Later that year he won another prize for lasting the longest in a juggling contest. Little by little his hard work and determination were paying off.

In 2014 we moved back to the pacific northwest and he had to find a new soccer club to play with. To our surprise, coaches were eager to have him join their teams. In Japan, soccer training focuses strongly on the technical fundamentals, and the kids there, even at a young age, have practice 5 days a week to focus on learning fine ball control skills. It’s repetitive and “not fun” and so not a very popular coaching style for young kids in the US (which tend to focus more on just having fun in the early years). The result was that he had a much higher degree of technical skill, but was not as “physical” as his American peers. At tryouts and practices the technical skills “showed” well, but in a game, he ended up just getting knocked around. Physically he was still my son, skinny and light for his age.

Like his hero, Neymar Jr. he loves to dribble and weave through other players and try to surprise them with fancy tricks; Marodonas, Cruyffs, Rabonas, Elasticos, Scissors, even

Liam O'Doherty 5thG

A travel tournament in California     (5th grade U11)

Neymar’s Rainbow Flick, you name it he’d try it… in a game… with the coaches yelling “Keep it simple!” He started to get a reputation as the kid who’d lose the ball trying fancy moves, instead of playing the game with his team. My son soon found himself sitting on the bench more and more. But even so he never got discouraged. “They just don’t understand,” he told me once, “I have to challenge myself and learn these technical skills now, when winning games doesn’t matter.” But it did matter, especially to the coaches, and so eventually he had to force himself to keep it simple.

In the end it was a valuable lesson for him. Most of ones life is lived playing by someone else’s rules. Even when you think you know better, sometimes it’s best to listen to the person in a leadership role, give them the benefit of the doubt and be a team player. As he got older that “10,000 hour rule” ceased to become a rule to obey and started to become a tool to achieve his goals. He became an incredibly focused and self-disciplined kid, getting up early in the morning to train before school and still managing to keep excellent grades, despite training 15 to 20 hours a week.

As his 5th grade school year came to a close, he asked me if he could home-school for 6th grade. “There’s too much time wasted in class,” he said. “That’s time I could use to train.” I accepted his desire to home-school on the condition that my curriculum for him would be more challenging than the regular school curriculum. Of course he accepted the challenge. The flexible home-school schedule not only allowed him more training time, but more free time as well, and he got to take on projects as varied as “How to Train a Puppy” to units on Ancient History and Greek Philosophy. He completed the Saxon Math 7-8 course, and for his self selected capstone project; a 5000 word paper on the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, using translations of the original Norse sagas as source material.

Meanwhile, he’s never let up on his training. Even while injured, he just switches to yoga, or stretching, or PT exercises until he’s cleared to play again. It’s an attitude toward goal achievement that I never had as a kid, although my wife did. And I wonder was it something he was born with? Was it something his mother imparted on him from early childhood? When I ask him what makes him tick he just shrugs his shoulders in his now typical pre-teen way. “I just know what I wanna do dad.”

This spring marked the end of another season, and next year many of the boys from his former team are moving on to the the local MLS Academy team. When I asked my son if he wanted to try out for the MLS Academy like most of his team mates were he said, “No, not yet. When I get good enough, they will scout me. Until then I’ll stick with the DA” (US Soccer Development Academy). It was an incredibly mature answer that I was totally not expecting. I understood that what he was really saying was, ‘I know I am not ready to play at that level now, I know I need to keep working harder until I am ready, and when and if I am truly ready and demonstrate it in the DA, they will invite me.’

I don’t know if my son will ever play soccer at a professional or semi-professional level. But I do know that he has the “Grit” that Angela Lee Duckworth talks about in her TED talks and in the article, and that it will serve him well no matter what he ultimately chooses to pursue in life. Until we know for sure I will continue to support my son and be “that crazy soccer dad” for him as long as he needs me.

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Free Speech means Free Speech, even if you don’t like what they’re saying…

Lauren Southern nails it in her youtube video “The Alt-Lite vs. Free Speech.”

One of the Alt-Right’s biggest criticisms of the Postmodern Left has been it’s consistent war against free speech (or as they label it “Hate Speech” which is basically any speech they disagree with). Lately however it seems that there are some on the Right who are using this page from the Post-modern Left’s playbook. Lauren labels them the “Alt-Lite” which is hilarious.

Lauren is a perfect example of a person I would put under my broader definition of Alt-Right, although she doesn’t use that label for herself. A great video and spot on!

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What is the Alt-Right?

The following conversation between Stefan Molynuex and Vox Day is interesting background into this topic as well.

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