Quiet Revolutions, Composing, 04/09/2014

I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging for a few days since I posted my review of Into the Dalek, especially since some reddit reposting has resulted in some of the highest viewing numbers I’ve ever had. Not so much that I’m letting the side down, but I’ve been pretty busy adjusting to my new program at Sheridan in Corporate Communications. 

I’ve been stuck in a pretty anemic income situation since completing my PhD program, and the practical training of this new program gives me the chance to apply my skills and talents properly. Some might consider this selling out, because it’s a program that focusses on corporate public relations. I know there are a few in academic circles who would consider me a failure because I couldn’t secure work as a university faculty member after three years of trying to score even an underpaid entry-level position.

I’ll still be writing philosophy, though, both on this blog, as a contributor to the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, and in my individual publications. A proposal for my Ecophilosophy manuscript is under review with a publisher right now, and research for the Utopias book continues. I still plan on going to philosophical conferences as well, once I have my new career established. And my work as a writer is taking off too: Under the Trees, Eaten will be published this Fall, You Were My Friend is playing at the Pearl Company this November (and I hope to have a Toronto run in 2015), and I’m working on a film script adapting one of my story ideas about Alice the android spiritual überfraülein. 

And the political values that I’ve developed over the last few years, in response to the injustices of the Great Recession, the collapse of Occupy, the revelations of NSA spying and states’ cyber warfare on their own populations, the militarization of the police, and the horrifyingly pervasive poverty in our society, combined with what I’m learning about alternative community organizing (read: anarchist activism) will inform how I shape my new career.

I’ll be looking for public and stakeholder communications work in organizations that help the homeless and poverty-stricken, repair the ecological damage from which Ontario suffers, encourage people to live a more ethically upstanding life as an integrated member of their community, whether through the inspiration of the arts or through direct action. 

One important thing that my research in anarchist theory and revolutionary history has taught me is that the route to healing our ecology and society does not necessarily come through government stewardship. It is more powerful by building awareness and material links between people in communities that these problems directly affect. There are organizations who are doing this in Toronto and southern Ontario right now, and I would like to work with these people, earning a fair salary and helping to improve materially the lives of people all over my mega-city and province.

I discovered a notion a couple of days ago that the German-Jewish activist Gustav Landauer discussed in the early 20th century. He wrote that freeing a society doesn’t simply come from overthrowing the institutions of the state itself to enforce political authority through police violence. The enslavement of a society rests in the people’s own attitudes, whether they’re a deferent people, who believe that life is best when it’s under the direction of someone else, whether because they think such leaders know better or because of a more vague and superstitious belief in the right of an elite to rule. A society changes as people change their attitudes about their relationship to political authority and to each other. 

Landauer understood the attitude of deference as a people submitting to the authority of a single political institution to make war on them. That was over 100 years ago. The problem is no longer simply about government, but about any organization that prioritizes immediate profit over the health of the communities in which they operate. I don’t think I can believe any longer the idea that selfish behaviour aggregates to the best outcome: too many are hurt as the mistakes and cruelties sort themselves out. And I can no longer believe in the inevitability of systematic self-correction.

A better society means we treat our neighbours and our land ethically. There are organizations and companies working to do that, and with the skills I’ll learn in my new program, I can work with them. It’s not a bad life, is it?

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