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OUTGROWING THE EARTH: THE FOOD SECURITY CHALLENGE IN AN AGE OF FALLING WATER TABLES AND RISING TEMPERATURES by Lester R. Brown (W.W. Norton & Co.) >From Chapter 8: Reversing Chinas Harvest Decline The phenomenal rise in Chinas grain production from 90 million tons in 1950 to 392 million tons in 1998 was one of the great economic success stories of the late twentieth century. But in 1998 production peaked and turned downward, falling to 322 million tons in 2003. As noted in Chapter 1, this drop of 70 million tons exceeds the entire grain harvest of Canada. Thus any attempt to expand the world grain harvest enough to rebuild depleted world grain stocks starts with reversing the decline in China. Virtually all of Chinas production decline of nearly 18 percent from 1998 to 2003 is the result of a 16-percent shrinkage in grain area. Several forces are at work here, as described in Chapter 5. Cropland is being converted to nonfarm uses at a record rate, including industrial and residential construction and the paving of land for roads, highways, and parking lots. With deserts expanding by 360,000 hectares (1,400 square miles) a year, drifting sands are covering cropland in the north and west, making agriculture impossible. The loss of irrigation water is also reducing the harvested area, particularly of wheat, which is grown in the northern, drier regions of the country. In 2004 Chinas improved grain harvest, lifted by a substantial rise in the rice support price and unusually favorable weather, was expected to regain 21 million of the 70-million-ton-drop of the preceding five years. Even with this projected production increase, Chinas harvest in 2004 will still fall short of consumption by 35 million tons. And there are several worrying trends that undermine the hope that the harvest will rise consistently again anytime soon. To read the entire chapter, go to http://www.earth-policy.org/Books/Out/Contents.htm
U.S.-Canada: Just Who's the Docile One?
By Michael Adams | Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Canadians have long been considered more docile than Americans. But
as President Bush visits Canada on November 30, 2004, does this
stereotype still hold true? Michael Adams author of "Fire and Ice"
argues that Canadians are emerging as the more liberal and pluralist
people. In contrast, Americans are increasingly becoming deferent to
n 1867, Canadas Fathers of Confederation dedicated their country
to peace, order and good government. Meanwhile, the ideals set out in
Thomas Jeffersons Declaration of Independence were life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness.
Back then, it was Americans who were the revolutionaries, putting
in place institutions that were designed to frustrate the authority of
Surprisingly, I have found Canadians to be a more autonomous people
than Americans, less outer-directed and less conformist.
In contrast, counter-revolutionary Canadians saw the authority of
political institutions as central to the well-being of their country.
America has long honored the individual fighting for truth and
justice. Canadians, for their part, have tended to defer to elites who
broker compromises between competing social groups. And while Americas
motto is E Pluribus Unum, out of many one, Canada started as two
founding European cultures French and English.
Since that time, this biculturalism has been expanded to include a
multiculturalism that encompasses not only more recent immigrants, but
also the aboriginal First Nations that were here long before Europeans
The Old World lives on
The Americans separated church and state, while we Canadians
embedded state sponsorship of parochial education in our constitution.
All in all, Canada never renounced its European political heritage at
least not as emphatically as the American revolutionaries did.
The Old World ideal of noblesse oblige has survived here even into
this century, shaping our social assistance and public housing
programs. In contrast, in the United States, the primary public
expenditure has been mass education in the service of individual
Who are the real revolutionaries?
>From distinct roots, Canada and the United States have thus grown up
with substantially different characters.
Americans are motivated by the notion of individual achievement.
Canadians, in contrast, stand out by balancing individual autonomy with
a sense of collective responsibility.
Group rights, public institutions and deference to authority have
abided north of the border while individualism, private interests and
mistrust of authority have remained strong to the south. So much for
the officially sanctioned saga. In the last quarter century, some
counterintuitive developments have occurred on both sides of the 49th
Canadians have distanced themselves from traditional authority
organized religion, the patriarchal family and political elites. Peter
C. Newman has characterized recent social change in Canada as the
movement from deference to defiance.
Meanwhile, an ever greater proportion of America is clinging to old
institutions family, church, state and a myriad of clubs, voluntary
associations, even gangs as anchors in an increasingly chaotic world.
After all, the United States is a country where the price of
untrammeled individualism is that, in an instant, illness, crime or an
injudicious investment portfolio can turn the proverbial American Dream
into an outright nightmare. As a result, many Americans are seeking
refuge in the church, with family or in gated communities.
In many ways, it is Canadians who have become the true
revolutionaries, at least when it comes to social life. In fact, it has
become apparent to me that Canadians are at the forefront of a
fascinating and important social experiment.
In many ways, it is Canadians who have become the true revolutionaries
at least when it comes to social life.
We Canadians are coming to define a new sociological post-modernity,
characterized by multiple, flexible roles and identities. In contrast,
Americans weaned for generations on ideals of
freedom and independence have in general not found adequate security
and stability in their social environment.
That makes them hesitant when it comes to asserting the personal
autonomy needed to enact the kind of individual explorations
spiritual, familial, sexual that are taking place north of the
Flocking to religion
The increase in religiosity in the United States is perhaps the
characteristic that best distinguishes America from other advanced
industrial societies in terms of social change.
Whereas in Canada and Europe the church has been linked with the
state (and, thus, over time has become subject to the distrust and
questioning to which the state has been exposed), in America religion
has long been decentralized and congregationally-based.
The diverse and populist system of American sectarianism has proved
much more resilient, in the long run, than the more hierarchical,
institutional, state-sanctioned church models of the Old World.
Churches are some of the few places if not the only one where
many Americans feel truly safe, where guns are left at home, under the
seat in the 4X4, or checked at the door.
The claim that Americans high levels of religious affiliation can
be attributed to U.S. churches particularly the Protestant sects
having been forced to market themselves effectively over the years in
order to survive may well be true. In my records, however, we found an
extremely strong correlation between deference to authority and
religiosity among Americans.
Those Americans who describe themselves as very religious are far
more likely to embrace trends associated with deference to authority
not only Obedience to Authority, but also values such as Patriarchy,
Traditional Family, Duty and Propriety.
These people are looking for definitive answers and rules to live
by, unlike many of those strong on the Spiritual Quest trend, who are
looking to ask the right questions and wish to arrive at their own
albeit often tentative conclusions.
Religion is fulfilling a role for Americans that secular
institutions do in other countries: Safe haven, community, a place to
be with people like me, a refuge from Darwinistic competition and
conflict in an increasingly dangerous world.
High standards, high quality
Churches are some of the few places, if not the only one, where
many Americans feel truly safe where guns are left at home or under
the seat in the 4X4 or checked at the door.
Religion is fulfilling a role for Americans that secular
institutions do in other countries: Safe haven, community, a place to
be with people like me," a refuge from Darwinistic competition and
Besides what separates Americans and Canadians on the church front,
it is interesting to note that these two New World nations have each
won the sweepstakes in two international competitions. The Americans in
the category for the highest standard of living on the planet and the
Canadians win for the best quality of life.
The Americans have done this by being motivated by the notion of
individual achievement. The Canadians, in contrast, stand out by
balancing individual autonomy with a sense of collective
We Americans and Canadians are thus each 21st century expressions
of the ideas of our ancestors and the institutions they built.
America honors traditionally masculine qualities. Canada honors
qualities that are more traditionally feminine.
America honors the lone warrior fighting for truth and justice, the
father who is master of his lonely house on the prairie or a few good
men planting the Stars and Stripes on a distant planet. Canada honors
compromise, harmony and equality. Americans go where no man has gone
before. Canadians follow hoping to make that new place livable.
Complementary world roles
What does this all mean for the global community? If American
historian Samuel P. Huntington is right and the 21st century will be an
often violent clash of civilizations we will all be grateful for U.S.
economic and military leadership.
Americans go where no man has gone before. Canadians follow hoping to
make that new place livable.
If, however, the challenges of the 21st century will be addressing
the growing disparities between rich and poor and the degradation of
the Earths ecology, then let us hope Canada and kindred nations can
muster the courage to show us another path into the future.
The key to these apparent anomalies, I believe, is the consequence
of Americas single-minded pursuit of individual achievement in the
absence of peace, order and good government. By adolescence and often
earlier in life, Americans find themselves in an intense, often
dangerous struggle for survival or a winner take all quest for
Winners and losers
In such a context, traditional authorities serve as anchors: A
strong father, a strong police force, a strong military, a strong
nation, the President and Commander-in-Chief. In such a world, there is
little tolerance for subtlety, nuance or shades of gray.
Life is a Manichean struggle between good and evil, winners and
losers and the only way good will prevail is by being the strongest,
vanquishing the evil empire or the axis of evil or the next
incarnation of the forces of evil.
The Boss got it right
Bruce Springsteen, American icon and perpetual valedictorian of the
school of hard knocks, summed it up in his aptly named tune, Atlantic
City: Down here, its just winners and losers and dont get caught
on the wrong side of that line.
The Americans win the category for the highest standard of living
on the planet and the Canadians win for the best quality of life.
In that world, individuals must choose their side, fall into line
and follow their leader into battle. There is little room for
individual autonomy in such a scenario.
That Americans are more deferential to institutions than Canadians
is counter-intuitive. And perhaps most surprising, I have found
Canadians to be a more autonomous people than Americans, less
outer-directed and less conformist. This, too, is contrary to the
stereotype of Americans as a nation of individuals.
Adapted from "Fire and Ice. The United States, Canada and the Myth
of Converging Values" (Penguin, Canada) by Michael Adams. Copyright
2003 by Michael Adams. Used by permission of the author.
John Baymore provided a list a while back. You can see the full list here: http://lsv.ceramics.org/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0307B&L=CLAYART&P=R12974 John stays at the first one. Said it costs \7500 a night and included breakfast and dinner. He also advises that you have a Japanese speaker call for you. Okadaya Ryokan 0285-72-2016 Hasegawa ryokan 0285-72-2210 Shiraume-so 0285-72-6762 Tozan-so 0285-72-2063 Ohkawado Kozen Spa 0285-72-4546 Minshuku (private guest house) Higeta 0285-72-2559 Minshuju Furusato 0285-72-3156 Minshuku Yamaji 0285-72-2525 Minshuku Yamabiko 0285-72-1829 Business Hotel Toyoda 0285-68-4500 Furuki-san runs The Tao Art Club, Potters In, a traditional Minshuku style inn and also a pottery studio. Lodging only is \3500 a night. Cost more to use the studios. If you book during the week or "off peak" you might be able to stay in the Minka farmhouse, which has "Western" style toilets. If the Minka is full, you get placed in modern rooms, but with "traditional" modern toilets. It is located in a convenient spot. Fax first, Furuki-san can read English and then voice call to confirm: FAX 0285-72-4178 Voice: 0285-72-3866 Best way to get to Mashiko from Tokyo is by train to Utsunomiya and then bus from Utsunomiya to Mashiko. Buy a rail pass before you leave home. You cannot purchase them once you are in Japan. They will save you a lot of money. Check out http://www.japantravelinfo.com/ for travel information
"What level of experience do we achieve by running a hand over a Formica counter, gripping the rim of a stainless steel mixing bowl, or touching the door of a refrigerator? Even materials that have an intrinsic tactile surface, such as wood, are rendered neutral by being permeated with plastic and isolated from our tactile sensors. As a result, we are deprived of one of the basic senses with which potters must concern themselves, since the forms and surfaces they create are made by the pressure and grip of their hands on the clay. In some standardized and repetative ceramics, these gestures become stereotyped and meaningless, but in a sensitively made pot this contact between maker and material can become a direct and moving experience that may be shared by users of the pot. Not only the forms which reveal themselves, but also the weight of the pot, the texture of the materials, and surface gesture provide an open door to understanding. First, however, we must overcome the inhibitions of our Western acculturation that causes us to feel knowledge by touch is immature, primitive, and even illegal. Among many other peoples, the hand is a live instrument of experience, used in daily life to hold, lift, grip, and explore. As a tool for living, it becomes a tool for knowing." --Warren MacKenzie
The Parable Of The Tribes
A new look at how the history of civilization
may have been largely shaped
by the raw struggle for power between societies
by Andrew Schmookler
The following article is based on excerpts from the first part of
a major new book (same title and author, Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1984, 400pp, $19.95) that argues that the history of civilization
has been largely shaped by the way that, as a system, civilization has no
mechanisms for restraining the raw struggle for power between societies.
Schmookler brings a remarkable depth of both scholarship and insight to
this issue, tracing (in the latter parts of the book) the myriad insidious
ways that this struggle has thwarted human choice. He makes it clear that
the problems we face now, as we try to come to grips with our planetary
interconnectedness, can't simply be blamed on personalities or ideologies,
but are rooted in the fundamental structure of 5000 years of international
anarchy. The problem of power that he raises and explores is a fundamental
challenge for governance (at many levels) that we must deal with somehow
if we are to have any hope of creating a humane sustainable culture as a
successor to the darkness we call civilization. If you want to deepen your
understanding of the full challenge we face, you'll find the book a mind-stretcher
and a sobering treat. Reprinted with permission.
The Dynamics of History
THE COMMONSENSE THEORY of social evolution offers a benign and reasonable
view of human affairs. According to this image, people are continually hunting
for ways to better their condition. (One immediately recognizes the Economic
Man of capitalist theory.) The alternatives are readily generated by this
pursuit of improvement. The longer the hunt goes on, the more alternatives
are discovered. And, since man is an inventive as well as exploratory creature,
what is discovered in the world is increasingly supplemented by what people
have created. With the passage of time, therefore, more and more cultural
alternatives become available for all aspects of our cultural business -
how and what to produce, how to govern ourselves, what to think, how to
travel, play, make music, and so on. The process of selection is done by
people. The criterion for selection? People choose what they believe will
best meet their needs, replacing old cultural forms when new and better
ones become available. Again, the resonance with economic theory is striking:
social evolution is the product of choices made in the marketplace of cultural
The commonsense theory of selection by human choice leads one to expect
a continuous betterment of the human condition. For a story of improvement,
however, the history of civilization makes rather dismal reading, and as
the culmination of ten thousand years of progress the twentieth century
is deeply disappointing. It is not simply that history is strewn with regrettable
events, with accidents leaving carnage and wreckage on the thoroughfare
bound for Progress. The road itself has been treacherous. If the stupendous
historical transformation in the structure of human life has been the result
of people choosing what they believe will best satisfy their needs, why
have not human needs been better met?
The idea of history as progress is itself of relatively recent origin.
And those who endorse that idea are usually looking only at relatively recent
history for support. But even the advances of modern civilization have their
nightmarish side, escalating as they have the destructive capacities of
civilization. Looking at history as a whole, it is far from clear that the
main "advances" of civilized societies have consistently improved
the human condition. In earlier eras of history, the cutting edge of civilization's
progress led from freedom into bondage for the common person. The great
monuments of the ancient world were built with the sweat of slaves whose
civilized ancestors had not known the oppressor's whip. After four thousand
years the pyramids of Egypt can still stand as an emblem of the problem
of civilization, that its achievements are more reliably impressive than
The idea of progress has relied in another way on the lack of a clear
vision of the distant past. The life of primitive peoples is widely assumed
to have been nasty, brutish, and short. The step from the "savage"
state to the "civilized" is consequently assumed to have been
straight up. Increasingly, however, as anthropologists have taken a closer
and less ethnocentric look at hunter-gatherers, the evidence has shown that
primitive life was not so bad.
Among hunting-and-gathering bands, the burden of labor is comparatively
small, leaving more time than most civilized people have known for play,
music, dance. The politics of these small societies are largely free of
coercion and inequality. Relationships are close and enduring. Primitives
enjoy a wholeness and freedom in their lives which many civilized peoples
may well envy. This new view of our starting point demands a new look at
the entire course.
The Struggle For Power
In his classic, Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes describes what he calls
"the state of nature" as an anarchic situation in which all are
compelled, for their very survival, to engage in a ceaseless struggle for
power. About this "war of all against all," two important points
should be made: that Hobbes's vision of the dangers of anarchy captured
an important dimension of the human condition, and that to call that condition
"the state of nature" is a remarkable misnomer.
In nature, all pursue survival for themselves and their kind. But they
can do so only within biologically evolved limits. The living order of nature,
though it has no ruler, is not in the least anarchic. Each pursues a kind
of self- interest, each is a law unto itself, but the separate interests
and laws have been formed over aeons of selection to form part of a tightly
ordered harmonious system. Although the state of nature involves struggle,
the struggle is part of an order. Each component of the living system has
a defined place out of which no ambition can extricate it. Hunting- gathering
societies were to a very great extent likewise contained by natural limits.
With the rise of civilization, the limits fall away. The natural self-interest
and pursuit of survival remain, but they are no longer governed by any order.
The new civilized forms of society, with more complex social and political
structures, created the new possibility of indefinite social expansion:
more and more people organized over more and more territory. All other forms
of life had always found inevitable limits placed upon their growth by scarcity
and consequent death. But civilized society was developing the unprecedented
capacity for unlimited growth as an entity. (The limitlessness of this possibility
does not emerge fully at the outset, but rather becomes progressively more
realized over the course of history as people invent methods of transportation,
communication, and governance which extend the range within which coherence
and order can be maintained.) Out of the living order there emerged a living
entity with no defined place.
In a finite world, societies all seeking to escape death- dealing scarcity
through expansion will inevitably come to confront each other. Civilized
societies, therefore, though lacking inherent limitations to their growth,
do encounter new external limits - in the form of one another. Because human
beings (like other living creatures) have "excess reproductive capacity,"
meaning that human numbers tend to increase indefinitely unless a high proportion
of the population dies prematurely, each civilized society faces an unpleasant
choice. If an expanding society willingly stops where its growth would infringe
upon neighboring societies, it allows death to catch up and overtake its
population. If it goes beyond those limits, it commits aggression. With
no natural order or overarching power to prevent it, some will surely choose
to take what belongs to their neighbors rather than to accept the limits
that are compulsory for every other form of life.
In such circumstances, a Hobbesian struggle for power among societies
becomes inevitable. We see that what is freedom from the point of view
of each single unit is anarchy in an ungoverned system of those units. A
freedom unknown in nature is cruelly transmuted into an equally unnatural
state of anarchy, with its terrors and its destructive war of all against
As people stepped across the threshold into civilization, they
inadvertently stumbled into a chaos that had never before existed. The relations
among societies were uncontrolled and virtually uncontrollable. Such an
ungoverned system imposes unchosen necessities: civilized people were compelled
to enter a struggle for power.
The meaning of "power," a concept central to this entire work,
needs to be explored. Power may be defined as the capacity to achieve one's
will against the will of another. The exercise of power thus infringes upon
the exercise of choice, for to be the object of another's power is to have
his choice substituted for one's own. Power becomes important where two
actors (or more) would choose the same thing but cannot have it; power becomes
important when the obstacles to the achievement of one's will come from
the will of others. Thus as the expanding capacities of human societies
created an overlap in the range of their grasp and desire, the intersocietal
struggle for power arose.
But the new unavoidability of this struggle is but the first and smaller
step in the transmutation of the apparent freedom of civilized peoples into
bondage to the necessities of power.
The new human freedom made striving for expansion and power possible.
Such freedom, when multiplied, creates anarchy. The anarchy among civilized
societies meant that the play of power in the system was uncontrollable.
In an anarchic situation like that, no one can choose that the struggle
for power shall cease. But there is one more element in the picture: no
one is free to choose peace, but anyone can impose upon all the necessity
for power. This is the lesson of the parable of the tribes.
Imagine a group of tribes living within reach of one another. If all
choose the way of peace, then all may live in peace. But what if all but
one choose peace, and that one is ambitious for expansion and conquest?
What can happen to the others when confronted by an ambitious and potent
neighbor? Perhaps one tribe is attacked and defeated, its people destroyed
and its lands seized for the use of the victors. Another is defeated, but
this one is not exterminated; rather, it is subjugated and transformed to
serve the conqueror. A third seeking to avoid such disaster flees from the
area into some inaccessible (and undesirable) place, and its former homeland
becomes part of the growing empire of the power-seeking tribe. Let us suppose
that others observing these developments decide to defend themselves in
order to preserve themselves and their autonomy. But the irony is that successful
defense against a power-maximizing aggressor requires a society to become
more like the society that threatens it. Power can be stopped only by power,
and if the threatening society has discovered ways to magnify its power
through innovations in organization or technology (or whatever), the defensive
society will have to transform itself into something more like its foe in
order to resist the external force.
I have just outlined four possible outcomes for the threatened tribes:
destruction, absorption and transformation, withdrawal, and imitation. In
every one of these outcomes the ways of power are spread throughout the
system. This is the parable of the tribes.
This parable is a theory of social evolution which shows that power is
like a contaminant, a disease, which once introduced will gradually yet
inexorably become universal in the system of competing societies. More important
than the inevitability of the struggle for power is the profound social
evolutionary consequence of that struggle once it begins. A selection
for power among civilized societies is inevitable. If anarchy assured
that power among civilized societies could not be governed, the selection
for power signified that increasingly the ways of power would govern the
destiny of mankind. This is the new evolutionary principle that came into
the world with civilization. Here is the social evolutionary black hole
that we have sought as an explanation of the harmful warp in the course
of civilization's development.
Power Versus Choice In Social Evolution
The parable of the tribes provides a perspective on social evolution
quite different from the commonsense view. Even without rewriting history,
the parable of the tribes puts it in a wholly new light.
The Question of Choice The commonsense model emphasizes the role
of free human choice: social evolution is directed by a benign process of
selection in which people choose what they want from among the cultural
alternatives. Viewed from the perspective of the parable of the tribes,
human destiny is no longer governed by free human choice. At the heart of
the loss of choice is not that some could impose their will upon others,
but that the whole reign of power came unbidden by anyone to dominate human
life. People inadvertently stumbled into a struggle for power beyond their
ability to avoid or to stop. This struggle generated a selective process,
also beyond human control, which molded change in a direction that was inevitable
- toward power maximization in human societies.
The parable of the tribes is not, however, rigidly deterministic. It
does not maintain that specific events are preordained. Even major developments
can arise owing to relatively fortuitous circumstances. The history of a
continent may be altered by a burst of human creativity, a people's destiny
may hinge on the wisdom or folly of its leaders, the texture of a culture
may bear for ages the imprint of some charismatic visionary. What the parable
of the tribes does assert is that once mankind had begun the process of
developing civilization, the overall direction of its evolution was
inevitable. This is suggested by the way civilization developed in those
regions of the Old and New worlds where it arose more or less independently:
their courses show significant parallels. People can act freely and intelligently,
but uncontrolled circumstances determine the situation in which they must
act and mold the evolution of their systems
Thus we find that the major trends in the transformation of human society
have had the effect of increasing competitive power. This effect in itself
does not prove that the selection for power has been the cause of these
trends, especially since many of these transformations also increase a society's
ability to achieve goals outside the realm of competition. A major purpose
of my work is to make compelling the case for the contention of the parable
of the tribes that the reign of power has been a significant factor in dictating
the principal trends of the social evolution.
History-makers People do make history. Historical "forces"
can be expressed only in the doings of flesh-and- blood human beings. In
the commonsense view of social evolution, history is shaped by "the
people" in general. To recognize that some people play a large historical
role and that others play almost no role at all still falls within the realm
of common sense. This inequality does not challenge the essentially democratic
view of history as governed by human choices if the history makers are seen
as representative of humanity. They can be representative if, like George
Washington, they are first in the hearts of their countrymen, or if, like
Bach or Edison, they have an extraordinary ability to create what the people
The parable of the tribes, however, sees the history makers as an unrepresentative
lot. To the extent that social evolution is governed by the selection for
power, it is the power maximizers who play the important role in the drama
of history. This group is selected for its starring role not by the human
cast as a whole but by impersonal and ungoverned forces. They are therefore
not representative in the democratic sense. Nor in the Gallup Poll sense,
for they are selected because of how they are different from the other actors.
They are different in their capacity to get and to wield power. Finally,
they are not representative in the sense of the hero who carries his community's
banner and fulfills his community's aspirations, for the power wielders
of history have often been the conquerors, the destroyers, the oppressors
of their fellow human beings. Though we must see history as a drama in which
the main actors are the powerful and aggressive, we should not slip into
seeing them as the villains, for it is not the actors who set the stage
or who govern the thrust of the plot.
The category of "power maximizers" embraces a couple of different
kinds of actors in the human drama. Most especially, it includes entire
sovereign social entities (like the imperialistic tribes of the parable)
who impinge upon other, previously autonomous societies. The parable of
the tribes focuses primarily on the intersocietal system because that system
forms the comprehensive context for human action, but more importantly because
in that system anarchy has been most complete and least curable. Anarchy
is at the core of the problem of power, making struggle inevitable and allowing
the ways of power to spread uncontrolled throughout the whole like a contaminant.
Thus, nowhere has power had so free and decisive a reign as in that arena
of sovereign actors where, by definition, there is no power to hold all
Yet the problem of power exists in some form also within societies; for
even though in one sense societies are governed, in another more profound
sense they are usually subject to anarchy. The formation of government and
the establishment of the rule of law can be - and usually have been in large
measure - the embodiment of the rule of raw power rather than a restraint
upon it. The search for a fuller understanding of the problem of power in
social evolution leads therefore to an intrasocietal analogue of
the parable of the tribes. And the category of history's power maximizers
includes those groups (like the feudal class) and individuals (like Stalin)
who are successful in competing for power within a society's boundaries.
Again, it is those distinguished by their capacity to grasp and wield power
who gain the means to shape the whole (social) system according to their
ways and their vision. And again, the history makers are cast in their roles
not by the people affected but by an unchosen selective process; and generally,
they are not those whom mankind would choose to guide its destiny.
The Spread of Cultural Innovations Both the commonsense view and
the parable of the tribes would predict that innovations tend to spread
from their place of origin. Both would predict an erosion of cultural diversity
among societies, but the two theories view this process of cultural homogenization
differently. If innovations are seen as "improvements," naturally
they will spread. When people in more "backward" areas learn of
better ways of meeting their needs, they will adopt them. Cultural diversity
is thus diminished by a process of diffusion. In the perspective of the
parable of the tribes, the historic trend toward cultural homogeneity is
decreed by the reign of power. Whether or not a cultural innovation spreads
throughout the system of interacting societies depends not so much on its
ability to enhance the quality of human life as on its capacity to increase
the competitive power of those who adopt it. The ways of power inevitably
become universal. While the diffusion model represents cultural homogenization
as the result of free human choice, the parable of the tribes stresses the
role of compulsion: the conqueror spreads his ways either directly or by
compelling others to imitate him in self- defense.
Civilization and Human Needs If civilization were governed by
human choice, we would expect it to be fairly well designed for the fulfillment
of human needs. This expectation led us earlier to the Rube Goldberg problem,
the ludicrous disproportion between the gargantuan apparatus of civilization
and the disappointing benefit in human terms. The parable of the tribes
sweeps aside this dilemma. If the selection for power, and not choice, has
governed the evolving shape of civilized society, there is no reason to
expect the design to correspond with the needs of human beings. According
to the parable of the tribes, civilized peoples have been compelled to live
in societies organized for the maximization of competitive power. People
become the servants of their evolving systems, rather than civilized society
being the instrument of its members.
Not that the selection for power systematically selects what is injurious
to people. The process is not hostile to human welfare, simply indifferent.
Many things that serve power serve people as well, such as a degree of social
order and the provision of adequate nutrition to keep people functioning.
(As this implies, there are a great many roads to hell that the need for
social power helps close off.) But the parable of the tribes suggests that
the service to people of such power-enhancing attributes of society may
be entirely incidental to their raison d'etre. Those of us who now
enjoy affluence and freedom as well as power are predisposed to believe
that benign forces shape our destiny. But to the extent that our blessings
are incidental by-products of the strategy for power at this point in the
evolution of civilization, our optimism may be ill-founded. If the forces
that now favor us are the same as those that earlier condemned masses of
people to tyranny and bondage, the future requirements of power maximization
may compel mankind not toward the heavenly utopia to which we aspire but
toward the hellish dystopias that some like Orwell and Huxley have envisioned.
Our well-being may prove to be less like that of the squire who feeds himself
well off the land that he rules than like that of the dairy cow who, though
pampered and well fed, is not served but exploited by the system in which
she lives. The bottom line that governs her fate is not her own calculation;
when she is worth more for meat than for milk, off she goes to the slaughterhouse.
Power and Choice Wisdom is often less a matter of choosing a particular
view as the truth than of combining different truths in a balanced way.
So it is with the parable of the tribes and the commonsense view of social
evolution. The selection for power does govern a good deal of the evolution
of civilization, but people also shape their destiny by their choices. The
power wielders are, to be sure, prominent in the human drama, but there
are creative and charismatic figures (Shakespeare, Buddha) whom we choose
to give a very different kind of power to shape our experience. The ways
of power may spread by compulsion, but antibiotics, fine silks, and the
idea of liberty can diffuse throughout the world by human choice. Thus,
while human well-being may be incidental to one major social- evolutionary
force, there is room for human aspiration to dictate a part of the story.
I therefore argue not that the parable of the tribes has been the sole force
directing the evolution of civilization but only that it has been an extremely
The evolution of civilization can be seen as dialectic between the systematic
selection for power and the human striving for a humane world, between the
necessities imposed upon humankind regardless of their wishes and their
efforts to be able to choose the cultural environment in which they will
Taiko is an Akita dog I brought with me to Japan from Minnesota. Here is a photo of her helping me during the last firing. <img src= http://images6.fotki.com/v76/photos/1/199764/954235/Sdeshi-vi.jpg>
"It is never too late to be what you might have been."
English word "sincere" comes from two Latin words: sine = without cere = wax. In Ol' Rome, potters used wax to cover up cracks and flaws in pottery. Potters who wanted folks to know they did not follow this practice had the sign in the shop declaring , "Sine Cere" - Without Wax, no hiding of imperfections or flaws. In Greek the word is: aploteti = "sincerity" It includes not only the idea of sincerity, but also doing more than is expected: Promising less but giving more than expected.
Not counting my early experiences as a kid, digging up my own clay, I become interested in pottery during undergrad at the U of Central Mich. Was too busy trying to get a degree to raise a family to take time and study pottery at the time. When I met my wife Jean in 1983, I looked her up because of the note she posted on the Zen center bulletin board, looking for a partner to go square and folk dancing with. This caught my eye, because it was out of character for your average Minnesota zen student, who my potter friend Dirk describes as being "about a quart low on blood." The first thing Jean asked me was if I was a potter. I said no, I was studying wood sculpture, but I was always interested in pottery. She said I looked like a potter and reminded me of her friend Dirk. When I met Jean, her apartment was full of MacKenzie's work and Dirk's work. Jean also took me to an import store, Yamato Imports, Downtown Minneapolis, where I was able to handle the work of Hamada and Shimaoka and also see the wood block prints of Shiko Munakata. She also took me to visit MacKenzie's pottery in 1983, not long after I came back from the monastery in Iowa. Jean introduced Dirk to MacKenzie's first graduate student (Horning), after Dirk came back from the East coast, where he ran a bookstore for the Himalayan Institute in NYC and learned pottery to make their cast formed netty pots (a sort of Aladdin's lamp used by Yoga people for cleaning the sinuses.) When he came back to Omaha in 1981, he told Jean he was really interested in the work of Shoji Hamada. Jean told him that he should meet Jerry Horning at Creighton University, the head of the ceramics department there, because he studied with MacKenzie, who was the leading proponent of Hamada in America. So, from the beginning, I was always interested in Dirk Gillespie, Warren MacKenzie, Tatsuzo Shimaoka and Shoji Hamada. After I studied with our zen teacher for 7 years, I began studying pottery. My initial plan was to study at my friend's pottery for a year and study Japanese too, and then study at Shimaoka's for a year. My friend's pottery situation was not satisfactory, so I went to Shimaoka's after a couple months and ended up studying with him for over 3 years. We decided to stay in Mashiko early on, when we found our modern house and studio, which is very rare in Mashiko. Jean's single request for a house was that it had a flush toilet and not a pit toilet. We have that here. Dirk and I both picked up work at the wheel very quickly. I have always attributed this to his yoga mediation and my zen meditation. I was also lucky to be able to collect and study good pots for 7 years before touching wet clay. It took me a long time to send in my Jerome Travel Study grant report because I am still being effected by it, but I did sent it in last month. I include it below. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My travel study grant allowed me to come to Mashiko to study pottery and do a three year apprenticeship with the National Living Treasure Tatsuzo Shimaoka. I was introduced and recommended to Shimaoka by his friend Warren MacKenzie. Few foreigners have had the chance to study with Shimaoka for three years. I was able to study all aspects of traditional wood fired pottery, from the processing of clay and glazes, working on the wheel, glazing, firing a large complex Noborigama climbing kiln and preparing work after it is unloaded. I had a graduation show in the spring of 2003 at the Tsukamoto gallery, the best gallery in Mashiko, which included my wife Jean Shannon showing her monotypes and new woodblock prints. I have built my own wood fired kiln which can be seen here: http://mashiko.org and have opened my own studio and am making my own work in Mashiko. I am also working on a book drawing on my experiences that the travel/study grant enabled. The book is related to zen practice, craft and the importance of craft in the 21st century. Below is a short bio I sent to the International Wood Fire Conference in Goshiwara, Aomori Japan, that I am presenting at in June. My talk will be titled: "From MingeiSota To Mashiko." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I was born in Osaka, lived my first 18 months in Sakai, and grew up in Michigan in the U.S.A. I moved to Minnesota in 1983 to study Soto Zen Buddhism with Dainin Katagiri Roshi. At my teacher's funeral service in 1990, I was impressed with the traditional Hassidic Jewish pine coffin, of nailess construction, that his body lay in. I decided at his funeral to become a potter, and to make funeral urns with the same heart/mind as the Hassidic coffin maker. Consumption is death and creating is life. Human beings are by nature creative. We cannot be happy through consuming only. And the best means of communication that transcends time, place, and culture, is through art and craft. Creativity can bring understanding, peace and harmony to the world. -- Lee Love in Mashiko, Japan Lee@Mashiko.org homepage: http://mashiko.org