We’ve had the pleasure of spending the week with Victoria Battisti, a young permaculturist from Argentina. Victoria has come to Australia on a pilgrimage to deepen her permaculture knowledges and awareness, and before she left for her next destination she sat down with Patrick to share a little of the story that led her to travel to our School of Applied Neopeasantry here in Djaara peoples’ country.
This podcast is the second in a series (listen to our first with Gregori Papanastasiou here), and is 30 mins in duration. We hope you enjoy this conversation with the effervescent Victoria Battisti.
As always your comments are most welcome, and if you are interested in being a SWAP (Social Warming Artists and Permaculturists) or a SWAN (Social Warming Artisans and Neopeasants) with us, please read this doc for more info.
A few weeks ago we travelled to Naarm, Melbourne to stand with Julian Assange and around 3000 fellow supporters of free speech. We travelled with our friends and elders Su Dennett and David Holmgren, shared a hug with John Shipton, Julian’s father, and made a short video featuring David’s analysis at the rally.
John Shipton is a beautiful human – astute, observant and wise. A recent interview with John by Chris Hedges provides important context for those who are catching up with Julian Assange’s persecution by the US and the UK governments. Of course, the Australian Government’s moral backbone hasn’t shown up once again, either, despite the promise of Anthony Albanese. In early 2022 Julian passed “one thousand days in Belmarsh Prison, dubbed ‘Britain’s Guantanamo Bay‘.” In late 2022 his voice still cannot be heard. His message is disallowed, muzzled. He is the most cancelled, most chained person alive in the global New Normal Reich.
The gift of Nasty
We posted David’s political analysis of the Assange rally on YouTube the day following the rally. Yes, YouTube let us back on their platform last week and reinstated a video they’d censored of ours, after our appeal fed back to them: “A difference of opinion is called democracy not misinformation.” We think one of their bots called for a human to assess our appeal.
One of the comments posted on YouTube responding to our latest video, came from Lean Nasty, who was, well, a little nasty albeit well meaning.
“Where’s the woke left?” Bloody hell. I love you guys and your family but that’s just pathetic. We left all care about Julian. Some of us are not anti-vaxxers. Some are. That’s okay. By making it about the “others”, by focusing on another group, we lose sight of what really matters.
Lean Nasty apparently didn’t face the full force of state violence for refusing an experimental inoculant made by corporate criminals who made themselves (via the admissions of the state) legally immune to any harm caused by the rollout. That any government or person could trust Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca considering their track records, is beyond our comprehension, but to mandate the productions of such criminals is proof the state-pharma nexus exists and is gravely dangerous to human health and society.
We think our political placard must have hit a nerve. “We left all care about Julian,” says Lean Nasty, but is that really true? Before heading to Melbourne we didn’t consider who would be there, we chatted with David, Su and another friend Marita about many things but not that. The political right attended this rally in equal, if not greater, numbers than those of us who once proudly called ourselves Left. If this post-binary political movement continues to grow and Identitarians across the political divide showed up too, the 1% would be truly shitting themselves.
The new right seem to have a better understanding of how neoliberalism is shafting the 99% because their politics, akin to old skool socialists and anarchists (or Left libertarians), are still rooted in hard economic realities. The new right are the youngtimer working classes, trying to survive neoliberal economic shafting that targets them first. On the other hand, woke Leftists are often privileged enough to have been educated in universities that are themselves now fully framed by neoliberal values, both in their economic and cultural forms, and in their production of captains of industry and other workers who are managing the systematic destruction of the biosphere.
Woke influencers have been rewarded by neoliberalism for steering politics away from labour and property relations and into Identity as the primary politic. They have been rewarded by having the new-speak of woke’s Identitarianism rolled out through the neoliberal institutions. The banking system – the apex of the neoliberal church – can handle “birth parent” and “chest feeding” language reconstruction in their own institutions; they have no need for mothers, except for the tedious reproduction of labour, biologically, while they wait for the transhuman embryo factories to fire up.
Neoliberalism, as the global parent (and akin to its woke children), hates the family. The family poses a threat to neoliberalism because the family still posits the possibility of alternative cosmologies to the dominant hegemony, economic or otherwise. Assange’s parents were rightly suspicious about industrial schooling because schools have become compliance factories where children are manipulated to conform to the imperatives of the neoliberal state and its war, transhumanism, ecocide, iatrogenocide and inequality values.
Assange spent some time at school and was also homeschooled. His family’s cosmology questioned the dominant hegemony in a holistic way. The possibility for an alternative and holistic cosmology is one of the tenets of Artist as Family and our crafting of neopeasantry. We no longer participate in neoliberal art, science or economics, but rather have pragmatically and creatively reclaimed ancestral modalities that are rooted in a walk-for subsistence. In relocalisation.
Leftists have typically moved away from defending the family and so any discussion of it is automatically considered a politic of the right.
Neoliberal and woke psychopolitics are working towards a mass culture where everyone is schooled by groupthink, everyone takes Pfizer’s and Gates’ drugs, everyone eats lab meat and GMO veggies, everyone’s behaviour is monitored through centralised banking, and everyone lives in the promised utopia of the Metaverse. This is why the woke Left weren’t at the Assange rally, Lean Nasty. Because they are serving neoliberal psychopolitics, albeit mostly unwittingly, using neoliberal technologies of power on a massive scale to coerce and control populations in how they think and behave.
The collaboration is powerful because there is topdown pressure from neoliberal controllers and bottom up community action from woke influencers working together. Byung-Chul Han writes in his book Psychopolitics (2017), how Big Data and new technologies of power are corralling us into ever more enclosures. “Big Brother and Big Business,” he writes, “have formed an alliance. The surveillance state and the market are merging.” The Covid response by the state-pharma nexus and the rolling out of vaccine passports typifies this.
The tyranny of neoliberal ‘kindness’
Jacinda Ardern – a well groomed WEF young leader who encapsulates woke Left psychopolitics – calls for a politics of kindness, while at the same time insisting her government is the only source of ‘truth’ for matters relating to information generally post Covid. When a government is claiming they hold ‘the truth’ a new period of tyranny has already begun. A recent article by Colin Todhunter titled, “Free Speech, Jacinda Ardern and the Tyranny of ‘Kindness’” published in OffGuardian offers important commentary on this unfolding crisis of cancel culture and censorship. Todhunter writes, “Like other political leaders, during COVID, Ardern clamped down on civil liberties with the full force of state violence on hand to ensure compliance with ‘the truth’.”
It took us quite some time to pop our own woke bubble, taken there initially because like so many things, woke started with good intentions; as a next-gen approach to the meritorious lineage of human rights activism that (in the industrial era) began with peasant and artisan resistance to being forcibly enclosed or cleared from ancestral and sacred lands, which their economic sovereignty depended on. The Crofters’ War (Cogadh nan Croitearan) in Scotland, for example, was “[w]aged over large parts of the 1800s. [T]he ‘war’ was a dispute between landowners and communities distressed by high rents, their lack of rights to land, or facing eviction to make way for large-scale farming operations.”
Land grabs started in the 12th century but escalated in early industrialising England, before British colonialism – the prototype for neoliberal global development – was rolled out across the world. Now Bill Gates is the biggest landowner in the US, land which is intended to kill family farming and bring in a next generation of ecology destroying GMO monocultures. The story of the industrial Left begins with the destruction of The Commons and the assault on land-bonded and artisanal classes and cultures by industrialists and classical political economists such as Adam Smith, and his theories of colonial development and free-trade imperialism (see” The Invention of Capitalismby Michael Perelman 2000).
The part of Left politics that’s now orientated by wokeness or Identitarian ideology foremost, doesn’t seem to grasp the current and historical significance of Julian Assange, whose only ‘crime’ was to expose neoliberal power’s true forms and deeds like any useful journalist should do to keep society from the wolves. So, finally, our reply to you, Lean Nasty (which we published over there at YouTube), went like this:
“Thanks for voicing your difference here. It is very welcome. We’re curious to know whether you listened to what was said by David [in the video] or did you get triggered by the cover image first, which lead to writing your comment? Regarding the cover image placard, for us it’s a very serious question: ‘why are those who purport to stand for human rights not at a rally for Julian Assange?’
Like any reductive shame label, such as the broad sweeping ‘anti-vax’ dismissive used against anyone questioning the state-pharma nexus, ‘woke’ has become shorthand for Leftists who have abandoned the larger geopolitical problems of our time and abandoned examination of any human rights abuse deemed not to fit into Identitarian ideology. There are many reasons for this, including the erasure of critical thinking from the education system and social media’s very intentionally engineered base-behaviour tribalism.
Yes, we agree, reductive language is always problematic, and politics leads us all there very quickly (such as your ‘anti-vax’ usage), but if you watch this video you may find a little more than just a political placard, which was written at the rally to express our grief that younger Leftists have abandoned Assange (or believe the manufactured smear campaign against him), and many have become apologists for state violence, be it mandates or war and everything in between.”
And not just apologists. The example Holmgren gives in the video of the German Greens being some of the most strident advocates for the war against Russia is just one story of this growing power-over trend in woke Left ideology. All over social media woke vigilantes came from lockdown waving Uncle Pfizer’s flag to waving the Ukrainian one without understanding the US’s meddling in that country for decades. The US influence in NATO to get military bases on Russia’s doorstep, for example, and their refusal to engage diplomatically with Russia to overt bloodshed and ecological catastrophe, is due to the capture of US congress by US armaments companies. This is why we’re facing a nuclear war.
So many of us, formally from the green Left, are now politically homeless, not just because Greens parties have become war mongers, but because they’re telling bright green lies about renewables, backing a growing industry of mineral extraction needed for neoliberalism’s bullshit climate fix – The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our crappy little home-brewed music video, The majors and the Greens (an election ditty), gives you a little more insight into what we mean here.
But let’s sit with the gift of Lean Nasty’s comment for a bit longer, for there is blind spot work in it for us, too.
Is it possible to move beyond reductive, divisive and crude politics and move towards what Charles Eisenstein is calling Political Maturity or what we’ve been calling for – a sacred politics?
Does political maturity mean we don’t speak up when we feel attacked or are fearing of “another group” whose values we perceive as deliberately setting out to destroy our own? Or does it mean we do speak, but only use a language that doesn’t alienate or wound, like non-violent communication (NVC), where people focus on ‘I’ statements and are conscious of not projecting their fears or wounds onto another? We know NVC works in the household and community sphere where there is direct engagement, and we are well practiced at it. But does it work when groups, especially online, refuse to engage with each other and bunker down into ideological silos?
The psychopolitics of cancelling others often takes place in the cowardly domains of the virtual. A recent notable example is when former Victorian Greens party convenor, Linda Gale, was attacked by colleagues in the party who wilfully misquoted her, and destroyed her reputation in a trial by social media for questioning not dismissing Identitarian ideology. These cancelling events will inevitably lead to the collapse of The Greens as many of us turn away, but more broadly it leads to the further fracturing of society. Neoliberals know there’s much money and control to grow when social fracturing occurs. We call this Disaster Corporatism.
A century on, woke invokes the gratuitous decadence of 1920s Europe with the earnestness and puritanism of the Hitler Youth. This is the brilliance of neoliberal psychopolitics, which we refer to as pop-fascism, a force wrapped up in cuteness, smiles, virtuousness and apps.
The rites and rights of youngtimers
How woke Left or Identitarian ideologies slide from human rights into neoliberal psychopolitics occurs by a certain kind of naivety for how this old power-over story of ‘get the kids early’ is brought forward into the contemporary moment.
The four main areas of concern that arise for us regarding the psychopolitical trans revolution, for example, which ideally we’d like to discuss in an open and nuanced social environment, are the four Ms – medicalisation, misogyny, misandry and the muzzling of debate.
The unavoidable misogyny that comes with insisting a transwoman is a woman without engaging in open debate across broad feminist and broader social discourses.
The inherent misandry that comes with insisting a transman is a man without engaging in debate across broad masculinist and broader social discourses.
And the muzzling of all these issues in our communities, closing down discussion with “Vulnerable people will suicide if you discuss this,” or even worse, labelling someone a transphobe and turning them into a social contagion for asking questions.
These four Ms – medicalisation, misogyny, misandry and muzzling – are, we believe, worthy of attention and debate. We know we will lose subscribers for saying this, and we’ll gain some as well.
Lean Nasty’s comment doesn’t seek to engage with the question on our placard: Where is the woke Left? Rather it appears to have touched a shadow point. When our shadows are exposed there is always the possibility of a learning, or at least the opportunity to ask a question of ourselves. Our use of ‘woke’ here may be provocative to some but it doesn’t attempt to shut down debate or silence anyone. It calls for engagement through its trigger; it provokes, and more importantly it is not afraid to ask the question. Where’s the woke Left? is calling for presence, for visibility. It invites debate and inclusion. We want to stand beside the woke Left at all rallies for Assange, but we also want to provide context for why they are not showing up to fight for freedom of speech.
Our question invites the necessary rupture or tension that politics often requires in order to better understand the ‘other’; for there to be argument so there can be movement. We call this ideological pitchforking which we also practice on ourselves to unstick crusty beliefs and move the dialectic into a more generative place. The pitchforking of our own hubris was what pricked our own woke bubble. There is undoubtedly always more we can do to aerate our own ideological composts.
Truth is never a static thing and this is why we value Indigenous thinking that observes the easy slide from right story to wrong story, from aerated compost to putrid compost. This has nothing to do with the game of right and wrong manufactured in an industrial cultural sense, because Indigenous wisdom is asking for each of us to observe the sliding that can so easily manifest in ourselves. There is no such thing as state truth because the state is a power-over leviathan that gets more monstrous with each new generation of technologies of power. The modern state, crafted out of English colonialism, and of course Roman well prior to industrialisation, is always wrong story because it is always a power-over cosmology. That’s why we’ve arrived at neopeasant anarchism – the crafting of social, ecological and economic relations rooted in the cosmology and intimacy of Mother Country.
For us, Mother Country will never be Birth Parent Country, but people are welcome to claim that misogyny.
Bodily autonomy and double standards
We didn’t know it at the time, but simultaneously two other rallies were taking place in the city. Unlike the Assange rally where people were uniting across the Left-Right binary, these two ‘other’ groups were clashing to such an extent police had to keep them separated. It got pretty ugly.
The irony of this clash is that the same set of protestors who are defending bodily rights in relation to abortion were the same demographic who attacked anti-mandate protestors in these very streets a year ago, jeering at people like us on social media and posting academic hit-pieces that called us racist, white supremacists despite the diverse multiracial attendees who showed up from across the state.
At those anti-mandate protests people also carried My Body My Choice placards. The exact same message. We agree in both instances, bodily autonomy must stand, even if the rights of an unborn child are extinguished or even if herd immunity was possible by ‘vaccinating’ into a pandemic with a novel inoculant, which it clearly wasn’t. It must stand because the neoliberal state-pharma nexus, cannot be trusted.
We also understand where the political Right are on this issue of abortion, so we can have empathy for that position even if we hold that bodily autonomy must stand. This goes for trans people wanting a new kind of body. Who are we to speak to that? Where things become problematic, however, is how this surgery is harming people, especially youngtimers, in a way abortion is not, and how youngtimers are the most vulnerable to trans surgery and big pharma’s greed.
If bodily autonomy stands as a universal ethic for both the Left and the Right, why then the moral inconsistency?
Ideological silos are a disaster for society though great for neoliberal power. For all of us to be fighting each other means the bankers and billionaires run away with the wealth while we all miss the sleight of hand that they’re dealing. Infiltrating woke has been a master stroke of neoliberalism, so too Gates and Bezos’ funding or ownership of what used to be reliable medias such as The Guardian and The Washington Post. All this capture has occurred by most of us watching the left hand while the right sneakily does the dirty work.
Charles Eisenstein suggests we have to be clear about who we serve and keep asking ourselves this same question. Tyson Yunkaporta calls for critical awareness of how quickly we can slide from right to wrong story. Rhyd Wildermuth is a gay-animist writer critical of wrong story wokeness. He refers to woke as ‘the new capitalist cosmology’:
so many corporations, banks, and neoliberal politicians have readily adopted the language of identity and at least the aesthetic of diversity and equity in their hiring practices, management styles, and political platforms. They have every reason to be happy with this cosmological shift, since they still get to keep property relations intact as long as they offer more expression to identity concerns.
Political maturity begins with the question, who are we going to serve? And then a process. A process that requires awareness of the adversarial political system we inherited at birth. A system that has always been divisive and favoured the rich and powerful but has now devolved to such an extent that the feigned-democratic, adversarial and colonial nature of the Westminster System is now just a lobbyists’ utopia.
As Rohan Leppert argues, in relation to the June witch hunt in their own party for those advocating for women’s sex-based rights, “The Greens in 2022 has already shown that its rules are subject to appeal in the court of social media.” Bodily autonomy, human rights and freedom of speech for the woke Left are a cherry picked hodgepodge that includes some rights and dissolves others.
Another example is how so-called green technology has become the main ‘fix’ for Greens parties throughout the rich industrialised countries. These parties back the mining industry of rare earth minerals, turning this destruction of Mother Country into ‘saving the climate’. The deceit and hubris of renewables is promulgated by the woke Green Left in much the same way as identity is championed – advance the cause, conceal the harms. The Greens today are just another mining party.
In the days when wind and solar were advocated for by we greenies who saw that these technologies could accompany a radical powering down from oil dependency – a kind of energy methadone programme for heavily industrialised countries – we naively didn’t expect this technology to unfold into the mining bonanza it is today. If the bullshit promise of ‘renewables’ isn’t examined as critically as trans medicalisation harm, or the harm caused by Bill Gates’ capture of institutions ranging from the BBC, The Guardian and the WHO, or the wholesale corruption of major political parties by lobbyists, or the proxy war in Ukraine, and the next great transfer of wealth to bankers in the unfolding inflation crisis, then we’re all in for much more pain as the empire collapses and ecological ruination hits us from every other side.
Rhetoric is the grand tool of this political culture, handed down from the ancient Greeks who also questioned the value of it. Rhetoric is clever crafting, trigger language and often involves shorthand – terrorist, anti-vax, transphobe, TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists), etc. These shorthand labels aim to shame the opponent, reducing them into easily identifiable parts. But woke is more slippery. This is how writer and publisher Bari Weiss, describes ‘woke’.
Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion, with exclusion.
Diversity and inclusivity are often used interchangeably but we argue inclusivity under woke ideology has become the opposite of diversity. We illustrate the distinction like this: Inclusivity: “Your story triggers me, please don’t tell your story.” Diversity: “Your story triggers me, I need to work out why.”
Having at first opened to the ideologies of woke, taken them on and sat in their well meanings, we eventually came to realise what was at stake as the fundamentalism became increasingly supported and steered by neoliberalism. A rally or protest inspires shorthand missives. A political rally is a series of short messages, symbols and gestures that are quick to grasp for the passerby, the press, the solidarity of the cohort, or for the perceived opposition.
So, where is the woke Left?
We could have written the longhand on this placard: “Where are the Leftists who have abandoned the larger geopolitical problems of our time and abandoned examination of any human rights abuse deemed not to fit into Identitarian ideology?” but in the thrum of the gathering we instead drew on the shorthand, “Where’s the woke Left?” because that was our first question on arriving, and it was super quick to write, even in serif.
Having been called anti-vaxxers, plague-on-bikes, ableists, neo-Nazis, Artist-as-Plague, granny killers, idiots, selfish spreaders of disease and the like, by people mostly residing in what used to be our political heartland – the Green Left – has been a big ride for us. Through this bleak period we’ve opened slowly to the gift of knowing what it’s like to be part of a contagion class. It’s actually very liberating, and has enabled us to see how neoliberal psychopolitics is always infiltrating grassroots groups who are coming together to do some good.
What we still fail to understand, however, is how woke Leftists (who are generally so loathing of straight white men) have so radically refused to question the coercive medical narratives of the most toxic straight white men in the world – Fauci, Biden, Trump, Andrews, Johnson, Macron, Trudeau, Gates, Bourla, Daszak, Schwab, McGowan, Bancel, Soriot, Morrison et al. There is zero sum critique of these abusive Covid ‘fathers’ from the woke Left. Why? Why did the woke Left cling to the coat straps of corporatist paternalism throughout Covid? And why can’t the woke Left see the link between this tyranny and the unlawful treatment of Julian Assange carried out by the UK and US governments?
We, in part, address this question in our blog post, The Left got Covid almost entirely wrong, and why it matters, and in the music video, We are here together, which we made a few months back, where we sing into the politics of cancelling free speech, mandating dubious injections, harmful child medicalisation and education industries, the power of dancing and climbing trees (as antidote to the derangements of hypertechnocivility), and the importance of political dissidents like Assange.
Youngtimers deserve better than what their neoliberal olders (not elders) are doing to them.
If you’ve been attacked, shut down, gas-lit and/or shamed-labelled for your views or opinion, how do you cultivate or maintain political maturity? Is political maturity only possible by those privileged enough not to have been politically vilified? Politics always seems to default to base-behaviour language where smearing the enemy is paramount. Can we rise above it? Can we integrate poetical, sacred, nuanced and empathetic threads into political discourse?
It’s easy to avoid politics and be turned off by reductionist arguments and shame labels, but what then?
Yes, othering is a systemic social problem, especially if the attack is on an individual. But so too is the absence of political critique and the absence of highlighting inconsistencies in a political class that shuts down dissent and peoples’ opinions that don’t fit within a specific ideology. We need more scrutiny of the psychopathic fathers of empire not more rules about what language people can or cannot use. And yes, we need less ideological warfare and more hugs. Thanks Su Dennett!
Where in woke ideology is the wisdom that can smell a rat when corporate greed, political corruption or medicalisation harm enters a room? Where is the wakefulness of not being played and the grace to say, “it’s true, they were never safe or effective, yes I truly bought the nudge fudge, and I labelled people who refused or questioned the jabs as anti-vaxxers, parroting the corporate media”? Where is the question: “If Assange is jailed for exposing war crimes of the empire – crimes that America and Australia, Britain and much of Europe commit their support to, if not implement themselves – and I let this take place on my watch, where will free speech be in five years? In ten? In fifty? Where will life be?”
As always, your comments are most welcome, your difference and your debate. And your questions too. We also want to hear, who do you serve? Who is your master? For us, it’s Mother Country and the flowering, fruiting abundance of the giving, birthing, making and dying earth that our lives are indebted to and we are part of. We say NO to neoliberalism, in all its captured forms.
We’ve had the joy of spending this week with Gregori Papanastasiou, and numerous conversations have flowed through the labours of each day. As we’re beginning to take in volunteers again, which we call SWAPs (social warming artists & permaculturists) or SWANs (social warming artisans & neopeasants), we thought we’d share some of the gifts people bring to Tree Elbow and our School of Applied Neopeasantry, exchanging food, labour, fuel, medicine and story.
In this first, long-form podcast offering, we hear Greg’s passage from migrant parents to growing up in suburban Melbourne, his self-directed rites of passage as a youth, to dance, music, meditation and exploring subsistence lifeways in an urban context.