[OSList] on context [was Open Space in Charlottesville]

Michael M Pannwitz via OSList oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Thu Sep 7 07:59:40 PDT 2017

Dear Raffi,

reading your last two lines it seems you are out of cents!

Good to hear from you and from Birgitt at just about the same time.

For 60 years I have been reading "The Progressive"... and for many years 
I have the yearly "Hidden History of the United States" calendar on my 
desk. Yesterday, it tells me, Jane Addams was born (1860), today the 
Women protest Miss America Pageant took place (1968) and tomorrow the 
Delano, CA, grape workers strike began (1965) which I vividly remember 
as a consumer boycotting table grapes in my neighborhood Safeway in Los 
Angeles (there is a writeup on the Delano grape strike in wikipedia
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delano_grape_strike
So, thats my context, at least part of it.

Having lived in Europe again since 1972 I am amazed about the 
rediscovery of regional and local context... some of it age old but 
attaining new attention and concrete shape such as currently in the 
secession movement in Spain which the central government is trying to 
stop with all means available.

 From an ost point of view, looking at the preconditions for a favorable 
climate for selforganisation to unfold, I think - among others - of 
"diversity". Regularly, I observed that ost events that I was a part of 
benefited in often amazing wayys when diversity was high. Of course, 
folks planning such events were sensitive to this aspect.
Different contexts being part of (any) event are very beneficial if not 
necessary. That, and the other preconditions, make ost events not only 
unique but successful. As far as I can tell, there is no substitute or 

Back to your books etc.: Whatever happens anywhere, it needs those 
different contexts, such as the "11 different regional cultures" in the 
USA or the 12 City Districts of Berlin, or the influx of migrants (a 
centuries old characterictic of Berlin, for instance) --- without 
differences the systems we create evaporate.

Greetings from Berlin
Hope you make it here some day

PS: Please have a look at yourself here in the World Map
> http://www.openspaceworldmap.org/worker/raffi-aftandelian

You are hard to recognize! With the selforganized Content Management 
System you can have a new picture in the Map, in a jiffy.
Am 07.09.2017 um 15:22 schrieb Raffi Aftandelian via OSList:
> Hi Lucas, hi all!
> I´ve been following this conversation with interest and my curiousity is 
> taking me in a different direction, hence a changed subject line- ¨On 
> context.¨
> First off, hats off to you, Lucas, for initiating these conversations. 
> Much needed!
> One question that comes up for me when these types of public 
> conversations are offered is if the matter of context needs to be 
> visited, and if so how is best to do so.
>   I think there can be many, many assumptions- uncovered assumptions- 
> that may end up not being aired. Assumptions like- ¨this is a democracy, 
> we lost our way, and we need to find our way back.¨ Or, that Rodney King 
> line, ¨Can´t we all get along?¨
> On this question of context- as to who are we (here in the USA) and 
> where are we, there are two points I´d want to make.
> The first one-- by way of a story-- Back in my college days, I took a 
> course in Soviet history. Our main text was a book titled Utopia in 
> Power by dissident historians Nekrich and Geller. All (or many?) of the 
> darkest chapters of Soviet history were right there, in gory detail. I 
> remember thinking at the time- oh, those poor Soviets, too bad they 
> don´t know the truth of their own history. And in my time living in 
> Russia, I had the sense that most people- even educated people- had 
> little knowledge of this history.
> Fast forward twenty-five years. My book club read a work titled American 
> Nations (by Colin Woodard) late last year- and as the coincidental 
> timing would have it- we discussed the book the day after the election. 
> Woodard identifies 11 different regional cultures in the USA, each with 
> its own distinctive values, often clashing with those of other regional 
> cultures. While I was reading the book, I realized how little I knew of 
> ¨my¨ own country, how little I knew its history, how little I understood 
> the cultural and value context of each of these regions, and gained a 
> much clearer sense of why we these so-called culture wars and other 
> kinds of social and political conflict. My takeaway was that it really 
> didn´t make sense for all of these cultures to exist under one flag. I 
> also realized that, no, we *can´t* get along (if couples can divorce, 
> why can´t states/cities/communities divorce from the USA???)
> So, the book had me flashing to that Soviet history class-- and in a 
> way, I had my own comeuppance- ¨us poor Americans, if we only really 
> knew our own context! I really wish that book - for all its own 
> shortcomings- had a wider audience as it could really help us understand 
> our own context much more clearly. And without a consideration of 
> context, we are having these conversations without unpacking what *are* 
> our respective worldviews anyway. And they are quite different.
> The other aspect of context is surfacing assumptions about our current 
> political system. As best as I can tell, the USA never was a democracy, 
> nor even a republic. The best way I could describe it is as an inverted 
> totalitarian apartheid state with a not insignificant amount of 
> democratic window dressing.
> Let me unpack this. Sheldon Wolin, a political philosopher at Princeton, 
> who passed a few years ago, coined the term ¨inverted totalitarianism¨ 
> to describe the political system we have here-- a web of corporations 
> and other entities together exerting total control on the political 
> system without the need for a person at the top (no need for a Stalin or 
> Hitler). Journalist Chris Hedges breaks this concept down in an engaging 
> three hour interview he gave to C-Span (it´s online) in 2012.
> And, historian Gerald Horne in his recent Counter-revolution of 1776 
> makes a strong argument that the so-called Revolution of 1776 was really 
> a counter-revolution, a reactionary attempt to maintain the institution 
> of slavery. He states that really the US was the first apartheid state.
> And others would say that slavery never really ended, it just 
> evolved...(I first heard of the institution of neo-slavery that existed 
> from the end of the Civil War until the end of World War II and still 
> don´t know much about it) So, when people say, ¨That´s not who we are 
> (we aren´t racist, sexist, etc.)¨-- I find that maddening. We are all 
> those things!
> So, to be an inverted totalitarian apartheid state with a not 
> insignificant amount of democratic window dressing isn´t bad. But, it 
> would be too bad, I think, not to recognize that this is our base point. 
> And what´s important is that there is some democratic window dressing-- 
> there is some space to change things, some space for conversation, but 
> perhaps not in the ways we would like to think.
> So, I don´t know how or if what I´m bringing up here is useful. But, I 
> do believe it needs to be part of these conversations somehow.
> My two kopecks/rials/dinars/pesos,
> raffi
> **************
> What blocks gratitude in this moment?
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Michael M Pannwitz
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++49 - 30-772 8000
mmpannwitz at gmail.com

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