* Here’s a fascinating article that describes how, even before this week’s historic election, the people of Greece have begun to work around capitalism in order to meet their needs.
The clinics [run by volunteer doctors and discussed earlier in the article] in turn are part of a far larger and avowedly political movement of well over 400 citizen-run groups – food solidarity centres, social kitchens, cooperatives, “without middlemen” distribution networks for fresh produce, legal aid hubs, education classes – that has emerged in response to the near-collapse of Greece’s welfare state, and has more than doubled in size in the past three years.
The groups both spring from and are:
fostering “almost a different sense of what politics should be – a politics from the bottom up, that starts with real people’s needs. It’s a practical critique of the empty, top-down, representational politics our traditional parties practise. It’s kind of a whole new model, actually. And it’s working.”
The potential for change is exciting:
“We’ve gained so much from people’s innovation,” [a volunteer] said. “We’ve acquired a knowhow of poverty, actually. We know more about people’s real needs, about the distribution of affordable food, about how not to waste things like medicines. We’ve gained a huge amount of information about how to work in a country in a state of humanitarian crisis and economic collapse. Greece is poor; this is vital knowhow.”
If the first instinct of many involved in the movement was simply to help, most also believe it has done much to politicise Greece’s crisis. In Egalio, west of Athens, Flora Toutountzi, a housekeeper, Antonis Mavronikolas, a packager, and Theofilos Moustakas, a primary school teacher, are part of a group that collects food donations from shoppers outside supermarkets and delivers basic survival packages – rice, sugar, long-life milk, dried beans – to 50 local families twice a month.
. . .
We help them, yes, but now they are also involved in our campaign, helping others. People have become activated in this crisis. They are less isolated.”
The global 1% has imposed “austerity” on all the rest of us, and especially upon Greece, in an attempt to consolidate even further their stranglehold on the world’s resources. They preach trickle-down capitalism with straight faces, as if forty years haven’t shown that it only causes the rich to become richer. It would be delightfully ironic people’s response is to learn that they don’t need capitalism.
/hat tip to David Derbes at Eschaton
* And speaking of self-sufficiency, it can be difficult for modern Americans to appreciate just how much free food we lost when chestnut blight killed off the American chestnut. Landscape Guy sent me an article about attempts to breed blight-resistant chestnuts. It notes that:
Repopulating our woods — and even our yards, our commons and our courthouse lawns — with American chestnuts would put a versatile, nutritious, easily harvested food source within reach of just about everyone. For those living on the margins, it could be a very real hedge against want. For everyone, it could be a hedge against distancing ourselves from our food, which can be the first step toward a diet [rich] in the whole foods that virtually every public health authority tells us we should eat more of.
Imagine if homeless people and others could simply gather chestnuts from commons, forests, and, as the side streets.
* My book club recently read Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise Von Franz. It would be interesting to see how these “newly-discovered” darker and more mystical versions of the tales compare.
Some of Schönwerth’s notes suggest that he shared some of his interviewees’ belief in creatures such as the Holzmädchen, or woodland maidens, who came to help the peasants at night.
Most of the tales don’t set the scene with “Once upon a time”, but start in medias res: “A prince was ill”, “A prince was lost in the wood”, or “A king had a son with hair of gold”.
. . .
The tales she discovered, says Eichenseer, weren’t children’s fairytales in the way we know them from the Grimms, but stories that explored the transition between childhood and adulthood in fantastical ways.
A number of them feature long periods of sleep, after which the main characters wake up with a changed shape or appearance. “People often say fairytales are cruel,” says Eichenseer. “But life is cruel. And children know that.”
Children also know that it’s magical in ways that don’t conform to the Grimm’s Xianity.
* Katha Pollitt tweeted the link to this fun article about moving from misandry to Witchcraft. What’s amazing is that the author seems completely unaware that there are already real Witches and that yes, they do wield magic.
What makes a witch? Here’s the secret: it’s not a pact with the devil, or hunger for children, or I’ll-get-you-my-pretty revenge. It’s just turning your back on expectations, flipping the bird to the patriarchy and all its little monsters. A witch doesn’t need to have a bad attitude—but she doesn’t need to be a submissive helpmeet either. She doesn’t need to hate children, but there’s nothing wrong with her not wanting to host them in her womb or in her house. (She cannot eat them. We still have to live in a society.) She can hate men, or find them pointless, or she can love them—she can love as many men as she wants. She doesn’t need to be ugly, but she’s under no obligation to be beautiful.
* I’m not a big fan of the cold, but a Frost Fair on the Thames . . . .