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From: "Miriam Jones" 
Subject: Re: Discussing ideas and strategies
Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 08:13:43 -0400
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Status: R

Hey Harel,

At this point, I also don't know what to say. But I'll try. I will just jump right in to the most important thing to me about this whole discussion, and I will be very blunt. I in fact DO NOT want you to question something that Pattrice and I have built up over three + years for reasons that you obviously don't understand, because if you DID understand them, then you WOULD understand that those reasons address BOTH the immediate and the long-term problems that matter most to ALL of us.

You say I am being defensive. I say that by couching your commentary in what you call "gentle" language, YOU are being offensive while protecting yourself against the ramifications of what you say to others. It goes like this. You say what you want to say, professing that you are being "gentle" or "strategic" in the way you are saying it. I respond to what you say with up-front honesty about the emotions I have based upon what you have said. Then, you say I "lash out" when I am simply being up-front. This is unfair.

Perhaps we are looking for different kinds of working and friendly relationships. Perhaps our styles are too different to mesh well together. I don't know. I do know that I do not want a comrade, so to speak, coming into my life and questioning what I do with my time -- especially when that person is not an animal rights person. The AR people are hugely supportive of the work we do. Especially what Pattrice does -- and I help to support that work with my job. It is on the cutting edge, actually, the kinds of work we are doing, melding together different movements that haven't been welded together, not ever. (And by the way, the kinds of conversations that you describe, how can we deal with both the long-term and the short-term problems, these happen ALL THE TIME in the AR movement. Not as much as they could, sure, but at every conference or gathering, they are there, being hashed out.)

Now, in turn, I am sure the media activists are hugely supportive of the work you do. Since I am NOT a media activist, I do indeed think it would be presumptuous of me to waltz in and question what you do there. I simply don't know enough to do so. I mean, I know some things; but as far as wide-reaching tactical things are concerned, I can't go much further, other than to agree that of course the internet is a hugely important tool for global organizing.

So when is criticism fine, other than when people have known and trusted each other for a long time and know what they are about? As far as I'm concerned, it is fine to question what people are doing when they are working TOGETHER on a shared project, something they both know something about. Like on the community center. Or, when in talking about generalities. Like, how can all the movements be encouraged to work together. Other than that, no. I simply don't want someone coming in to question what I have devoted years of work to doing...Do YOU? Can you honestly tell me that you want me to devote my time and energy to convincing you that the drive for intentional communities is frankly not the answer? Because truly, I don't think it is. I think they will exist to become enclaves for those rich enough to avoid the increasing violence and poison of the cities. I think they will never really take off to offer the majority of people an alternative to what they have already -- because I don't believe that enough people really want an alternative.

Does this mean I don't believe in your desire to form these communities? That I disagree with it? That it is worth my time and my breath to try to dismantle something that you are working on that, after all, might be effective in a limited way to do something positive (other than the ones that build upon undeveloped land -- as you know, I don't agree with further developments of land)...No. It would be personal and unnecessary. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with what you are doing in that area, and I indeed would like to live in an intentional community one day if it worked out. Do I think it is the best use of time and energy? Not nearly. OK. Does that mean you and I need to waste our time convincing each other that the conclusions we have reached over 20 years+ each (I have been an activist that long, and I think you have too, right?) are faulty? This would be obnoxious, in my opinion.

This leads me to other things. The thing is, I am starting to strongly suspect that because our long-range wishes for the world are different -- as well as our prognosis for the world -- we just don't agree on the best strategic tactics. We just don't. Your primary goal, I believe, is to build up the internet, build up sources of alternative media, at the same time build more and more intentional living communities, and work to weave these things together into a new vision of a new world. Fine. Again, I don't think necessarily that these things are the answer -- because to me, the answer has VERY LITTLE to do with worrying about dismantling capitalism as a first step, because I don't believe that the end of capitalism will lead to the end of animal and environmental abuses, which I think are much more important to end than the abuse of fellow humans. But who cares. There is NOTHING WRONG with working in the way you are working, and it is important to do, and we certainly can't all work on the same things because that would be STUPID, strategically. Anyway.

I, on the other hand, truly don't believe that there is the sort of time. that is needed to first work on economic systems and then deal with other things. I believe very strongly that most of our ecosystems will collapse long before that happens. So, my long-term goals include various ways of trying to get humans to at the very least stop inflicting our murderous impulses on other forms of life. This includes, in part, building up the sanctuary into an education center to push factory farming further and further out of the picture. In concert with other AR activists, my first big goal will, I hope, be met in time. Maybe not. Anyway, I have other goals, too, which mostly include writing about these and related issues as well as making enough money doing something at the very least neutral and maybe a little bit positive so that I can support the work Pattrice does. These are fine also.

Now, we are doing this community center thing together. A fine goal also. Not one which will change the world, since there are probably hundreds of these across the world and they haven't changed the world yet, but one which might help bring together like-minded people to begin an educational process, a place for strategic planning, that sort of thing. On THAT goal, we can and should toss ideas about. It is a fine goal. We can work together on that goal just fine without questioning what we do with the rest of our activist time.

On to other things. As far as NRA comments are concerned, you know what? I will put this in capital letters so maybe you finally hear this. THE REASON YOU DIDN'T UNDERSTAND MY REFERENCE IS BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T LET ME FINISH WHAT I SAID AT THE TIME. I have said this over and over, and I just don't have any more hope that this will change. I know I said the last time we talked about your interruptions of me that clarifying questions re: activism were fine, but maybe I was wrong, because so many of our face-to-face misunderstandings have been LITERALLY because you don't allow me to formulate my thoughts, really say what I mean. You are always there to jump in, ask clarifying questions that serve only to confuse me. And then when you have the floor, so to speak, you DO NOT GIVE IT UP. You continue to talk and therefore you really don't know what it was I was trying to say in the first place.

And now you will say I have attacked you because I have spoken the truth. Launch attacks, is what you say I do. Well, I'd rather have someone say something directly to my face than literally not allow me to say it. That is what you do. You don't allow me to say what I want to, because you jump in and take the floor, and then accuse me of saying things I didn't say, or in ways I didn't mean them, all because you didn't let me say my peace in the first place.

OK, I think I have said what I needed to say. On to other things. You wrote,

>The most natural thing to do is for me (for us) to

>suggest further discussion to find common ground where

>the three of us (four with Diana, 5 or more with others)

>can agree on what is effective, what should be done first, what should

>be done second, what is an effective practical way to tie activisms

>together, etc.

What three? Is there someone other than Diana, whom I thought had no time, which makes two? I already told you that Pattrice will not be involved in this at this time.

>To answer your question: Hell NO that would not be an offensive thing

>to say!! If you say "you're stupid for focusing on media" (which is

>not quite accurate; it is one of my 3 or so main focuses, but then

>again, we haven't conversed enough to be informed enough about each

>other's activism thoughts..) -- that would be "offensive" and



>And no, I don't buy that I'm "insinuating" bad things

>about you/Pattrice when I question time picking up chickens

>and having as much time to actually build institutions

>that change the system --

One last comment in this area. The thing is, with your comments in this area, you didn't want to talk about grand ideas and big strategies for global activism. You wanted to question the work I am doing right here and now. I can tell you I won't be changing that work. I will change it if and when we get some grants, so we can create a center like Vandana Shiva has. We are on a path. Please do not question that path. We can talk about how THAT path goes with paths like YOUR path to blend them together in to a stronger path. But don't continue to tell me that I am not working toward the future. WE ARE ACTUALLY BUILDING AN INSTITUTION THAT WILL CHANGE THE SYSTEM. WE HAVE BUILT SUCH AN INSTITUTION. You just don't think there is as much value in helping non-humans as there is in helping humans. Period.

Finally, if you really don't mind hearing criticism, why do you act like I'm being an attacking monster every time I offer you some?

So, after all this I find that I am not free Thursday. I need to go to Berlin to pick up a chicken who is there after havnig had an operation. If you wish to continue to try to work these issues out, that would be great. But until they are worked out -- really worked out -- I don't honestly know whether or not we should continue to try to have as close a working relationship/friendship as we have been, or if we should simply work together on specific projects.

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