The Poetics and Philosophy of Survival

By: Bill Whaley
11 April, 2020

Chaos…the neo-Police State…Practical Responses

Currently, it’s time for Taosenos to look at the long-term effects and response to El Viro. According to news reports, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office has stationed cruisers as “check-ins” at the borders of the County. Perhaps they are taking a card from Taos Pueblo, where patrol cars guard 24-7 the entrance to a culture, whose history includes 10,000 years of adaptation to climate change and rejection of top-heavy hierarchical organization. The Chaco diaspora, beginning in about the 11th Century, resulted in the “smaller is better” re-establishment of the “social distance” re-location of the Rio Grande Pueblos.

In the early seventies, many of us were reading “Small Is Beautiful : Economics as If People Mattered by Ernst F. Schumacher” during the Arab oil embargo. In the 80s I read the Harvard Energy Report, which said we could obtain all our future energy needs via “conservation.” But Global capitalism shelved those practical documents.

According to news reports, farmers in Florida and California are plowing under the spring crop because warehouses are full, and demand has declined because the hospitality and restaurant markets closed. Expect to see empty shelves in grocery stores as food supplies shrink. The Town of Taos recently announced that the Farmer’s Market on the Plaza would not open this year.

Local farmers can practice “physical distance” and safely deliver and/or sell produce along the highway, just as wood vendors, and used vehicle sellers operate outside the normal supply lines of “Capitalism.” (An egg lady delivers to a box outside my scriptorium.) Taosenos have a history of customs that suggest we can operate outside the “norms.” The cannabis culture did not begin in the last few years. It’s back to the future of trade and barter.

Yesterday at Ace Hardware, the manager, a former UNM student of mine, wore an impressive-looking mask he had for sale. I saw a plethora of glove styles to choose from. He also said the home improvement and gardening demand were keeping “Ace your local hardware man happy.” During WWII, urbanites grew victory gardens.

It seems that local leaders have grasped the nature of the crisis, shutting down tourism, calling on local gas purveyors to stop gouging in this week’s Taos News. We all wait for Taos Pueblo to finish building their gas station and begin selling gas competitively like the Espanola operators.

Basically, the Coronavirus or COVID 19 has revealed the current corruption and attendant weaknesses of Capitalism, practiced as a Bandido enterprise, based on the economics of a “Ponzi” scheme: Pay off debts incurred today with the promise of profits earned tomorrow. Well, tomorrow has arrived. So, the Federal Reserve Bank prints up vouchers to bail out corporations and ensure bank liquidity while Congress passes enormous bail-out bills, grounded in the politics of the printing press: the check’s in the mail. Meanwhile farmers are plowing food under the turf.

At UNM’s faculty meeting yesterday, Director of Curriculum Randi Archuleta and CEO Patrick Valdez discussed the recent conversion of live classes to online/zoom affairs. (Yours truly will be teaching Comp 1, 1110 and Comp II, 1120 this summer with IT assistants, online, also with help from Camus and Zoom. I’m taking Yoga-Zoom with Shree now at the bargain price of $5 per class, accompanied by students from all over the country.) So, we adapt.

Some of the most powerful politicos and their elite supporters deny climate change or fiddle the books, grow the inequality gap, or promote the propaganda re: the global virus of capitalism. At home the spread of the global invasive species threatens us, an endangered species. Social leaders, news pundits, and societies as a whole tend to re-interpret the future as a product of the past. But that’s how unimaginative generals, politicians, and football coaches lose wars, campaigns, and ball games. Societies were originally formed as an attempt to provide justice and liberty for all. That’s the point of social security and much of the New Deal’s progressive ideas. Bernie is proving right while Joe sleeps like Grandpa.

We must educate ourselves and prepare the next generation, not by ignoring science and history, but by adapting imaginatively to lessons learned. We need to open our minds to the potential innovations and opportunities that will inevitably appear despite the coming “die-off.” Eliminate the middle plucker and buy directly from the grower.

Hope is both a virtue and a necessity. Despair and denial are a piece with dead men walking. You see the latter blithering on TV in the Rose Garden or declaiming in the U.S. Senate. Listen and look not with a cynical mind but a skeptical regard for commonsensical truths. In addition to the conspirators and bullshit artists, there are those who speak of faith in facts, reason, and the imagination associated with uncommonly decent actions: see the glorious governors, health-care workers, and first responders all battling El Viro.