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what's wrong with primitivism?

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Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
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Apr 11 2004 15:55

What means exactly? We're not talking economics here we're talking practical farming techniques. Changing our methods of social organisation wont suddenly bequeath us an ability to feed ourselves in an environmentally friendly way.

Technology may provide us a means around this in future I don't know, and GM crops might end up doing that if and when they iron out the bugs. As I said before I'm not a primmie, I'm very firmly in the pro technology camp. But at our current level it is not capitalism that's making our farming methods pollutant, they are so because of the limited technologies we have and the numbers we're feeding.

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 11 2004 16:33

Not all arable land is in use and much of it that is in use is used to grow crops for meat production.

Land is often rendered less productive by the use of other pollutants derived from capitalist excess.

There are other means of producing food, plankton, algae seaweed, bacterial monoculture.

No doubt there are difficulties. But it is our economic system thats mostly to blame.

Most trade agencies want to control the amount of food produced as its a good way of controlling the population level. Look at WTO formation policy for example, they want to keep the population at certain levels.

With the use of fertlisers and the parents on GM crops they can control who can grow the food in the right amounts.

Gm crops will probabaly also be a benefit, but not while their in the hands of the capitalist economy.

john

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Rob Ray
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Apr 12 2004 12:54
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Not all arable land is in use and much of it that is in use is used to grow crops for meat production.

Yes I've read Fields Factories and Workshops tomorrow too, can we please keep the conversation in this millenium? In the UK this is no longer such an issue as cattle rearing has dropped off by aprox 90% in the last decade and feed crops grown in this country are fast becoming incapable of turning a profit. Pollution has remained high despite a large scale turnover to more profitable vegetable crops/fallow land. The issue of unused land (along with reducing industrial poisoning overseas) is an important one and could if solved drive down the amount of pollution derived from crops, but it would in no way come close to doing so adequately.

Large scale marine farming is among the most difficult and pollutant of all known forms of food production because quite apart from the fact that discharge goes straight into the water cycle and thus can't be reused/promotes water borne viruses etc which then turn round and kill your crop, it's damn near impossible to keep yields without killing a vast area around the farm through chemical use (Salmon farming in Canada and Scotland are not ideal examples but offer the most noticable effects in recent years).

I'm not sure what you're talking about regarding population levels, it sounds a bit conspiracy theory to me (rampant starvation in Ethiopia has not led to a decrease in births for example)?

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Apr 14 2004 10:39
Saii wrote:
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Not all arable land is in use and much of it that is in use is used to grow crops for meat production.

Yes I've read Fields Factories and Workshops tomorrow too, can we please keep the conversation in this millenium? In the UK this is no longer such an issue as cattle rearing has dropped off by aprox 90% in the last decade and feed crops grown in this country are fast becoming incapable of turning a profit. Pollution has remained high despite a large scale turnover to more profitable vegetable crops/fallow land. The issue of unused land (along with reducing industrial poisoning overseas) is an important one and could if solved drive down the amount of pollution derived from crops, but it would in no way come close to doing so adequately.

Large scale marine farming is among the most difficult and pollutant of all known forms of food production because quite apart from the fact that discharge goes straight into the water cycle and thus can't be reused/promotes water borne viruses etc which then turn round and kill your crop, it's damn near impossible to keep yields without killing a vast area around the farm through chemical use (Salmon farming in Canada and Scotland are not ideal examples but offer the most noticable effects in recent years).

I'm not sure what you're talking about regarding population levels, it sounds a bit conspiracy theory to me (rampant starvation in Ethiopia has not led to a decrease in births for example)?

I know what you mean, i'm not syaing its all some big plot conducted from the top because that would be insane, just that there is a large current in bourgeois thought taht concerns itself with keeping the population stable. You know, the sort of people who read Malthus and actually see some sanity in it.

The point would be not to make the population fall but to stop it rising uncontrollably.

I mean consider, central africa is not very densely populated at present, but wghat would happen if there was a population explosion in the area and hungy immigrants flooded into towns, leading to industrialisation change etc...now thats competition for the qwestern bourgeoisie and new large restless and proabably very hungry proletariat...

I'm not saying its a conscious decision but i think population control has become very much part of bourgeois thought.

And as for marine farming well it what your saying is true but only if you were carrying out farming in anopen environement. In closed water tanks i imagine it would be fairly easy to create optimum conditions for growth of algae plankton and other such photosynthetic food sources.

Given its popualtion density, soil and climate the Uk is never likely to be anything more than self suficient in food production.

But take the US for example, imagine what would happen of you removed the burden of cattle farming there.

Injust do't think population levels are something we need to worry about just yet, also i think water is a far more pressing concern than food.

john

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Apr 15 2004 11:26
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In closed water tanks i imagine it would be fairly easy to create optimum conditions for growth of algae plankton and other such photosynthetic food sources.

Hmm not sure what techniques are used for closed tanks, so can't comment with any degree of certainty, but the raw material need would be horrific I would have thought (metal/earthworks to build the tanks, large amounts of constantly flowing water to keep the tanks clean, pesticides cos you have such high volumes of bio-matter in a small environment, whatever might be necessary to help it grow...)

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But take the US for example, imagine what would happen of you removed the burden of cattle farming there

They're doing so, much of the US is running fallow atm cos cattle rearing is moving to South America (hence most of the rainforest getting cut down, FYI the Brazillian government are considering allowing 1/2 of it to be chopped over the next 50 years or so). I don't know how much of that could be used for crops, particularly if we're talking about reducing fertiliser use to a non pollutant level. Anyone else know?

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i think water is a far more pressing concern than food

That I do agree with.

coyote
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Apr 17 2004 17:02

gm food beneficial? why?

Before anyone trots out the "starving black babies" cliche, i'd like to point out that when i was working in a famine zone in sub-saharan africa the story broke that the US was proposing sending gm food aid. the people i spoke to were outraged at that.

they didn't want to be sent what they (rightly in my view) regarded as toxic food.

and they didn't want GM full stop.

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Apr 17 2004 21:47
coyote wrote:
gm food beneficial? why?

Before anyone trots out the "starving black babies" cliche, i'd like to point out that when i was working in a famine zone in sub-saharan africa the story broke that the US was proposing sending gm food aid. the people i spoke to were outraged at that.

they didn't want to be sent what they (rightly in my view) regarded as toxic food.

and they didn't want GM full stop.

and?

that doesn't have anything to do with whether individual GM crops are harmful or not

I don't mind if you present scientoific evidence one way or the other, but simply telling scare stories about it doesn't serve anypurpose whatsoever.

people have eaten a lot less safe things than GM food to avoid starvation

persoanlly if me and my family were starving, i'd pretty much eat anything

john

coyote
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Apr 18 2004 10:31

but you're NOT starving. and hopefully never will be. these people i knew had continually face this threat. and they did not want GM food.

(incidentally, there is plenty of food around - shortages are not the issue. distribution is. GM doesn't affect that.)

the point is not so much wheter an individual pice of GM food will harm you if you eat it occasionally, but theri generalised introduction into the environment...AND whether they hould be imposed upon a population that do not on the whole want them.

your comments seem to suggest that it ok to introduce stuff against peoples' will because its good for them (or at least not harmful)...you need to show the BENEFITS of GM not merely refute the scare stories. what is the point of introducing GM (and i'll stress again - against peoples' wishes) simply because no harm ahss been proven?

AlexA
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Apr 18 2004 11:54
coyote wrote:
they didn't want to be sent what they (rightly in my view) regarded as toxic food.

Er, come on there are lots of good arguments against corporate use of GM, but shouting "toxic food" or "frankenfoods" or something similar is not one of them. Sounds more like something Prince Charles would say...

coyote
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Apr 18 2004 13:16

yes. but people commonly regard gm food in these ways. so why should they be forced to consume it?

this is not just about scientifc arguments but about the imposition of progress...

even if GM food were beneficial should people have to have them?

should peoples' wishes be ignored because of the opinions of specialists?

surely a fairly basic circle A position?

Not that there has been any convincing argument for GM yet?

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Apr 18 2004 13:37

I think that's the point - because at the moment there's no way to stop GM crops contaminating non-GM, allowing GM crops to be grown stops anyone from eating non-GM if they don't like it.

However the potential benefits if the technology were used properly should be obvious:

In places like some areas of China where people eat mostly one crop (rice) and lots of people share a common malnutrition (Vitamin A deficiency) you could engineer the rice to contain vitamin A, for example.

You could also say engineer bananas in some countries to contain vaccines for common illnesses, or engineer bacteria to clean up chemical waste (which we'll have to do a lot of "come the glorious day" wink).

But of course no one should be forced to have them. This is why I think terminator seeds could be a good idea in a free society cos they would stop cross-contamination (or at least would seem to unless viral/bacterial transfer of DNA is shown to be more prevalent in GM crops than non-GM).

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Apr 18 2004 15:28
coyote wrote:
yes. but people commonly regard gm food in these ways. so why should they be forced to consume it?

this is not just about scientifc arguments but about the imposition of progress...

even if GM food were beneficial should people have to have them?

should peoples' wishes be ignored because of the opinions of specialists?

surely a fairly basic circle A position?

Not that there has been any convincing argument for GM yet?

Hmmm, I don't think your understanding where i'm coming from at all here.

Yes i think most anarchists are against the abuse of GM technology by teh Bourgeoisie, but teh science is sound, and most fo what is grown for food purposes is likely to be harmless however i'd imagine most anarchists oppose open trials because their unsafe, taht is what haapens when the borugeoisie get hold of technology, they tend to use it to empower themselves.

But the imposition of GM crops and open trials have bothing to do with a judgement of teh technology.

john

ps oh and To borrow a phrase, aren't you getting technology and industry confused... wink

coyote
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Apr 18 2004 16:12

so i guess we can agree on gm "industry" = bad?

but gm "technology"?

widely perceived as bad.

some are aguing that in a non-capitalist society it might be harmless, maybe even good?

am i right in simplifying the position we're at as this?

if so:

then the point as i see it now is, and this perhaps return to the main topic of the thread, whether technology can be seperated from the industry it produced/produced it.

would an anarchist society have the specialists or motivation to develop thing such as gm? i would say not.

confused trying to keep it simple cos i'm not a scientist and the above debate on farming totally lost me!

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Apr 18 2004 17:00
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why should they be forced to consume it?

No one advocated the forcible introduction of GM at any point coyote, we were talking about it as a potentiality only.

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would an anarchist society have the specialists or motivation to develop thing such as gm? i would say not.

Why would anarchism stop people from specialising? And why would there be no motivation? Neither of these things are exclusive to Capitalism, they occurred before it and they'll occur after it.

Scientists are often in no way paid comparable to the benefits of what they invent, yet they still do it. Why? Kudos, the desire to improve the world, a desire to understand it, any number of reasons but Capital is usually not the deciding factor.

Anarchism, because it would not limit funding their discoveries to merely profitable enterprises would widen the horizons of science. In all probability, because more people would be better educated in the first place (because schooling is vastly underfunded under capitalism and wouldn't be under Anarchy) it is likely that the number of scientists would go up, as kids wouldn't get turned off it by inadequate teaching.

With that in mind, and considering how enormous the potential benefits of GM are, why would an Anarchist society be unlikely to make it?

coyote
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Apr 18 2004 18:00
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No one advocated the forcible introduction of GM at any point coyote, we were talking about it as a potentiality only

as has already been mentioned the introduction of gm crops into the environment will lead to "contamination"- it will be near impossible to maintain gm free crops. this sounds like forcible introduction to me...

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Why would anarchism stop people from specialising?

Unless you are advocating a society that maintains a division of labor and some kind of "class system" it is unlikely that people would a) have the time or b) the resources that capitalist scientists currently get. Science now is incredibly subsidised by large corporations(biotech, phramecuticals, petro, military). when we get rid of these corporations who will subsidise certain sciences (such as gm) to this degree?

do you also feel that post revolution scientists will hav the luxury of devoting themselves to their research whilst other people did the "mundane shit"? would artists, for example, also be able to lock themselves away whilst other people sorted out their food, housing etc etc.?

surely an anarchist society would encourage despecialistaion, where everybody would be empowered to to enage with decisoin making that affects them and not leave it in the hands of experts?

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(because schooling is vastly underfunded under capitalism and wouldn't be under Anarchy) it is likely that the number of scientists would go up, as kids wouldn't get turned off it by inadequate teaching.

science gets an enormous amount of preferential treatment in the education system. in any school which dep't has the best resources? in universities which dep't is best funded? in postgrad who can get grants? the answer in every case is the scientists. why? because it is of the most use to odern capitalism. would an anarchist society continue this, or indeed extend it as you seem to suggest?

however, you have a valid point in saying that science would be broadened without the profit motive. indeed. this why i expect disciplines such a gm to lose their current status. there are far more pressing and useful researches to be done.

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considering how enormous the potential benefits of GM are,

which are? nobody ha come up with anything much yet. nothing that can't be acheived in other ways, more efectively.

LiveFastDiarrea
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Apr 18 2004 21:16
coyote wrote:
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science gets an enormous amount of preferential treatment in the education system. in any school which dep't has the best resources?

Thats crap, it may have been that case at the school or uni you went to, but its not always true. You get a head of school who teaches PE and doesn't like Science and the Science department gets shit funding.

Science is seen as important? So why isn't science one of the subjects you can't drop at GCSE? If they saw it as important dont you think they would atleast make all GCSE students study it?

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Apr 18 2004 21:52
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the introduction of gm crops into the environment will lead to "contamination"

Yes but we weren't advocating introduction yet either, hence our repeated 'potential's and 'will do's.

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Science now is incredibly subsidised by large corporations. when we get rid of these corporations who will subsidise certain sciences (gm) to this degree?

Why not us? I know I'd help out where possible to improve the human condition, surely this is what Anarchism is all about? There's no reason why workers in an Anarchist society couldn't volutarily give up some of their free time to help create the tools scientists need, in the same way as they would to make the tools a doctor needs.

Currently there is a huge shortage of scientists in Britain, largely due to our primary and secondary school system which fails to train children properly early in life and doesn't enthuse them for practical subjects. I don't really need to go into the relation of capital to mass education here(that's more beginners forum stuff really), suffice to say this would not be such a problem under anarchism, which would drive up the number of people innovating in all spheres of science and engineering through giving more resources to youth education.

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do you also feel that post revolution scientists will hav the luxury of devoting themselves to their research whilst other people did the "mundane shit"? would artists, for example, also be able to lock themselves away whilst other people sorted out their food, housing etc

Would you stop subsidising everyone who isn't doing something 'mundane', like musicians, comedians and the like? Because that sounds like a really dull world you want to live in. I'd argue that yes these people probably should be subsidised if they're contributing to the sum of human happiness, and if they aren't people can simply stop giving them stuff after a while until they do start doing something useful. I'd give them, and scientists, exactly as much respect as everyone else and no more.

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surely an anarchist society would encourage despecialistaion

Only if it truly wanted to go back to the stone age. In order for eveyone to be generally good at all tasks they'd have to train until they were 1,000 years old. Specialisation is not a problem, reliance on a small cabal of specialists is. It's getting around that by training many specialists in every field that should be the priority, not making sure nobody has that knowledge at all.

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nobody has come up with anything much yet.

Greater resistance to disease, higher yields with less input, an ability to grown in poor soils, reseeding barren land, I could go on.

AlexA
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Apr 18 2004 22:26
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Unless you are advocating a society that maintains a division of labor and some kind of "class system" it is unlikely that people would a) have the time or b) the resources that capitalist scientists currently get.

Are you joking?

So you think the revolution will take away our free time and turn us into horny-handed sons (and daughters) of toil? That doesn't sound like any kind of revolution I want to be part of!

Er and also in a moneyless society why won't scientists get resources?

I would think that there would be far more resources devoted to improving the human condition/knowledge/understanding, when science is freed from the need to create profit.

Quote:
Science now is incredibly subsidised by large corporations(biotech, phramecuticals, petro, military). when we get rid of these corporations who will subsidise certain sciences (such as gm) to this degree?

How does this fit with your moneyless society?

Quote:
do you also feel that post revolution scientists will hav the luxury of devoting themselves to their research whilst other people did the "mundane shit"? would artists, for example, also be able to lock themselves away whilst other people sorted out their food, housing etc etc.?

Are you joking? Aren't you a primitivist?

I think one of the key aspects of anarchism now is that it hardly takes any time whatsoever to do all of the "mundane shit". So in sharing it out we'd have a load of free time to get involved in other persuits. Including art and science I don't doubt.

You should read The Disposessed - this covers this in some detail, with people taking shifts as physicists, miners, farmers etc. according to their skills, the need and their fancy.

surely an anarchist society would encourage despecialistaion, where everybody would be empowered to to enage with decisoin making that affects them and not leave it in the hands of experts?

Quote:
science gets an enormous amount of preferential treatment in the education system. in any school which dep't has the best resources? in universities which dep't is best funded? in postgrad who can get grants? the answer in every case is the scientists. why? because it is of the most use to odern capitalism. would an anarchist society continue this, or indeed extend it as you seem to suggest?

What do you have against learning?

I think it's amazing that we've been able to develop such a vast understanding of the world, and see no reason why this would or should, stop.

Quote:
which are? nobody ha come up with anything much yet. nothing that can't be acheived in other ways, more efectively.

What about the ones George's mentioned?

What's a more effective way of say cleaning up pollution or waste than theoretically using GM bacteria?

Or how else could you cure genetic diseases?

coyote
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Apr 19 2004 10:24

Education and Science

(please note I believe the education system as stands sucks in a lot of ways for ALL subjects, including sciences – but – the following is relative…)

Science a privileged subject? Crap?

Sorry. I work in education, so am very aware of curriculum requirements and which subjects get priority. E.g which subjects are “academically gifted” pupils encouraged to take. Why is it possible to take 3 sciences at GCSE but not 3 languages? Which trainee teachers get the most financial incentives? (before you shout “shortages” how many scinec teachers in any school v. art or music or drama? and I visit/work in A LOT of schools and colleges (here and abroad), and in almost every case I would argue that my statement is correct. Compare, say the Art block to the science block. Spot the difference?

Where is govt funding directed? Where are school funds directed?

Yes there may be exceptions. But generally my point is true.

And you cannot surely dispute that science gets the vast majority of postgrad funding (yes, I admit I’m bitter – but it doesn’t make it untrue!!)

Why? Because as I said science is economically useful for capitalism.

I’m most certainly not against learning. The exact opposite. But learning liberated from the economic imperatives of capital.

Regardless of which subject.

But please stop complaining that science is under resourced or gets a raw deal in schools. It doesn’t.

I’ll return to the other points raised re. Specialisation and gm benefits later when I’m not at work…

coyote
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Apr 19 2004 10:34

Horny handed sons/daughters of toil?

I sure hope not.

But we all need food, housing, utilities etc. at the moment most of us have them provided for us by others. Do you think this will continue? Will “3rd world peasants” continue to grow cash crops, sew sneakers, mine the stuff we make cars and computers out of, for us?

Or maybe we’re gonna have to do it ourselves?

If we want to maintain the present level of civilisation (for want of a better way of putting it) then there is a lot of crap work that needs to be done. If this is shared out equally then scientists, artists whatever will have less time to develop their specialism. surely? Sad, but true.

And, yes I have read The Dispossesed – a long time ago! I guess I oughta read it again!!

Oh, and by the way, I wouldn’t describe myself as a primitivist. Just think there are some things they raise that we need to think about some more is all.

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888
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Apr 20 2004 14:08

There's a severe lack of good science teaching and interest in science at schools, what are you talking about. Science teachers get financial incentives because there aren't enough of them.

Anyway science is better, more useful, meaningful and beautiful than say English, Business Studies, Politics, Economics, or Law, so it deserves more funding. In an anarchist society the last 4 subjects won't exist.

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Apr 20 2004 14:17

Where's this "3rd world peasants/miners will have to do all the work in your anarcho-leftist world" accusation that all prims and sympathisers make coming from????? It's absurd!

We'll only have to do a couple of hours work a day, once all the useless jobs, which is the cast bulk of them, are eliminated, and work is rearranged and made democratic and much more pleasant, as it definitely can be. Of course if you want to grow all your own food on a farm you'll have to put in a lot more work than that but if people cooperate then the amount of work they'll need to do will be much less.

Forgot to add coyote that when it come's to postgrad funding what you're saying is right... (and I happen to be getting the funding - definitely think there should be more funding for humanities subjects though, although I think alot of academics just write complete crap all the time to justify their existence).

By the way came back from a pub last night where I foolishly admitted I was going to do nanotech research to a bunch of primitivists/fellow travelers... they were quite "civilised" about it though.

coyote
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Apr 21 2004 14:28

star green black we all know Ray Mears is gonna set the school curriculum postrevolution anyway! wink

LiveFastDiarrea
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Apr 21 2004 19:10

I thought he was dead? maybe I'm wrong.

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Spartacus
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Apr 22 2004 12:25

ray mears isn't dead! he's still doing his survival programs, which are great, especially when he goes and lives with indigenous peoples

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Anyway science is better, more useful, meaningful and beautiful than say English

that is entirely subjective! i certainly hope that science won't be more important than culture in an anarchist society, that would be rubbish. i enjoyed english much more than science, and i was good at science, and now i do maths.

ClassWar
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Apr 22 2004 14:18
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
and now i do maths.

The caluclator has been invented GT, there is no excuse, in this day and age, for people to still be doing sums.

crwst
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Apr 20 2005 10:01

Hey Joe black the Pine tree is actually a good source of Vitamin C if you make a cuppa out of the young fresh Pine needles smile star green black

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Apr 20 2005 10:02
crwst wrote:
Hey Joe black the Pine tre is actually a good source of Vitamin C if you make a cuppa out of the young fresh Pine needles smile star green black

Huh well this thread's a blast from the past!

crwst
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Apr 20 2005 10:05

You accusing me of being backward looking??? smile star green black

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 21 2005 01:02
crwst wrote:
You accusing me of being backward looking??? smile star green black

no we accuse you of being a lunatic