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Introduction to Salamina, without comment

January 28, 2011

IN THE WINTER OF 1932-33 affairs in America seemed as desperate as could be short of a complete breakdown of our whole industrial machine, and the chaos consequent to that. The breakdown was averted, and  we enjoy today what we have termed Recovery. Yet even if Recovery be made a fact, we’d be unwise to relapse again into that unreflecting acceptance of prosperity which was, before the crash, the way of most of us. We’ve had our scare, a glimpse o fthe precarious, cardhouse nature of our social edifice; we’ve done some hard, fast thinking, most of us. What we have thought should be remembered, and in these days of change and revolution make itself a factor in our reconstruction. It may be that we have, as individuals, no voice or choice in the directing of our national destiny; that in the aggregate we must pursue, as water flows, a course determined by the contours of necessity. Yet the doctrine of economic determinism is for from being as determinative as it sounds. What is necessity? What do we need? And if we adopted toward ourselves, as individuals, or heads, perhaps, of families, the attitude of the physician who determines what we need by what is good for us, we might find our necessities to be of quite a different order from those to which we are accustomed and for the production of which our social structure has been reared.

Of life without the luxuries that we enjoy in America, without most of the gadgets that we have come to call necessities, of life in a barren country where even bare existence is precarious and the means of getting it a hazard, this book is a record.

Introduction to Salamina, by Rockwell Kent. 1935

Illustrations by Rockwell Kent.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 29, 2011 5:20 am

    Indeed, we are now, more than 80 years ago, required to paint-strip from our minds as much of the ideological junk as we can, and build anew from first principles. ‘Need’ is a first principle. Sustaining the life-ground in robust health is a first principle. Consuming to drive ‘growth’ so that we can consume yet more is not a first principle. As John McMurtry put it in “The Cancer Stage of Capitalism”:

    “A need for something exists if and only if, and to the extent that, deprivation of it regularly results in a an absolute reduction of its owner’s life-range capability.”

    Let’s focus our enormous capacities on that, and build from there.

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