Circular Living. An ADMer’s Guide to Spiritual Survival in Amsterdam’s Political Wastelands.
The ADM, an old, abandoned shipyard in the industrial desert to the west of Amsterdam, is home to all kinds of birds, trees and other plant-and animal wildlife as well as a flourishing, self-organised community of artists, artisans and other such people as don’t fit the current economical paradigm. A practical and well-functioning little ‘anarchist’ society if you will, though ‘anarchism’ has somewhat lost it’s meaning here for lack of it’s opposite. Now, obviously, the existence of such a place does not sit well with proponents of the idea that the world should be first and foremost a profitable place. Prolonged existence of ADM may well induce some to re-evaluate their profit-seeking values. Which is not generally a profitable thing to do. Killing the forest and evicting its inhabitants generally is.
Unsurprisingly, the ‘profiteers’ as we shall call them here, whilst essentially subscribing to the same world-view, do not necessarily agree on whom the world should be profitable to. From this rather inevitable discord politics and banking, religion and other forms of violence sprang forth, as did the current-day battle over ADM. Towards the end of the year 2017 some of us found ourselves attending a public hearing at the Amsterdam City Hall, the stated goal of which was to provide clarity on the meaning of a single clause in the original contract of purchase of the ADM-terrain.** It was the peculiarly insincere behaviour observed in some of the city Councillors during this hearing that inspired the author of this piece to try to find some reasonable, preferably widely-applicable explanation for said type of behaviour, and to share his findings in the essay below. May it serve to enlighten those who, like the author, are oftentimes baffled by the intricacies of the profit-seeking mind.
The first question was... why
Seeing, from up-close, these so-called politicians, lying flat out, blind and deaf (or even violent) to anything that doesn’t suit their intended results, or hearing them accuse others of doing what they themselves were in that very moment extremely guilty of, both surprised and saddened me. As a human being, I was expecting other human beings, no matter their faults, to possess or at least to portray some semblance of decency, dignity, or honesty. I was mistaken. How could this be? Are they not human? Where is their spirit? Love? Why do they not care? The answer to these questions was, at first, equally surprising. Then I remembered what i had previously learned about modern day economics.
Introduction to the circular ‘economy’
To the result-oriented mind, life is simple. What do I want? I want to feel great! The quickest and therefore best way to meet this target is of course cocaine. Readily available, in quantities large and small, it is a reliable source of ‘feeling great’. However, as always, there is a catch. Money. In order to obtain coke, one needs cash, dough, dollar or some such substance.
Money, for the sake of this article, was invented to make sure everyone, that is, everyone who is or wants to be a Someone, will receive his or her fair share of cocaine, provided they are willing to do whatever it is that will make those who produce money, or have lots of it, willing to part with some of it. Since cocaine is an expensive commodity, we can rule out ‘an honest day’s work’ to be an efficient way of providing sufficient funds to keep on ‘feeling great’. We need to up our game a bit.
History and the world around us teach the observant and the subservient alike that services such as lying, cheating, banking, and lawyering are highly valued by those who are in a position to allocate funds. It may seem funny that it should be this way, but keep in mind that this system has been going for a while, and those doling out the credits are more than likely liars, bankers and lawyers themselves. They are simply trying to re-create the world in their own image. A very human thing to do. Now, for those who have learned to lie, cheat or even kill when told to do so, the future is very likely to have lots of ‘feeling great’ in it. In disregard of the outside consequences they will do as they are told in order to receive credits, which they will then hand back to what is in essence the same organisation, in exchange for more ‘feeling great’. They have met their target, they will do so again the next day.***
What we have here is a nice example of a ‘Circular Economy’. It is, alas, also a fair description of a large and extremely wasteful part of the ‘economy’ as we know it today. Be not fooled, ye who wish to learn and and acquire knowledge, into thinking that in order to understand our modern human ‘economy’ we need to learn about swaps, shorts, futures, mortgages, theories of money and interest or any such contrivances. There is only human behaviour.
Human behaviour is easily influenced. Many ways of influencing or ‘controlling’ human behaviour were invented over the years. Religion, blackmail, facebook, indoctrination, intimidation, government, taxes, centralisation of control over resources, schooling, newspapers, media in general, on and on, blahdiblah. As it happens, the most effective way to steer human behaviour so far has been the creation of the concept of money. Whether it actually exists or not, it (or the promise of it) does have a profound influence on an individual’s perception of the world, in a way very similar to the effects of cocaine. Such is its power that many will give up much of what makes them human just to get it. Like cocaine, it will silence the conscience. Like cocaine, its ‘positive’ effects are temporary and individual. It’s less pleasant, negative effects however are more lasting and always shared.
Big money and cocaine today are pretty much synonymous. Together they pretty much form a closed system: once you enter, no way out. These people then, no longer have room for logic, or sympathy, let alone empathy. No room for admitting they were wrong either. Why would they even want to? After all, they ‘feel great’.
It’s no use debating an addict, nor a parrot taught but one word. This would seem to become especially problematic when these parrots are placed in ‘positions of power’. But, and this really is the bright side to this story, only for as long as we believe that ‘positions of power’ actually exist. I’ve certainly never seen one. The closer you get, the less solid they appear. Like a mirage. Denying or fighting the existance of such ‘positions of power’ will not, of course, make them disappear. Acknowledging the fact that the basis for their existence lies within our own minds, on the other hand, may well be a logical first step in the direction of a less convoluted world.
In the meantime, I say fuck this circular ‘economy’, it’s circular LIVING that matters and I will do so as best I can, with my neighbours here on ADM!
Driekus is a long-time inhabitant of ADM. Mostly voluntary. His favorite saying is ‘Language speaks for itsself, no need to say anything’, though that changes by the day. To contact Driekus you can call him, but he does not answer to anyone.
**This clause, allowing only for the establishment of a large-scale shipyard, represents a value in today’s currency of many tens of millions. Were this clause to be lifted (as has been tried), forgotten or distorted (as seems to be the current strategy), these millions would quickly flow to the owner/profiteers. If left intact, the profiteers will have no choice but to hand the ownership back to the city of Amsterdam, meaning they will have to settle for a much smaller profit of perhaps ten million or thereabout.
*** Disclaimer: Driekus is not advocating the use of money, drugs or politics to anyone. They are dangerous substances, especially so in the hands of professionals. Do NOT mix. Use extreme caution when handeling.