Frank Zappa on Schools

Didn’t have time to put this into Chapter 6, which is now online, but it’s as good as anything John Taylor Gatto (who I do quote) said. This is the full transcript:

“Schools train people to be ignorant, with style. They give you the equipment that you need to be a functional ignoramus. American schools* do not equip you to deal with things like logic; they don’t give you the criteria by which to judge between good and bad in any medium or format; and they prepare you to be a usable victim for military-industrial complex that needs manpower.”

“As long as you’re just smart enough to do a job and just dumb enough to swallow what they feed you, you’re gonna be alright. But if you go beyond that then you’re gonna have these grave doubts that give you stomach problems, headaches…make you want to go out and do something else. So, I believe that schools mechanically and very specifically try and breed out any hint of creative thought in the kids that are coming out.”

If you want to undermine what Frank was talking about then click on this link.

*this can apply to any school system in any part of Industrial Civilization.

TACTIC: Undermining

TACTIC: Undermining (Meta Tactic)

Common uses: Where individuals and communities are disconnected from the world outside the industrial civilized culture (a.k.a. The Real World), Undermining will be in operation where impediments to connection with The Real World are removed.

Body: Undermining is a Meta Tactic, in other words is describes a set of principles under which a number of tactics are located. The key principle on which Undermining is based is that humans living within the culture called Industrial Civilization are kept from rebelling or otherwise choosing their own way of living through the existence and operation of a large number of Tools of Disconnection. “Connection” in this sense is awareness, respect for and connections with the world that is not part of Industrial Civilization, i.e. it was not created by Industrial Civilization. One may feel “connected” within the paradigm of Industrial Civilization but this is probably just an illusion, created in order to suppress rebellion. The Tools of Disconnection include such things as “Pretend We Have A Choice” (e.g. consumer “choice”, voting), “Sell Us A Dream” (e.g. advertising), “School Us”, “Steal Our Time”, “Abuse Us” and “Give Us Hope”. These are listed in full in the book Underminers (Chapter 2).

Undermining is any tactic that succeeds in countering any Tool of Disconnection, thus it can be any of a vast range of tactics and variations on tactics. Undermining has a set of rules that ensure appropriate use of time and energy, and also minimise harm to both the Underminer (a person who carries out Undermining) and anyone against whom the tactic may affect. The rules can be summarised as: (1) Concentrate on the Tools of Disconnection; (2) Take Responsibility for your Actions; (3) Plan Ahead; (4) Don’t Get Caught. Again, more detail is available in the book Underminers (Chapter 5).

The reason for using Undermining above any tactic that could not be considered a form of Undermining is that all other tactics play into the hands of the system. Anything that does not Undermine Industrial Civilization either makes Industrial Civilization stronger or simply has no impact upon its grip on our behaviour. We thus remain victims of the Culture of Maximum Harm , and equally culpable for the destructive actions of civilization as any other person operating within the industrial system.

Potential pitfalls: Many tactics that fall under the Undermining banner may be potentially dangerous to both the actor and the any people directly related to the target of Undermining. Risk must always be borne in mind in all cases. Undermining may be considered by some activists to involve “violence”, although violence in its untainted definition can only take place against a living creature; this is a point of definition. Undermining may also, in some cases, involve illegal activities, though in very few cases will they be unlawful (as defined by Common Law or Natural Law) and in most cases Undermining acts to prevent unlawful actions, even as the Undermining itself may be illegal.

This was originally submitted for the book Beautiful Trouble, but was not accepted.

The Bubble of Indifference

So, here we go again. Another almighty chapter finished, another (slightly less almighty) under way. I probably should have written more but I’ve taken on a few extra responsibilities recently and had to work harder in others, at the expense of writing which, to be honest at least in the case of essays and blogs, is no bad thing. It just so happens that the first big wodge of Chapter 8 is, in part, attacking the self-referential nature of the “environmental movement” (it has to be in quotes as there’s nothing really moving about it that I can see). This encompasses a few things, but one key aspect is the way people hang onto everything that other, apparently more worthy, people write and say to the extent that they don’t have an original thought of the their own, and spend so much time congratulating the Gurus, that they don’t do anything themselves.

Rather like blogging (something I try to keep thankfully minimal), the world the mainstream environmentalists occupy is a bubble of words and ideas that have little relevance to the real world, and have even less chance of changing it. I would take one person outside of my circle of friends and fellow mind-travellers saying, “You know what, I really agree with you!” over a dozen of the aforementioned, if it was a case of working out if what I did, said or wrote had the potential to make a difference. Of course, it is lovely to have the approval of your peers, but the problem is: they are your peers. Of course they are going to agree with you otherwise you wouldn’t be connected to them. This is endemic in the mainstream environmental “community” (for want of a better word), to the extent that no NGO or advocacy group I have ever contacted has any desire to look beyond the civilized paradigm and into a world of other possibilities.

Time to pop the bubble.

Not Gathering Moss, Honest

So October ends and November begins. An evening of ‘Guising through the streets of our village (well, wife and children did, I stayed in with a friend waiting for the many knocks on the door to indicate a new group of suitably attired children replete with bad jokes and the occasional song) ends a busy month writing, along with all the other things I get up to in my life as an economic non-entity. The garden has been tidied but we still have some chard and spinach growing well, as well as cabbages and cauliflowers being lazily grazed by the late slugs. The potatoes were killed off by an early frost and only time will tell if they got enough energy from the leaves to become edible – I fear not.

The writing, while not being visibly stupendous has been steady and productive. Chapter 7 nears completion, although the end of year deadline may suffer due to all sorts of new undermining ideas emerging. You may also have noticed Chapter 4 being published on the Book page, which should provide some serious spadework for those who have never been involved in activism before, or who have only ever carried out symbolic actions. During editing I was delighted to stumble upon a host of essays by CrimethInc. which slotted perfectly into the chapter (with kind permission), avoiding the need to once again chase up the original essayist who, for whatever reason, stopped communicating after I sent the book text along. I might be persuaded to reveal who, in person, on receipt of comestible gifts.

Chapter 5 is next up for publication which, looking at the dates, will be along during the second week in November. I’m looking forward to the chance to reveal the Anonymous Hivemind essay to the world. Now it’s time to write about the end of the Internet and what it could mean to Undermin…….

What A Way To Go

Do you need a reason to undermine the industrial system? How about a good movie?

Sit back, and with just the occasional click you will have enough reasons to start a revolution…

What a Way to Go – Part 1 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 2 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 3 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 4 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 5 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 6 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 7 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 8 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 9 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 10 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 11 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

What a Way to Go – Part 12 from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

Huge thanks to Tim and Sally for making this available.

White Distractions

The snow is thick here, boy it’s thick! With temperatures predicted to stay below freezing for at least the next week in this part of Scotland, and the white stuff continuing to fall for at least another two days with a bitter easterly wind moving in to freeze the cobblers off anyone who steps out of their door, one would think that writing would be a breeze – no distractions. Well, that would be the case if the inclement weather – great fun and all that, and of great beauty – hadn’t resulted in doorway traffic increasing exponentially, and a great steaming pile of hats, gloves, coats and boots in every corner.

And there’s also the fact that I love sledging, throwing snowballs, sitting in front of log fires and taking photos of this winter wonderland. So, as I try and compose section after section of Tools of Disconnection, one more distraction keeps flitting through my head:

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
The fire is so delightful,
And since there’s no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


The finger is a lot better; I’ll spare you the detail. The irritating thing is, I took antibiotics: I don’t know if I had to take antibiotics, but in this case the pain was so great it was a choice between drastic manual action and tablets, neither of which I am entirely comfortable with. This leads to an interesting conundrum, because with the collapse of civilization we are most likely to see a rapid dwindling in the supply of modern medicines. The ones that will disappear first are likely to be those which make the least money for the pharmaceutical companies, followed by governments almost certainly trying to force the same companies to concentrate on drugs that help with acute conditions, such as asthma inhalers, anti-inflammatories, many vaccines, and antibiotics. This will be followed by a loss in the availability of those drugs which are technologically complex to make, and a return to both plant- and fungal-based medication, and an increase in more dramatic surgical intervention.

Oh dear, that doesn’t sound fun. But we should be careful in trotting out the same scare-stories as Big Pharma and the governments of the industrial world would encourage us to believe: for one, we know that with the loss of industrial output will be a reciprocal reduction in cancer rates; for two, the incidence of disease increases rapidly (possibly exponentially) with population density, the cities are most definitely not the place to be – but as we all know cities will not survive peak oil, water shortages and (in many cases) rising sea levels regardless of anything we do to make them “sustainable”; for three, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible using non-synthetic medication, largely because the industrial world wants us to depend upon its own infrastructure.

I’m not saying that there is any truth in such junk web sites as Natural News and Mercola, but the moment we start Connecting – the focus of what I am currently writing – with even what’s in our own back yards, the idea of natural medication won’t seem anything like as daunting. It is certainly true that bacterial and parasitic infections are the most common causes of death in non-industrial cultures, but as I consider the wedge of blue cheese waiting to be eaten at some point today, the thought of even producing our own antibiotics doesn’t seem such a burden.


Titles are easy to come by, unless you have a publisher that insists they know better – and in the case of “Time’s Up!” actually did know better. Subtitles are a different matter entirely, because they are – in effect – the description of the book.

Have you noticed recently how book subtitles have turned into straplines – so while previously a book may have been called “Thin” and subtitled “Losing Weight Really Quickly”, it will probably now be subtitled “How to lose weight very quickly, with a minimum of fuss and not die in the process.” Admittedly it’s more descriptive, but is also submitting to the belief that people are incapable of reading any of the actual pages to see whether they want to commit to the book; rather they buy books based entirely on whether a marketing executive understands reader psychology well enough.

That’s just manipulation.

That’s the kind of thing that needs undermining.

Anyhow, yesterday this blog had the subtitle “Taking Our Lives Back”, which sounds far too ethereal. The subtitle – which incidentally, I rediscovered in an outline document – that I am now using is “A Practical Guide for Radical Change“, which will no doubt get me into trouble with all sorts of people, including potential publishers, but is far closer to the spirit of the book.

Underminers – What Is This All About?

Ok, here’s the plan. I have a book to write, and I am very keen to get it written – but it’s going to be a hard slog. I have a title: “Underminers” and a rough outline which I’ll be revealing in due course; but it’s the execution that matters, and when you are being pulled in all sorts of directions – domestically, socially, community-y(?) and all sorts of other writing (writingy?) ways – then sometimes you can only get as far as the title and rough outline.

Anyone who reads my blog “The Unsuitablog” will already have a fair idea of what an Underminer is; and anyone who has read my book “Time’s Up!” will know why Undermining (or Sabotage, as I called it in “A Matter of Scale”) is so critical to the survival of humanity. For a crash course in Undermining then there are two articles on The Earth Blog that I recommend you read:

1) Sabotage Is Not An Option, It Is A Necessity

2) 100 Ways To Undermine The Industrial Machine

I will go into a lot more detail about the genesis of the book that is to come in later blogs, but in a nutshell there is only so much that can be said in an article, such as the Monthly Undermining Tasks on The Unsuitablog, and published books still get far more serious coverage than websites in the wider world. That’s all for now.

This blog will be a public, and often very frank, record of everything related to the book “Underminers”, including the process of planning and researching; the writing itself; building a website for hosting the online version; getting published; publicising the book and the website; and finally being hoisted up by my own petard / neck for daring to write something so troublesome in the first place.

I will only post a blog when I have actually done something, but if I don’t post something at least once a week then you are welcome to harangue me.

Here goes…

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