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Scene 8 Simplicity.DOC


									                                  Scene 15 - Festivalism

                         From the book Theatres of Capitalism
                                  By David M. Boje

                                   December 24, 2001

                               Act 3, Scene 15 Festivalism

Festival is uncontainable within the bounds of spectacle or carnival. Rescripting
capitalism and spectacle requires simpler, more festive ways of living that periodically
get beyond materialistic and utilitarian surface of spectacle. Escaping spectacle and
changing ingrained consumer habits is the topic of this chapter. At issue, is once festival
is seen as a breakaway from spectacle, it is easily expropriated. We will explore, for
example, how festival interpenetrates spectacle, existing on the borderline. Since festival
is so thoroughly and easily appropriated and contained by spectacle capitalism, I propose
a new term, festivalism.

Festivalism - I would like to define Festivalism as a transformation of capitalism into
life affirming production and consumption. Festivalism is the freedom from intricacy,
clutter, debt, embellishment, and overly complex technology, while finding simple
pleasure with less. In festivalism we break free from the weight of workaholic and
shopaholic stress and clutter, cut up the maxed out credit cards, move to smaller home,
buy the used car or cycle, move close enough to work to walk or ride a bike, trade in the
high stress job for one with fewer hours, and get more family and leisure time by working
less than 40-hour work weeks. Beyond the quest to conquer workaholism, shopaholism,
addiction to TV and computer, comes the discovery of our relationship to others,
including Nature and our own identity.

Festivalism is what comes after not only modern, but postmodern. Festivalism evokes
premodern time, human in tune with Nature, and guided by a mythology of leisure, not
       Before "canned" (pre-recorded) music, people would sing together without
       any market exchange. There were still highly skilled musicians who
       people went to see but people still had the ability create their own music.
       Recorded music substituted a commodity for people's tendency to create
       their own music (Anger, 2000: #3).

This is a form of festival being encroached by spectacle. Festival is more about cyclical
time (than linear), and more grounded to Nature. We are witness to the mass destruction
of Nature in spectacle, in the ongoing genocide of animals. I wonder about the patenting
of plants, once used freely by indigenous farmers, now the bio-reengineering product of
Monsanto, and other biotech firms. Yet festivalism is resistant to spectacle, in ways that
postmodern is not. Festivalism is beyond postmodern, post-postmodern. Festivalism
begins with the deconstruction of advertising, altering texts of spectacle to reveal their

seduction, and finding alternatives to exploitation theatrics. Exploitative theatrics recruits
us into a work and show equals happiness plot. Festivalism changes our socialized and
advertised role as accumulator of stuff to being happy with less. Festivalism can also take
a darker postmodern turn when it intertwines with cyber and virtual technologies,
substituting face-to-face for Avatar communities; simulating community instead of
risking relationship. Spectacle easily becomes a sideshow or opening act to spectacles of
accumulation easily appropriates festivalism.

I am curious about what possesses us to live inside spectacle, inside illusory theatre
directed by corporate predators. In our Society of the Spectacle, we tune into the OJ
Simpson trial, Princess Diana’s funeral, and the War on Terrorism. In the movie Step
Mom, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris drive BMWs and Land Rovers
between their two-story Soho Loft in New York City and a three story 1860s colonial in
Nyack. Such films deflect our gaze away from the reality of the lives of most planet
dwellers; these people live in a dream world. I much preferred Julia Roberts in Erin
Brockovich. Somewhere I just stopped believing in the spectacle plots, characters, and

For me, Festivalism is non-violent resistance to the violence of capitalism that is masked
by spectacle, and somewhat resisted by carnival. Festivalism transcends global racism,
by purchasing garments made by liberated workers paid a living wage, purchasing non-
logo goods by workers who are not wage slaves to predatory capitalism. When the slaves
of the equator make the garments for the north and south, that is global racism; when the
Third World works in slavery to franchise the consumerism energy gluttony of the First
World, that is global racism. When our western high-energy life style is sustained on the
back of workers in Third World sweatshops, animal slaughter houses, and denuding
Nature, then it is not festivalism, its just disguised spectacle.

Festivalism is also used by carnival. Carnivals of resistance have been increasing,
gathering to voice their opposition to the single global economy: an economy that puts
money, growth and the 'free market' above everything else, widening the gap of haves
and have-nots, more Third World Debt and environmental destruction:1

      Genoa 2001 G8 meeting in Italy, July 2001
      Mayday 2001 Global action, May 1st 2001
      S26 day of action Prague protest
      Mayday 2K – Global action, May 1st 2000
      World Bank/IMF protest, D.C. April 2000
      N30 day of action – anti-WTO, Seattle/London November 30th 1999
      J18 day of action – Carnival of Resistance, June 18th, 1999.

Festivalism is more than the carnival of resistance; it also includes, for example, the
revival of small size farms in the organic farming movement.

Organic farming restores the links between consumer and producers (Marx first noted the
separation of consumer and producer by capital). Organic farming is an agricultural

philosophy opposed to conventional mega agribusiness. Organic farming is a political
manifesto that challenges the core of large-scale agribusiness. It is a return to the land; to
ways farmers cultivated the earth thousands of years ago, without pesticides. The organic
farmer fertilizes with animal waste. Insect and weed infestation is taken as a sign that the
organic methods need to change.

Festivalism makes five assumptions. First, festival assumes we can create companies that
earn a capitalist profit and maintain non-violent ecological and social practices. Second,
festival assumes local stakeholder groups of workers, citizens, and managers can balance
the burgeoning power of global corporate monopolies by expressing their non-violent
preferences through their market behavior. Third, festival assumes the myopic corporate
focus on short-term accumulation could be abandoned when there is an understanding of
the living whole. Fourth, when festival citizens recognize the difference between living to
work versus working to live, then they will be able to tame their shopaholic and addictive
consumption appetites, thereby letting others live. Fifth, non-violent work, fun, and
leisure are possible. In sum, Festival is defined as the pragmatics of long-term
sustainability in a non-violent culture, in balance with the whole planet.

Borderlands of Festivalism and Spectacle - We are on the border between the tangled
processes of spectacle accumulation and rare moments of festive performance. In the
middle, on the border, we can become aware of the multiplicity. The problem I see with
critical theory is the assumed uniformity of capitalism. Capitalism is not all greed and
surplus value or fetish consumption. There are people within the belly of the beast,
struggling to find more festive relationships to capitalism. There are also festive spaces
and times within the fabric of spectacle; it is not monolithic or total. In the midst of the
exploitation and excess of overconsumption, is the counter-movement of simplicity. I
want us to investigate the border between spectacle and festivalism, not leaving the
cynicism of critical theory, but combining it with postmodern attention to differentiation,
fragmentation, and multiplicity. We being our exploration with the example of more
festive capitalism, but one on the border with spectacle, is organic farming.

The organic farming movement seeks to transform agriculture from conventional large-
scale agribusiness production depended on pesticides and biotech, to organic production
methods that are thousands of years old. "Better Food for a Better Planet," is the slogan
of Washington state's Cascadian Farm. Yet, Cascadian Farm produces an organic TV
dinner (a strange blend of fast and organic food). Is the word "organic" being emptied of
its meaning?

       Today, Cascadian Farm's farm is a General Mills showcase - "a PR farm,"
       as its founder freely acknowledges - and Kahn, erstwhile hippie farmer, is
       a General Mills vice president and a millionaire.

Organic farming is on the borderline between festivalism and the spectacle of
contemporary industrial agribusiness. Once ridiculed for refusing to use pesticides or
genetically reengineered seeds, the organic farming movement is being industrialized.

Small organic farmers are becoming as endangered a species, as their contemporary small
farming sisters.

The National Organic Standards Board, defines organic farming as, not using
synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, medicated feed,
or antibiotics or chemicals used in food processing.2 On the other hand, "certified
organic," under the USDA regulations is not 100% organic. USDA’s definition is that at
least 95 percent of a product's ingredients have been grown without the use of synthetic
pesticides or fertilizers and with farm practices that help to build healthy soil and
ecosystems.3 U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations essentially prohibit GMO-
free claims, because it's implied that such products are different from and possibly
superior to those with GM ingredients. The transition from spectacle capitalism to a more
festive alternative is being resisted and appropriated.

The organic movement has become a $7.7 billion business (a fraction of the $400 billion
business of selling Americans food. Billion dollar players such as General Mills are
absorbing organic farming methods; Cascadian Farm has become a subsidiary of General
Mills, the third-biggest food conglomerate in North America. Other mega players, such
as Gerber's, Heinz, Dole, ConAgra and ADM all created or acquired organic brands.
And million dollar companies, like Organic Cow has been bought out by Horizon, a
Colorado company. Horizon is a $127 million public corporation that has become the
Microsoft of organic milk, controlling 70 percent of the retail market. Notice, too, that the
milk is now "ultrapasteurized" (a high-heat process that "kills the milk," destroying its
enzymes and many of its vitamins - is so you can sell milk over long distances). In other
Horizon "factory farms," thousands of cows never encounter a blade of grass, in their
days confined to a fenced dry lot, eating (certified organic) grain and tethered to milking
machines three times a day (Pollan, 2001). The transformation of small organic farms to
big agribusiness factory farms is the interpenetration of spectacle and festival:

       No farm I have ever visited before prepared me for the industrial organic
       farms I saw in California. When I think about organic farming, I think
       family farm, I think small scale, I think hedgerows and compost piles and
       battered pickup trucks. I don't think migrant laborers, combines, thousands
       of acres of broccoli reaching clear to the horizon. To the eye, these farms
       look exactly like any other industrial farm in California - and in fact the
       biggest organic operations in the state today are owned and operated by
       conventional megafarms. The same farmer who is applying toxic
       fumigants to sterilize the soil in one field is in the next field applying
       compost to nurture the soil's natural fertility (Pollan, 2001: D7).

Pollan (2001) also points out that five giant farms control fully one-half of the $400
million organic produce market in California.

Festivalism is driven, partly, by fear. First, there are significant consumer fears over the
safety of “frankenfoods” (genetically reengineered foods that modify the genetic code
and splice genes of plants, insects, animals and humans) drive the increases in market

share of organic foods. In Europe, for example, there is a growing paranoia over biotech,
genetically engineered (GE) foods. Secondly, this is part of a growing global movement
to demand that GE foods be labeled as bio-genetically engineered, out of fear of what we
might be unknowingly eating. Thirdly, is the philosophy of keeping Nature natural by
using natural methods to control insects and weeds, out of fear that our food growing
practices are destroying Mother Earth. Buy local, buy organic, is the motto! “Keep
Nature Natural” is underwritten by organic marketers whose derision of convention foods
is evidenced by the rhetoric on their websites and in-store materials:

   1. Eden Foods demands a halt to "the pesticides, drugs and chemicals used in the
      agricultural industry contaminating our food and water supplies."
   2. Nature’s Path tags the products of modern agriculture, as "foods nature never
      intended you to eat."
   3. Wild Oats Market claims that the "gene pollution" of biotech would be harder to
      clean up than "nuclear contamination."
   4. Whole Foods Market claims, "[If] all the indirect costs of conventional foods
      production (polluted water, eroded soil, costs of health care for farmers and
      workers) were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same,
      or be cheaper."

In sum, this is the biotech threat of gene pollution on bio catastrophe. Finally, it is
asserted that organic farming will end world hunger, but then there is fear that the world
will over-populate, or we might upset the hierarchy of haves and have-nots. We attended
a conference in India, for example, where a former Citibank executive, turned organic
farmer, claimed that more people in India could be employed in organic agriculture
communities than in the meager options such as, light manufacturing. The idea was to
increase local autonomy by promoting local crafts and services for a sustainable
community of organic farmers outside New Delhi.

We are part of the energy flows of global capitalist commerce; when we do not know
where our food and clothing comes from, then we are complicit in spectacle. Globalism is
an inclusion of haves, and an exclusion of half of the world of have-nots. Our
overconsumption is connected to the lack of energy resources and basic means to survive
by three billion people. Festivalism would by a type of festival, on the border with
spectacle that narrows the gap between haves and have-nots.

Festivalism is more about Dionysus than Apollo, more about dance than regiment; a
quest for life, not power. Festivalism could open up non-violent pathways and enact a
celebration of life. Scaling back our stuff, our clutter, our energy needs, and our work
hours are ways to reduce stress and find more time for play. Festivalism resists the
Society of the Spectacle, but somewhat differently than Carnivalesque theatrics.
Festivalism is the choice to be non-violent in our resource use: how we use and consume
animals, people, soil, air, and water. Capitalism depends upon us accumulating more
and more stuff, most of which we do not need. Fun and happiness in advertising gets
equated to more stuff. We become stuffaholics. Turn off the advertising-saturated sources
such as commercial television. Get email filters to trash the ads that keep being sent. The

more ads I accumulate, the more motivated I am to get the stuff that will supposedly
make me happy. The more stuff I accumulate, the more complicated my life becomes;
stuff requires maintenance, storage space, and more money. If I accumulate less stuff, I
need less money to pay for it and smaller spaces to store it. An uncluttered house is faster
and easier to clean; there is more time for life. The more stuff I have, the more I must
worry about cleaning, storing, and safeguarding it. Less stuff gives me more time for
people, animals, plants and a few things that matter. That means I can life a good life by
working fewer hours.

On the borderline – I have some concerns about the direction of the simplicity
movement. Though it offers many resources and examples for festivalism, it is also being
increasingly appropriated by spectacle, one more marketer’s niche. For example, the 4th
annual 2001 Natural Life Festival is a celebration of sustainable, healthy living through
natural crafts.4 That sounds festive. Yet, my dad is a craftsperson, a wood worker and
inventor, who attends many festive community celebrations, and pays a price to vend his
wares. Booths are not free. Oftentimes, he cannot produce the sales needed to pay for a
booth space. Vendor space, for example at the Natural Life Festival, sells for $200 to 600
depending upon booth size and location. And when you look at the vendors, the crafts
and services are a mixed bag; this one combines investment counseling, organic farming,
wellness counseling, solar energy, straw bale homes, and home schooling vendors.

Oftentimes a Renaissance, music, or art festival will charge for admittance. In New
Mexico we have an Enchilada, Renaissance, Motor Home, Mariachi, and Chile festivals.

Festival can be accused of being used by Spectacle, as the attraction to sell seminars,
corporate goods, and reach the Yuppie market. Or festival can be accused of being
appropriated by carnival, as a fun way to entertain the police and security guards at a
NikeTown blockade in Melbourne. Worse, Festivalism can be accused of being non-
critical art, more designer goods sold at bargain prices.

Simplicity magazines like Real Simple and Simplicity are full of advertisements for pricey
clothes, handheld computers, cars and cosmetics. A well-moneyed market has been
identified among members of the simplicity niche.5

Spectacle is able to almost contain our festive feasting, celebrating, and merry-making in
specific acts of commodification and accumulation. It’s hard to tell the difference
between spectacle and festival.

Spectacle theatrics of capitalism has a plot for our life, indoctrinated by prolonged
exposure to advertising, that equates festivity to accumulation of stuff. Stuff can by
products or experiential events promising merriment or terror. Spectacle minimizes and
contains festival to a select time of day, a few holidays, some religious, state, or corporate
sponsored series of scripted performances and proceedings where we purchase the
available commodities or experiences, and restrict our celebrating merrymaking to a
public show or exhibition on a the grand scale of spectacle where we play our assigned

The theatrics of capitalism uses spectacle to addict us to accumulating stuff, and equating
stuff with happiness; and it contains uncommodified festival time and space to a
minimum. In the plot, of climbing the corporate ladder of success, we want more stuff
(more experiences of power), and willingly go into massive debt to finance our dream
home, luxury automobile, designer power clothes, and accumulate more and more
expensive stuff of power that takes more of our time to maintain in bigger and bigger
spaces; not to mention more hours of work to pay for it all. We become workaholics and
shopaholics in order to feed our addiction to stuff.

Merriment and celebration becomes the seduction of spectacle, in the sideshow of
festival. Festival becomes a Disneyfied show of happy times, or McDonaldized fast food,
which we are supposed to accept as a substitute for feasting. Instead of festivity we
engage in the spectacular themes presented for our consumption. The conviviality of
hilarity, fun and mirth of festival time is short-lived even without spectacle, seeming brief
and periodic in contrast to our spectacle life styles, which is the main event. The pleasure
and joy of festive merriment, our demonstrative jollity is exuberant and noisy high spirits
for a brief time; a bait and switch to spectacle. Excessive expression causes humorless
consequences; the spectacle police are everywhere. The conviviality of festive time, the
feasting, and drinking, and good company from carousing is jovial relations within the
controlled time and space of spectacle.

In gala occasions, we costume ourselves for enjoyment and pleasure; at Disney we wear
the Mickey Mouse ears. When the gala and festive occasion becomes an act of over-
consumption, and a celebration of materialism then we cross the divide into spectacle
theatrics, a bit too showy, with too much fine stuff. When the style of the festival is
characterized by too much baroque ornamentation, too much embellished melody
decadent overconsumption, and gaudily ornate art, we have entered spectacle, and left
festival behind; we are in Disneyland or Las Vegas, or some less expensive imitation.

Still, despite the spectacle appropriations and co-optations, Festival is, for me,
exemplified in the ideals of the simplicity movement, the search for community, ecology,
and peace of mind. The loosely knit voluntary simplicity movement began in the early
'90s in the Pacific Northwest.

       In 1995, Eighty-six percent of Americans who voluntarily cut back their
       consumption feel happier as a result. Only 9 percent said they were less
       happy. In 1996, 5 percent of the "baby boom" generation reported
       practicing a strong form of voluntary simplicity.6

Books such as Simple Abundance, The Simple Living Guide, The Circle of Simplicity
(Andrews, 1997), Graceful Simplicity: Toward a Philosophy and Politics of Simple
Living (Segal, 1999), and Your Money or Your Life, and the PBS special Affluenza (1997)
spawned a loosely knit social movement.

Segal (1999), for example, notes that at start of the 20th century, family households spent
1 to 2 percent of their income on transportation, but as we enter the 21st century its 19
percent. It is not just an addiction to the automobile that spelled this increase, it is also the
way our cities are designed, so that distance between home, work, and shopping have
increased. After WWII, corporations adopted the military model of moving managers
and executives from one place to another every three years, which increased mobility, but
made it more difficult to sustain extended families, and marriages. Dual career families
become the norm in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1990s, families in the U.S., where the
oil and automotive industry fought to remove mass transit alternatives in cities, and to
build more highways, you need cars to get around.

Segal (1999) asks a very important question? What is the economy for? It is for the
people, to live and work for a better life. If we look at housing, the game is fixed to make
construction of energy-wasting homes less expensive than building solar, straw bale, off-
the-grid homes that could reduce the energy footprint of Americans on the planet. I know
since, when my wife and I went to build a straw bale home, even though the straw was
far less expensive than the two by fours, the construction crews being unfamiliar with the
technology tracked on heavy margins. Then, when we went to the solar energy center at
our university, we found that the solar panel industry had made the purchase of solar so
expensive an option; it would take two decades to reap any savings. We are learning to
do it ourselves, to rely less on the corporate purveyors of solar. For example, there are
workshops in straw bale construction two hours north of here. I have an appointment with
a dentist who has succeeded in doing a lot of his own electric work, to go off the grid.

The spectacle theatrics of materialism, mixed with addiction to stuff, is opposed by the
simplicity movement, which makes the festive script central of life capitalism. We
periodically purge the home of excess stuff, and within months, without vigilance it has
returned home.

Simplicity is a freedom from the intricacy and complexity of spectacle, an absence of
spectacular elegance, pretense, embellishment, luxury, and scale. Simplicity is the
freedom from abstruse, simulation, and corporeal expression; it is simplifying of our life
and work. Yet it is also a discipline, a struggle to keep stuff from accumulating. Every
thing I accumulate takes time over the long haul to maintain and sustain. Life would
attain a human scale. Festive simplicity is living without being dependent upon clutter;
the complexity of our life in big government, humongous university, and mega
corporations is set-aside for a moment. The simplicity movement is a more festive life
and work script that restores community self-reliance to the face-to-face decision-making
level, and brings economic and social activities back to a more human scale.

If we find life simpler with less complexity, we could get freedom from addictions to so
much stuff. Festival is across the border from spectacle time and space. Festival slows
down time, even steps out of spectacle time for periodic moments of celebration,
community, and merriment. Festival reunites space shattered in the postmodern era. In
festive simplicity, we would have fewer bills since we would accumulate less stuff; we
would have more time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures: a friendly chat, a hike in the

mountains, watching a sunset. This assumes that we detour from spectacle containers of
festival, and simply create non-commercial spaces; a life lived without fetish, yet it is
having fun.

Festivalism, as I would like to develop it, can be a theatrics that traces the living story of
what we produce, distribute and consume without the spectacle masquerade and façade of
the deadening practices. Carnival makes the violence of spectacle visible, acting out the
death scenes in street theatre and provoking spectacle into visible engagement. Carnival
makes visible the death mask of spectacle, tracing the contours of its faciality. Faciality is
capitalism’s self-image, its façade accomplished through spectacle.

The Situationists say “The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or
superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle, which is the
image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development everything. The spectacle
aims at nothing other than itself” (Debord, 1967: #14). Festivalism is an experience of
democratic community, Debord saw in the Renaissance spirit of the Italian city:

       In the exuberant life of the Italian cities, in the art of the festival, life is
       experienced as enjoyment of the passage of time. But this enjoyment of
       passage is itself a passing enjoyment. The song of Lorenzo di Medici
       considered by Burckhardt to be the expression of "the very spirit of the
       Renaissance" is the eulogy which this fragile feast of history pronounces
       on itself: "How beautiful the spring of life which vanishes so quickly"
       (Debord, 1967: #139).

Our Society of the Spectacle is an epoch, which displays a multiple of festivities, but it is
“also an epoch without festivals” (Debord, 1967: #154). That is because as soon as
festival attracts people, it also attracts parodies:

       When its vulgarized pseudo-festivals, parodies of the dialogue and the gift,
       incite a surplus of economic expenditure, they lead only to deception
       always compensated by the promise of a new deception. In the spectacle,
       the lower the use value of modern survival-time, the more highly it is
       exalted. The reality of time has been replaced by the advertisement of

In theorizing festivalism, I do not want to ascend to the baroque festival that serves power
elite. Debord (1967: #189) argues that the “theatrical festival” was an outstanding
achievement of the “baroque where every specific artistic expression becomes
meaningful only with reference to the setting of a constructed place” in the threatened
“disorder of everything.”

Situationist praxis resists the expansion of spectacle, beyond baroque festival, to what I
mean by festivalism. Baroque theatrical festival is accumulating pleasure without being
socially conscious and only serves to reinvent and expand spectacle. Many cities and
nations still conduct annual festivals, a tradition that goes back centuries in many parts of

the world. Yet, the festivals have taken on thick outer spectacle shells, becoming gaudy
baroque consumption rituals, without much consciousness of what makes a festival
festive in the first place.

Finding festivalism among the Theatres of Capitalism is a major life challenge. It is too
easy just to be fully entombed in spectacle enactments of baroque festival. Most
organizing attempts of festival find they are mutating due to their organizing situations
into bizarre affairs. The Pittsburgh Irish Festival, for example, features a Bingo Tent, Dog
Tents, and a Gaelic Mass. The pre-capitalism festive ways of life continue to be
appropriated and transformed by the spectacle of capitalism. Shakespearean Festivals,
Renaissance Festivals, Craft Festivals, Harvest Festivals (dates, Chile, wine, apple, etc.),
Film Festivals, and Music Festivals are all the rage. They define the community, but so
do spectacles. Festival has been replaced by spectacles of theatrical consumption (the
themed malls) as well as by spectacular organizations (McDonaldized producers of
spectacles and themselves spectacles). It seems every state in the Union and most
countries have their festivals and their spectacles, without much differentiation between,
what is one and the other.

There is much contemporary spectacle mixed into the festival. For example, The
Colorado Renaissance Festival advertises that for a price you and fifty guests can be part
of a Royal Wedding. For just $2,500 you can have the fairy tale wedding managed by
expert wedding coordinators, complete with the melodious murmur of the King’s
bagpiper, escorting you to the newly refurbished Canterbury Chapel where you will be a
player in an Elizabethan Wedding Ceremony. A King and Queen wedding feast follow
this wedding. Costuming and wet bar are extra.

In the postmodern condition, spectacle and festival intermingle and we are left to live in
their nexus. For example, on July 23, 1964, the first Meadow Brook Music Festival was
held, featuring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The Meadow Brook Music Festival
staged its first Ballet in 1968. The first laser show was Starship Encounters in 1978. The
festival features choral company, ballet, and symphony music. In 1980 the types of music
expanded to include Jazz. In 1982 there were Fourth of July fire works. 1984 saw
performances of the Marine Band and blue Grass groups. In 1990, the festival included
the nights of laser shows to attract a more family audience. In 1992, Dolly Parton and the
Mormon Tabernacle Choir launched the Music Festival. 1993 saw a more diverse or
fragmented schedule including "Bugs Bunny on Broadway," James Brown, Dwight
Yoakum, 10,000 Maniacs, Peter Paul and Mary.

A look at its consumption practices tells the story. Some festival organizations construct
fictive fantasies of the good olds days of King Arthur Knights of the Round Table or
Elizabethan splendor in a Renaissance Festival. Spectators are invited to come dressed as
princesses, wenches, noblemen, and barbarians, as they enjoy the jousting and feasting.
Others go to great length to make the historical period become "living history." They
recreate the architecture, dress, and customs of a particular epoch, yet do not raise social
consciousness. In many cases, they are no more authentic than the Pirates of the
Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland are. But authenticity, for me, is not the

key issue. The sense of "authenticity" of a festival, be it a Renaissance Faire,
Shakespearean Theater, or Bluegrass Music Festival varies from one situation to the next.
The name "festival" in the title of the event is not a way to tell its pedigree.

Avatar Festivals on the Borderland - In Germany and Switzerland (and a few other
places), Avatar villages are forming. These are places where people with downs
syndrome, autism, and related issues are able to form their own living community. They
also learn skills and crafts, engage in merriment and have their own celebrations. The
Avatar village movement is being opposed in the U.S. by such institutions as the AMA
and ADA. They do not want to disturb their hegemonic control over the lives of those
who would enter festive village life. Without festive joy, life is pointless for the villagers.
Autistic, children, for example, possess a wealth of latent talent which they keep back
until the environment seems supportive. The AMA and ADA judgments, labels,
expectations do not support formation of festive avatar communities.

Avatar has a second, more postmodern meaning. Avatar is also the virtual worlds, now
being tested to determine their ability to develop levels of concentration in students with
autism; to test whether the use of these or refined environments can improve attention
span and promote confidence building and thus enable the user to control their activities.
Autistic children, like other children are attracted to the visual images and sound
stimulation transmitted and receive through television, cartoons, video recordings, radio
and recorded music.7

On the borderline between festival and spectacle, the Avatar is the construction of virtual
communities. Avatar is your body double in cyberspace, your presence in the virtual
communities growing inside two and three-dimensional virtual worlds online. Avatars
fashion their unique cyber-body and form contacts (you can hear and feel someone
bumping you) in cyberspace. Avatars have a natural ability to create or 'discreate' any
reality at will. Avatar communities, of hundreds of thousands of users, chat and build 3D
virtual reality worlds. You can move about your Avatar world, explore, meet relatives,
hold festive family gatherings, and chat with any visitors. You can travel through
breathtaking 3D digital Avatar worlds and experience life as an avatar. When you have
your own voice and can hear others, it is surprising what you can do!

For example, I fashioned a 3-D body and called myself “Airhead” (named after my
BMW R100RT cycle). I entered a virtual world called “the cellar.”1 I encountered a
virtual being with the head of a sphinx that approached me and began a chat. In this chat,
I could hear and see her. I was standing near the pool table. She jumped onto the pool
table and asked me to look above. “Can you see the purple face above the table.” I spoke
into my computer microphone, “Yes, I see it. Who is it?” “That is the creator of this
room” she replied. There were several other figures, apparently engaged in some kind of
virtual conversation, I decided not to interrupt, and wandering about the room. There was
a long bar, tables for sitting, and places to explore. I decided to explore another room
called “Castle.”8 Finally, I left, and decided to have an encounter with the real world by
taking a jog in the dessert.

In SIMS, the player creating a new SIMS family -- choose a name, face, skin color, and
clothing for each member of the family. Gamers have been downloading a virtual image
of bin Laden, so they can do battle with him in shoot-'em-up computer games.9 SIMS
become an intricate hobby, a form of leisure that can be create or as destructive as all out
war. Yet, somehow, the festival has lost a great deal by surrendering face-to-face.

Consider the similarities and differences of spectacle and festival. The open outdoor
markets of Pairs are a farmer’s festival, but a city’s spectacle. When festival ties itself to
an institution rather than a season or celebration of craft, then it becomes spectacle. The
festive stage is not empty; there are material resources shared, deployed, and people
immerse themselves in their roles. Both spectacle and festival combine theatrics,
storytelling, crafts, and other arts into a community of performance. Both festival and
spectacle incorporate food, story, theatrics, music, art, and other entertainment. I want to
open up the question of what is festival for more rigorous exploration. They are
oftentimes found together, occupying the same time and place. The same work
organization has both festive and spectacle garniture. Table one is a map of the
differences between spectacle and festival.

Table One: Spectacle and Festival Differences

Spectacle                                       Festival

   1. Work                                          1. Play
   2. Work or play time                             2. Work and play
   3. Imposed patterns of behavior                  3. Freely constructed behavior
   4. Dead time                                     4. Live time
   5. Religions of consumption                      5. Self
   6. Pseudo desires                                6. Transparent desires
   7. Pseudo needs                                  7. Transparent needs
   8. Loss of Self                                  8. Self-Management
   9. Colonized spaces                              9. Free spaces
   10. Spectator                                    10. Participant/Co-designer
   11. Functionary                                  11. Self-Managed
   12. Survival of the Fittest/Richest              12. Coevolution and Co-survival

Finding festivalism, means moving beyond spectacle theatrics.

I admit it; I do not have my own festivalism figured out. I start to divest myself of stuff,
and with a bit of distraction, I lapse into unconscious accumulation. I cut back on the
work schedule, and find my hobby schedule is just as obsessive. Mostly, it is a struggle
against stuff. In 1886, when I left UCLA, vowing never to return to academia, I recall
thirty feet of hallway, on obth sides, about three feet high with boxes of old papers, files,
collections of articles, term papers, teaching materials, and books I no longer treasured.
Yet, when I returned to academia, within a few years, the daily sorting of incoming mail,
between what goes into the trash and the office, the onslaught of term projects, the
articles to review, all the stuff I am supposed to master ended up making me its slave.
The office is so crowded with paper, the files over flow with it, there is barely a place to

The same struggle at home. In 1996, I sold everything I owned that would not fit into two
suitcases and 20 boxes of books. I moved from LA to New Mexico. I had a mega yard
sale, and what I could not sell; I gave away and hauled away. In fact, I left an aquarium
in the parking garage, and before that was sold, it was stolen. No matter, I divested
myself of six truckloads of stuff that was cluttering up my life. It is an amazing feeling to
have so little to worry about. The problem is, that without vigilance the stuff
accumulates. The truckloads of stuff have returned. Buying more shelves does not helpl;
they only fill up again.

Hobbies can be as addictive as work. Each day I busily construct a labyrinth of web
pages for a digital audience clicking on hypertexts. I enjoyed setting up my pages so

people can move in non-linear passageways that network between my pages, and outward
to the virtual network. As the labyrinth grew, so did the demands to update pages, fix
broken links, put in more recent information, and upgrade the navigation and structure to
make it user-friendly. I decided it had become an addiction, so I stopped for a month. I
am cutting back on the updates. I am simplifying the pages. It turns out I had exceeded
the business students’ tolerance for complexity. They want simplicity, not complexity. I
was working way to hard, and they were not digging it. Ironically, I had begun to write
web pages so I could have an uncensored outlet for my writing; a cybertheatre where my
creative and intellectual curiosity could abound without editors, reviewers, and rejection.
I ended up falling into my own labyrinth.

If I have less stuff I have more time for relationships and hobbies. Yet, if I am not careful
the fewer work hours become more hobby hours. Hobbies such as gardening, meditation,
exercise, manufacturing our own energy, repairing stuff instead of replacing it with more
stuff. The problem with complexity and accumulation is that the more stuff I accumulate,
the more time I need to pay for and maintain all the possessions, and the less time I have
for leisure. We buy used cars instead of new ones; its cheaper, the older cars are easier to
work on and maintain; we own them without going into long-term debt.

Simplicity would be no more email. Everyday scores of requests come my way and
scores of notices and web links for me to gaze. I use filters to weed out unwanted traffic,
yet every day I must construct new filters. Some days I skip email altogether. The penalty
is twice the load when I return. When people wrote letters, they took time to stroke each
line, to address the envelope, stamp and send in real postal box. Communication has
become too easy; we are tempted to send off everything. Two viruses and a worm stuck
my computer in early December (2001). Years of email were eaten away in a few
seconds, along with my in box of unanswered mail, manuscripts awaiting review, and
other important stuff. There was something freeing about the tragedy; I had for the first
time in month, an empty in box.

But, festivalism is more than the struggle with stuff. Festivalism has something to do with
one’s conscious awareness of consumer and producer-choices, and with a focusing of that
awareness to bring about less violent capitalism. When we find out where garments are
made, what we are eating and how it is grown, and by whom, then we develop
consciousness (see next chapter).

Avatar villages free from outside interference and control often have community
festivals. The festivals have themes: holidays, seasons, flowers, music, film, crafts, and
cyber. Festivals are commercial enterprises.

Festival also mixes readily with carnival. Some of the postmodern festivals have an
activist agenda. For example, the Amnesty International Film Festival takes on a more
activist role than most other film festivals. They actively deconstruct the rhetoric and
propaganda of governments violating human rights by putting their reports side by side
with the oppressor claims that there are no such violations. Another type of activism is
represented in the International CRÈCHE Festival. They present an interesting purpose:

        Organizations in many nations are addressing the issue of the loss
        of biological diversity on this planet. Our organization attempts to
        speak to the loss of cultural diversity. We are attempting, in one
        small way, to help the folk artists of the world gain recognition of
        their arts and crafts and help them find a global market for their
        work at a fair price. If the folk artist cannot survive neither can the
        folk arts.10

This particular festival advocates that the artist receives a fair price for their labor. Other
festivals and craft associations are not so equalitarian.

Festivalism is also a way of doing business that respects people, communities, and the
ecology. Festivalism, for me, is rooted in Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence to all
species. I Festivalism is the self-management and self-design of our own leisure time and
space, the realization of what we need to live and evolve as a species, with the most
minimal harm to any other species (Boje, 2000b). These are lofty ideals, and difficult to

For me, festivalism is a life capitalism based on Ahimsa, respect for all sentient species,
biodiversity, and life proliferation. Life capitalism is the reincorporating of the consumer
and the producer that spectacle capitalism divided. Festivalism is the accumulation of
festivals, not spectacles. These are festivals that celebrate life, and those that do not.
Festivalism capitalism is a reversal of four centuries of dead commerce, performative
sweatshop labor, animal slaughter, and the gap of rich and poor.

My spiritual teacher, Gurudev Chitrabhanu is a Jain Monk who worked along side
Gandhi and spent twenty years walking about India with a message of non-violence. He
now spends half his time in Mumbai and the other leading and inspiring the Jain
communities in the United States. In November 1997 I toured India with my wife Grace
Ann Rosile and Gurudev Shree Chitrabhanu. As I saw India, I was even more resolved
than before, that world capitalism is a tragic coevolutionary-play led by the spectacle of
inhumanity to all sentient beings. I saw the world’s future if we are not able to coevolve
in more sensitive ways; it was written all over the streets of Mumbai, in people and
animals sleeping in doorways, in the faces of starving children. Gurudev is a former Jain
monk, now a spiritual teacher of non-violence. Gurudev says, "The decision is up to us to
be violent or non-violent." He vows no harm to any sentient being. The Jain Monk leaves
spectacle altogether, in some cases forsaking even clothing, along with all worldly
possessions, in short detaching from the world of spectacle altogether. Jain lay people, in
particular business people, do not forsake all spectacles. They only seek involvement
with the least violent forms of spectacle, and the most minimal forms of accumulation.

I am directly complicit in the spectacle of violent forms of production, distribution, and
consumption. As a Jain, I chose not to wear leather or silk, eat meat, or drink milk. As an
anti-sweatshop activist I choose not to war garments made in sweatshops. Though I am
complicit, I can ignore the ills I see or convince myself I am powerless to do anything
about it. As a youth I spent a great deal of time in the irrelevant world of TV, cyber

games, and fantasy. Staying immersed, it was hard to resist the spectacle of manipulation
and control. I was tranquilized. I wrestle now with addictions to TV, Videos, Internet,
and workaholism. I am complicit in the ecological consequence of each product I
consume. My consumption in the energy footprint of the first world has an impact upon
the lack of energy available to the rest of the world. I live in a Disneyfied spectacle of
pseudo happiness, manufactured to stupefy the masses.

Satish Kumar, also a Jain Monk, after walking halfway around the world promoting
peace and disarmament, settled in England. Satish founded Schumacher College, named
after E. F. Schumacher, the author of Small is Beautiful. Schumacher’s (1973) book,
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered challenges the concepts of unlimited
growth, predatory competition, and violent forms of production and consumption. In
bringing Jain teachings of non-violence to Western countries, both Satish and Gurudev
have endured much criticism. Decades ago, it was considered highly inappropriate for
Jain monks to use modern transportation systems and travel abroad. Both speak to the
discontent people in the West experience with a crisis of identity and meaning, from
spectacle life styles of over-consumption and violent production. Both spend hours each
day in meditation to separate from the influences of what I call spectacle. Ahimsa
teaching has had a profound impact on major figures.

Mahatma Gandhi was also deeply influenced by the Ahimsa philosophy. Ahimsa is part
of the three millennia Jain philosophy of India (Yashovijayji, 1974). To Gandhi "not to
hurt any living thing" is an important part of Ahimsa, but not the most important element.
Gandhi sought alternatives to silk production, a process that kills the silk worms during
the manufacturing process. I attended the Gandhi Institute and observed one of his
inventions, a cotton spinning machine that any person with a bit of training and patience,
can operate. He distributed the spinning machines to create an alternative to the then
British controlled manufacture of cotton and the nation’s dependency on silk garments.
My friend Susan Segall brought back this factory in a box machine so that I might also
meditate while I spin threads. It takes a lot of patience and higher levels of skill than I
now possess. It does allow me to mediate on non-violent options in my own production
and consumptive practice. I am eager to find non-violent patterns of living in a world
saturated with violence. In what follows I want to apply Ahimsa philosophy to a different
understanding of what I study as "spectacle and festival."

To me, there is much overlap between the Situationist and Ahimsa movements.
Spectacle, says Debord, is opium, that allows us to sleep walk, as if drugged, stumbling
blindfolded through a devolving landscape of ecological and human horror; while
cocooned in artificiality and illusion; mind-numbed by cyber media into passive stupefied
spectators. This is why it is not easy for people socialized in spectacles and consumption
images of the good life through consumption to step outside of its mechanisms of
persuasion, and see its impact on nature, social systems, and the manipulation of our own
desires. Our life is just too "saturated with spectacles" and we are too pacified in their
"permanent opium war" (Debord, 1967: #44).

The practical concern of Ahimsa is with worker and community health and safety;
alternatives to child labor and prison labor; living wages; enlightened work conditions;
freedom of worker-association; ecological sustainability; globally equitable production
and consumption practices; future generations. Festival is doing something proactive
about inequality. Two people can be in the same organization, doing the same job, for the
same boss. One sees festive situations; another sees spectacles of misery, self-indulgence,
and addictions to over-production and conspicuous, even eco-destructive consumption.

People do resist spectacle - there is hope for spectacle transformation. There are eco-
teams forming in Europe and North America to look at ways to cut back on our over-
consumption patterns. Consumer groups are forming that resist shopping addictions,
credit card addition, workaholism, and television/Nintendo/Web cyber dependency.
Turning Point for example runs full-page ads to raise questions about the impact of
technology and transnational corporate strategies on the environment and the ability of
nations to sustain growing populations with a quality of life for their people (Murphy,
1999: 1).

Table two contrasts spectacle and more Ahimsa-Festival assumptions. In particular there
are differences in how progress, happiness, and spiritual value are defined.

Table Two: Assumptions of Spectacle and Ahimsa Business Practices.

Spectacle Assumptions                          Ahimsa-Festival Assumptions

      Progress defined as material                   Progress defined as spiritual
       accumulation                                    accumulation
      Material accumulation = happiness              Self awareness = happiness
      Spectacles of production and                   Planet has finite and dwindling
       consumption grow by resource use                resources to be preserved.
      Economic productivity                          Eco-sustainable productivity
      Material values                                Spiritual values and awareness
      Work that is drudgery                          Work that is ennobling/actualizing
      Business that pollutes                         Business is non-polluting
      Technology advances to sustain                 Technology used sparingly to
       competitive progress                            sustain natural splendor
      Survival of the fittest = richest              Survival of the cooperative
      Consume for immediate                          Consume in ways healthy for our
       gratification; live for today                   offspring; live for their future
      Conspicuous consumption = good                 Frugal consumption = good

Table Two is focused on simplicity. Simplicity is a movement to cut out unneeded
consumption and production in the hopes that others on the planet will have the means to
live. Jain teachings apply to simplicity. The monk does not store possessions, has no roof
over his head, some do not wear clothes, or own anything at all. He seeks simplicity in
his daily life and equality with his fellow human beings. Merchants are encouraged not to
stock products of animal sacrifice and consumers are galvanized not to consume such

               Let no one run away with the idea that this type of
               merchant exists only in my imagination. Fortunately for the
               world, it does exist in the West as well as in the East. It is
               true, such merchants may be counted on one’s fingers’
               ends, but the type ceases to be imaginary, as soon as even
               one living specimen can be found to answer to it (Gandhi,
               Non-Violent Resistance, p. 49).

To the Jain businessperson, we are in the initial stages of transforming the old Spectacle
assumptions into the new Ahimsa assumptions of what makes for an enlightened business
organization. I think it takes daily meditation and critical awareness of the violence of the
production and consumption spectacles, as well as the opportunities to make Ahimsa
choices. The New Testament says, "to be as harmless as doves and wise as serpents in
our actions." Harman (1994: 48) argues "we are moving from a culture dominated by
materialistic values to one that recognizes the role of deep intuitive wisdom in guiding

our collective future." The Ahimsa business paradigm would transform spectacles of
production and consumption:

   1.   Engage in business practices that are non-violent to other species.
   2.   Limit economic growth to what is ecologically sustainable.
   3.   Develop ecological awareness through reduce, recycle, and reuse practices.
   4.   Cultivate personal Self-development through servant leadership, introspection
        time, and community service.

Festival means cutting back on an over-consumptive and conspicuous production life
style. Materiality does not bring happiness. It also means overcoming societal addictions
to violent entertainment. Festival is taking a critical look at commodity and production
needs that are inherently artificial prescriptions for the happy person in the happy society.
Part of Ahimsa philosophy is to treat all living beings as equal to ones own self. This
means not interrupting or degrading the evolution of plants, animals, and humans. While
not everyone can make such a commitment or make it all at once, the challenge is to
encourage more people to behave with less violence. This would necessitate a critical
look at animal rights, the living planet, and ways in which we are tampering with all
species in the Biotech Century. It means looking at the coevolution of humans, their
technology, animals, and planets.

I would like to look at Ahimsa as a non-violent way of doing business, an alternative
philosophy to late modern capitalism and state socialism. Both it seems to me enact
manic consumption habits. Spiritualism and Marxism are opposed, as are Capitalism and
Postmodernism. Marxism seeks to reform and transcend the violence of capitalism and
capitalism sees itself as a competitor and successor to (state) Marxism. The festival is, for
me, a middle ground, at the center of capitalism, Marxism, spiritualism, and
postmodernism. It is my attempt to open the flow of non-violent practices of production
and consumption that can co-exist with other capitalisms, post-Marxists, spiritualities,
and postmodernisms. The critical postmodern and Marxist approaches allow a critique of
capitalist spectacle and Pollyanna or capitalist spiritualism in order to find where festival
is sustainable. A critique of techno-determinism, linear progress, and evolutionism in
capitalism is necessary. As is a critique of the technocratic and teleology of Marxism. I
seek the "life capitalism" of festival. Without the critique the festival quickly reverts to

I want to propose a methodology of festival, called antetheatre that I think can be helpful
in finding festival in the midst of a world saturated with spectacle.

Antetheatre operates via local experiments, looking for festivalism. Antetheatre of
festive simplicity breaks free of the characterizations, scripted dialog, plots, and rhythm
of addictive spectacle. We live and perform in a network of theatrical relationships, some
more dominant than others. I seek to bring forth a subjugated festive theatre onto the
center stage of capitalism. I seek to replace the dominant spectacle theatre with one
immanently more festive and sustainable. Antetheatre rescripts what has evolved as
festival appropriated by spectacle. Antetheatre is small local steps to reterritorialize and

reduce the complexity of daily spectacle life, and supplant that with a more festive life
script. Antenarrative is a line of flight that vitalizes festive life; it is a resistive break with
oppressive spectacle theatre (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Debord, 1967).

Festival can be antispectacle; it can lie beyond spectacle, in ways that I envision being
non-violent. Guy Debord (1967) sought to abolish (modern) spectacle, to smash the
spectacle in avant-garde revelation, not to transform or reform it. Yet modern spectacle is
everywhere. A group of students (SI, 1966) had the vision of festive play, as a dream
beyond the spectacle. Yet spectacle is everywhere. Debord called himself a Situationist
(#191) because he wanted to replace the spectacle of official illusion with a deep
awareness of the situation of violence, and how spectacle inverts reality. If we are to
dissociate festival from spectacle, we must begin with awareness.

Antetheatre can be an escape from and resistance to a majority position of the Society of
the Spectacle. Antetheatre can also be lines of flight taken by spectacle producers and
consumers to infuse spectacle with more festivity. People are born into the theatre of
addictive materialism; we are socialized into a script we did not author. We are free to
write a new script and enact theatre of simplicity. We are free to rewrite the old scripts. I
am motivated to take a line of flight in antetheatre, to break away from the spectacle
theatre in order to unfold new ways of living. Instead of repeating complex patterns, I
want to experience simple patterns of leisure. I take the nomadic journey from
workaholic and shopaholic scripts, across the forbidden divide, into just doing nothing
(actually I don’t know how to do nothing). I do, however, refuse to be the character I
have been socialized to be. I am becoming-other, becoming a character of festive

There is a fancy term for our addiction to stuff and materialism, “Affluenza” (affluence +
influenza), pronounced Af-flu-en-za.11

       The average household now has four credit cards with balances of around $4,800,
        up from two cards and $2,340 in balances five years ago; Consumers owe $360
        billion on their cards, double the 1990 level.12
       Affluenza begins with kid advertising (kids view 360,000 TV ads by the time they
        graduate high school). America's kids are a large and growing market; pre-teen
        children spend about $15 billion per year and influence their parents to spend
        another $160 billion; teenagers spend about $57 billion of their own allowance
        and talk mom and dad into spending another $36 billion.13

Affluenza is an extreme form of addictive materialism in which consumers overwork and
accumulate high levels of debt in order to purchase more goods. Af-flu-en-za is 1. The
bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the
Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged
pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.

Affluenza leads to glossolalia (the meaninglessness of it all), the illusion that progress
and stability are created through accumulation.

You know you are afflicted with Affluenza when you peruse your wardrobe and
everything you wear is adorned in “cool” corporate logos; one of the T-shirts says
“whoever dies with the most toys wins!;” you keep working at a job you hate so you can
buy more stuff; when you feel blue, you go shopping; there’s a sports utility vehicle in
your garage; you don’t know where your food and clothes come from.14

Festive capitalism is local production and consumption. It is local control over corporate
charters, tuning off the ads, and seeking identity that is not rooted in brand images.
Festivalism is consumption without logos.

Others opt out of Affluenza to find financial independence instead of concern over
political and social action. More, I hope are opting out of Affluenza. Like me, I think they
hear the screams of the workers in the sweatshops in Asia and in our inner cities. I am
suspicious of the utopia presented in spectacle theatrics, in the relentless ads. It is
Pleasantville. It is a seductive and romantic theatre. There are those performing spaces
on the fringe of spectacle. It is where we get in touch with our spontaneity. We feel a
vital connection with the universe.

Half the world’s population does not enter Affluenza; they experience involuntary
simplicity. In the mid 1990s, I worked to bring the Peace Corps to Nickerson Gardens.
The festive life of the gardens stands in sharp contrast to the spectacle rendition in
publications such as Popular Mechanics. I made weekly (sometimes daily) festive outing
to the Garden. People tried to grow their own power in all kinds of festive ways.

Return to localism - The E. F. Schumacher Society, named after the author of Small Is
Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, was founded in 1980 as an alternative to
giantism. Our world is afflicted with giantism; our social, economic, and political
institutions are simply too big and too centralized. Giantism is centralist, clumsy, self-
perpetuating, and undemocratic. Social and environmental sustainability can be achieved
by applying the values of human-scale communities and respect for the natural
environment to economic issues.

Human scale has had many eloquent advocates, ranging from Lao Tzu and Aristotle to
Kropotkin and Jefferson, Gandhi, Chesterton, and Schmacher. Thomas Jefferson, for
example, viewed concentration of state power as "destroying liberty and the rights of
man." Localism is not easy, since we are addicted to global-scale work and consumption
habits. Bioregional preservation and simplicity are counter to globalism.

To unravel the university, I would earn an income by assembling my own students,
distributing work I produce for their consumption, once they afford me my due. Call me
nostalgic; there was a time when university was much simpler. It was centuries ago, when
universities did not have cadres of administrators, and mammoth physical plants.
Students and faculty, not administrators controlled the show.

Festivalism is my hypothesis of Ahimsa (non-violence), a way to get beyond the terror of
Fetish to necessity and simplicity. Complexity replaces life’s simple pleasures with
baroque embellishment, and centrist technologies that we cannot maintain locally.
Festivalism is about life and relationships. Spectacle is about end products. Festivalism is
what our relationships with animals and humans and with the flowers can be about – a
celebration of living. Spectacle is human doing rather than humans being. I want to tune
out spectacle and drop out of the materialist rat race. I admire the monk who would
relinquish all world possessions and enter an austere life of simplicity. Thus I search for a
festive celebration of the life force of community. IN the final chapter, we examine the
quest for a more conscious capitalism.

  See Reclaim the Streets
  See D. Steinman, Diet for a Poisoned Planet (1990).
  Gene Kahn of Small Planet Foods
  September 21, 2000. No Author. Cooking Up Fear Chefs Push For Organic. Guest Choice. Page 1 of 4.
  Natural Life Festival site
  Schuyler, Nina (2001). Enough already. Stanford Magazine.
  Affluenza web site
  Students with Autism
  Cellar is a virtual space in the Traveler’s web world ( called
“Ozgate.” The address for cellar is
  There is a list of Virtual Avatar worlds at
  For bin laden virtual image see,1284,47226,00.html
   See and
   Affluenza web site
   Edwards, Kim (1996). An overview of the voluntary simplicity movement. Dollar Stretcher web site
   Sullivan, Morris (2001). Education on the auction block: Teaching kids to consume. Impact Press 90n
line) August/September
   Adapted from a Self-test you can take on line to score your Affluenza level


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