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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Crisis + Diggers: The Diggers - 1 + Crisis Files



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Introduction

1. Summary
2. The Diggers - 1
3. Crisis Files

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, May 27, 2017.


1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with my computer, my modem, the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible, and my health.

It may be that I'll be off for a few weeks, that is, I will publish nothing or little for a few weeks. I don't know yet, but I will keep you informed in Nederlog.

And what I will do for the moment - since I am still looking at 35 sites every morning - is to list the items I selected, but without any of my comments. Today I selected four items, and they are below and link to the originals, but on the moment I have no comments, basically because that takes too much work on the moment.

There also is this:
And for the moment there are two more sections:
The Diggers - 1 is the first part of a series on the San Francisco Diggers, who florished fifty years ago, in 1967, in San Francisco, and the Crisis Files are just that: Four items on the crisis selected from browsing 35 sites every morning.


2. The Diggers - 1

I was born in 1950 in Amsterdam (Holland) in a quite radical, quite leftist and very courageous family and lived the first 20 years of my life in Amsterdam.

Because I did have a radical background and education, and also because I lived in Amsterdam, I did notice the Diggers in in their heighday, in 1967, but since so much was happening in Amsterdam at the time, and also because I was 17 in 1967, I did not pay much attention to them: I knew they existed, and I knew some things about them, but not much.

But - at long last, I admit - I did inquire into the Diggers starting in April of 2017, and I found quite a lot of quite interesting (recent) history and interesting ideas, that I intend to unravel at least a little in the coming time, in several files that will carry the name "The Diggers - N" where N is a natural number.

This is the first of these files, and in it I give the background of the San Francisco Diggers, in six items (most of which comprise a lot of text/videos):

First, who were the Diggers? In fact, there were two sets of man and women who were called "Diggers", one around 1650 in England, about whom the last link gives some information, and second the San Francisco Diggers, who took their name from the English Diggers, and who arose in 1966 from the Mime Troupe in San Francisco:
This is from Wikipedia, and I will quote a fair amount from it, because this is the shortest way of introducing the Diggers:

The Diggers were a radical community-action group of activists and Street Theatre actors operating from 1966 to 1968, based in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Their politics have been categorized as "left-wing"; more accurately, they were "community anarchists" who blended a desire for freedom with a consciousness of the community in which they lived. They were closely associated and shared a number of members with the guerrilla theater group San Francisco Mime Troupe.

The Diggers were formed out of after-hours Mime Troupe discussions between Emmett Grogan, Peter Coyote, Peter Berg, and Billy Landout.

The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers (1649–50) who had promulgated a vision of society free from buying, selling, and private property. During the mid- and late 1960s, the San Francisco Diggers organized free music concerts and works of political art, provided free food, medical care, transport, and temporary housing and opened stores that gave away stock. Some of their happenings included the Death of Money Parade, Intersection Game, Invisible Circus, and Death of Hippie/Birth of Free

The group sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism. One of the first Digger activities was the publishing of various broadsides, which were published by sneaking into the local Students for a Democratic Society office and using their Gestetner printer. The leaflets were eventually called the "Digger Papers," and soon morphed into small pamphlets with poetry, psychedelic art, and essays. The "Digger Papers" often included statements that mocked the prevailing attitude of the counterculture promoted by less radical figures like the Haight-Independent Proprietors (HIP), Timothy Leary, and Richard Alpert. The first paper mocked the acid community, saying "Time to forget because flowers are beautiful and the sun's not yellow, it's chicken!" The Digger Papers rarely included authors, although pseudonyms were sometimes used like "George Metevsky," a reference to the "Mad Bomber" George Metesky. After some HIP members tried to find out who the Diggers were, Grogan and Landout responded with a telegram that read, "REGARDING INQUIRIES CONCERNED WITH THE IDENTITY AND WHEREABOUTS OF THE DIGGERS; HAPPY TO REPORT THE DIGGERS ARE NOT THAT."

The Diggers provided a free food service in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park in Haight-Ashbury every day at four o'clock, feeding about 100 people with a stew from donated or stolen meat and vegetables that was served from behind a giant yellow picture frame, called the Free Frame of Reference, which people were required to step through before being served.
(..)
They opened numerous Free Stores in Haight-Ashbury, in which all items were free for the taking or giving. The stores offered discarded items that were still in usable condition. The first Free Store, in a six-car garage on Page Street that they found filled with empty picture frames that they tacked up on the side of the building, was called the Free Frame of Reference and was later superseded by the Trip Without a Ticket on Frederick Street. It was unclear how the stores were funded.
(..)
They threw free parties with music provided by the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and other bands. They also staged street theater events such as driving a truck of semi-naked belly dancers through the Financial District, inviting brokers to climb on board and forget their work. On December 17, 1966, the Diggers held a happening called “The Death of Money” in which they dressed in animal masks and carried a large coffin full of fake money down Haight Street, singing “Get out my life, why don’t you babe?” to the tune of Chopin’s “Death March.”This was a precursor to the happening “The Death of Hippie,” staged in October 1967. In “The Death of Hippie,” also staged in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, masked participants carried a coffin with the words "Hippie--Son of Media" on the side. This event was meant to mark the end of the era of Haight-Ashbury.
(..)
The Diggers skillfully used this technique for media relations. Their own publications, notably the Digger Papers, are the origin of such phrases as "Do your own thing" and "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." The Diggers fostered and inspired later groups like the Yippies.

While the Free Food and Medical Clinics were responses to necessary conditions caused by the enormous influx of young people during the heyday of the hippie scene, conditions that the San Francisco government was ignoring, the Diggers' central tenet was to be "authentic". Running soup kitchens and medical clinics was not the authentic, long-term concern of the Diggers' founders. After passing those institutions on to a local Church and Dr. David Smith to continue, the Diggers moved out of the City, creating various land bases in Forest Knolls, Olema, Covelo, Salmon River, Trinidad, and Black Bear Ranch, California. In those places they integrated with other groups: The Free Bakery, the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers, and the Gypsy Truckers, creating The Free Family. That larger group still exists informally, and many of the Diggers' children and grandchildren remain close and in contact with one another, and many (children included) are still involved with progressive causes.
Second, while the above was just a brief introduction to the Diggers, there is a quite large site about the Diggers, which provides many backgrounds, and that is both well-arranged and clear:
This is both a large and a great site, and I have so far not read all of it. If you are interested in the San Francisco Diggers, this is the first place to go to, perhaps after reading the first above item.

Third, while the Diggers existed from 1966-1968 in San Francisco and since then in some communes, their heighday was 50 years ago. Happily, there have also been made some films about them.

The best film I have seen is the following one:
This is originally French and was made in 1998. It takes 56 minutes and is very well worth seeing, even though the English comments are spoken by a French lady who speaks Franglais, and especially her sound was a bit difficult to follow on my system.

But this seems a quite honest and well-intentioned documentary, and it also shows quite a lot of former Diggers talking in the Nineties.

Fourth, there is a film that seemed to have been made by some of the Diggers themselves, and that overlaps some with the previous item:
Basically, this is a series of sequences shot while certain things were happening in 1967 or 1968. It is considerably less systematic than the previous item, and if you watch it you should pay attention also to the sound.

Fifth, while quite a few of the Diggers meanwhile have died, and notably
Emmett Grogan and Peter Berg, one leading Digger from then is Peter Coyote and he is still alive, and meanwhile has become a Zen master and a prominent actor. He is also still an anarchist and maintains a quite interesting site:
There is quite a lot of quite interesting material on his site, but he revised the site the last few days, and while most things I found on the previous incarnation are still there,
this seems now a little less well organized than the site I read in April and the beginning of May. (Most interesting written bits now seem to be here: Coyote in Print.)

Sixth and last, the best story about the Diggers is by one of them,
Emmett Grogan:
This is a very well-told story about the Diggers from Emmett Grogan's point of view. The link is to a pdf-file of 30 MB that gives the pages 209 to 498 of his semi-auto- biographical novel "Ringolevio", that was first published in 1972, and since then twice more.

It is very well worth reading and it is a quite interesting story, most of which is very probably quite true. Unfortunately, Emmett Grogan died in 1978, age 35, after an overdose of heroine. He certainly was a bright man.

All of the above - yes, it is a lot of reading and viewing - serves as an introduction to the San Francisco Diggers.

I like them because they were quite interesting, real leftists, and anarchists, and because they had quite a large number of interesting ideas (and indeed more so than other radical leftist group from the Sixties, like the Provos and the French and German student movements) but I do not quite agree with them and I also think that, while the experiment they did between 1966 and 1968 was quite interesting and worth doing, it failed.

And there will be soon more files on the Diggers in Nederlog, for they definitely were interesting.


3. Crisis Files

I have been writing on the crisis since September 1, 2008 (Dutch) and with considerably more attention since June 10, 2013 (English).

If you check out the
crisis index you will find that I wrote in over eight years nearly 1600 files, that nearly all consisted of a reference to one or more articles that were partially quoted and mostly commented.

I will continue with that, simply because I think the crisis is a very important social, political and economical event, but meanwhile I have turned 67 and need a little rest,
so what I'll be doing the coming weeks (at least), is selecting 3 to 6 files from the 35
sites I consult every morning to see what's happening in the world of politics and econonomics, and present them, but now without comments.

Here is today's selection
1. Dilma Rousseff on Her Ouster, Brazil's Political Crisis & Fighting
     Dictatorship
2. Jeremy Corbyn Praised for Denouncing Failed ‘Global War on
     Terror’
3. Believing the Russian ‘Hacking’ Claim
4. Making America Meaner

These are all well worth reading.

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