Jack Saturday

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Exchange, Jack Saturday and E. Margaret Fulton

E. Margaret Fulton

Born: September 8, 1922
Died: January 22, 2014

Took the time: in March 2001, just six months before 9/11,  to respond to a radical male nobody had heard of, with generousity and, astonishingly, an open mind after all that schooling.

From the Winnipeg Free Press, February 1, 2014:

Margaret completed her Grade 12 at the Birtle Consolidated School in 1941, and graduated from Winnipeg Normal School in July, 1942. That Fall, she began a teaching career at Penrith, a one room rural school, and never looked back.

The next two years she taught grades seven and eight at Russell School and in 1945 she moved to Dauphin Collegiate to teach grades nine and 10.

During the war years, her summers were spent back on the farm helping with all the farm work.

By 1947 with the war over, her brothers had returned to take up farming and her parents retired to Birtle. Margaret was free to take a teaching position at the Fort William Vocational School in Ontario. Committed to lifelong learning, she completed a B.A. at the University of Manitoba, an M.A. at the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto.

She subsequently spent seven years teaching at Waterloo Lutheran University before accepting a position as Dean of Women at UBC in 1974.

In 1978, Margaret became the President of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax until 1986. From 1986 to 1996, she was an Adjunct Professor at UBC.

 She holds 15 honourary degrees, an Officer in the Order of Canada, and holds the Governor General's "Commemoration of Persons" Award.

Margaret was a well-known Canadian educator, administrator, social activist, feminist and volunteer. She has been recognized both nationally and internationally for her efforts in women's education and more recently for seniors' health, serving as Chair of the Seniors' Advisory Committee to the Ministry of Health in BC.

She was a Vice-Chair of the Women's World Summit Foundation, Geneva, an NGO committed to further education, health and equality for rural women.

Much in demand as a consultant on government and university committees and as a keynote speaker and conference panelist, Margaret challenged myths and misperceptions surrounding the education and role of women.

[Added by Jack: But somehow with all that she didn't merit a Wikipedia page. I've searched online since YouTube came in to find one of her outstanding speeches - had to wait until after her death to see her speak. In the video from which the following clip is taken, whoever did the camera work, whether directed or not, didn't clue in that if a speaker is presenting slides or visuals, they should be included. Instead we get repeated and somewhat rude focus on audience members. Dr. Fulton is mocked by this incompetence, in my view. But hey, it's never too late to edit in the images.]

Exchange with Dr. Fulton:

From: "Jack Saturday"
Sent: March 4, 2001 6:41 PM
To: emfulton@saltspring.com
Subject: moral question

Dear Dr. Fulton,

It is always a delight to hear you speak, though for me it has been rare. Seems I agree with everything you say and it is a delight to hear you say it. Haven't yet been able to get a hold of your video "A Round Peg" from the library system over here in Victoria but will persist.

 I've fantasized contacting you and asking to visit you on Saltspring but you can rest easy that I am too chicken.

 I've been asking a few prominent figures the following question:

 What do you think, given these times, of going on welfare as an act of conscientious objection to the job system, and spending the time nurturing and promoting humanist values and works, as well as living cheek by jowl with the contact-points of the "system" and its victim-class. Encounters with FAWs and "employment counselors" across desks in offices become crucibles of great challenge to one's education and articulation. Would you affirm such a choice for an able-bodied, able-minded imaginative individual in 2001?

"Jack Saturday"
over in Victoria

From: Dr. E. Margaret Fulton
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 10:35 AM
To: "Jack Saturday"

Dear "Jack", I'm not sure that going on welfare would be a good choice unless ligtimatly you cannot find a job according to your qualifications. Then you could apply for welfare, but any dependence on a corrupt government compromises your own integrity.

To make a strong moral stand, you need to demonstrate values superior to our government leaders. That should not be hard. They are a dismal lot.

You may want to check my website: http://www.saltspring.com/art/VASVideo.htm
in order to find the information you need to force the Victoria Library to purchase a copy of the film "A Round Peg."

Best of luck with your activism. It is a younger generation than mine that are going to have to call the governments to be accountable. At the present we are ruled by the Global Corporate giants.
Sincerely, Margaret Fulton

From: "Jack Saturday":
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001
Subject: Re: moral question

 Dear Dr. Fulton

Many thanks for your kindness in responding to my email re Welfare as Conscientious Objection. I wanted to respond right away but a family crisis took me away from the screen.

A happy coincidence, in my view, that I write this on "International Women's Day."

Your view packs a wallop with me, and therefore how could I live with myself if I didn't challenge you on this with a point or two? Of course you may be too busy to respond or get into a debate, but if you do I’ll be thrilled, feeling like a student standing up to challenge a favorite professor in class, something I was too shy and in awe of teachers to do when I was in school or even in university the two years I completed a long time ago now. The Internet must be the largest classroom of all!

I liked that your choice of words leaves a door open: "I'm not sure that going on welfare would be a good choice unless…" (my emphasis). For fun, I would like to take advantage of that open door.

Sadly, all I have on record of your views is that wonderful interview with Vicky Gabereau some years ago (CBC radio a main source of mine), and a recorded excerpt from a speech you gave at some conference, I think perhaps you were challenging Fritjof Capra. I intend to press the library to get your video.

So, verbatim from the interview:

>"I'll tell you we're never going to change anything until we get outside the structures we're in."

You spoke of "every structure we have"-- as paramilitary, and quoted a speaker re corruption in the Winnipeg police force as saying that the "best person, male or female" put in that structure will not be able to change anything. Are you telling me that the job system is different? You cite engineering, science, the law as all corrupted by their structure. You said that getting into those structures makes you "one-eyed" and that that makes people lose sight of the problems of their society. You didn't mention the university system, though perhaps you will agree that even since your interview, the universities, never mind the jealous rigidity of academic pigeonholes and other problems, have been schmoozing more and more with corporate values. I emphatically include in any list of "patriarchal" structures the job system as we have known it.

You referred to 3 pundits on Peter Gzowski's show speaking of the Army-- your concern was that the pundits were "like spin-doctors"-- "managing the effects"-- that not one of them came up with a concept for bringing about the change we need.

I wonder what system of "legitimacy" you are referring to when you say "unless you legitimately cannot find a job according to your qualifications." Would this be the "legitimacy" of a "corrupt government?" Perhaps you are speaking literally of the legality of such a choice, which, of course, is a serious issue. Members of resistance movements during the Nazi occupation (see below) would of course have been transgressing the "law" of the authorities, but they are applauded today. I am not recommending breaking the law, though I'm also not against it if it serves a higher moral purpose-- one must jump through basic hoops to obtain social assistance, there is no escape from that. But one may not jump through them with the expected enthusiasm-- and no one can claim that as "illegitimate." I can't resist quoting Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward from their excellent book Regulating The Poor:

…mass unemployment that persists for any length of time diminishes the capacity of other institutions to bind and constrain people. ...if the dislocation is widespread, the legitimacy of the social order itself may come to be questioned.

>I'm not sure that going on welfare would be a good choice unless ligtimatly you cannot find a job according to your qualifications.

As for "qualifications"-- who will confer qualifications or "legitimacy" to a calling, outside the standard economic measures? It may take decades for a calling to bear ripe fruit.

>Then you could apply for welfare, but any dependence on a corrupt government compromises your own integrity.

When I worked at standard jobs, my integrity had to do without two things: the energy to fuel my calling, which is Imagination, and my "self," which I identify with the call to imaginative and speculative creative work. Since these central aspects were not "integrated," I couldn't really say I had "integrity."

Ursula Franklin, a compassionate wise woman if there ever was one, writes that we are living under an Occupation. Here are her words: "I picture the reality in which we live in terms of military occupation. We are occupied the way the French and Norwegians were occupied by the Nazis during World War II, but this time by an army of marketeers. We have, as the occupied nations of Europe had, puppet governments who run the country for the benefit of the occupier. We have, as they did, collaborators."

This is not to mention what I call the "gross international by-products" of this global occupation, whose atrocities and tragedies I need not list here.

How much time do we have, Dr. Fulton, and from whence may come the impetus to move this heavy and growing occupation? I wrote to Michael Ignatieff, who said that academics are as if "under a heavy blanket" and need waking up. He also emphasized that change has historically come from the margins.

And the work world! Am I so far off in a picture of the great mass in its inertia swinging with the soporific of American television like a kid with a drugged sucker while someone like Bush steps into his role and suggests that Americans "love their children" and "work hard"? The lower working classes are exhausted trying to make ends meet, have no time for their kids, and on up the ladder concerns about payments, debts and consumerism keep even brilliant people from the leisure essential for deep learning.

You speak of "control" and perhaps are aware of Piven and Cloward's words from Regulating The Poor-- that the job system was the main institution of social control.

Of course I'm all for "pay equity" and all the other applications of human rights to workers-- and a world in which sexually harassed women (half of Canadian working women?!) have an alternative to putting up with it-- as over 90% do (I don't need to tell you) in that job system, for lack of an alternative-- but I have to push this and suggest that to "go along with" the occupation [sic] until such time as a change is brought about by academics and youth traveling to the big protests (many with the forced leisure to do so) have an effect, is to join those "spin-doctors" tinkering with effects. As you say, the structure itself is abusive.

Your words:
>"Let's get out of a society which is concerned only with control, and let's try freedom."

How, Dr, Fulton, and when?

>"The model that we're trying to recommend is a model that allows people to make their own choices."

Recommend to whom, and how may they "practice its presence?" Which employer will help me "make my own choices"?

>"The job system… which certainly needs changing, is a job system that started ten thousand years ago, it's been a blip in the whole history of the human race."

>"We have to get money into the hands of people to free them up to follow their callings, and trust the people to restructure society…"

Now: who are we going to convince to share the wealth, Dr. Fulton? The rich?

Of course not. The wealth will be shared in this way when enough people demand it. And what stands in the way of, for instance, a Guaranteed Annual Income? Something called the "work ethic" which as you know was successfully driven down the throats of factory workers until successive generations accepted it as a silent premise-- inculcated with violence and fear by church, state, and commerce. It never meant one's own projects (including time for kids, community, etc)-- it meant serving a master. Its present measure is contribution to GNP-- we both know the value of that measure for human society. And the success of that "moralizing of the proletariat" is shown by its strong supporters-- the exploited workers themselves, especially the lower classes-- "victims who collaborate in their own victimization."

Wasn't it in 1985 that the MacDonald Commission questioned people across Canada on the subject of a Guaranteed Income? Presumably the response from the people was "we don't want a handout, we want jobs." To me this is the heart of a great block to the kind of society you envision. Who will tell them about the cultural and industrial heritage that makes unheard of wealth available without their need to go through the mill (Cf. R. B. Fuller)? Who will tell them they are legatees of the greatest fortune, and that to accept it could release an Age of the Humanities which would make, as Robert Anton Wilson wrote, "the Renaissance look like a high school science fair or a Greenwich Village art show"? Buckminster Fuller did, speaking as scientist and engineer, but, as he might say, "approximately no one" reads him.

So the people don't want to be freed up to follow their callings-- they want jobs-- which means obedience, and safety from the Valley of Decision wherein which is fought the War of Armageddon. "Fear of Freedom," in Erich Fromm's words.

You spoke of the wonderful creative diversity of the swamp. Please tell me, Dr. Fulton, which workplace provides such creativity and vitality? If there are such places, and their product or service is really of value to society, they are an extreme minority. Furthermore, if people are to "follow their callings," to unite a calling with an established enterprise is even less likely, wouldn't you agree? You cited Buckminster Fuller, who as you know, wrote that 70% of jobs in Western private enterprise countries are not producing any real wealth or life-support, and that "...it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home."

In conclusion Dr. Fulton, I think that at best these are times of "enantiodromia"-- whatever proceeds in a linear mode eventually becomes its opposite. Schools prevent education, Hospitals interfere with healing, parliaments do not serve the people. And the work ethic as we have known it perpetuates a rather terrible wage-slavery. Who will "just say no?" What does obedience mean in a time of "occupation"? To obtain "social assistance" one is required to supply a job-search list on demand-- there are not many other imperatives. Ironically, it leaves the recipient free-- free to "de-institutionalize," free to think and read and dream and visualize-- and best of all, free to use their best hours to follow their calling, rather than the dregs of time and energy left over after serving a master. One is of course understood to have the expected values, but traditions of democratic thought and concepts of liberty support one's right to hold different values-- including those that view the job system as both obsolete in the light of industrial technology-- as Fuller wrote-- and abusive both to individuals and to concepts of freedom.

I won't go through the "living off the backs of the workers" argument, though I’d be happy to if you would like to hear it.

I could go on and on-- in fact, I have, in a 6 CD montage called The World Owes You A Living 
and a thick manuscript called Freedom Resumé.

Surely a time of necessary deep change must require deep revisions of moral systems themselves. I agree with your admonition to "visualize something different." We need a deep kaizen, especially a moral kaizen of the colonized work ethic in a time of industrial-technical cornucopia. My ear is very keen to hear your argument here, Dr. Fulton. Many thanks again; it is an honor to converse with you.
"Jack Saturday"

From: Dr. E. Margaret Fulton [mailto:emfulton@saltspring.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2001 12:22 PM
To: "Jack Saturday"
Subject: Re: moral question

"Jack Saturday", Wow! You are obviously a person of substance who does not need me as a mentor!

No! I am not going to enter into an argument with you, because we both see things from the same perspective. I thought you were a young student looking for some kind of moral guidance. I did say "I am not sure" because I do not like to tell anyone how to live their lives, and your question gave me no context. Clearly you can make your own decisions and if your mentors are the likes of Ursula Franklin and Buckminister Fuller, then you can't go wrong. Follow your own karma as the Buddhists say. Give leadership wherever you are.

The New Left is forming. Circles are gathering. A different paradigm is emerging. We may be only a grain of sand on the beach, but the fact that you write as you do tells me that alternatives to the dominant power systems are possible, and yes, the job system is part of that globalized power!

The very best to you in your endeavours to challenge those systems, Margaret Fulton
[emphasis JS]

From: "Jack Saturday" [mailto:mfair@home.com]
Sent: March 10, 2001 6:31 PM
To: Dr. E. Margaret Fulton
Subject: RE: moral question

Dear Dr. Fulton:

I can't possibly say how valuable your spiritual endorsement is to me. I disagree with you about mentors-- there is a hunger for it which is perennial, perhaps mammalian. They are not amply supplied except through books.

 A hug to you, madam, through this incalculable ether.
"Jack Saturday"

[emphasis JS]


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