Center for a Stateless Society Shut Down by Belgian Nazis

Update: It sounds like c4ss has recovered their data and is moving to an overseas hosting solution. Full update here

One of my favorite websites the Center for a Stateless Society c4ss.org has been literally shut down by Oliv­er Janssens, some dipshit Belgian brownshirt in Belgium.

I emphasize the Belgium bit because, as I just learned, it’s a foreign goddamn country. What has actually occurred, in real life, is that a Belgian, in Europe, has legally shut down a political website in the United States. For the radical, feel free to prepend “Belgium,” “Europe,” and “the United States” with “the legal fiction known as”. Inside or outside the awful nation-state framework, this is one of the stranger DMCA things that I’ve personally witnessed. Here’s the text of the C4SS message that is up on a temporary site c4ss has redirected to.

Both C4SS.org and S4SS.org as well as all our content has been temporarily suspended by our web hosting company, Bluehost, because of a spurious takedown notice apparently sent by the attorney J. D. Obenberger, apparently on Janssen’s behalf.

According to the lawyer’s takedown notice to Bluehost, “Your hosting customer, who operates http://s4ss.org, decided to embarrass Oliver Janssens[1] in the worst and most effective way – by words out of his own mouth.[2] Words of his own creation which, when reduced to the tangible medium of a FaceBook page, acquired a copyright. recognized by the United States Copyright Act and international conventions concerning copyright.”

In other words, Obenberger claims that S4SS (and apparently C4SS, even though C4SS’s website never even quoted Olivier Janssen’s name) ought to be legally censored for truthfully reporting the man’s own words about Muslims and immigrants.

Specifically, his words when he wrote — on Facebook — “HHH[3]has the balls[4] to say that, thanks to our welfare state, our genetic pool is fucked. Exactly my thoughts. The only reason the Muslim parasite[5] can breed at a 10 times faster pace than us. Totally love this guy.”[6]

Olivier Janssens is a bigot, a bully, and now would like to add “censor” to his list of credentials, with a lawyer e-mailing legal threats and spurious takedown notices to C4SS and S4SS’s web host.

Here is a copy of the Students for a Stateless Society post that Janssens and his lawyer are trying to censor. It was retrieved from Google’s web cache on September 23, 2013, and represents the page as it appeared on September 13, 2013. The original post included several image screen caps of the original Facebook comment threads, which unfortunately are not preserved in the cached copy. Hopefully the s4ss.org website will be back soon, with those images intact.

In the meantime, Nazi Punks Fuck Off. If you are willing and have the web space, please consider re-posting a copy of the statement below on your own site, so that we can spread the word, and make it clear that we will not isolated, intimidated or silenced by bigots using these copy-fascist tactics.

If you are interested in helping us out during this period of time, please consider a $5 donation.

PayPal: iradical@praxeology.net or Bitcoin: 129pipr12a5UUZ447bLYjx1paRnCXqG5vi.

And for anyone interested in the original kerfuffle, I found this below via Rad Geek. I’m not nearly as surprised by bigots in the “liberty movement” as I am that anybody, much less a person 30,000 miles away (estimate only) can shut down a website that quotes a their Facebook post. That seems really weird to me. Maybe Bluehost is just extra lawyer-shy. I surely to hell wouldn’t ever host shit with them.

The images are links to the downed website; I believe the text from the images is completely captured in the transcripts.

The following is a post that appeared at the Students for a Stateless Society website on September 11, 2013.

Content warning. Please be forewarned that the post exposes the activities of a group of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racists, and it quotes comments made by them that include extremely disturbing discussions and brutal racial slurs.

S4SS’ UGent Not Anarchists (or Comrades)

From the inception of Students for a Stateless Society we have strived to provide a space to learn about liberty and engage in projects to further its cause. We seek to provide a networked structure that will allow for maximum autonomy of our chapters while fostering maximum inter/intra-chapter participation, communication and coordination. Although we do not ‘own’ the S4SS ‘trademark’ we feel it is necessary to emphasize that we do decide for ourselves which individuals, groups and chapters we recognize as being part of our network.

For the last few months we have been observing a rapid change of subject and tone in the discussions held at the facebook group of the S4SS chapter in Belgium; Students for a Stateless Society UGent. The atmosphere present in that group is becoming increasingly hostile towards fellow liberty-advocates, liberty-oriented organizations, and –most clearly- those of the Islamic faith. In accordance with our organizational orientation which states:

3. S4SS spaces are safe and valued spaces. We are dedicated to not only identifying agents of aggression, but dissolving institutions of oppression.”

We feel S4SS U-gent is not representing this orientation in their structure or discussions. In fact we feel they are actively promoting oppression of Muslim minorities, as evidenced by the following facebook-conversations:

Piece 1: https://www.facebook.com/groups/452955004728164/permalink/637332409623755/

S4SS UGent Facebook 1

Everaert: According to Lode Cossaer and his fellow Trotskyists it is “redundant to talk about the problems in the Arab world” and “we should focus ourselves on signs of hope.” I propose sending him on a one way trip to Syria. He can go and ignore the bullets and beheadings (they’re redundant anyway), and look for hope. Surely he won’t return. That kid won’t even survive reality.

Arnaert: Cossaer denies reality? Behold the most important attitude of the left!

Everaert: Reality is redundant, so not relevant and pointless. Bleri Lleshi = Lode Cossaer (ed. Bleri Lleshi is a leftist Belgian philosopher, documentary filmmaker and political scientist who focuses on things like identity, equality and neo-liberalism)

Janssens: It would be relevant enough if you know that the SPA/PS (Leftist political parties in Belgium) are growing in power because of the muslims, and that the Arab world is helping them accomplish this. Unless his hope is is ‘not being beheaded in 20 years because he is a Christian’.

Verdyck: He has no capital and his ambition to work for the government all his life.

Xavier Everaert, Brecht Arnaert, Olivier Janssens and Yannick Verdyck share very islamophobic viewpoints as visible from the above conversation. Let us be clear; We do not believe the Muslim world is helping leftist political parties gain power. Muslims are individuals with their own thoughts, their actions and political beliefs are not a result of their skin color or belief in a certain deity. Additionally:

Piece 2: https://www.facebook.com/groups/452955004728164/permalink/636924376331225/

In response to a story involving a recommendation to the government to change public holidays to involve more multi-cultural festivities instead of just Christian ones.(http://m.gva.be/nieuws/binnenland/aid988952/pasen-hemelvaartsdag-en-allerheiligen-geen-wettelijke-feestdagen-meer.aspx) A selection of comments has been translated.

S4SS UGent Facebook 2

Janssens: Men, it’s time for revolution

Kint: ‘recommendation’

Jacobs: Funny how the result of ‘inter-cultural dialogue’ always comes down to giving Muslims more advantages while Catholics get doused in shit every day by our regime’s media.

Janssens: Enough is enough.

Arnaert: I don’t think they’re taking it far enough. I think western names like John, Peter and Paul are quite upsetting as well.

Verdyck: And of course, everyone who thinks this will cause trouble between original-Belgians and muslims is obviously a xenophobe.

Everaert: Guns. Guns to kill all those sand-niggers and their servants like Lode Cossaer, just like the animals they are.

Verdyck: I have never been able to find the difference between Mein Kampf and the Koran, but according to Lode Cossaer and Joelle Milquet there is definitely a difference. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in German, that xenophobic nationalist!

Let us highlight Everaert’s comment: “Guns. Guns to kill all those sand-niggers and their servants like Lode Cossaer, just like the animals they are.” Do we really need say more? In no way can you call this critical of religion. This is pure racism. S4SS is supposed to provide safe spaces for students of all sorts, including individuals with minority religious and ethnic backgrounds. In addition this comment is a threat to initiate violence against peaceful people; S4SS should not associate itself with people who make threats to the life and liberty of others. If this wasn’t enough, here is more:

Piece 3: https://www.facebook.com/groups/452955004728164/permalink/628664343823895/

Janssens: HHH (ed. Hans Herman Hoppe) has the balls to say that, thanks to our welfare state, our genetic pool is fucked. Exactly my thoughts. The only reason the Muslim parasite can breed at a 10 times faster pace than us. Totally love this guy.

Hoppe Extract

Kint: Truefax. A virus can’t survive without a host.

And finally:

Piece 4: https://www.facebook.com/groups/452955004728164/permalink/619657114724618/

In response to: http://www.nieuwsblad.be/article/detail.aspx?articleid=dmf20130723_00667877 A selection of comments has been translated.

S4SS UGent Facebook 4

Kint: My problem is that mohammedan promise 5 times a day that they will chop my head off, and that I have to pay for them to do this.

Kint: Under normal circumstances people like that would be institutionalized, or better yet: deported. Because the kuffar (unbeliever) keeps paying to finance and maintain that fascist death-cult. Stop welfare checks and the problem is solved.

Kint: Mohammedans who do not promise this are not good mohemmedans. The ‘existence’ of the so-called moderate muslim is irrelevant in this discussion. The question is: what side will the moderate muslim take when all hell breaks loose?

Kint: Servititude is the worst. Breivik had the idea.

(ed. Breivik: Anders Behring Breivik http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anders_Behring_Breivik )

Kint: Mohammedans must practice Jihad in multiple ways. One of the techniques is to soothe the Kuffar to sleep by becoming ‘moderate’ or becoming your friend.

Everaert: ‘I know friendly muslims, so there is no problem” , how cute.

Everaert: I know how you will defend yourself. You will convert and collaborate and decapitate your mother and father because your moderate friends ask you nicely, just like in Syria.

Kint: Collaborators of islamofascists will be the first targets. The fear has to spread to the other side. http://wiki.artikel20.com/

Kint: Moderate muslims are a fiction created by Mohammed himself. They are the first wave of the Jihad. The anthrax in your carpet. This is where the discussion ends for me, you are in a deep comatose sleep. You won’t care if your head is removed. Insh’allah! (ed. If god wills it!)

Everaert: First point is to get rid of collaborators like you because we have the suspicion that you will pick their side. Just like the liberals have picked the side of the salafists in the middle-east, is there any reason to think why they won’t do that here?

Again, there is no conspiracy of world domination by which ‘the Muslims’ are seeking power. Suggesting that people are automatically part of a plot just because of their religion or ethnic ancestry is racism. Also, posting references to kill-lists set up by racist groups does not qualify S4SS UGent as a safe space, which S4SS chapters should be.

We would like to take the opportunity to point out the continuous hostility towards Lode Cossaer, president of the Murray Rothbard Institute in Belgium. Throughout multiple conversations he has been ridiculed, verbally attacked and his life has been threatened. As S4SS members we feel deeply ashamed that personal attacks like this have happened in a chapter that we consider part of our network. If you’re reading this, Lode, we would like to apologize for not taking action on this at a sooner date. We empathize with the possible fear and under appreciation you feel because of S4SS UGent.

In response to the evidence provided above we have decided to dissociate ourselves with S4SS UGent as well as the members that most prominently voiced racist opinions and threats; Xavier Everaert, Brecht Arnaert, Olivier Janssens, Yannick Verdyck and Peter Kint. We suggest that the members of S4SS UGent who are not part of its racist core to start a different chapter, a safe and valued space, so that the idea of a stateless society may continue to grow in their university and their country.

Finally, we would like to provide the opportunity for anyone else to sign this message with or without additional comments. As a closing statement let us reiterate our orginizational orientation:

The Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS) agree to the following four design principles:

1. “Student” does not mean subservient, submissive, or subordinate. A student is anyone who desires knowledge. A student can be either a teacher or a learner.

2. A stateless society is anarchy. Students have a right to contribute to and have a voice in the institutions they participate or constitute. As anarchists we will actively pursue and support hierarchy dissolving and mutual aid projects. Our time as students is not a time of passivity or mindless discipline, but a time for activity and creativity.

3. S4SS spaces are safe and valued spaces. We are dedicated to not only identifying agents of aggression, but dissolving institutions of oppression.

4. All chapters of S4SS, to be considered active, must have at least one volunteer “point of contact” that can be reached by interested students or encouraging chapters. There is no limit to the number of S4SS chapters that can be on any one campus – swarm and take over!


Olivier Janssens and his crew deserve to be exposed. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, both for what they said, and for stooping to use the state censorship of “Intellectual Property” law to retaliate against those who exposed what they said. Please spread the word, and keep copies of this statement alive. We can’t give in to this kind of shameful legal intimidation and censorship.

ETA: @c4ssdotorg adds, “If you are interested in helping us out during this period of time, please consider a $5 donation.” Cached copy of C4SS donation page here PayPal: iradical@praxeology.net or Bitcoin: 129pipr12a5UUZ447bLYjx1paRnCXqG5vi.

  1. [1] [Sic. —CJ.]
  2. [2] [Emphasis added. —CJ.]
  3. [3] [Hans Hermann Hoppe. —CJ.]
  4. [4] [Sic. —CJ.]
  5. [5] [Sic. —CJ.]
  6. [6] Janssens’s original comments were in Flemish. Translations by an anonymous S4SS supporter.


  1. [1] Sic. —CJ
  2. [2] Emphasis added. —CJ.
  3. [3] Hans Hermann Hoppe. —CJ.
  4. [4] Sic. —CJ.
  5. [5] Sic. —CJ.
  6. [6] Janssens’s original comments were in Flemish. Translations by an anonymous S4SS supporter.

More Encryption Is Not the Solution

I’m always pleased to see the recognition that, ultimately, politics is just people with lots of weapons doing what they want. In this instance, Poul-Henning Kamp, highlights the fact with respect to encryption as a “solution” to revelations about “government” spying.

INCONVENIENT FACT #1 ABOUT PRIVACY:
POLITICS TRUMPS CRYPTOGRAPHY

Nation-states have police forces with guns. Cryptographers and the IETF Internet Engineering Task Force do not.

Several nation-states, most notably the United Kingdom, have enacted laws that allow the police to jail suspects until they reveal the cryptographic keys to unlock their computers. Such laws open a host of due process and civil rights issues that we do not need to dwell on here. For now it is enough to note that such laws can be enacted and enforced.
. . .
Any person can have the right to privacy removed through whatever passes for judicial oversight in their country of residence, so that authorities can confirm or deny a suspicion of illegal activities.
. . .
if a nation-state decides that somebody should not have privacy, then it will use whatever means available to prevent that privacy.

via More Encryption Is Not the Solution – ACM Queue.

The article is short and worth reading. The author is clearly not an economist, “In the past quarter century, international trade agreements have been the big thing: free movement of goods across borders and oceans, to the mutual benefit of all parties. I guess we all assumed that information and privacy rights would receive the same mutual respect as property rights did in these agreements, but we were wrong.”

He also has an unhealthy optimism that the guys with the guns can be persuaded to dismantle the spy agencies (who, I’m sure, have lots of dirt on the guys with the guns); all -in-all the conclusion section is the weakest part of the paper.

Overall, his point is important: as long as institutions exist that are overwhelmingly recognized to have the right to do whatever they please up to and including caging and killing anyone who doesn’t obey, encryption will, at best, protect small handfuls of people. For people generally, a general solution is necessary, which is a delegitimization of the use of force by “government.”

Police Invade to Make Arrest Over the Grass Length

Apropos of yet another jkpodcast, Plastic Bags and the Foundational Principle of Government. I stumbled across the Youtube clip embedded below. To sum up, the podcast is how people think anarchists are joking when they contend that the law is ultimately backed up by the ability of the state to kill you.

The fact that something so obviously true and vitally important has never occurred to most people is telling; even the simplest statue, such as banning the retail use of plastic bags, or mandating an appropriate height for grass, is premised on the claimed legitimacy of people calling themselves “government” to rob, cage or kill the people around them.

Police barge into home to make arrest over the length of grass caught on video – YouTube.

Historically, the nature of the relationship between “the people” and “the government” has been occluded behind polite notes, “reasonable” fines, proposed payment plans, and lots of additional non-threatening warnings and helpful opportunities to submit and obey served up by a polite and courteous constabulary[1]. This, and state “education”, explains why most middle-class people haven’t conceived of the notion that the institution of government is predicated on violence.

Inevitably, as the cancer of government reaches its terminal stage, the “gloves come off” and we all see the violence inherent in the system. I doubt very many warrant were being served by squads of officers in the 1970s. Now we see this kind of thuggery every day.

Here’s the jkpodcast linked to above:
Play

  1. [1] Characterization of state power may not apply for the poor, minorities, immigrants, etc.

The Limits of Science

Apropos of Kevin’s and my recent podcast, an article on the limits of science.

No rulers! Except for measurement! Science is pretty sweet, though.

In the podcast, we discuss logic as an essential tool in determining how one’s beliefs track reality. However, perfect Aristotelian logic can generate perfectly crafted non-sense given incorrect premises.

Similarly, science is the best means of testing hypothesis and incrementally bringing beliefs about reality in line with the natural universe (a.k.a., the universe).



Regardless of how rigorously one pursues knowledge with the correct application of the methods of science, and regardless of how large the body of scientific understanding becomes, it can never answer the questions it is so frequently purported to answer:
“Is this new drug safe?” “Is that amount of pollution too high?” “Are wages for those workers too low?” “What’s the minimum number of days of paid vacation that workers should get annually?”

Read more

These questions are not, exclusively, about the objective world. They incorporate the subjective; they can’t be answered except by each individual for her own circumstances. Appeals to evidence can be made to persuade someone to take action, but there is no amount of evidence that legitimizes coercion in these matters. Any appeal to science in the name of politics, or any other form of violence, is an appeal made on false premises and an indication of intellectual, if not moral, corruption.

Update: I just figured out that I could do this, here’s an embed to Kevin’s and my podcast on the limitations of logic.

Play

NSA, NDAA and the Relative Risk of “Terrorism”

You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than a terrorist attack. You are 12,570 times more likely to die from cancer, 1000 times more likely to die in a car crash, 87 times more likely to drown, 12 times more likely to accidentally suffocate in bed.

Each day, we fend off death in ways both large and small, we expend our time and energy gathering resources to prevent hunger, thirst, and to protect from the elements. We invest in things to make our houses and transportation safer and more reliable. We buy healthier food and exercise to reduce the likelihood of disease. We choose to spend the “health and safety” portion of our resources on those things likely to threaten our health and safety.

We needs 3/4 million concrete bunkers because . . . TERRORISTS!

There is a vanishingly small chance that you will die from a terrorist attack. More specifically, there is virtually no chance at all that you will die in an attack that would be prevented by military expeditions, national intelligence agencies, domestic surveillance, increased policing powers etc. Almost entirely none. Barely non-zero.

It’s not a new thought and is probably best presented by master of all things security Bruce Schneier, but I find it especially striking with something like this recent NSA “scandal” pops up how much money is going to defend against a complete non-threat.

Putting aside for the moment the epic loss of life and the hyper-Orwellian annihilation of privacy and human rights, the squandering of precious, finite resources is simply staggering.

The amount of wealth that is just being “pissed away,” as my dear old dad would put it, is beyond the mind’s capacity to fathom. Trillions of dollars spent doing abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Just piles of money set on fire in the name of preventing something that doesn’t happen anyway.

The worst part of this epic destruction of wealth is that it comes from people who actually have real things they need to spend money on! People who have actual health and safety concerns are prevented from using their labor to improve their chances at a long and healthy life. Their money is taken from them and spent on multi-billion dollar NSA data centers and Homeland Security headquarters, which will help the citizens of the country not at all.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the country of Albania built 750,000 concrete bunkers seemingly randomly around the countryside. They were lead by a lunatic, Enver Hoxha, who had everyone convinced that foreign invasion was just around the corner so this tiny piss-poor country build these useless structures instead of anything that would be of any benefit to anyone. That makes no less sense than the absurd, do-nothing, ongoing, “defensive” boondoggle, that is defended at every turn by both political parties and the media.

Seriously. Seriously. This shit is ridiculous. People have real problems to deal with and real dangers to avoid (police are 8 times more likely to kill you than terrorists). I understand that nothing’s going to change–anybody who decides to do something useful with their money instead of funding this worthless police state will be surrounded by well paid and heavily armed men and taken one of the ample prisons that are currently being filled up.

But can we please drop the pretense that it does anything? Can we at least be honest with each other about the value of the “service” we’re involuntarily subscribed to? Listening Harvard educated millionaire (from defense contracts) government functionaries tell me about how scary the “bad guys” are and how we need money to help the “good guys” protect us is beyond insulting.

Now that I’ve matured, I understand that people have deep-seeded emotional needs for safety and protection and that the bullshit illusion of the national security state fills that need. I understand that verbal abuse isn’t helpful and that a peaceful dialog that respects their human desires is what is required to have a win-win conversation.

But between us, this is one of those things where I just want to be like, “YOU’RE FUCKING WRONG AND SHIT IS FUCKED UP BECAUSE YOU’RE SOOOOO FUCKING WRONG!” Alright, alright. I know that’s over simplifying, the inability to see the fucking painfully obvious is only one aspect of a complex and multi-faceted problem . . . deeeep breaths . . . and dialog. Baby steps. We’ll get there. Thanks for reading.

Multinational Corporations: The Roving Band of Armed Thugs Argument Writ Large

I’ve introduced Jim Rigby in a post before. He’s a thought provoking writer and an open-minded conversationalist. He posted recently in support of a Noam Chomsky article. I responded to the shared post on Facebook (I think it’s a public post). In short, I’m responding to Chomsky’s point, reiterated in Jim’s article, that the state is the correct means to keep corporate power in check:

. . . the idea that increasing the power of the state would somehow decrease the power of the corporations that are protected and funded by the state requires some explanation at the least. To imagine that by voting, petitioning, protesting, etc., the government can be made to protect people from concentrations of capital and privilege requires deviating from all historical precedent . . .

Skipping down a bit to where Jim responds, with his usual politeness:

Jad, I am certainly happy to discuss where we disagree. I just didn’t want seem like your excellent arguments were unwelcome. I see corporations as concentrated private power. They are undemocratic and so unaccountable to the people. The state may create the legal definition of a corporation, but those private powers would still exist if we were to shut down the US government tonight. It is true that a corporation like Monsanto would not have to go through the charade of getting around government regulations, and they wouldn’t get government funding were there no government, but they wouldn’t not whither and die in my opinion. I believe they would simply take what they want as they do all over the world where governments are weak and cannot protect their people. If like some foreign corporations they hire their own private army, there would nothing to stand against them. However bad our situation is in the States, it is infinitely worse in nations where corporations are stronger than the local governments. The smaller the government the more tactics like capital flight make it impossible for people to collectively stand against corporate tyranny.

Here beginneth the actual post:

The power of concentrated corporate wealth is astounding, terrifying, and is a daily menace to the well being of humans all across the globe. No informed person with any empathy or degree of integrity can defend the existence of these behemoths who are, as you rightly note, undemocratic and unaccountable to . . . well, anybody–other than, perhaps a heavily invested shareholder.

It’s true, as well, that, were the United States government shut down tonight, Monsanto wouldn’t simply go away. But it would begin a very rapid decline. Contrariwise, since the US government isn’t likely to shut down any time soon, Monsanto will continue to grow in size and strength. Even if GMO’s fall out of favor, Monsanto has reinvented itself before (after DDT and PCBs became unpopular). It’s essential to understand that the unimaginable amounts of capital that Monsanto and the few thousand largest corporations have gathered didn’t come to them overnight. It’s been assembled, almost entirely through political means and specifically war profiteering, over the last 100 years.

One paragraph, super-brief history: After it’s founding at the turn of the 20th century, Monsanto grew rapidly as the fledgling American Empire found the need to assemble and enshrine a domestic chemical manufacturing base as it faced war with its suppliers in Europe. As the American war machine grew and spread around the world, Monsanto was contracted by the United States government to help develop the nuclear bomb and build the cold war nuclear arsenal. They also made a fortune selling DDT which the US military sprayed all over in Europe and the South Pacific to protect invading soldiers from disease. Monsanto was also an important manufacturer of Agent Orange during Vietnam. Despite not having almost no success in creating products for consumers, Monsanto has become one of the largest concentrations of wealth on the planet.

Besides channeling wealth from the working class to the war profiteers, the federal government provides key protections without which Monsanto and its ilk would quickly disintegrate. Perhaps the most important is protection for intellectual property. The United States legal system and enforcement apparatus recognizes Monsanto’s absolute ownership of certain genetic patterns. Independent farmers using non-GMO seeds are sued and have their land and products seized when Monsanto crops cross-pollinate. Other farmers who choose to stay out of the Monsanto GMO supply chain face a constant threat of losing their livelihood should an unfortunate wind blow.

The decisions of legal system are enforced, not by the private armies that you fear, but by federal agents. US corporations get their private armies, intelligence services (CIA) and diplomatic corps (State Department) without even having to pay for them. The relevant power dynamic isn’t between the corporation and the weak national governments, as you mention above, but between the weak national governments and the US government. Monsanto has an “in” anywhere around the world where the US government has influence over the local government. This global enforcement of “free trade” is paid for by the working class here at home, while the corporations reap the profits and the poor around the world suffer the side-effects.

Click to enlarge: An unweildy but informative graphic showing the degree of “regulatory capture” Monsanto holds over the Federal state.

Corporate concentrations of capital and power do not obtain despite government interference; they would not have been achieved without government interference. Precisely the same is true for most of the monstrosities that sit astride the chest of humanity: GE, Dow Chemical (very similar trajectory to Monsanto), Exxon, Shell, General Motors, and so on.

This is not to say that everything produced by chemical processes and industrial manufacture is a priori bad. The organic nature of production for things of general (accountable, democratic) use to humanity is extraordinarily decentralized. This is wonderful for consumers, who can hold small, localized entities to account, but terrible for a centralized, militarized state, who needs single points of audit and control to drive industry in particular ways.

Gabriel Kolko demonstrates this rigorously in The Triumph of Conservatism. His evidence was among the most important in convincing me that there was no golden age of government regulation. The history of regulation is the history of eliminating small, local businesses and manufacture to assist in the ascendency of todays awful multi-national corporations.

If you’ve read this far looking for a reference to The Roving Band of Armed Thugs Argument, there it is. In short, a common argument for the necessity of a centralized, powerful monopoly on violence is that, without it, we’d be overwhelmed by crudely armed bad actors (roving bands of armed thugs). Because of that abstract (and fairly absurd theory), most folks put up with, encourage and pay for roving bands of armed thugs which actually are a plague in most metropolitan area (the police) and around the world (the US military). Similarly, in the name of preventing unaccountable accumulations of private wealth, most folks put up with encourage and pay for an agency of force that expropriates or destroys small accumulations of wealth and channels the resources, protections, and patronage into a few hands. Thus, in both cases, people are bamboozled into accepting something precisely the opposite of the actual solution to the problem they imagine.

This is What Winning Looks Like

If you want to see an amazing perspective on what’s going on right now in Afghanistan, treat yourself to this movie series on youtube. I’ve only watched the first one, but I couldn’t wait to micro-broadcast/archive it here.

There is so much to recommend this documentary. The filmmaker has been embedded with western military units for much of the invasion/occupation of Afghanistan. This movie covers events of the last year and is not, as you might at first expect, about the physical violence of the occupation–at least that’s not a feature of part 1. Rather, it portrays the absolutely bizarre nature of the charade of transition. The playing out of the hand-off of power to the police units of the nominal government as US forces withdraw.

Throughout the film, it’s clear that nobody believes this is going to go well. The police commanders are abandoning their posts, the afghan poice are tending marijuana gardens and are high as kites on opium, and the US soldiers are travelling from place to place attempting to convince the various police units that they really are leaving–no more gas, bullets, air strikes, etc.

It has a very “Apocalypse Now” feel to it, but real. In one scene a base commander is on opium riding a bicycle through the wasteland outside the base when he’s supposed to be having his men fill up sandbags. The men pull over a car and make the occupants fill the bags which they then have children carry back to the base. In another scene, US soldiers stop a man firing at targets he can’t see in the streets outside the base. The policeman, angry at being told what to do, storms out of the base firing wildly as he wanders down streets and alleyways. He returns later to ask for more ammunition.

Also darkly humorous are the lessons about law and ethics that come up throughout the piece. In one scene, US soldiers find an impromptu prison where a local politician is keeping some of his personal enemies. The soldiers try to explain how warrants work and how “it’s not legal just to kidnap any person”. In another scene soldiers attempt to keep the afghan police from firing when there might be children around. The impossibility of teaching a lessons on ethics when every bit of context is the result of gross violations of the the most basic ethical principles is reflected in the faces of the afghan soldiers. It’s not surprising that many of them open fire on their supposed allies

The crazy meta-mystery to me is how this documentary got made in the first place. Have all the censors and press liasons already left the country? The candor of the interviewees is remarkable. One of the most fascinating pieces is with a US Major who, as the filmmaker notes, “couldn’t tell lies.” He details the various types of corruption and rackets being run, talks about a Afghan base commander who they have to allow to capture and rape boys. The entire time he has the pained expression–he’s clearly a man who would like to do the right thing, but has no idea what that could be other than to be honorable where it doesn’t contradict his orders. If movies like this had been coming out during the entire occupation . . . ah well, it probably wouldn’t have made any fucking difference, but it should have.

I’m looking forward to the next two parts, also available on youtube.

Podcast Recommendations

Great Scott! The month, she is over, and I can’t bring myself to type-process any of the events of the last month. I’ve been meaning to explicitly point out some good podcasts that I’ve been listening to. That will have to suffice. Check them out:

  • The School Sucks Podcast I can’t over-hype this podcast/project. It’s fundamentally philosophically sound, thought provoking, and very entertaining. Also, the commitment to accuracy and the sheer amount of research is more than impressive. Start on episode 1. You’ll thank me.
  • The Corbett Report I can’t over-hype this podcast/project. It’s fundamentally philosophically sound, thought provoking, and very entertaining. Also, the commitment to accuracy and the sheer amount of research is more than impressive. Start on episode 1. You’ll thank me.

The Supreme Court and Marriage

Is there anything more pathetic than having a panel of geriatric neo-scholastics as society’s self-proclaimed ultimate arbiters of right and wrong?

We should be immediately suspicious of this black-clad gang as they are supposed to use sane first principles, the facts of reality, and reason to arrive a just decisions, and yet not one of them is an atheist. In fact the currently represented religions (6 Catholic and 3 Jewish, I think) are demonstrably expert and ginning up internally consistent bullshit whirlwinds that can avoid, dismantle and adapt to any reality based objection–other religions aren’t slackers in this department either, but certain religions have truly raised this nonsense to an artform, or more aptly, an academic pursuit.

Supreme Court deliberations also sound remarkably similar to the early-bird dinner hour at Luby’s.

Reading the court transcript has much in common with reading a sci-fi forum about who would win in a fight between the Enterprise and a Star Destroyer. In both instances, the participants have powerful intellects that can make coherent, compelling arguments about anything, no matter how fanciful the context. In both instances a baseline fantasy story is held by all the participants, each then adds a few individual fantasy premises and then the reasoning process begins. In both cases, the conclusions are meaningless outside of their fantasy settings and nothing about reality has been decided at all. To be fair to the sci-fi folks, only the Supreme Court has millions of armed brutes enforcing their arbitrary conclusions.

As a quick demonstration of what a reality-based court transcript might look like (courtesy of a friend’s Facebook post):

I don’t know what kind of vaguely legitimate arguments anyone could make in defense of the DOMA. I take an adult’s right to enter into a contract of any kind–marriage or other– with another adult as so much of a given that trying to explain myself would be like trying to explain why slavery is wrong. If you’re still one of those people who believes that a Bronze Age collection of stories justifies you imposing your hangups on others’, I got nothing for you. Please go fuck yourself in the most hetero way you please.

Case closed.

Control of One’s Body (or, Freedom of Conscience Part le Deux)

Another quick (probably not that quick) example where people’s freedom of conscience is most obviously violated comes to us from science magazine. Briefly, it’s one of those reports of a drug that successfully fights cancer (in this call, *all* forms) in petri dishes an mice. I have no expertise to evaluate the claim–though it is coming from *science* magazine. It’s an interesting article and compelling enough that the top level comments are from folks desperate for a miracle cure. This shit is tragic, so don’t read any further if you’re having a down day:

Husband and father of 3, age 31, high grade spindle cell sarcoma, stage 4 with mets- help! [email address] or find me (spouse) on fb, Heather Cimino in Fort Myers, Fl, willing to travel anywhere, just save my husband!

my wife has tumor that are killing her will you hurry up and get this sorted – is there anyway one can volunteer for a trial
[email address]

where do i sign up I have colon cancer i am 24 and it sucks I do not wanna go to the bathroom in a bag for my life!!!


Soooo, I get the feeling there are plenty of willing participants for a study; most of whom are facing death in the very near term. They have full access to all sorts of non-cures (I’m a skeptic) in the forms of crystals, charged water, intense prayer, tinctures and the like, but they can’t get access to prototypes of drugs that, by definition, can’t make them worse off and have already been shown to be effective against human cancers in test mammals (mice).

It’s fucking tragic, tragic and awful, and frustrating, and infuriating.

The comments on this page are mostly a fight over some particular alternative healer. At Hacker News, where I read the story–and where very few alternative healing folk hang out, you can get a sense the frustration at this obvious and heinous injustice. Providing the foil are the usual apologists claiming that

. . . exemptions will invite snake-oil salesmen . . . the rules weren’t created in some blind bureaucratic power-grab. They’re responses to actual problems that existed in their absence. They aren’t without their downsides, but they remain better than the alternative on balance

I found among the comments, an acronym that I hadn’t seen before, FUD, or “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”, have no doubt I plan to use it liberally in the future. The identification of this reactionary strategy when it was deployed was a highlight of the HN comments. A large number of people clearly grasp that the final word on what does or does not get done to a body should be made by the “owner” of that body; nobody else can legitimately intervene with force to compel a forfeiture of conscience.

And that is heartening. Clearly a growing number of people “get it.” Overriding the exercise of control a person has over their body is instinctually repellent in a healthy adult human. Beyond what should be an obvious moral case is the practical one. The idea that a tiny clan of self-aggrandizing control freaks can access and weight the subjective experiences and priorities of millions of complete strangers is ludicrous. The notion that they thereafter can craft a single set of rules that do anything other than confound the daily lives of the subject of those rules is, uhhh, even more ludicrous.

Add to that the fact that these petty tyrants are bought and paid for by entities who profit from illness and from having a monopoly on all manner of healthcare resources and it becomes clear that the purpose of the FDA and similar agencies can’t possibly be the health and well being of the subjects.

What is laughable and sinister becomes heartbreaking when these sorts of forces prevent people from seeking solutions to life threatening medical conditions. And let’s be sure I beat this dead horse deader, the FDA and it’s enforcers are so completely certain that they know categorically what all 300 million of us should consume/not consume, that they are willing to kill people, if need be, to prevent them from harming themselves. Shit, sometimes I can’t believe how fucking loony this all is.