Archive for May, 2010

The Bikecast Episode #16: Rand Paul and Libertarianism

This is a short podcast. I recap the last one and then talk briefly about the confusion (at least my confusion) around the label “libertarian”.

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In the course of the ritual abuse of Rand Paul, leftists-authoritarians, smelling blood and a two-for-one bargain, have expanded their attack to libertarians in general. This gives me one of those momentary starts that I get when my carefully constructed illusory pre-utopia is intruded upon by ugly reality. 

In my world, libertarians are anarchists: Chomsky, Ward Colin, Samuel Konkin, and all the wonderful people in the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. There are no libertarian politicians because the core of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle and politics is founded on aggression.

Here’s some Chomsky to better express what I’m talking about (h/t J.R. Boyd for incidentally pointing me at this interview):

The United States is sort of out of the world on this topic. Britain is to a limited extent, but the United States is like on Mars. So here, the term “libertarian” means the opposite of what it always meant in history. Libertarian throughout modern European history meant socialist anarchist. It meant the anti-state element of the Workers Movement and the Socialist Movement . . . the anti-statist branch, which included Marxists, Left Marxists — Rosa Luxemburg and others — kind of merged, more or less, into an amalgam with a big strain of anarchism into what was called “libertarian socialism.” So libertarian in Europe always meant socialist. . . . [in Europe] it meant, and always meant to me, socialist and anti-state, an anti-state branch of socialism, which meant a highly organized society, completely organized and nothing to do with chaos, but based on democracy all the way through. That means democratic control of communities, of workplaces, of federal structures, built on systems of voluntary association, spreading internationally. That’s traditional anarchism. You know, anybody can have the word if they like, but that’s the mainstream of traditional anarchism.

Political libertarians, or “republicans” as they’re sometimes known, always sound incoherent because they are trying to use the violence of the state to end state violence. They end up sounding like racist assholes because they want to allow private business to use the police powers of the state to enforce private racism while also refraining from using the police powers of the state to regulate property. Free property and regulated humans is about as incoherent and obviously flawed as a doctrine can be.

I think that case is pretty open-and-shut. Going forward, when I use the term libertarian, I mean someone who subscribes to the non-aggression principle. Rand Paul, Ron Paul, the tea party, and anyone else who believes that state violence is required to resolve disputes between individuals, I will refer to as democrats, republicans, authoritarians or statists.

An related Salon article popped up on my facebook radar which kind of blew my mind. It exemplifies some true ninja-like mental acrobatics which can simultaneously defend and attack state capitalism. After reading it a couple times, I’m still not sure I can grapple with it, so well have the reasoning centers of my brain been blinded and pummeled. The conclusion is that libertarians are stupid. I assume the author is referring to non neo-conservative republicans.

And I think, ultimately this is the point of attacking the vestigial “small government” politician.

The position of the modern statist, left and right, is that everyone needs to be on board with the authoritarian agenda. It’s cute and all to imagine that people can work together to solve problems, their argument goes. In reality, the only reason every interaction between two people doesn’t end in a homicide is because of the security infrastructure that the state provides.

The only way that we are protected from the violent swarms of the underclasses is that the state feeds and houses them enough to keep them from seizing the reigns of power.

According to the statist argument, well presented by the Salon article: “The government didn’t just help make the ‘free market’ in the first place — although it did do that. It’s also constantly busy trimming around the edges, maintaining the thing, keeping it healthy.”

This is an excellent narrative, a network of “big lies,” if you will. The “free market,” if that’s what we’re calling our economic system, isn’t healthy at all. It is sick and diseased and on the verge of collapse. It relies on massive and increasing degrees of coercion and violence, endless warfare, global hegemony and empire. Every time it’s rotten structure is propped up by the state, the altitude from which the final plummet will begin increases.

Homes and lives aren’t protected from the poor and desperate by the state. The state impoverishes, cripples, criminalizes and imprisons by the millions and then attempts to create social fear for the legion of mostly harmless, helpless people it has created.

The salon article concludes:

And that’s why the best rap on libertarians isn’t that they’re racist, or selfish. (Though some of them are those things, and their beliefs encourage both bad behaviors, even if accidentally.) It’s that they’re thoroughly out of touch with reality. It’s a worldview that prospers only so long as nobody tries it, and is too unreflective and self-absorbed to realize this. In other words, it’s bratty. And that’s bad enough.

I’m not defending political libertarianism, but any attack on it should pertain also to the orders-of-magnitude greater impact of authoritarianism in actual practice. Political libertarianism may “prosper so long as nobody tries it.” But state capitalism and authoritarianism is a fucking global bloodbath with an adjacent network of gulags and an environmental disaster of spectacular proportion to boot.

The belief that this sick system is ever going to take it’s boot heel off the neck of the under-privileged is out of touch with reality. The belief that it already has is truly delusional.

Of all the unreflective, self-absorbed blindness in all of history, that of the modern western statist, left and right, is unparalleled. They are in complete possession of the facts–all the knowledge of all human history is at their disposal. Alternate points of view are staring them in the face every day and these points of view are continually gaining traction as the tottering giant of western civilization continues it’s bloody collapse. Still, given all this, they cling to the state and beg it to deliver them from the injustices and problems caused by the state.

It truly boggles the mind.

Post Script from a Salon article linked to from the above article:

I’m actually sorry that Paul caved on the question of the Civil Rights Act, because if he’d stuck to his guns, we could have had a debate about the correct remedies, past, present and future, for the enduring legacy of legal discrimination against black people.

I’m sorry too. I get a psychologically-unhealthy pleasure from watching statists attempt to get the state to legislate against oppressive aspects of the state while ignoring the fact that ditching the whole oppressive apparatus would alleviate the need to try to fix it. Or, put another way, taken from the sidebar (not sure if there’s a permalink to this sort of thing) of already-multiply-linked-to IOZ:

I can see how some of this might be confusing for some of ya’ll. . .because I mean, the laws were there and they were bad to begin with. . .and we must never have such bad laws. . .therefore we must have better, more equitable, less racist laws? WHY DON’T YOU STOP ENFORCING STUPID FUCKING SHIT? how about that? why is that not the simplest and best argument? ENFORCE NOTHING. JUST FUCKING STOP. it actually is that breathtakingly simple.

The Bikecast Episode #15: Rand Paul, Racism and Moral Priorities

I’ll keep the background notes short for this one. If you didn’t see Rand Paul make an ass of himself on the Rachel Maddow show (I didn’t either), here are the clips: Part 1, Part 2 . I still haven’t watched them, but I read about the aftermath in ye olde blog-o-sphere the next day. I have a pretty good idea what happened: a right-wing candidate opened himself to a charge of racism and the left, having psychologically suppressed the conscious recognition that “their” party is in complete control of the most racist institution on the planet, exploded in a cathartic release on said politician.

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It’s a challenging task to be progressive in the united states today–I guess it always has been. The racist war on drugs and a racist war on terror haved destroyed millions of lives based on the accidental attributes of birth. That the drug war is racist almost goes without saying, but it’s said so well here that it bears repeating:

Except, obviously these policies are designed to cause immense suffering, to be hugely and disproportiately punitive, and to be monstrously racially unjust so as to maintain a persistent, racially segregated, socially inferior underclass. You think it’s a coincidence that the creation of the DEA and the passage of the Rockefeller drug regime and its imitators came right on the heels of the Civil Rights era, you fatuous stooge?

As to war, black and latino americans are intentionally mandated to attend the worst schools on the planet. Military recruiters feed on the broken results of a racist school system and the victims are sent off to fight other non-whites 10,000 miles away from home.

The left cannot acknowledge these blindingly obvious truths. The people they spent unfathomable time and energy pushing into power could stop both these and a whole host of other evils with a few pen strokes. They won’t because they don’t oppose racism, they oppose not being in power–i.e. the benefactor of wealth and privilege that benefits from racism. 

Asking their elected officials to actually combat racist policies would quickly lead to the realization that their elected officials don’t give a shit about righting racial injustice. Since this course cannot be pursued, the problems must be ignored at all costs. As a result, the political left must project the actual instantiated evil perpetuated by a democrat controlled executive and legislative branch onto whatever acceptable target makes itself available.

Besides being a target of projection for the evil progressives detect in their political heroes, the attack on Rand Paul serves a second purpose. Three truths cannot be brought under rational examination if the state is to maintain its control:

State capitalism is an inefficient, unjust, and anti-human way for an economy to be structured.
War is everywhere and always evil.
Violence, and therefore government cannot sustainably resolve social problems.

Anybody speaking these truths must be ridiculed to the greatest degree possible. Supporting #1 will bring charges of communism or stalinism. Supporters of #2 will be shouted down as naive accommodationists (what about the Nazis?) or racists (what about the the Civil War?) and those supporting #3 will be called, among other things, racists. In many cases, of course, they are! That doesn’t affect the truth value of the statement.

Rand Paul may not have supported the Civil Rights Act had he been in the legislature in 1964–maybe because he’s a racist. Barack Obama is actually enforcing racist laws, presiding over one million plus non-white prisoners and murdering thousands of non-white humans because on their race. Which of these two deserves to be the focus of our scorn, moral outrage, and condemnation?

Rand Paul may be a tool, but he’s not a war criminal (at least not yet).

Good further reading:
The IOZ trifecta:
http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2010/05/dumber-and-dumbest.html
http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2010/05/proud-we-are-of-all-of-them.html
http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2010/05/you-fit-into-me-like-hook-into-eye-fish.html

This article is OK http://aaeblog.com/2010/05/19/electoral-race/
but this comment is especially worth reading: http://aaeblog.com/2010/05/19/electoral-race/comment-page-1/#comment-356394

The Bikecast Episode #14: This is Insane. This is Monstrous. This is Deeply Evil.

This podcast is the distillation of alot of thought–mostly other peoples’. I hope it’s coherent. I’ll try to supplement it adequately with this post.

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This post started with a friend pointing me at a new york times article on the “concerns” some legal scholars had about the president putting a hit out on an American citizen. Read the article if you’re interested in the non-sense logic puzzles that pass for modern jurisprudence. I’d been made aware of the case by Chris Floyd and Glen Greenwald, who provide some moral clarity in their analysis.

20 years of public education has left my mind susceptible to this kind of sensationalism: the american government assassinating an american citizen!? Without due process, presentation of evidence, trial by jury!?! Luckily, my life partner has a far deeper grounding in reality than do I. She pointed out that the state can do whatever it want to anyone all the time. Weren’t people being murdered by the military every day? Did they get trials? Why be more alarmed by a hit ordered on an adult who has declared enmity to the government of the united states than the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of children killed by the last 20 years of US foreign policy?

Good question.

Then yesterday, I read this story about a seven year old girl set on fire and then shot by police while she slept. This shit happens every day. Really. Every day.

Finally, putting a nice bow on it, are several very recent Arthur Silber articles. Because he’s chronically in tremendous pain, he posts less frequently than he once did. A great use of an afternoon or a month is reading his archives. Anything he writes is not to be missed. In particular, this caught my attention:

Consider again the nature of the subjects under discussion: the immense evil of torture (“Lies in the Service of Evil” might help make the nature of that evil clearer to you), and Obama’s claim that he has the “right” to assassinate anyonewithout judicial process or evidence of any kind whatsoever, simply because he says so . . . be brave enough finally to state the truth, at least in what should be the sacred space of your own mind:

This is insane.

This is monstrous.

This is deeply, unforgivably, irredeemably evil.

It’s deeply troubling that Arthur’s statement is considered radical. It’s radical when applied to one human ordering the summary execution of another. It’s considered radical when applied to entire villages being vaporized. It’s considered radical in reference to little girls set on fire and shot to death by police.

What the fuck is wrong with us that we can’t point to these events and agree that they are insane, monstrous and evil? How sociopathic must our culture be that soldiers and police are cheered as heroes and the institutions that send them on their killing sprees are nominated time-and-time-again as the righteous solutions to all the problems of humanity?

Human progress–real, sustainable progress–relies on the recognition of the monstrosity of all violence. Anyone worth associating with understands the evil of violence between non-uniformed non badge holding humans. What prevents the otherwise morally clear from seeing the exact same evil when it claims the authority of the state?

The time will come when those cheering on violence will be shouted down and the insanity will be seen by a critical mass of people for the evil that it is. Thank you to the vanguard who are shouting now, you are the pathfinders of humanity’s future.

The Bikecast Episode #13: The Purpose Of a System Is What It Does

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In the swirl of intention, motivation, side effects and unintended consequences, the discussion of a “purpose” for a sufficiently complicated system can be difficult. Noted cyberneticist and all around crazy person, Anthony Stafford Beer, proposed that, “the purpose of a system is what it does. This is a basic dictum. It stands for bald fact, which makes a better starting point in seeking understanding than the familiar attributions of good intention, prejudices about expectations, moral judgment or sheer ignorance of circumstances.”

A friend of mine, with whom I recently had a discussion about the topic, summed it up thusly:

Put simply: if you’re trying to explain a complicated system (say, health care),ignore what the interested parties say the purpose is and focus on the demonstrated outcomes.

The purpose of the system is what it does. It comes in handy so frequently, it has an acronym: POSIWID.
IOZ, brought POSIWID to mind in a recent post rebutting a claim that the current war on drugs is based on “broken” policies:

Calling “current policies” “badly broken” implies that they functioned in some other manner from whose effective heights they have declined through use, or abuse . . . you know, the usual wear and tear. Except, obviously these policies are designed to cause immense suffering, to be hugely and disproportiately punitive, and to be monstrously racially unjust so as to maintain a persistent, racially segregated, socially inferior underclass. You think it’s a coincidence that the creation of the DEA and the passage of the Rockefeller drug regime and its imitators came right on the heels of the Civil Rights era, you fatuous stooge?
The prohibition regime isn’t broken. It functions exactly as it is supposed to function. Iniquity is its purpose . . . well, that and secondarily the preservation of market share for the legal tobacco and alcohol industries. The fact that powerful people can talk openly on the teevee and in their hackjob memoirs about smokin’ doobs and blowing a few lines without consequence isn’t evidence that we need to address the unequal application of laws and statutes but rather evidence that inequality is the fundamental principle underlying the practical application of these policies.

A perfect analysis. POSIWID: the purpose of US drug policy is to incarcerate 100K’s of poor, mostly black and hispanic, people. Its purpose is to provide a huge military budget for godawful central and south american Juntas to murder and imprison their respective subjects. Its purpose is to artificially support the patented drugs of pharmaceutical mega-corporations. Its purpose is to increase the budget of the police state. That’s what it does, thus, that is the purpose.

Wouldn’t you know it, when I was already in a POSIWID state of mind, bam, IOZ points me to a new find (blogwise): ladypoverty’s J.R. Boyd. He was talking about Greek “debt restructuring.” As it turns out, I totally missed the point of the article, which is that currency inflation is *no longer* a tool of euro-zone countries. Luckily, it doesn’t matter too much because I ended up blabbing about the “world financial system” meaning the IMF, World Bank, and the major world economic powers and the purpose of having such a system instead of delving much into the Greek economy in particular.

What’s the purpose of the world financial system? What does it do? It allows thugs internationally recognized as state leaders to get loans in exchange for mineral rights, access to labor (read: peasants), and the promise of business friendly policing. Invariably, the loans are used to build ridiculous palaces and other luxury items for the rulers and an army/security apparatus to defend the ruling class from their impoverished countrypeople. When one group of thugs is overthrown, assassinated, or, occasionally, voted out of office, the debt remains and must be serviced by the new government. To do so, they typically require further assistance from the global financial system which imposes harsh budget restrictions and extracts further guarantees about the inviolability of western interest’s land and labor holdings in the country.

The purpose of the world financial system, then, is to take the riches and labor of the poorest 99% of the planet’s population and deliver it to the corporate and ruling classes. They, in turn, make tremendous profit in the sale of manufactured goods created by and from the labor and materials or the poor and working classes.

As I recorded the podcast, I thought I might be overly enamored of what is simply a rhetorical flourish. Then I thought, “Nahhh.” I like POSIWID because it turns attention and analysis to effects of a system, laying them bare. Once the purpose of the drug war is posited to be the continued oppression of minorities, a clear line is drawn in the discussion between people that are for human progress, and people who should be ignored.

The Bikecast Episode #12: Genital Mutilation and the Supreme Court

Alright, it’s actually two separate topics loosely related by religion. I’m still having some word clippage issues, but I think everything is comprehensible. I typically don’t notice the clipping until I’ve already put in too many edits to undo them back to the clip. Sorry if they’re annoying.

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The medical profession now has mutilation methodologies for both boys and girls! This flared up a couple days ago and had so many tempting approaches to it, I thought I’d give it a go. The story goes like this: the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report saying that doctors should offer a “ritual nicking” of girls genitals to prevent child-mutilating parents from going elsewhere for what would be more extensive hacking of the genital area. One the one side is the anti-immigrant, we-shouldn’t-accomodate-ferners anger. On the other is the utilitarian argument that this is reducing the harm done to girls by satisfying their lunatic parents. On the other other side is the anti-religion at all costs, don’t accommodate godbaggery and the accompanying misogyny, posotion. And lastly the other other other side which opposes “back-sliding” towards an accommodation when progress is being made towards eliminating the practice altogether.

I am sympathetic to all the arguments–well, except the ban-the-foreigners argument. By coincidence, not principle, I made this podcast before doing any reading of people’s opinions. It turns out, I hit many of the same points that as some of them (betcha can’t guess who!). Only Amanda, that I saw, drew the obvious parallel between this ritual and circumcision. The women’s rights piece even chides her mildly for equating the two, which boggles my mind.

I wish fervently that doctors would refuse to do these and explain why: the practice of medicine has nothing to do with stone age cults and their infant mutilating rituals. Doctors who perform unnecessary surgery without the consent of the patient are, I imagine, committing medical malpractice. I’m not sure what restitution would be owed by the doctor who drugged and circumcised an adult male. Whatever it is, is owed by all doctors who perform circumcision to all patients who wish to seek redress.

This strikes me as a classic example of shit-that-will-sort-itself-out. Banning this or fining that won’t do anything except increase the value of gaining political power for the lunatic mutilators. Demand just compensation for victims and encourage victims to flee their victimizers and demand restitution. Over time, doctors performing mutilation will be put out of business, doctors performing harmless rituals will not*. Parents teaching their children hateful misogynist fairly tales will be shunned, while parents who teach their children to think rationally will not. While slow and painful, this is the only way that lasting change is made.

The most valuable insight to draw from this story is the degree to which religion permeates everything around us, even modern medicine can’t free itself from these 5,000 year old lunacies.

Nor can the Supreme Court. I heard on the morning news that, should the new nominee be confirmed, there will be a protestant-free court! Hooray! Oh wait, it will be 3 Jews and 6 Catholics. The nine people who are the ultimate arbiters of fact in the land all believe in invisible, all-powerful deities. Great.

*and doctors who refuse to do even that can count on my and other atheists patronage, I’m sure.

godbaggery,religion,lunatics,genital mutilation,supreme court

The Bikecast Episode #11: Fundamental State Failures; Defense

I think my silence truncation function is clipping short some words. I notice it because I’m constantly listening to myself talk and I detect the difference. I hope it’s not too distracting. Let me know


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In this podcast, I talk about the second oft cited function of the state, collective defense. This one is too easy. Seriously, in the information age, nobody outside of the willfully ignorant (hereafter referred to as fucking morons) can hold the position that the united states is doing anything besides compelling millions of people to do anything they can to harm Americans. The tools of compulsion, in this case, are the slaughter, imprisonment, torture, rape, and dispossession of countrymen, families, and co-religionists.

Anybody performing the most cursory examination of the facts understands that the “War on Terr’r” is a sad, sick crime against humanity. The sometimes mildly shocking news is that it has always been such. The citizens of the united states have never been threatened by a foreign power, yet it has been in almost constant conflict and frequently even a declared conflagration. I’ve spent 5 minutes to gather some resources in case you have a favorite war that you think the US gov’t. really had to fight.

Vietnam

Most potential reader/listeners probably hold the opinion that this was an unjust, ill-founded war. Indeed it was a war-of-choice, as all wars fought by the US have been. Here’s a recent article on the gulf of Tonkin incident.

World War II

The war that saved communism and allowed Stalin to continue his reign of terror until his death in 1953. Roosevelt bent over backwards to engage the united states in this war moving the Pacific fleet 2500 miles from the coast it was supposedly protecting, cutting off oil from Japan, moving fleets of bombers to the Phillipines and running destroyers in and out of Japanese waters. Robert Stinnett is a must read.
Here’s a shorter summary.

Spanish-American War

The first war that struck me as imperialistic during my youthful statist idealism. This one is a slam dunk, all started on the pretext of a boat exploding near a Spanish colony.

Mexican American War

I included this one because it seems to be from an actual government website: “The Mexican-American War (1846-48) was fought primarily to enable the united states to expand at the expense of Mexico.” I guess they’ve given up arguing for this one

Others

These links cover multiple wars. These two (<-- two links there) both relate to a book called "A Century of War" and includes revisionist histories of the Civil War, and World Wars I and II.

This shockingly colored page covers the same terrain, but includes the cold war.

Wouldn’t You?

Yes, it turns out most of our “implacable” foes were surrounded, embargoed, and starved, by the military of the united states before they twitched enough that the president could do his somber duty and bomb, burn and invade them. In modern times, we don’t even have to worry about sad little naval fleets showing up and dropping bombs on a colony 2000 miles distant. Now it’s all suicide bombers and martyrs, but still from the countries occupied by the military of the united states. The war on terror (and it’s undeclared predecessors) is the cause of terrorism.

IOZ, one of my all-time favorite reads, wonders why it is, when somebody tries to blow somebody or something up in the united states, he’s assigned a storyline in which he simply cannot cope with ordinary life. Never is it suggested that it is, perhaps, entirely normal to be horrified by the atrocities committed by the murderous empire of the united states and to imagine that violence can be used to fight violence.

Chris Floyd, another must subscribe, goes further, imagining what it would be like to return home and find your home destroyed and your loved ones murdered. Who could resist the offer to provide the means to retaliate?

The Cost

The cost of this wholesale slaughter of foreign peasantry is incalculable, which is pretty impressive since one purpose of currency is to render economic calculation possible. Nevertheless, the Byzantine movement of money in and out of budgets, coffers, trusts, and accounts, the financing through debt, internal borrowing, and a whole shit-ton of currency creation has made it impossible to discover the cost of this most counter-productive of government services.

For those of you keeping score, on the two most basic and straight-forward of government services, the united states is 0-2.

The Bikecast Episode #10: Fundamental State Failures; the Law

This podcast is assembled from a couple passes at discussing the law as it relates to the state. During one of these recording episodes, the memory card ran out of space because I’m a dumb-ass. I’ve tried to patch the pieces together in a non-jarring fashion. I jump in at one point whilst not riding my bike to explain a transition. Still and all, I think it’s OK.


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The most basic services that a statist will claim must be provided by the government are 1) defense and 2) arbitration of disputes. Leaving #1 for a future podcast, let’s imagine criteria by which we could judge the value of a legal framework.

I imagine that 1) I would want to be able to use the system to seek restitution for damages done to me in situations where I and the other party couldn’t come to a satisfactory agreement and 2) I would not want to be held accountable for damages I didn’t incur.

Because I, for no particular reason, lead with #2 in the podcast, I will also do so here. The very most basic understanding of what constitutes a “crime” is the concept of a “victim.” Crimes without victims are known as “crimes against the state,” and their existence–especially in abundance–are a marker of totalitarianism. The United States has more prisoners than the rest of the world combined. 1 in 4 people in prison on Earth are in a US prison (this number does not include the less-well-documented global US prison system). The majority of the people in prison have not committed a crime.

The memory card filled up just as I was getting warmed up, but I believe I make the case fairly plainly that the US legal system fails criteria 2 in an awfully spectacular way.

By criteria #1, the state fails no less completely. Robert Reich was lamenting the lack of regulations and the ways that corporations are taking advantage of the light penalties. He sited in particular the BP oil spill, the Massey Energy mining disaster and the Goldman Sachs financial collapse assist. As is often the case, I don’t really address the points he’s making, but get drawn off into a tangent. In this case the tangent is: why do we feel these corporations aren’t getting what’s coming to them? Why are there victims that aren’t receiving restitution?

The legal system should function very simply: damages are shown to have been incurred and the amount of the damage is paid for by the guilty party. This notion was abandoned with the rise of the corporation and the revenue they generated for politicians translated into favorable legislation. Now we are in a situation where the legal system rarely holds corporate entities accountable for the damages they incur. Rather, they create a whole suite of new victimless crimes that are supposedly intended to prevent corporations from committing the real crimes (with real victims), for which they aren’t held to account.

This serves to counter the claim that the law is unjust. Sure, victims aren’t compensated, but a whole raft of regulations are created or added to so that “this never happens again.” The tragedy is that these types of disasters would happen far less frequently if the corporations were required to compensate the victims of their accidents–simple greed would guarantee it.

I go on a bit of a tangent with respect to lawyers. Building a super-structure of paper that ensures no collection of power, wealth or privilege is held to account for its crimes while claiming that said structure is protecting people from corporate depredations requires lawyers. Lawyers are the priest class of the post-enlightenment, justifying with tomes of paper what was once justified by the voice of god.

This clear and demonstrable failure of the state to provide one of the two most basic services it claims monopoly power over should lead us to question the state’s ability and motivation (or the ability and motivation of any violent organization) to provide all wonderful things it promises.

The Bikecast Episode #9 (aka #3a): Fascism and Communism, Form and Substance.

This podcast is a response to a comment I received on episode #3.

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Here’s the comment, broken into two subsections:

I think fascism is a term that has a rather slippery definition, but it usually seems to be identified with alignment between the government and the corporations.

‘In The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, takes a historical look at the rise of Fascism, outlining the 10 steps necessary for a Fascistic group (or government) to destroy the democratic character of a nation-state and subvert the social/political liberty previously exercised by its citizens:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
5. Harass citizens’ groups.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
7. Target key individuals.
8. Control the press.
9. Treat all political dissidents as traitors.
10. Suspend the rule of law.’

I have no problem with this list. It seems like the same list of elements necessary for a communist subversion of power and political liberty. I’m more firmly convinced that the nature of these totalitarian political structures are the same.

‘Mussolini promoted ambiguity about fascism’s positions in order to rally as many people to it as possible, saying fascists can be “aristocrats or democrats, revolutionaries and reactionaries, proletarians and anti-proletarians, pacifists and anti-pacifists”.[61] Mussolini claimed that Italian Fascism’s economic system of corporatism could be identified as either state capitalism or state socialism, which in either case involved “the bureaucratisation of the economic activities of the nation.” Mussolini described fascism in any language he found useful.’

This I think is really interesting, and it fits my intuition of what totalitarian movements are: an attempt to include *everybody* in identification with the nation-state so that it becomes essential to surrender all aspects of one’s life to state control for the well-being of the whole.

A feature of totalitarianism is a co-identification of the state with the geographical region itself. Danger to the political apparatus should be experienced by the subject as an existential physical danger.

Less important than the form of the state is the substance. The forms of fascism and communism mark the two opposite extremes of most people’s political spectrum. The substance in each is, however, identical.

That substance is the accrual of all power over every aspect of daily life and the corresponding instability that accompanies centralized economic and social control. The control and the instability increase until a critical point is reached when the end of sustainability is in sight.

At this point, there is often a final burst of violence and war, and a series of massive financial transfers as the ruling class seeks to move as much wealth into their personal orbit as possible. Then, the state collapses and the individual people involved float away or serve as the seed of the next state.

All totalitarian states end in this manner, right, left or other.

The Bikecast Episode #8: The Big Lie

This podcast is an amalgam of a couple recordings. I think that it flows OK, but I’m afraid that I have a hard time detecting incongruities because I’ve listened to the material so many times. Due to poor use of sound editing, there’s a number of instances–especially toward the end–where words get clipped. I found a way around this, but not in time to “save” this recording. Let me know what you think.

Download this episode of the bikecast
In this episode I talk about The Big Lie. I’ve written about it before and, if you’re hunting down references, you’ll find some of them in that post. This set of show notes will be brief as they are essentially a supplement to the previous article.

When I refer to The Big Lie, I’m actually identifying a particular pattern–a subset of big lies–that I define as being the exact opposite of the truth. I see this pattern everywhere and it’s effectiveness at diverting attention or investigation is evident.

There is a weakness in the method because, once a skeptical mind grasps the pattern and begins to identify it in the narratives that surround it, the big lie loses all effectiveness. In fact, the truth–or its approximation–can now be derived from assuming the opposite of the big lie.

Here are a couple of links to get you started, should you disbelieve any of the claims I make during the podcast.

War on Drugs

A canvassing of unintended consequences of drug criminalization.

Increase in social violence due to prohibition.

War on Terror

The war on terror (and it’s undeclared predecessors) is the cause of terrorism. The war on terror (and it’s undeclared predecessors) is the cause of terrorism

Education

For debunking the Big Lies around education, I cannot recommend these resources highly enough:
John Gatto was long-time educator. His website is a bit of a mess, but you can find his articles all over the place. Here are a couple of representative samples. The Six Lesson Schoolteacher. Why Schools don’t Educate

School Sucks podcast, also run by an educator of 10 years, is excellent.

I may get back to the other examples–religion as anti-answer and religion as enabler of immoral behavior–in future podcasts. They don’t have the same body of evidence as the other examples.

The Bikecast Episode #7b: Human Futures, Inevitable Ideas

Picking up where episode #7a left off.

Download this episode of the bikecast

If DNA-human life survives and spreads outward into the wider universe, it will be subsequent to the shedding of superstition, the embracing of the moral equality of all humans, and the end of violence as a means of social organization. I have high hopes that this will be the case. Pessimism about the ability for humankind to evolve into a non-violent social organism is understandable, but short-sighted. The recognition of the value of human life in and of itself and the categorization of “others” outside the tribe as human is literally hundreds of years old on a planet where mammals have existed for hundreds of millions of years and humans for tens or hundreds of thousands. Human consciousness and self-awareness is increasing rapidly and the mechanistic superstitions pushing back against that growth are slowly falling away.

It is entirely possible that the project of a sane, rationally organized global society will take numerous generations and collapses in social complexity to come to fruition. The foundational ideas–reason, evidence, non-violence and it’s corollary, freedom–are thoroughly and increasingly documented. In any context, they provide a striking contrast and unbeatable alternative to superstition, illusion, dominance and hierarchy. While the rear-guard action of reactionaries might last centuries, this is, viewed objectively, a very short period of time.

In the end, the ideas of reason, non-violence, and human equality are the most survivable and, at the rate they are growing, it won’t be long before they are ascendant. I believe this ascendancy and the technological explosions that will follow will out pace entropy–at least in the short term and eventually who knows? I link again a cool related Azimov short story–read it! ;-)

Thanks for listening!