Archive for January, 2011

The Bikecast Episode #50: Deficit, Debt, Keynes, and War

Given the displayed concern from our rulers about the state of national finances, one could easily believe that a great deal of thought is going into what cuts can be made to balance the budget and stabilize the national debt. Indeed, the daily news, foreign and domestic, invariably contains stories of agonizing cuts to social programs and all manner of complex machinations aimed to solve social problems in a “revenue neutral” manner.

A moment’s inspection will reveal, however, that this is intended entirely as theater. The very most basic and painless cut isn’t even considered–a cut that would not only balance the budget, but which would also extinguishing the rising and violent anger against the citizens of the United States. What is euphemistically referred to as “defense spending”–a more Orwellian label has never been conceived–could be eliminated at a savings of over 1 trillion dollars a year. Yet this across the spectrum boon isn’t even considered in all the hand-wringing over national finances.

Download this episode of the bikecast

Forgive the repetition in the show notes. These really are notes–i.e. I didn’t rework them like I sometimes do. I’m trying to get more podcasts out the door :)

Numbers of a certain magnitude defy human comprehension. If we believe the self-report of the government, the national debt is just above 14,000,000,000,000. The total unfunded liabilities, that is money promised in the future (social security and medicare, primarily) that exceeds “revenue”[1] is 114,000,000,000,000.

It’s instructive that these numbers rarely, if ever, enter into the political/economic debate. It’s a laughable premise that they will ever be paid back since the debt burden is something like $250,000 per person (including newborn children) or 1 million dollars per worker.

Instead, the rulers tend to talk about the deficit, which is the amount of money that will added to the debt this year. All manner of trivial cuts are proposed and complex schemes are invented to address some social ill while remaining revenue neutral. Due to the supposed desperation of our rulers to balance the budget, even social programs are threatened with crippling cuts.

The fact that economic stability is not really an important issue to the rulers is made clear by their careful avoidance of the one single budget item that would, by itself, balance the budget and greatly increase the prospects of peace in the world[2].

The US military is currently protecting Western Europe from soviet invasion. Pacific nations are protected from a reemergent imperial Japan. The entire globe is under constant surveillance and is within ½ hour of a nuclear strike, should the situation warrant. 150+ nations are occupied by thousands of US bases (no other country has more than a couple, other than in support of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan).

In the podcast, I hit on a couple non-budgetary advantages of eliminating military spending, like, uh, you know, not killing countless innocent human beings.

I also touch on some of the reasons that defense spending is untouchable. There’s a great writeup over at Common Dreams. According to that article, a show is being made about making military cuts, but as the author says, “Americans should not confuse that talk with reality.”

It’s also worth noting that the economic premise that government should go into debt to help the economy during troubled times and repay the debt when the economy is healthy (Keynesianism, albeit simplified) is hopelessly out-of-scope in our current situation. Every possible stimulus–0% interest rates, money creation, massive debt accumulation–must currently be applied non-stop simply to avoid collapse of the dominant financial institutions. There will be no corresponding surplus ever again–the debt will never be repaid.

If you don't come to democracy, democracy will come to you.

  1. [1] in this case, money stolen
  2. [2] or at least remove the agent of greatest destruction.

An Eye on Egypt

As history demonstrates, amply, revolution is a tricky thing. For better or . . . different, it looks like Egypt has a chance of throwing out the western puppet government they’ve had for 30+ years. It should be something to watch as they plan tomorrow, “to begin with peaceful protests, carrying roses but no banners, and march on official buildings while persuading policemen and soldiers to join their ranks“. The government, in response, looks to be shutting the country off from the internet, but a number of VPNs are being set up to circumvent the blockade Wired has an interesting piece on how to follow the protests online.

The most interesting stuff I’ve seen has been on twitter with the hashtag #jan25. There’s not much to be done, I don’t imagine. It’s all in the hands of the Egyptian people and the guys with the guns. I don’t foresee much useful coverage in the US media. Hopefully some good comes of these pan-arabic anti-state uprisings. My thoughts are with the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon and the rest of the people of the world seeking dignity, respect, and control of their own destinies.

Egypt #jan25

Two Paradigms of Human Interaction, or “Free Pete Eyre!”

Yesterday, a friend relayed a story about his three year-old daughter. They had company over for the evening, and as the guests were leaving for the night, my friend asked his daughter to say goodbye.

“No,” she said and shook her head. He asked her again to please say goodbye to the departing guests.

“No,” she repeated and crossed her arms.

“Alright,” he said to her, and he turned and said goodbye to his friends.

Two generally recognized dynamics typically play out in such situations based on two opposing principles. The first, demonstrated by the above interaction, is that the right to refuse a request is absolute. Nobody should be compelled to engage in a behavior that they, for whatever reason, don’t support.

The underlying principle is the equality of all human beings. If my friend can say, “no” to a request, for example, to play hide-and-seek and expect to have his response ultimately respected (the pleading of a three year-old aside), then his daughter should have the same “power.”[1]

Oddly, this is something we all (well, mostly) recognize among adults. Those that don’t, people who take or touch against the will of another we call criminals–thieves and rapists. When kids are involved, it’s unfortunately all too common for the second dynamic play out. This dynamic is based on the principle that authority is to be obeyed. If obedience is not forthcoming, the authority can use their superior power to inflict increasing levels of coercion until his will is followed.

Thankfully it’s less common these days, but in the very recent past it was acceptable, expected, in fact, that a disobedient child be immediately physically punished so that they would learn to obey reflexively and without hesitation.

An interesting personal reflex worth some self-examination is one’s discomfort with a child being allowed to exercise it’s will. In all[2] of us who grew up under some version of the authoritarian model, there’s a twinge of anxiety when a parent “backs down” from a “command,” or compromises with a child. A commonly heard concern is that the child will become spoiled or demanding[3] and that a parent will “lose their authority” if they give in to a child’s refusal.

The “Grown Up” Parallel

On Jan. 24th, Pete Eyre was asked to remove his hat while observing proceedings in a New Hamphsire court. He refused, and was commanded to remove his hat. He refused again and was immediately dragged from his chair onto the floor and placed under arrest.

Yesterday, at the bail hearing, Pete Eyre refused to identify himself. Now he will be held indefinitely in a cage.

If you are interested in the story, you can find all kinds of perspectives arguing that Pete was wearing his hat because it was cold, that he doesn’t give his name because he doesn’t want to be “processed,” (photographed, finger printed, etc), but all of that is irrelevant from my perspective.

Pete Eyre is locked in a cage for the foreseeable future because a man referring to himself as “the court”, like the brutalizing parent, cannot compromise, cannot back down, and must be obeyed. Once a line is drawn, “take off your hat,” or “state your name,” the only acceptable resolution is one in which the order is obeyed. State officials are the other exception (the first being the aforementioned violent criminals) to the rule barring physical coercion between adult human beings.

The mind, at least my mind, when processing a story like this, immediately leaps to the instruction of our youth: do what you’re told, take off your hat, give your name. If you cooperate, you can be home instead of a prison. Refusing to obey is unreasonable.

The more developed, intellectual aspect of our response might be that the rules of the court must be followed. Police officers must be obeyed. Aren’t these principles the foundation of a civil society?

Of course they are not. The foundation of a civil society is that all its members are equals. Nobody has control of another person and all laws, for lack of a better term, are symmetrical. That is to say that if person A can demand that person B take off an article of his/her clothing and, if refused, can throw person B into a cage, then person B must be able to do the same to person A. If A can ask B’s name, and lock B up indefinitely if he/she refuses, then B can do the same to A.

Equality makes such behavior untenable at best and dangerous at worst. This instability (and, I would argue, human nature) leads to adherence to the opposite set of policies. Removal of clothes and exchange of names are undertaken with consent, negotiation and a lack of physical coercion[4].

The bottom line to the story, when all the trappings of high-school civics class are stripped away, is that a peaceful man, who hasn’t harmed anyone and against whom no one has a complaint, is locked in a cage because he wore a hat and wouldn’t give his name. As much as the mind attempts to bend this story into something reasonable or acceptable, the bare facts remain unchanged. If they are absorbed and truly comprehended, the ghastly and unjust nature of the situation is inescapable.

For more
Tipping My Hat to Disobedience
The Name of the Game is Woof

For much more and breaking news: Free Keene and Cop Block (which I think is co-run by Pete Eyre)
Free Ademo and Pete

  1. [1] I’m leaving aside situations where a child’s will must be overridden to avoid grievous physical harm–I understand, for example, that a three year-old should not be allowed to walk into traffic just because they don’t want to be restrained.
  2. [2] or at least many–I think it’s more common in people who still believe in authoritarian parenting
  3. [3] Although by modelling compromise on non-essential issues, one is far more likely to receive the benefit of compromise from a child.
  4. [4] and in advanced civilizations, a lack of verbal coercion.

The Bikecast Episode #49: Flaming Freedom

While replacing my bike and repairing my mobile studio, I had more time to listen to podcasts. One that I’m really excited about is Prometheus Unchained a.k.a. Flaming Freedom. It’s an examination of GLBT issues from the liberty perspective. As I’ve noted several times, I think a major hurdle for alot of people–or a ready-to-hand-dismissal anyway–is the reactionary nature of a vocal minority of people who claim to be advocates of freedom or liberty. It’s great to hear this perspective and I imagine it will spark alot of conversation which, hopefully, will allow some of the remaining regressive cultural baggage of the movement to be examined. If you only have time for one podcast, give the Bikecast a pass today and go check out their show (but do come back ;-). If you have time for two . . .

Download this episode of the bikecast

The hosts of the program are Neal Connor and Dale Everett. I’ve followed Dale’s blog anarchyinyourhead for years. Anarkitty cracks me the hell up.

Anarkitty lapsteading
Click for fullsize

As I mention in the podcast, Dale and Neal are part of the Free State Project which is currently composed of around a thousand people who have moved to New Hampshire in an attempt to create communities practicing voluntarism, anarchism, minarchism and all other manner of peaceful social interaction.

Besides being available in podcast form, Flaming Freedom is on (internet radio) from Noon to 2pm EST on Sunday and 5pm – 7pm on Wednesday.

Progress and Reaction

Recently in the west, a small segment of each generation has pushed the scope of libertarian principles[1] to include a greater slice of humanity. This inclusiveness isn’t necessarily intentional, nor is it often political. It’s a simple result of living lives free from the arbitrary constraints of inherited culture.

Thus members of non-white races, women and, to a lesser degree, children transitioned from being owned property to nominally equal members in western society. Along the way, other cultural taboos are ignored and old norms around music, dancing, art, sexuality and altered states of consciousness are abandoned by a brave few. This is the vanguard of lived cultural progress.
The Tree of Life: Progress and Reaction
The Universe of Keith Haring gives an insider’s view of one such vanguard, the community of non-straight artists, musicians, dancers and patrons that gathered in Manhattan in the 1970s and 80s. It is a staggering and beautiful example of the results of free interactions between people who have left behind the baseless moral codes and social expectations of the mainstream and have chosen to live life on their own terms.

Shadowing this generational progress when and wherever it occurs are very predictable reactionary forces. I suspect they have their roots in some form of jealousy. People who have stifled their authentic selves in the name of some bogus moral code must wonder why the free, creative beings they could have been aren’t subjected to the promised punishments. Weren’t fire and brimstone supposed to consume people who embraced their sexuality, who formed non-nuclear families, who danced and sang in unsanctioned ways[2]? Weren’t terrible things supposed to happen to women who remained unmarried, who were uncomprimising on their wants and needs? Didn’t god and everybody want families, races, cultures and ethnic groups to keep to their collective selves in their neighborhoods and hometowns and not to embrace and intermingle as individuals in distant sinful cities?

And what does it mean when nothing terrible happens to those who are bold enough to risk hellfire? A “normal” person’s one and only life has been spent following the provided rules on the premise that they are based in reality. The closeted homosexual, the wage laborer, the stifled poet, the subservient spouse look on as the vanguard live brilliant lives. What do they feel?

A few feel regret, perhaps, for not being more skeptical of the stories they were told. Most, however, feel rage. Rage at having been deceived, at having been tricked into living tiny lives circumscribed by rules based on nothing and enforced by hateful, abusive people. This rage cannot, of course, be directed at the people and institutions that taught and enforced the rules–these are too tightly intertwined in the lives of the jilted.

Instead the rage is directed at the vanguard itself–at those that revealed the social prohibitions to be false and arbitrary[3].

Locally, the victims of this rage are the Emmit Tills and Matthew Shepherds of the world, the women raped, blacks lynched, clubs, dance halls, books and artwork burned.

This potent reactionary anger is also stoked and harnessed by political forces. Those angered by societal progress can be counted on to support politicians who promise to use violence to harass, arrest and imprison non-conformists, and to look the other way when crimes are perpetrated against social outliers[4].

This isn’t a modern phenomenon, but has been with us always. Reactionary forces are forces of undoing, of destroying complexity, of violence. In an excellent example from history that I encountered recently, the vanguard of cultural progress in renaissance florence, composed most famously by the Medici sponsored artists, architects and scholars ( Botticelli, Gozzoli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei) was checked by a friar who rallied the people of florence against art, fashion, and science. Untold numbers of books and art were burned in the bonfires of the vanities. This senseless destruction of beauty and wealth is the hallmark of reactionary movements.

I could go on about this indefinitely–like so many things, we may return to it at some future date. I recommend watching The Universe of Keith Haring. It’s a moving example of what an original life and a voluntary community can be.

  1. [1] Whatever you want to call them: the don’t fuck with strangers who aren’t bothering you principle.
  2. [2] Political and religious leaders point to things like the AIDS epidemic as the “punishment” for sexual non-comformity. Pat Robertson even blames hurricanes, floods, and snow storms on homosexuality. That these bogus morality tales have any traction at all with the mainstream demonstrates how pervasive the reactionary tendency is, even among otherwise sane people.
  3. [3] An analogous situation exists around Wikileaks where mainstream anger is directed at the messenger who reveals war crimes instead of at those who actually committed the crimes.
  4. [4] For this reason, the state is always and everywhere a reactionary force. Only in the retelling of history are individual non-governmental actors replaced by politicians and laws as the agents of change

The Road to Being Jad (part 1 of 287)

I want to start putting up some posts of a more personal nature, as I want to take stock of my life and who better to share that with than all of you. I’m doing this in a mostly unstructured way. If there’s anything you’d care to know, I will try to field your questions. On the other hand, I won’t be offended if you decide to skip these posts 😉

On the start of my 37th trip around the sun, I have completed as many years as an adult as I did as a “minor.” I’ve been thinking alot, perhaps not coincidentally, about the two halves of my life thus far and about the second half (plus or minus a bit) to come.

I was (almost) an excellent example of the kind of man that the dominant societal institutions would like to reliably create. As a young adult, I was both a believer in transcendental good and evil (thanks to the religion of my parents) and a believer in the ability to centrally engineer human society (thanks to personal success in the public school meritocracy).

These two elements combined to constrain my actions and suppress my internal judgement and feelings about every element of my life. When I left home at 18, I was a sober, politically active virgin looking for a suitable wife and a career in academia or government. A great deal of my mental energy was spent creating and maintaining increasingly complicated and convoluted intellectual defenses against internal dissent.

That began to change in my 20s. Honoring instead of suppressing my native desires not only provided a great comfort as internal discord was resolved, it also allowed consideration and analysis of the origins and nature of my wants and needs. The last several years have seen a whole host of insights into the workings of my mind as well as, I like to believe, minds in general.

While I have a great many flaws, as part of the process of internal scrutiny, I have recognized many of them, and am trying relentlessly to untangle the symptoms, discover the roots, and address them in a self-respecting way.

Throughout this process of personal exploration and growth, the fantastically flawed worldview of my early life dissolved, piecemeal, in the face of reevaluation. I have become comfortable with acceptance–all that is required of truth–of what is considered heresy and treason by a wider world.

The Landscape (yes, another landscape) of Personal and Social Coercion

I have had a failed attempt at re-rigging the functional components of my mobile recording studio to create a (technically speaking) listenable podcast. Luckily, the content was a detailed description of the graph below–pretty poorly conceived as audio content from the get-go.

A basic tactic I learned as an educator was to explain visual materials before actually presenting them, because once you show the picture, the students will be absorbed in looking at it at won’t listen to you. Looking back, it’s probably just a trick to substitute your own analysis for whatever the student would come up with on their own. If you feel oppressed by my pedagogical tactic, please go ahead and take a look.

This graph is intended to spatially represent the various combinations of the willingness to use coercion/violence[1] in the personal and social realms. Something that’s fascinated me since I began to explore alternatives to dominance based societies is the internal inconsistency in the relationship people have to coercion. It’s come up in a variety of recent incidents and I finally decided to take the time to sketch out this landscape.

I have encountered[2] people who are anti-state, but, for a number of reasons, continue to use the tactics of the state–including bullying, and even the threat of and use of violence–in their personal dealings.

Most frequently this is directed in ways that are, sadly, largely socially acceptable such as against their children. Often it’s directed against women and occasionally against those who challenge them in a social setting. I believe, perhaps naively, that this is usually a lack of introspection and that these aggressors are simply repeating learned patterns of human interaction. Unfortunately, that’s indistinguishable from the case where someone is in favor of statelessness in order to have the space to create their own personal oppressive mini-state.

Also in this category are the few folks that fall into the popular conception of anarchism: the bomb throwers and the would be assassins of corporate and political leadership. Of course, I’m not the last word on who is or isn’t an anarchist, but it is my graph, so I’ll do what I want.

The axis measuring the degree to which one is personally willing to aggress against another person is the horizontal on the graph. The positions I described in the previous paragraphs inhabit the lower-right quadrant.

The other internally inconsistent position, represented by the upper-left quadrant, holds that personal violence is abhorrent and has no place is civilized society. However, third party, “institutional” violence is required to enforce one’s personal preferences on “uncooperative” elements in society. This can range from the political libertarian’s conception of a state that monopolizes law courts and security/defense to the totalitarian’s utopian vision of a perfectly ordered and efficient human hive cooperatively building whatever world it is that the totalitarian prefers.

This tendency towards coercion in the social realm is measured on the vertical axis.

Click here or on image for enlarged version (opens a new tab)

The final two quadrants represent the internally consistent positions of anarchism and, for want of a better phrase, holistic authoritarianism. If you understand what I’m trying to capture in the positions described above, not much explanation is required for the remaining two. One other note: the spatial relationships between the positions is pretty arbitrary. For example, who further along the axis of using personal violence, a child abuser or a bomb throwing anarchist?

I may return to this graph in future posts/podcasts. It fits in with a number of topics that have been rolling around in my head lately. Of particular interest are the variants of the bottom-left quadrant, especially as we push towards the “origin” of the two axes. Here is the eventual future of humanity which has eschewed not just violence, but also manipulation based on “good” and “evil”; that does not ostracize, but rather seeks to understand unmet needs and to work cooperatively to integrate all of humanity (that seeks integration) into one big giant ball of love.

Of more practical and immediate interest are the interactions between the upper-left and lower-right quadrants: the people who cannot abide violence, but worry that, in the absence of centralized authority, the lower-right quadrant will reestablish traditional (a.k.a barbaric) gender/racial/parenting roles. And the people who bully and intimidate those around them and then can’t understand why the traditional victims of government seem so terrified of a stateless society.

I’ll leave it there for now. Whether you think I’ve missed the mark or that there’s not even a mark that I’m missing, I’d be interested in your feedback. If, for whatever reason, you want to modify or replicate the drawing, I’m happy to save you the 5 minutes it would take by sharing my existing copy with you.

Update:Wes Bertrand’s latest Complete Liberty podcast references a Kevin Carson article that points at the same inconsistency I’m interested in graphing. As always, a good read.

  1. [1] The specific definitions aren’t important to the graph. Personally I think there can be non-violent coercion, but I’m open to other positions.
  2. [2] Usually online, I am loathe to be around these people in person

The Unprincipled Nature of Political Violence

A few thoughts on the attempted murder of Gabrielle Giffords.

Firstly, I want to express massive sympathy to the friends and families of the victims. The lack of empathy towards those who have had loved ones irrevocably ripped from their lives by human violence is a foundational reason that we live on a planet overflowing with needless sorrow.

That said, everyone in the political class is projecting their world view onto this event with almost no sign of even basic circumspection. This event didn’t take place in a vaccuum, and the angry political speech that is, in some circles, being blamed as the cause didn’t spring from nowhere, and the notion that the solution to a problem is to kill it wasn’t invented by Jerrod Loughner.

We are surrounded by a society steeped in violent domination of the weak by the strong. The foundational premise of human political institutions is that one group should use weapons, cages and confiscation to impose it’s will on another group. The foundational premise of our nation is that the non-ruling group can justly kill and replace the ruling group if, for example, taxes get too high, or the court system is deemed unjust.

The entire structure of our ruling institutions comes down to us from a barbaric and superstitious past. In this one unique thread of human endeavor, no hint of modernity has been allowed to permeate for 2,500 years.

The gun is always on the table in politics. Nearly every American supports both the use of state violence against undesirable people *and* the use of anti-state violence against oppressive government[1]

The credibility of the grievances varies (surely the weakest claim of oppression was that of the colonial americans in the 18th century), but there’s no political principle about when anti-state violence is good and when it’s bad–it’s entirely subjective[2]

There’s also no principle governing the appropriate use of state violence. Some people prefer guns be waved at those who farm certain plants or cross invisible lines. Others want to threaten those that have sex with forbidden persons (or in forbidden ways) or drop trash on unowned land.

This lack of principle, the lack of any basis for rational discourse, is precisely what leads to angry screechy shouting, jumping up and down, waving of arms, gnashing of teeth, and when those impressive displays repeatedly fail to convince: the threat of and use of violence.

We live in a domination system, a patriarchy, a rape culture in which the predominant belief is that physical control of one group of humans by another is necessary for our continued existence. As long as this is the case, violence will be used by individuals who feel that it’s a reasonable way to solve a particular problem. Most of the time, the victims will be the poor and politically powerless, but on occasion, the victim of violence will be a member of the ruling class or their enforcers.

The only way to avoid violence against the ruling class is to refuse to legitimize violence as a means of human interaction. Of course, it’s the ruling class that monopolizes the institutional use of violence against the rest of humanity, so to some degree the ball is in their court.

I imagine that we’ll know that we’ve reached the dawning of a new day when every murder around this planet is treated with equal horror. Since this killing is the first of the thousand-or-so politically related murders of the last year that has made the news in anything but a passing manner, I know that dawn is not yet come.

Update: The always amazing IOZ hits my note (but funnier) in paragraph 4.

Update: See for yourself has a nice round-up of other quality online publications that are presenting what I believe to be largely the same sentiment in a number of ways. Here’s a nice summary sourced by one of the linked posts:

Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.
— Derrick Jesen, Endgame vol. 1

  1. [1] The right-wing rhetoric that’s got everybody in a tizzy currently was used by the left in the 1960s. It was used by third world nationalists in the 40s and 50s and by anti-colonialists for 100 years before that. It was considered a sign of hope in post-soviet eastern europe and still is in the nuclear boogieman-of-the-day, Iran.
  2. [2] If one concedes the use of revolutionary violence, it certainly seems most appropriate against the regime that holds 1/4 of the worlds prisoners, that is fighting a whole host of wars that are illegal by any international agreement or treaty regarding national conflict back to 1648, that is responsible for 10s of millions of deaths in the third world since the mid 20th century, that claims the right to detain or assassinate anyone on the planet–including its own “citizens” without any process other than a go-ahead from the supreme leader.

The Bikecast Episode #48: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Bikecast listeners. A million thanks for listening, commenting, emailing, engaging with the ideas I’m relaying and for your encouragement, both on and offline. The Bikecast has suffered a few setbacks, my studio was stolen forcing me onto the bus for a few weeks and my equipment is malfunctioning at the moment. This brief episode of the Bikecast was created entirely at my in-home media center.

Download this episode of the bikecast
I’m unsure if I’ll prefer podcasting from a stationary position inside my house, or if I’ll start putting up audio-less posts until I can reassemble my mobile recording rig. Who knows, maybe I’ll do both.

Yesterday, the 12th day of Jadmas[1] marked the end of the Jadmas holiday season. I just turned 36 which is one of those highly divisible numbers that leads me to compare the first 18 years of my life to the second, the third 12 year span to the first two, the fourth 9 years to the first 27, etc. I intend to put up some more personal stuff that you may or may not be interested in along these lines. I’ll tag all those posts with Jadmas if you want to follow up on that thread.

During the holidays, I watched the first couple episodes of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos for the first time. His enthusiasm and his ability to capture the wonder of existence is infectious[2] and I’m feeling inspired to seek out latter day Sagans of various stripes and engage them in conversation. If it works out, I might try to record the chats and present them here. I’m also considering doing a review of Cosmos, though I imagine it’s been reviewed nearly to death.

The last thing on my radar, and perhaps the most impactful is something I encountered late last year. It’s a process called non-violent communication or NVC outlined by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. I heard about it on the Complete Liberty podcast (episodes 126 – 130) and it incorporates alot of material that I was interested in towards the beginning of my journey out of leftist politics and toward various ideas around non-violent social structures.

At first glance it may not seem like much of a departure from the positions I’ve taken throughout the last year, but it challenges a major tenet of what I consider the leading edge of the effective revolution: that people are inherently driven by notions of good and evil. I think there might be a clarifying synthesis between the clear natural tendency of humans to cooperate and to be repulsed by violence and the slippery and historically dangerous concepts of good and evil. I’m still thinking this through and plan on studying up on the details of NVC in the near future (and reporting back, of course). I’ll mark these future posts Non-Violent Communication for your future perusal.

Thanks again for your support. As always, let me know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see/hear in the jVerse or on the Bikecast. I think 2011 is going to be a year of growth and increasing clarity. I look forward to sharing it with you.

  1. [1] Jadmas falls on December 27
  2. [2] This is an even more impressive feat given the technology of 1980 and Sagan’s penchant for leading his tour from a glass bottomed space ship