Reflections on Being Bi
September 23, 2017 · [link]
September 23rd marks Celebrate Bisexuality Day, on which in 1999, Wendy Curry and friends with BiNet USA created a day of celebration to foster non-monosexual (not strictly gay, lesbian, etc.) pride and solidarity in the post-1960s and 70s gay rights movement. During a period in the movement of bisexuals patronized as "going through a phase" or reduced as "half gay," constantly lugging behind rainbow banners hoping to be recognized with as much dignity, Curry gave non-monosexual queers a day to get loud and proud without being vouched for by their rigidly gay older siblings.
A little over a decade, new grounds on identity and community have been broken. The "gay or straight" dichotomy is increasingly decommissioned in favor of a fluid, shifting idea of sexual, romantic and emotional orientation. The strict roles of man or woman are replaced by individuals defining their presentations free from strict qualifying castes. Angry queers are on standby to take direct action against the oppression and bigotry that persists, despite liberal appeals for assimilation.
While bisexuals and other non-monosexuals still endure misconception and stigma around their identity, there are strides made in deconstructioning mythology and tapping into pride as a change-making tool. In Curry's words, "If you really study civil rights/diversity acceptance, you'll see that people start to respect people once they respect themselves. As long as we were in this endless begging for inclusion, we weren't addressing the respect issue."
For me, bisexuality laid a path of self-identity that has been a strange and reassuring force. Well before digging into all the complexities, I had a sense of there being more to it than "liking guys and girls" through lived experience. Emotions beyond romance and sex coupled with self-esteem and existential chaos provided me with the texture of this still young, still uncertain life. Seeing the way people in-between'ed expression gave me a sense of deeper possibilities even before I saw them put down in theory. And ultimately, seeing where I am right now with a truly wonderful and life-saving partner, I don't ever want to let where I came from lose its influencing power on where I go from here.
In the years of bi voices being amplified, the positivity shared by those who endured community changes, and my own doings around who I am beyond sexual identity, I think now is a good time to lend my own perspective to the conversation, given the occasion.
Don't worry, there won't be any irrelevant life story. Though I will say that I grew up kind of hazy, in memory and in what I felt during life-defining experiences. Even if that's how it should be, it still feels abnormally tangled. The sentiment of things not needing to make perfect sense was always kind of endearing for me.
Considering that I'm at the last stop before my twenties as of writing, we'll be backing up to the point where a lot of these testimonies qualify as life stories.
I was weird. I still am. I knew I was weird, and I told myself this everyday. It didn't really become an unhealthy thing until I was about eleven or twelve years old. My weight, personality and learning disability became the foremost things plaguing my nerves when I was in school or around kids my age. I think I tried to build my personality vicariously through the images I got in media, which is a terrible thing to do. Overly romanticized situations don't serve as a good primer for the all-too real awkwardness of pre-adolescent social exchanges. With that facade toppled, I was on my own.
When I realized I wasn't as "cool" as I thought I was, the only way I could avoid a breakdown was by repeating apologies in my head to people I had to talk to. "I'm sorry you have to interact with me." Whenever I could calm myself down and think of something "funny" or "witty" to say, they would kind of just grin, smother a cringe and turn to their friends to snicker. After so many of those over and over again, all my effort to be likable wasted, I finally decided to just shut my mouth for good. I would have asked people straight-up if they would prefer not to talk to me before I even said my name, but that would pretty much defeat the purpose. People were no-go zones.
Around that time I was pulled out of public school after a year of bullying that I left bottled up became known to my mom, and I continued through online courses officially registered as homeschooled. At the time I felt luckier than ever, especially with new methods of education available to me. The school system served, and continues to serve, a dual purpose of devaluing students' capabilities for making them useful to a boss somewhere down the road, and encouraging an atmosphere of strife and petty indignities among each other. The last part made me not pay a second thought to being removed from easy access to socializing. I was convinced that everyone in my age range hated me anyways, and anyone a few years older than me would always find ways to exploit my social shortcomings for a sick laugh.
By then, the stage was set for my personality to follow. A lot of confusion and angst was baked into my young perception, so I wasn't really lonely so much as angry and dismissive. A lot of time alone in that conviction made me comfortably numb, reassuring myself with "fuck everyone" whenever I felt envious to the contrary. But everything only worsened with time, and soon I had to come to terms with myself and the world.
I knew what being bisexual meant fairly early, but I had trouble considering myself that. With all the self-hatred going on, I determined my identity based on how "likable" I was; how and if I could relate to others regardless of gender. So for a while, with what juvenile information I had, I considered myself asexual for a brief period. I thought it was the most fitting justification for being asocial more than anything, but I couldn't deny that I was misusing the label. Then I called myself straight but that I "didn't like sex," and then I kind of just stopped trying to name it, letting it be whatever.
All my time at home let me figure out how to transform hobbies into meaningful work. A lot of effort was funneled into writing and learning programming, which is responsible for everything right now. It was humble beginnings and I'm still proud that I made the most of my time alone in my own world, but it also did a great job of keeping me at a distance from things I wanted to go further in. I was too comfortable in front of a keyboard, and couldn't see how to change that with minimal effort.
Nothing ever felt fair. I rarely got a break from being sad or anxious. There's nothing to complain about family-wise, but emotionally — in the realm I never spoke about to anyone — I was always in a rut. As far as simply getting people to know and respect me, I was completely lost. A local church youth group was a decent enough sandbox for finding common interests, but sure enough, the same impressions I got from school were rediscovered there. At this stage anger was dissolved into mild acceptance. I was fully prepared to be overlooked, but disappointed nonetheless.
There wasn't much refuge alone. Oftentimes I would see a close bond between two men in a film and I would feel the worst reeling pain of emptiness and envy I could imagine. Or I would see a bond between a man and woman and feel the same way. I couldn't make sense of the inconsistency, losing the grasp on reasoning with it in the haze of everything else. Puberty at its finest. I often reminded myself with Wizard's line from Taxi Driver: "Don't worry so much!"
Internet friendships and communities were a blessing, a monumental tool for being real with someone dealing with the same things and giving me at least some reassurance that generations before have been dealt this same shitty roll of the dice. Around that point, going through different causes of my misery, it dawned on me that my frustrations had a connection to sexual and romantic orientation worthy of examination.
That particular case was reopened, but investigating it was delayed. It was in the middle of moving to another state that confusion was transplanted in a new environment, stripped of my familiar home town and nothing but long car rides to dwell on things. Temporary residence in a rural area gave me a tranquil place to reset for a little while. A forest to merge with in spirit, a sunny field to get lost in thought staring at — dumb little sentimental touches that were really needed for my weary mind. I think I was trying to reassure myself that it was okay that I didn't belong in the castes of heterosexuality and conservatism; that I had to put my own convictions first or risk being the same fake type of person I detested.
Eventually we settled in another town, where I resumed my self-examination online with a new outlook. It didn't take long for me to accept that whatever I was, I certainly wasn't straight. It might have been the queer gamers and furries (yep) that had my back, but soon I came to embrace it quietly, uncertain of my family's reaction if they knew.
I must be a magnet for ruining everything, because I couldn't keep myself from inventing new problems. With some newly won self-confidence, I made attempts at distant relationships which were predictably failures. In my own defense, both parties were young and trying different things with different persuasions, so it wasn't a foolproof excursion in retrospect. But at the time it meant as much to me as anyone in a face-to-face relationship. Once again, I was crushed. I secured the pain in place with such adages as I'm ugly, I'm boring or Its best that I'm not known.
It wasn't abnormal to find myself fantasizing about draining all my blood via slit arteries or Google searching the highest point near me to jump from. I have to admit these still plague me sporadically. My mom finding out I was self-harming for reasons I kept vague made me want to put every possible thing in existence in one place while I walk away from it all. Torment on top of torment, I dragged on mindlessly. I'm honestly surprised I survived those hectic times.
Getting Out and Coming Out
I got over the bumps in the road. I still don't know how, and even now when I face similar problems I forget how to start recovery. I think the mind just lets go of things when its ready to, at least in my case.
I latched onto new things and found myself in a refreshed mindset. At this point I was openly bi online for two years, amassing all the advice I could get and looking to generally improve on my existence. I wasn't free from anguish, but I poured as much energy as I could into my blog and programming to keep myself busy. Working my first job helped disperse a lot of that energy too.
I didn't stop looking for someone who could care about me, but I played it safe. I was done being desperate about it. I used that familiar misery as the force that brought me back down to earth whenever I could feel myself flying too close to the sun. My teens were spent alone from the start, and I felt like I deserved someone to build prospects with. Nothing dramatic or specific, and in fact I dreamed of an understated but palpably close bond that would become dramatic when it needed to be. I was out for anyone: friend, lover, something in-between — anyone.
A week before thanksgiving, I started talking to someone. At first I rested assured that we wouldn't go far. That was my mechanism for staying intact. I prefaced our first night of conversation with something along the lines of "I'm not looking for anything sexual or whatever. Just someone to talk to." If only I could guess at how short I was selling myself. The things we shared were surprising, how well we clicked and understood each other was something I never felt with anyone else. Day by day, good morning and good night texts, I knew I found the one I would take refuge in when everything else felt wrong. It didn't take more than four months for us to officially begin dating, and two more for me to save up for a plane ticket for us to finally rendezvous.
Minneapolis, summer of 2016. That was when I finally broke from my past and started a new beginning. A solid week of my doubts and fears melted away by love, honesty and adventure in Minnesota. It was a totally alien sensation; all those years of self-doubt healed in such a short time. But even then, questions about ourselves and the future weren't over. My partner had time to think things over, and affirmed that she was trans. This presented us with new questions to ask ourselves; for her as an individual in a shitty society, and us as a couple to be perceived by others.
Along with worrying for her health, safety and the respect she deserves in the years to come, I was concerned with how I was going to be looked at: As a bisexual guy, or an assumed straight guy, with a girl at my side. This particular revelation opened a new part in the ... I became invested in her through the gender I first perceived her as, and now it was a matter of channeling this kind of inertia in a positive and constructive way. I knew that my feelings for her were unaffected, I was just too used to the idea of being seen with someone of the same gender. It was up to knowing the changes, holding on to what was most important and respecting this person who I love above all else.
The trip home was the worst. I never walked through an airport trying not to cry before, but the flight home gave me time to contemplate this new beginning and what it would take to make it flourish into something tangible. A couple weeks passed and I was alone in my room binging on netflix and something unhealthy. My mom checks on me and tells me I haven't been very talkative lately. I tell her that I'm fine, but that we should take a drive. It was completely spur of the moment, I just felt the urge to get this over with.
We get coffee and sit in the starbucks parking lot. I'm already panicking when she asks whats up. I know I'm not going to tell her everything, certainly not the gender identity of my "friend", but only the truth of who I am. I shake off the worst-case scenario thoughts of being disowned and get it out: "Mom, I can only hope you don't hate me, but... I'm bisexual."
I immediately begin to cry, terrified. "Okay" she replies. I keep crying.
"Its okay!" she repeats. I piece myself together as much as possible, explain my relationship, neglect all the necessary details and retire back to my room after gaining the approval of my mom, the rest of my family to follow. That feeling in your gut, like you took off a lead vest: I felt that for the rest of the week. A long stretch of uncertainty amounted to my experiences translated into a newly public fact about myself. I felt like my reality was acknowledged, giving me my first sense of self-validation.
A year later, after the right planning and timing, my girlfriend and I are living together, making the most of our passions and bringing them to life with our friends in our community. The rest is history, but one that drives doing better everyday, looking for something at the end of it all worth resting on.
I never liked talking about myself. I think I always neglect the richest details that could be compressed into a perfect couple of sentences to save your time and mine, and instead I gravitate toward droning recollections of times that may or may not paint an accurate picture. But there are times when you have to do your best in that to avoid yet another stuffy academic review of sexual identity and derive from lived experiences. I think being real at the risk of sounding sentimental is a lot better than being a jargon machine from one's favorite armchair.
I think two things determined how I went about self-discovery: Autism and internalized self-restraint, or, more formulaic: my perception of the world multiplied by the effects of the world on me in return. In this light, this applies to a lot of different stories with different names given to the variables. For me, one thing was very good at fortifying the results of the other: I had a preconception of people, I had a preconception of the right ways to act, their responses were things I held too sacredly, and I instilled them in myself because I trusted others' judgment far more than my own. This bolstered the whole cycle during new periods in my life when I felt like trying again, more or less giving new reasons to stop again because of responses following preconception. Putting it simply, I was hopeful, disappointed and confused in that order. My naive belief in better things over the horizon sabotaged by the realities others lived.
Self-discovery happened in different parts in different places. A lot of it took place alone with what I had to dwell on. It wasn't healthy, but it was the only option when I didn't want to risk a panic attack. I mostly just hated bothering people, but every once in a while I could refresh what specific types of interactions had the most effect on me. This included how shy I was around masculine people compared to feminine people, how intensity changed with people's age, and the personalities that I felt threatened by.
Soon I noticed that boys my age with relatively outgoing personalities caused me the most tension, while girls fitting the same descriptions were just a hair more fear-inducing. I can easily see connections to who these people reminded me of during negative interactions in the past, e.g., girls telling me that I'm "gross", or boys telling me I'm "stupid", but further down the road it went from simply "bothering people" to the likelihood of never being able to make a bond with anyone. Now it was a question of who I desired bonds with the most.
I was always juggling who held sway of my preference when I was realizing myself as bi. Before that, I had a boundless admiration for anyone with the right amount of charm, wit and kindness. It didn't connect with sexuality and take on a certain form until I hit puberty, where I was mixed up by everything I started feeling. I never got to be face-to-face with any of this until meeting my girlfriend, but I think years of observing and stewing alone from a distance was ultimately worth it.
I eventually judged myself to be a four on the Kinsey scale, essentially saying that I prefer people of the same gender while maintaining a fair attraction to those who aren't. My girlfriend's identity gave me an interesting lesson in what you're attracted to and who you love; not as things that necessitate each other, but as things that indicate one's sexual capacity separate from long-term emotional standpoint, and what you do to consolidate those feelings in a healthy way. I didn't surrender my attraction to men, but I arranged my committed relationship and my expression of attraction as non-conflicting spheres with every parties' consent.
A lot my tribulations can rightly be blamed on hormones, but I'm not going to deny that for most of my life, and as it continues now, I've always taken emotional responses and the meanings in things I can't fully grasp very seriously. Overlaps with social anxiety, uncertainty, self-disgust and feeling bad for everyone I talked to made me more conscious of my interactions. They held me accountable, and I think even if they made me more self-conscious than I need to be, it made a thorough process of knowing who I was without much left to guess on.
It wasn't a way to say "I know I'm bi because...", but a way to show the inspiration behind the style of bisexuality I invented for myself.
Why Bi Day Matters
"Pride already happened." This was one person's response to me advertising a bi day celebration in my city. Aside from the baked-in aggression against queer voices, it reflects one of the reasons why sections of the queer community value their sovereign days of celebration, sometimes more than the massive annual parades and festivals of rainbow capitalism.
There was no serious usage of "LGBT" as a unified group of people in solidarity until the late 90s. Even afterward, the appearance of a cohesive community of non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming individuals is a pretty new thing. I think in the wake of bigotry expressing itself in neoliberal America, LGBT sections urgently crystallized in a way that shrugged off past injuries, and pardoned new ones in the name of "progress."
Before this, there was a lot of conflict in legislative and community organizing that cut deep into trans and non-monosexual hidden figures, whether it was after Harvey Milk's death or the damage control after the stonewall riots. Today that tradition graduates from negligent organizing behaviors to the ongoing assimilation of gay people into state apparatuses of domination and mediation, who expect the rest of us to go along with their victories as trans and non-binary people of color are assaulted or killed by the same cops they march with at pride.
Gay has become a trademark with a standard set of attributes, and if you aren't "gay" or "straight", you're certainly queer in one sense or other. We, obviously, are looking to make the gay community militant again — not to shun every monosexual as a liberal traitor. But with the circumstance of it all, rebuilding ourselves requires amplifying those who are left to the back of the parade line or asked silly questions about their identity.
Bi, trans, non-binary, intersex, asexual and other days of celebration are all occasions to hold our communities proud and independent from the history of liberal assimilation into rigid legalistic frameworks. Its about having the self-respect to determine one's own sense of pride specific to their identity and how its expressed to others.
A Better Relationship with Sexuality and Gender
The relativity and fluidity of gender content is something that can't be dismissed for much longer in today's world. As the gendering of behaviors becomes increasingly brittle with each person living them, its clear that laying down a basic idea of contouring ourselves with others is easier and more fruitful than everyone trying to fit into something that won't budge.
I've often been asked the question when talking about gender followed by my own sexuality: "If gender is about self-identity and not 'how many genders there are,' how can you call yourself bisexual? Doesn't that imply that there are only two?"
When thinking about bisexuality, most people jump to the conclusion of quantities meaning "how many genders this person is attracted to" instead of considering what quantity even relates to. Dealing with quantity is more or less visualizing people's scope and flexibility, using quantity to refer to points that start and stop boundaries. It should be obvious that nobody should submit to any elementary analysis and surrender their identity just because there are differences on what quantifying adjectives mean.
For a basic example, we can think of two (bi-) poles that start in one place on a spectrum and terminate in another. These poles encompass a specific area of presentation that an individual is attracted to, instead of having two mutually exclusive types of people our inclinations will be limited to like the traditional idea of bisexuality suggests. Its more like covering all bases by looking at the two ends of a region, which are sometimes simplified as masculine, feminine and what is between them.
This model might work accordingly with other non-monosexual identities too: Polysexual individuals might envision multiple sections encompassed by multiple sets of poles, while pansexual individuals have no visible divides at all, embracing the entirety of identity spectrums.
I think this is key to expressing any sexuality without coming off as binary about gender. Bisexuality is a way of people defining the scope of their attraction in relation to the sum of their preference, and not so much the "number of genders" they prefer. Even with straight or monosexual people, there is no correct way to be any of those things; identifying the areas of attraction doesn't take any prescribed form of roles or numbers. Its about presentation and who it resonates with.
We decide what life looks and feels like. There are collective and individual aspects of that reality; people can get together to make societal changes, and individuals can establish the facts of themselves through which to interface with life. Joining or conflicting, relating potential to each other accomplishes more than we think. Its all in knowing ourselves, what we want and what it all means in the end. Doing our best and staying relentless.
Happy Bi Day. Remember Scout Schultz.
The Religion of Civility
August 24, 2017 · [link](For Subversion News)
Two weeks after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the geniuses of sacred non-action are still at it.
Between "an-tee-fuh", the "alt-left" and "violence on both sides", we're back to J20 and Pikeville as everyone crawls out of the woodwork to talk about the "violence on the left" and circulate their ready-made expertise on anti-fascism, all while dodging what lit a fire under them, or fighting the actual philosophical meat of it and broader anarchism with condescending outrage.
I've been focused on this since I got back, since this was my first major action since being physically involved in such things. Not only that, but the discussion has been going on for longer than expected. Charlottesville was the tamest anti-fascist demonstration I've ever seen. We came into a small town and ruined a white nationalist rally before it can even start, without many arrests and without much trouble from the cops, and yet this might be the one event of this decade's anti-fascist activity that garners the most commentary from the right and center.
Those in the combination of their sheltered media chambers and traditional social litanies, instead of being on the ground in front of struggles, always get the loudest mic to speak into. Not like this is surprising: They get to be pampered by the social byproducts of others' subordination, and simultaneously defend their legitimacy in all corners of life. Nonetheless, it peeves me when we continue encountering the same angry questions under a different name, and someone is expecting a new answer.
I think, along with someone being killed, the legalistics of permits and free speech coming into this really set the popular stage, allowing the white panic of preserving the current structures to coming into conflict with the larger goals of anti-fascism. Beyond that playing out as usual, I certainly think we're on track toward a civil conflict for better or worse. Thats precisely why anti-fascists are going all out, we intend to win.
And with the "why" absolutely cleared just now, the heavier baggage of attacking assembly and working outside the perimeters of the law remains. Particularly, the use of violence.
We are always denying ourselves the reality of violence when talking about disrupting social systems. For Industrial Society 101, violence has been monopolized for generations through the state. This is the crux of the issue when looking at how smashing a corporation's window stacks up to letting thousands of people go uninsured each year, and so on. People have an instinctive way of judging those scenarios with a set of obfuscated, reproduced norms that totally demonize one act while not paying a second glance to another.
Getting to where people see that and understand why its like this involves rediscovering history through a different lens, one that demonstrates how people then and now are affected and repressed. Even trickier is explaining why civility in these conditions is instantly surrender, and how developing our own strategies and coming together on our own terms is the best way to win a better world.
Civility, in how society is presently arranged, is the effect of the privileged accumulating the complacency of the ruled. Alternative social patterns are simply unthinkable or collectively hammered into our skulls as impractical and dangerous, so generations typically reproduce an atmosphere of things being stable the way they are, or disseminating spirituality as a coping mechanism for life being unbearable. Coupled with familial castes and popular media, we have the central nervous system of capitalist state society: a populous that is comfortable and obedient in the limits they were told are the infinite expanses of life.
Resistance happens when the requirements for capital and privilege (subordination, stratification) build up into distinct social groups. With what freedom of thought the ruled have to themselves, there is capacity to design alternatives and nourish its growth while in bondage. Cultures that solidify around exploitation always secure their dreams with a rich and resonating community. Slavery in North America and a class of African descendants carried on a particular consciousness that lives in the changing face of racism and white supremacy. From Nat Turner in 1830s Virginia plantations, to the Black Panthers in 1960s Harlem, to Black Lives Matter in contemporary liberal America, the consciousness that intersects with other struggles (workers' and queer struggle, etc.) finds the very channels that mediate or propagate oppression and grow beneath them.
Over time, however, incremental reformism has proven to be the most hypnotizing buffer between the dissolving of bondage and the securing of privilege. After trade unionism was legalized, participation in social movements became increasingly perfunctory and symbolic, crystallizing the aversion to direct action in favor of seeking legitimacy from higher authorities. People's self-confidence in their own actions were, and have increasingly become, disarmed and filtered into a singular, designated political sphere that was reinforced by the doctrines of civility.
Those who cling to this model do so for varying reasons. Commonly in the United States, its liberals whose political identity was forged solely out of this model and know nothing beyond it, or its conservative-right people who find this model to always be a stepping stone toward a real instance of their ideals. The sanctity of what they're familiar with, the desperation in avoiding what requires fundamental restructuring and demonizing the interests of the exploited always play a synchronized part in propping up a confused warning of danger to further influence civility.
What makes for an obvious double-standard but a opportune entryway is how people who declare that life is savage and that things like markets and speculation are rooted in a human instinct toward savagery can't at least reconcile this with anti-fascists acting in such a way. The doctrine of "tough shit" is always hammered into those with social grievances, but suddenly the lecturers are shaking in their boots when the act of brutality expands inward on the whole framework.
Undoing this ritual requires understanding violence and the relationships around it: whats is considered violent, how it is regulated, how it is ultimately relative and where to go with that understanding.
Violence is a character of life, a means of dispensing power. But more deeply, violence as a social phenomena isn't a defined, tangible thing as we might envision it. The underpinnings of force are typically applied to an inherently political situation and manipulated depending on the actor. This covers everything from breaking the windows of a bank that evicts people from their houses, the police arresting protesters, to any form of speech that resonates in society.
Expression has long been painted in the light of reducing the consequences of what people say. On one hand, people today seem to allow racists as well as far-left radicals to say what they please in equal measure. But on the other, they reserve their rights to "disagree" with whomever. These reactions are the modifications to consequences in the light of mediation. They acknowledge an idea of consequences of speech, but only in the form of their own reaction and its relationship to discourse. The possibility of any consequences outside of this are left up to pacifying or quelling forces, like the police. So long as an authority rests on top of these transactions, and as long as they are imbued with trust in stopping anything that deviates from civility, there can only be popular displacement from the genuine consequences outside of upper middle class communities. So while a racist spreading lies about marginalized communities means little to a well-off liberal, it means a hell of a lot to those who will see and live through the consequences of that speech right in front of them.
This is probably the summary for why free speech isn't so much "opposed" by anti-fascists and anarchists as much as its just a terrible reduction of what language is. Language is a tool as powerful as cutting individuals off from your life or starting rumors. Such things have intention and weight, they accomplish things whether explicit or not. If we can imagine what such things mean for tight-knit social groups of single-digit amounts of people, think of its impact on anything from towns, to cities, to whole continent populations. But again, as long as quelling authorities rest on top of these intimately human transactions, they will always be reduced down to the ins and outs of politics while the genuine consequences play out unaccounted for. Disconnected from any social importance.
So in this framing, the features and levels of violence are anything but unanimously agreed on. Political actions are commonly measured by the weight they carry and how forceful or affective they are, but the affiliation the action is bound to is always the deciding factor for whether its violent.
But the relativity of violence doesn't imply a disregard for what it accomplishes. For anti-fascists, it isn't unitary violence that is examined as much as whats behind the violence, who is doing it and to what ends. Violence is expected from the opposition as much as it is from the bindings of today's society, and so which violence we oppose is made clear because it enforces what we want destroyed. Regardless of seeing the word violence and knowing that people will imagine vastly different examples, it describes an emotional reality underneath the vagueness, and it can be used to align our intentions properly.
Denouncing violence is like denouncing the force required in tackling anything that works against you, but we cannot take this to just mean "in self-defense." Reducing all of self-defense down to immediate physical protection neglects what violence and preserving oneself entails, especially in a setting where the lifeblood of society is constant threat. The end goal is to eliminate structures of violence: coercion, domination and the like, which comprise forces decidedly not relative, and perform concrete functions such as capitalism, state repression and social bigotry that build a reality of suffering.
The instinctual disregard for criticism from the right and center comes from their dependence on what social emancipation requires destroying. By relying on "its not that bad", "haven't you learned anything from Stalin?" or "you hate free speech", we meet at the same starting point over and over. All that time wasted trying to explain our case just for it to be thrown out could be spent organizing and arming around worthwhile goals.
Obedience to currently acceptable ideals has driven the left away from debate, because the requirement to be taken seriously is to lie down and submit or risk being named "alt". And every time a glimpse of our case is made, the reaction is simply angry defense of political essentialism or flipping the narrative.
So speaking calmly and acting how we're told has been proven fruitless, a spectacle for the media facade and self-service repression. We're over playing pretend. As spontaneous action finds its way in the streets and communities, as the structures of privilege and coercion are discredited, we're reaching a trying time of discovering our strength and wielding it together, or once again rebranding the game of domination.
Non-violence can only persuade authority to take a new shape or expand appeasement, but it can never mend the relations of exploitation and violence that anarchists will always oppose. Autonomy and dignity in our lives will always be sacrificed so long as we act obediently in the shadow of power.
We might have landed on a particularly stubborn generational spot for the next social transition to happen, as most people still don't see how we went from Kings and Surfs to Bosses and Employees. Its always difficult to attack the conscience of the population without seemingly devaluing the whole of their character. In doing the latter, we become just as bad as our enemies in allowing material mechanisms to segment us from the whole of humanity. It takes reminding oneself of the values they inherited and the vessel that expresses them, seeking only to revise one of them for everyone's wellness.
We don't desire or get anything out of talking down to everyday people, but the frustration and outrage that is perpetuated through popular channels creates the only audible tone. As much as we would prefer diverse and colorful images of anarchy and vanquished white supremacy as a gift to all, a rich connection between the individual, the world, and what fills the space between them, those would be dismissed as utopian in a heartbeat.
The monotone black [and red] of militant negation appears to set the stage well enough for what we have to deal with presently. We appear to be assholes because we're backed into such a corner where we only have so much to work with. And with what is available to us, we consistently build up our conclusion.
Nazis are for shutting down and putting down, not assimilating and regulating as you would anyone else. Free speech is a political right afforded to you by the same class of elites who arrange the wages of starvation, mandate ritualistic appeals to higher-ups and draw out who suffers and who dispenses. When people aren't separated from consequences, it isn't a social axiom that anybody abides by even in their most intimate setting.
We'll soon be forced out of our screen-lit rooms and into the world we've abandoned, reeling at what we left to fester. Popular conscience will experience a thermal shock of reality when people understand that mediating fascism, whether by trademarked Rational Centrism over twitter or the holiness of legislation, is a joke when the bodies start piling up.
So, whats the solution? Social revolution.
Charlottesville is Barely The Start
August 15, 2017 · [link](For Subversion News, Its Going Down)
Our group of four stood at the crosswalk, flagpoles in hand and bandannas around our necks. Off in the distance, the park is teeming with black-clad people with clubs, shields, respirators, flags, banners, signs. Any form of message delivery, all with the same idea. Looking down the street to see if there's a quicker way to get across, we spot the first of our enemy: Identity Evropa marching in a single column down the sidewalk across the park, their distinct blue and white flags waving above them. Before they round the corner to face the anti-fascists, we already hear cries against them, cries unlike at any sporting event; cries with sincere disdain on every level. "Nazi Scum Off Our Streets!" The column leaves our sight, and we cross the street. This is at 10 AM.
Over the next two hours, we move from park to park, checkpoint to checkpoint encountering the sections of this new wave of terror and fervor of racial fantasy. At the same time, we encounter some of the most courageous and selfless individuals who put themselves in danger to aid their comrades. Street medics tending to those pepper sprayed and injured by the enemy. Redneck Revolt giving armed protection to the mass of anti-fascists. Camp sites out in the woods providing legal info, mental health support and weapons training before the action. Every bit of this would contribute to our victory over the enemy in Charlottesville, but also set the paradigm for what to do from then on.
After the police declared Emancipation park an unlawful assembly for the white nationalists, we regrouped at our initial rendezvous. We eat, rehydrate and plan our next moves. Reports from communications come in and out, that the fascists are approaching us. A couple right-wing stragglers cross the street, get punched in the mouth and get their confederate flag expropriated, which is later burned.
We make our way to McGuffey park to rejoin with people we got separated with. When we arrive we get word that Richard Spencer was arrested and celebrate accordingly. Soon after, we get reports of fascists en route to harass a black, low income neighborhood. As armed bike-runners are dispatched to confirm the situation, the need to gather all the counter-protesters to have the whole town on watch becomes obvious.
We set our sights for the busy roads around the pedestrian mall, a mile out from Emancipation Park. An improvised chant invigorates our numbers down the road leaving McGuffey. "Everywhere we go, pigs wanna know; Who we are — so we tell them: 'We are the People! The motherfucking people! Fighting for Justice. Black liberation, brown liberation, queer liberation, trans liberation, native liberation, workers' liberation!"
Soon we reach an intersection, and we are greeted by red communist flags and black lives matter banners. Cheers signal them into the mass of people united against white supremacy. We wave our flags and continuously declare these streets to be ours, as they are. But just after clearing the intersection, at Water and Fourth streets, I hear faint screams up the road. I grab my partner and a comrade and rush us to a sidewalk in the opposite direction before the screams culminate in a roaring smash with people tumbling over windshields. The rush of victory and camaraderie is instantly replaced by terror; fear for what the toll of injuries and deaths will be reported on in the news later that day. I clutch my partner, knowing that someone is dead. "This is fucking class war!" we shout.
Paramedics arrive in minutes. One of our group members is missing, and our anxiety peaks when riot police begin stepping in, advancing ten feet per minute. To our greatest relief, she makes it back to us having been trapped on the other side when police cleared the street. For fear of being kettled, we rejoin with people from our state and get somewhere safe.
After the attack, activities on all sides are fragmented into a free-for-all. The give a little, get a little convention is thrown out the window. Hospitals caring for injured anti-fascists are circled by cars belonging to Identity Evropa. Reports of drive-by shootings by nationalists put everyone on edge. Sporadic reports of mass arrests send us to ultimately barren locations. Cooling down at a local coffeeshop, we decide that we've done our part. We make it back to our car and debrief at camp before getting on the road for home. We get the outside world's view of the situation in the car. It feels almost insulting, after what we've seen firsthand.
Charlottesville as a city is now tainted to me. I can never get that first impression healed, and that city will always be bookended as where I was on August 12, 2017. Every bit of stonework, every street and every shop can only play a part in mentally outlining the vessel for what arose on that day from devotion to the myth of "blood and soil." Regardless, a few facts need to be repeated.
We outnumbered them. We shut their event down before it could start. We were lucky enough to have the cops turn on them. But they will step up their game. They will celebrate the murder of Heather Heyer and twist it into a repetitive in-joke, encouraging their fantasy to be built on further. They will kill more of us, and they will try to win. The fascist rise to power is always prefaced in the streets.
The analyses of late show all and more I could say about the situation: This is a testament to this generation's resurgence of nationalism; the point where everyone agrees that they've moved out of the Internet. Where mere disgruntled young white men are organized into formations capable of terrorizing vulnerable communities and securing the already prevalent structures of oppression as the core mode of society.
Charlottesville as some grand call to action was a laughable failure, yes, but I can only speak for the impressions I got in the streets. Personally, it was a declaration of class war that was secured when Heather Heyer was killed. Each side had a sense of this being something momentous, probably not as profound when knowing that it was built up over the weeks prior, but it was there and it meant something more.
And now in the aftermath, as white nationalists announce more rallies over confederate statue removals across the US, threatening posters put in low income neighborhoods and random acts of racist violence, we are seeing that sentiment spreading and coalescing into a real conflict beyond protests. With liberals saying their routine denouncing of violence "on many sides", its made clear once again that only we will protect us.
We have to come to the realization of peace and love being an outcome. A result, and not a means of maintaining itself. You can stand up to hate with love, but what vehicle of action is love driving? Certainly not more and more "love" until it somehow forms an effective weapon to literally kill white supremacy. You don't "love" a fascist to death or make your love out to be deadly if it can't hate and kill when it needs to.
Our relationships need to break away from appeasing the exploitation of non-violent complacency, monotonous popular dialog, and taking to heart the acceptability of liberal pats on the back.
If anyone cares about standing up to hate, they won't prioritize "taking a stand" and announcing support while backing down at the first sign of physical confrontation. They will speak last while organizing, arming, training and fighting alongside the marginalized. They will understand the need to raze the shackles of state mediation, working to the crossroads of autonomy or autocracy. It is possible, and day by day it becomes our time to decide.
National Socialist Movement to join "Unite the Right" in Virginia
August 1, 2017 · [link](For Subversion News, Its Going Down)
After the American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, its seems clear what to expect from the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is due in one week.
We anticipated the conference to be a sort of ideological warm-up for the alt-right’s journey through the Upper South and Appalachia, met with moderate opposition outside the Montgomery Bell Park Inn. Despite the predictable impressions of the attendees and the laughable enticement of minor physical violence from the far-right side, it remains a far cry from a simple disconnected meeting of nazis.
While international figures convened in Tennessee, the gathering in Charlottesville has its sights set for a very real goal in the communities of those in the US: To preserve the commemoration of genocide, slavery and the prevailing sentiments of white domination over the marginalized, wrapped in the myth of “preserving history”. Even then, there seems to be a deeper goal considering the nature of the right coming together in such a time.
Along with figureheads Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, Neo-Confederates League of the South, Strasserists Traditionalist Worker Party and assorted kekistanis wielding stale memes and embarrassment, the National Socialist Movement, led by Jeff Schoep, has announced their partnership with the attendance.
The NSM joining more or less summarizes the drive of the entire event. Yes, whether in swastika’ed bomber jackets or suits and ties, they’re advocating white supremacy. But while Spencer and those like him will definitely make attempts at keeping a civic profile, the attraction of the out-and-loud white supremacists is not as innocent or unintentional as it appears.
Uniting the right is pointless without a good reason. There isn’t much purpose if the right historically has always been divided into their own subcultures ranging from neocons enforcing poverty, to disenchanted rural militiamen defending the constitution; or something. The right in all their incoherence always finds ways to isolate their own strands while fighting for the same side of the spectrum. E.g., an attack on a neo-nazi is an attack on the first amendment, and therefore the constitution and the values of America. Undermining whiteness is a perpetuation of a literal white genocide, and equally an attack on white christian property owners that conservatives bend over backwards for. The outline of similar interests becomes more shared when framed just right.
It takes a big issue, or a bright shining abstraction, to bring together such interests.
The major media scare of anti-fascist resistance and ground-up community action has no doubt played a role in drumming up emotions from all corners of the right and center. The typical suburban household to the local red-lace chapter has adopted and customized the outrage as a political wedge. The pox of white defensiveness has become the current paradigm — a delicate bridge separating the ways this tension will conclude. Opportunism hasn’t been this stirred up since the 1960s.
It seems to come down to lines becoming more and more visible, sides becoming more one or the other. With us, or against us in the desperation of the political base abandoning party lines. The far-left has always held the line, encouraged crossing it, in the face of growing polarization and instability. But like routine, its often the right that quickly steps up to the plate ready to see how this particular game will go. Our culture wars coming out of our isolated social media chambers and into the streets signifies a very uncertain round of society reconfiguring itself, liberals playing insufferable mediator.
Its time to get fucking real. For those who haven’t already, its time to shake off party-based activism and legislation and look to our own potential: in our own towns and backyards. Its time to subvert the state buffer between the marginalized and the smirking scourge of white supremacy and defeat it where it stalks closest to home.
The fascists must not have the streets. We call on all anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian groups in Appalachia and East South Central North America to converge at Lee Park on August 12th at 3:00 PM EST, and carry on the active resistance against white supremacy. We intend to win.
Lexington Anti-Racist Action Shuts Down Homophobic Protesters at Pride Festival
June 26, 2017 · [link](For Subversion News)
Attendees of the 10th Annual Lexington Pride Festival in Kentucky were treated to a host of music, food, vendors, live performances and other delights that come with LGBTQ gatherings in celebration of the community and the pursuit of social equality.
Not among these was a welcoming from their local assholes on the corner of East Main Street where a small group of christian fundamentalist protesters gathered with signs advocating "repentance" for "homo sex", logically inconsistent ramblings over bullhorn about the doom of loving someone in particular, and other cowardly forms of harassment directed toward the queer community behind a wall of cops.
With only the East Main Street entrance to the festival being muddled by the religious hecklers, the early afternoon went on as over thirty vendors and activities continued in the farther regions of the Fayette Circuit Court.
It was only after 4 o' clock in the afternoon that things began ramping up. The hecklers gained a larger reaction, mostly comprised of sporadic liberal attempts of chanting "Love trumps Hate", obscuring the speaker's face with a pride flag, and couples raising their joined hands in the air and cheering over the sapless, unoriginal preaching. After this had run its course, about ten members of the festivities joined in a circle around the protesters while police began barricading the onlookers from the agitators.
After several attempts by the rainbow-clad resistance to fight with love — still under the pungent screeching of the fanatics, several attendees with the Lexington Anti-Racist Action chapter assembled as one defined body and took on a simple, but next-level direct action to end the noise.
The ARA attendees distributed paint sticks to as much of the crowd as possible, adding cymbals to the mix and began a noise demo. With howling, chanting, and plenty of clattering wood and clashing brass, the repetitive sermon was quickly drowned out, rendering the fundamentalist presence pointless.
After five minutes of engineered pandemonium, the chants faded into more specific political cries, bringing a much-needed broader consciousness to the corporate sponsored festival. One person slammed a paint stick on a cymbal while shouting "the first pride was a riot!" referring to the Stonewall Riots. After a few more minutes, the chants grew in directness toward the police in the aftermath of the Philando Castile verdict.
"No justice, no peace!" while a minority followed through: "Fuck the police!"
In the heat of anti-fascist calls and bewildered liberals, the agitators disassembled their step-latter and PA system, packed up and went home with their tails between their legs. The chanting concluded with a victory song. "Na na na, na na na, hey hey-ey; Goodbye!"
While none of the protesters or counter-protesters were arrested, one scuffle between two apparently uninvolved people caused the police to tackle them when they fell to the ground punching each other.
It was rumored that the primary fundamentalist speaker has a history of enticing people to get physical, at which point he sues and reaps legal settlements. Regardless, the radical sections of Lexington demonstrated themselves well in going beyond "fighting with love" when facing dialogs of violence and shame poking at the gatherings of disadvantaged communities.
The Sentiment Market and Killing It
June 20, 2017 · [link]
After a little way's into USA network's premier of Mr. Robot in 2015, the feeling began to crystallize for me and probably others.
I just began restarting a personal blog. My political tendencies were taking shape around my commitment to Internet freedom and the greater hacker community influenced by the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Scared shitless that copyright goons would seize my parents' router, I immersed myself deeper in the culture to build up a pseudo-militant persona.
I got the first four episodes after an Internet friend kept pressuring me. Before that I only saw one image, later to be seen on different cringe threads. "OUR DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN HACKED," superimposed over Rami Malek's hooded face.
Not long after walking away having enjoyed it well enough, I published the first real article on the blog. It seemed like a cozy blend of opposition to intellectual property cut with an acceptance of money being a concrete social thing, simply declaring that media isn't a tangible item to be commodified. It can't work. This made me feel steadfast and edgy but grounded and practical, probably engineered to take solace in being looked at seriously enough by everyday people, not needing to engage in significant explanations.
That was my mindset for a while, in that light of Pirate Party support and free culture vigilance. Of course, I grew to see why things I love are being threatened: Why open content and the desire and tools to expand it was scaring the shit out of the entertainment industry, weaponizing their dollars. The problem was the whole structure, the whole interwoven combinations, as well as the narrative of protecting them and ensuring their appeasement.
But looking back on that brief stint of not fully knowing where I stood economically, nor having a conception of a social stance being integral to an economic one, it brought back memories of what was dispensed my way. In them, I found an uneasiness distinct in the artificial tones playing out casually; like they couldn't afford to pretend anymore, so they needed to adapt themselves by wearing plastic sentiments.
Mr. Robot did so by sprinkling a Fight Club rewrite with cult jargon about onion routing, GNOME, KDE and "hacking", with a layer of corporate critical, post-Snowden conspiracy fantasy and a slice of appealing to those with emotional problems. Basically all the qualities of the cyberpunk communities I would frequent.
The conversation it must have taken beforehand seems obvious. "That linux-hacker computer-thing has a pretty sizable community online. Lets tap into it by making a TV show about hacking, evil businessmen and social anxiety."
Immediately, its easy to know what I'm talking about in total, but it seems like this particular feature has more depth to it. There is a sincerity in things like Mr. Robot and countless other media, normally when dealing with trends or niches. But its not an advocacy of the content, instead its a mesh of (plastic) sentiments as a vehicle for richness, of allure when the intensity in scenarios is coated with a positive or heroic representation of the protagonists. The intent is normally for the same reasons as any TV or film undertaking, using these subcultures for spectacle.
However, it also attempts to sabotage the potential in politically-oriented subcultures by using their dialog and ideals for the reverse purposes. And indeed they accomplish them when million dollar documentaries about whistleblowers make their budget back, or when coverage of outcry sends ratings into the stratosphere. When it isn't the hacker or the guerrilla fighter depicted as heartless and chaotic, their heroism is livened to such a proportion that it accomplishes a mutually opposing interest in the real world.
We can boil down the marketing of sentiments, isolated from the total spectacle, by its power in subtlety. You won't find intimately relatable people on any TV network or social media anymore, since their only role is distraction. A break from the busy mind. But when the distraction becomes toxic complacency, and those who acknowledge it want a feeling of rejuvenating empowerment like the young beginners of social awareness and political identity, you can find little bursts anywhere that reconcile two halves which ultimately serve one. The Market, then the sentiment: the illusion of a message.
This is one of advertising's basic survival mechanisms. People won't care about whats being offered if it feels disconnected from their own world, so it targets as many specific types of people it can for net turnout. It used to be that popular behaviors were copied, or even lived by advertisers, and rewritten to sell. But now they've infiltrated deeper, attaching as many timely embellishments as possible, applying research on general social dissatisfaction within these subcultures. All to sell not only representation, but commonality, which is consequentially monopolized.
What makes the end result so plastic is how impersonal the words and images are. For things so integral to personalities, they are shouted off from unfamiliar places and meant to entice those who recognize them. For those observant of this process, it has an Uncanny Valley effect: Relatively agreeable dialogs or situations depicted in contrived environments, rather than playing out in our most familiar collectives, muddles the original texture. For others, when facing the monopoly on cultural representation, there is little choice but to consume its products and enjoy the most of the stories possible, instead of feeling right about the representation in equal measure. To watch yourself be played out by another instead of grasping the actions yourself.
To put it all together, the traits of socially relevant subcultures are accounted for and implemented into commodities and advertisements, which have a corrupted similarity to their source material. We are subjected to deeply engineered versions of our own passions. This is probably why those who enter into a subculture through the contrived channels experience higher fascination when entering the personal spaces, even experiencing feelings of inadequacy, limited belonging.
Inversion of the market by some degree of non-profit causes are not exempt from this. They have the same stench, coming from the same batch of trendy gloss. The framing is distinctly impersonal, held at a distance between viewer and speaker with a long cord of familiarity traveling the length.
The adverts by TruthOrange made it perfectly clear to me. I knew of the typical picture of suits in a boardroom calculating loss and subdividing, but their anti-smoking ads made up entirely of twenty-year olds and Trap music in the background allowed me to peer into those rooms and almost taste the words on their lips. Beat for beat, I knew the formula at the first second.
"If we make our characters young, black, sassy and loud about social issues, talking about 'recent studies' and 'the supreme court', we can hook onto that burgeoning niche with an appeal to realness."
It becomes obvious that its not a matter of changing the approach to creating media "for" or "about" such interests. There is not any adequate means of offering groups what they want that can't generate plastic sentimentality. Its a consequence of market necessities mass filtering socially relevant passions and dispensing hollow spectacles. The sentiments must be well earned, derived from the groups alone.
The gap between the continuation of hierarchies and people's needs and desires soon becomes marketed. Something new becomes obvious, so they bank on it — possibly a quelling tactic. Resistance itself, the concept, is now a casualty to advertising and plastic moving images, totally displaced from intimately building transformation on a given scale. In its place are those plastic tones in the form of hashtags and mass produced protest signs. Now they've run their course for so long, that we begin living them.
You see democrats calling for "resistance" to Trump, but in the fashion of Love not Hate without any praxis whatsoever.
You see people in the streets demonstrating for minimum wage increases with an attitude only suitable for toppling the wage system entirely.
You see clenched fists implemented in political parties and safe, impersonal non-profits.
Of course, its foolish to suggest that large scale, genuine sentiments can break through under capitalism. Its for that reason that "indie" media or other highly contained items are distinguished from all the rest, always proving the model of the adorable little hundred dollar movie that tried. From this, we can derive that fully realized passions not debased by market intrusion is tightly bound up in social revolution.
For gaining the strength to build a true, militant culture free of interference, my hopes are in the inner-city apartment blocks. In the neighborhoods behind the construction sites. In the rural clusters of homes in Appalachia. Where material sorrows exist, there is a young person working to relay anarchy to the dejected. Where there are obscure inclinations toward a better personal network, there is a community who shares them. There is no place or people where trust is stronger, where faith in self-determination and actualization is more defined, and certainly more plausible.
The act of uprooting planned culture through self-organized media outlets, cultural hubs and social structures in the present is probably the right start for revolt entirely. Not simply to keep it healthy for a time, but also to nourish its roots now so they can grow deeper when the scorched earth is removed. And even then, it certainly goes a little deeper as I see it.
People actually building a society within the current one with its own priorities and decisions, negating the ones issued to them, is the general direction. I think people should get to a point where they aren't working jobs or paying rent or bills or taxes pertaining to the outer, private and public society, but pursuing their existence contextual to what communities they themselves have erected. If they can fend off repression and infiltration sufficiently, they can grow out and revitalize what they keep from the old world.
Among their defense networks and coordination assemblies, there are well-earned, non-contrived sentiments springing from people's intimately connected expressions in the pursuit of autonomy. They become the social vessel for what is being enlarged by the voices in the streets. The voices are critical and hopeful, the adapted essence of the situationists for what they themselves adapted to.
Our challenge, this particular one, is in the monopoly on commonality. The brands, TV and Internet markets hold the reigns of trust, given total guidance over our passions (themselves not in our control) or warping what we're slowly realizing. Meanwhile, we distrust those who most deeply share the ills of class society or the significant issues in a common area.
The continual pressure doesn't offer many options without dressing up the same melancholy. We wallow in the romantic misery of being oneself in a society of strangers who walk and talk kind of like us, inventing a new pride in being the real thing. Or, we dethrone the channels of impersonal adaption which alienate our passions and aspirations from ourselves and our experiences in the hope of total self-determination.
The Fate of The Radical Internet Community
April 27, 2017 · [link]
Our communication avenues are killing us, and we've turned them on ourselves. In this sense, I mean that the foundational object for communicating between each other in leftist and anarchist spaces is becoming a mere excuse to make inter-community conflict the primary engagement.
This isn't to suggest that people only use politics for an excuse to participate in drama nowadays, but our sense of importance in specific things oscillates in a terrible and counter-productive way that maintains a loose connection with our politics to justify itself. The lines between a minor schism and the fate of our persuasions blur, speedily producing a community hysteria that is fully realized when our comrades become estranged in the fractures of the situation when it reaches critical mass.
In the events leading up to late last year, online leftist communities did a very good job of stoking its flames to burn themselves to the ground in hopes of building themselves up.
The frustration against the dominant political and social hierarchies tends to create an inner and outward act of aggression. This means that in the process of attacking one's enemies, the allies — the comrades, are also significantly harmed or indistinguishable. The body of power-wielders executes decisions in such a careless and frantic manner that all are caught in the crossfire.
The socialism subreddit (/r/socialism) made a perfect example of this in late 2016. Through top-down word policing that included paternalizing the health and conduct of neurodivergent and disabled people, they managed to become a sort of online DPRK, interestingly. By squeezing language and conduct so tight that nobody could clench their anus wrong without receiving a ban, they closed themselves off from the very source of their purpose and did an outstanding job of ensuring that nobody will want to participate there again.
The model of decentralized pockets of speech and assembly is the ideal and perhaps essential approach of self-organized communities. This counters the notion of free speech everywhere, which even ardent advocates would be horrified to see realized.The actions of /r/socialism, however, were hopelessly irresponsible for such a model.
For one thing, in the present hierarchies, people are generally familiar with a sort of wide-open "market" of communities, for lack of better words, wherein different sections offer different things, but within the general market there is a custom of "people can say what they want." While in this custom, there is a crucial period of weening people away from an all-encompassing obligation to servicing everyone's ideas, and bringing them to an important suggestion: "would you allow anyone at all to say anything at all at your own party or gathering? If not, thats exactly what we're doing here."
This is crucial because it really changes what curious newcomers thought about discussion. It easily shows that yes, you wouldn't like someone with opposing ideas always allowed to badger you and your friends who think differently. This is not to say that you would never debate that person or step outside your own community, but you would default to doing so in a place that explicitly facilitates or welcomes such activity. Always being welcome to do that anywhere is simply annoying.
How we coordinate this in vision and fact is to think of it as an actual community, and to take it seriously as such. The way to make this work on mainstream platforms is to use moderation and administration roles in the same rotating, limited and retractable ways as delegation in physical assemblies. This way we can enforce the agreed, democratically managed statutes of the community through trusted members occupying a subsection of the total membership, and not a specialized tier of managers.
This is where /r/socialism failed. They've always appeared to operate on a sort of vanguardism that made party-like tiers and higher sections necessary. It was relatively tolerable, however, until new moderators came aboard and began enforcing strict and ridiculous rules regarding ableism and catgirls without community clearance, essentially alienating contributors from overseers. This put everyone in an awkward and uncomfortable place. Neurodivergent people like myself, who were pressured into conforming to the speech mandate, became so stressed over the change in environment that the expressed idea to be welcoming became an inverted, bastardized idea of what doing good looked like. "Just change who you push away and everything will be fine." Even though you're just shuffling which disabled people you're kicking out.
This is precisely why feedback needs to be continuous between participants and those entrusted with certain positions like administrators and moderators. And sadly, if not a sweeping act of frantic autocracy, we end up manufacturing multiple frenzies that interlock and build a multifaceted body of decay. A kind of microscopic shredder for a once good community overtaken by whatever everyone is screaming about, influencing a migration or even a dropout from the total cause.
This is probably the most unfortunate fact of the Internet. With so much possibility, it doesn't always work in our favor, often pushing us into awkward positions. But if anyone knows anything about me, they know this is all to say that our direction is tremendously off course, not that we should abandon platforms on the Internet.
The problem as it seems to me is that we've centered our hope in the Internet following the changes in our world, which is an awful tactic for such a massive social vision as anarchism or leftism to adopt. The Internet, as both an advantage and a detriment, is fundamentally separate from human nuances. To think for a moment that we can exchange ideas sufficiently through dehumanized arrangements of letters is absurd, let alone manage an effective movement.
Communication online is a convenient yet faulty device for our language, and language, words, are somewhat disconnected from overall communication. With real and genuine conversations, we find essential indicators of tone, gesture, emotion and fixed context that make one sentence or phrase mean totally different things under minuscule differences. This is the disparity between online and physical interaction that cannot be rightfully fixed under the current direction. Online communication is the provisional answer to distance and language barriers, yet the eventual gain in numbers and actions demands a physical realization of what we've developed over the Internet.
From this approach, if we want to escape our problem, we require the use of online spaces to act as an extension to a greater center of engagement, rather than the Internet being that greater center while physical engagement is the extension; a reversal. I suppose I could dial this back as well. If using them in tandem becomes too difficult or just devolves back into the same problem, we could consider using them reciprocally. What was left undone in one sphere is noted and completed in the other.
Ultimately, we need to reclaim a self-discipline of what is functionally important to the cause of anarchism and anarchist communities, and what is merely inconsequential and sometimes destructive quarreling over something disconnected. The discipline needs to take place in getting a hold of ourselves: not to close off discussions for change, but to get face-to-face with them, thoroughly measure whats going on, and not just initiate a referendum out of custom. To limit what enters our directing community sectors like the decision-making process or the general assembly based on the situation and the number of perspectives on it. Sometimes a disagreement is just that, and needs no such advancement into a rule of the association. Acting in this way is the best bet for creating new conflicts and tangles to resolve later.
This involves distinguishing the levels of overall community action on an issue, leaving certain scopes of engagement up to individuals alone, and actually utilizing our commitment to non-hierarchy even in services that run on hierarchical features, such as forums, group chat platforms and social media (don't use those top-down features. Ever.)
At this point we start to see a need to reevaluate our self-governance. The issue is not just the vehicle for our communication and its downfalls, but our own downfalls too. We acknowledge oppression and trade methods of combating its appearance in our communities, but we often fix those methods to inflexible actions propped up by the dehumanized face of digitalized language. A whack-a-mole of moderation. In the pursuit of adjusting ourselves for others, we end up swapping out who is disadvantaged rather that making balanced compromises.
Call-out culture just makes our own brand of coercion to act proper before peers instead of actually learning from mistakes and feeling comfortable in what we do. If we're to look at the minor blunders of comrades and resolve them while staying friends, we need to take on a smart approach to making a solution essential to the problem. Disciplinary solutions in their scope and aggression need to be proportional to the offense given, not a fixed action.
The call-out only appears to be effective, or at least justified, if we're dealing with someone in power or someone expressly bigoted. In simpler terms, you have to know who your friends are. Who you can tap on the shoulder, talk to in a heart-to-heart way and point something out; a call-in. And then there's knowing who aren't your friends: who you can loudly condemn to the same extent they've caused harm; calling them out. You simply have to make those distinctions and really look at the offense to determine what is the right action. To quote Asam Ahmad:
Paying attention to these other contexts will mean refusing to unleash all of our very real trauma onto the psyches of those we imagine represent the systems that oppress us. Given the nature of online social networks, call-outs are not going away any time soon. But reminding ourselves of what a call-out is meant to accomplish will go a long way toward creating the kinds of substantial, material changes in people’s behaviour — and in community dynamics — that we envision and need.
Default aggression only fosters the strain and friction later to come, and in a way it is privileged in of itself. People who have real issues with communication (on top of speaking on the Internet) often seek human connections and validation online, where they feel safe and can adequately make friends. Here, their impairment can still slip through and create a misunderstanding. Things like these are important to keep in mind when finding something objectionable, as well as the context which can indicate if the offense is intentional or a mistake. Again, this is where calling in is useful.
To encourage mindful evaluations of certain speech and ideas, be conscious of context and actively oppose unilateral policing is how we create not only the ideas but also the facts of our future. To reiterate, this is not the approach to everything. People still have a fundamental right to dismantle grossly bigoted or authoritarian speech as the need arises, but to suggest that such aggression and vigilance is required all the time is what creates the tensions that scare away honest comrades who are capable of the same mistakes we all are.
To do all this that does justice to our tendency, we need to exercise this power in a horizontal, flexible manner.
Its all our cross to bare. No single class of admins or mods can be blamed, we all need to take initiative and be the change. Afterall, we did all this. We built the communities, shared the ideas, brought people in. We let it fall into disrepair, inverted what we preached, let irresponsible people take central power.
Its our choice, we must decide if we're up for idiotic schisms to fragment us until our only option is resetting or death, or if we want to approach issues and the very nature of our engagement differently, humanely; and quite possibly save ourselves and the world in the process.
Making the Best of Better
March 14, 2017 · [link]
Along the [ongoing] process of figuring myself out, that is, gaining the existential foothold to work through life in what comes natural, I figured out that I took a lot of direction from the people who lived bits and pieces of what I was encountering. They more or less built their observations on a similar problem that could be applied to something I was mulling over or struggling with, and finished with a grinning, careless retraction back into the tornado. I could never tell if that attitude was the signature of experience and bravado, or a defeated scoff of "I'm already dead, but I may as well keep going."
Very quickly it became apparent, in a curious and morbid coincidence that always frightened those whom I told, that those who I found most humanity and sincerity in where those who truly gave it their all, and immediately afterward, through whatever circumstances — emotional, mental, legal, financial, — found it prudent to take their own lives right at the end of their peak or the middle of their downward spiral.
I have an odd relationship with the sentiment of suicide much more than the act. The act is a functional taboo, but the sentiment is a vast and rich ocean of reasons because it underpins all we do — even the disdain of it means something. The awful, mournful turn in our stomach connects to the cruelties we strain ourselve to ignore which caused a death, instead encouraging people to talk about their problems which have no words to satisfy one faction in the no-win situation of simply being done.
Its only right that we don't leave it to one hypothetical factor, that the possibilities and torments could have been plenty and overlapped significantly for those who did it. We can never properly appraise if it worked or not. But my approximation is that all these factors could have been under one emotion or sense of the change in the wind that influenced a finishing of both their life and work as one.
Let's imagine something. What different outcome of his life could we derive if Di Vinci's best work wasn't lost in any great fire in Florence, but was displayed perfectly all through the world and simply invalidated; rejected? What would be worse for him and better for us?
The sheer energy from all human reserves can only churn out so much, and only so much can exist in the social and spiritual fabric of each other's collective web of purpose, meaning, whatever... to comply with the point, the germ, the seed of the creation from those human reserves. The creator works in hopeful blindness, without clear reason or measure. Above all, overarching those factors was the noncompliance of the social fabric with the human output. That your work was unrequited or made for the entirely wrong audience.
So if you made the best thing for the right audience, but it was all lost to the flames, is that really so much a loss compared to your own personal masterpiece, with all the right combination of words and aphorisms to save the world a thousand times over, written in your own language separate from any other human tongue? Imagine coming up with a cure for cancer in the stone age and try keeping any hope.
It became clear after years of sleepless nights and aching, dark-eyed mornings that its a lie and a curse to be any kind of "best." I never strove to be a best, and I think I'm still working to justify both why I can't be one and why thats the best thing to settle for. For one thing, "best" is effortlessly subjective. Your best is not Tom in Ohio's best or Linda in New Mexico's best. And if its not someone else who you imbued with being the best, its yourself. Setting the goal for yourself to be the best, or a best, is how you guarantee failure in yourself and corruption in your work. The drive clouds the input and perpetuates that for everyone else, making a fickle social fabric that only the worst people will benefit from. The reason for this still perplexes me, but my best answer for now is that most people just have terrible taste and judgement.
Now, don't get the idea that you should set out to fail in order to succeed, because reverse engineering the cycle won't work. You won't reach your destination by driving in the wrong lane. Its apparent that valid participation requires playing by the same rules that contradict what we intend to get out. The only road to travel on to the only destination claims so much from our work along the way. To accomplish what I want, the solution is to change course.
By saying that, I've been invalidated, outed from everyone else. Creative people and communities strive to be the best at the same time and its just one race without a finishing line. Any other model is a fantasy to them. Institutions, jobs and coevals all have a winning and loosing spectrum that basically defeats the validity of people being themselves for being the best.
But even if you get to that in some way, the title invalidates any substance and contradicts a "best". Even if you're the most honest and substantive figure in a field, you're still only seen as the best and not the most substantive person. Rank defeats merit always. The way things are set up won't settle for less than a rigorous passion to what you do. Anything else makes it a mere "hobby", simply because the quota for dedication and procedure wasn't met.
Best only finds a way to kill itself. Best doesn't last, a new one comes along and it happens so easily that you'd think its programmed to do that. So my goal became to subvert the robotic instruction of catching fire and being rained on. To become a different element that can withstand, but also be relevant on my own terms.
I simply want to act in what capacities I presently have, and make the most of what I can produce. To matter because of what I can easily do to with a clear, working mind; and for the content to stay fresh with time and comply with the social and spiritual fabric of our various sense of meaning.
Its probably impossible to separate this particular angle in my own conscience from different issues, but since my developments in looking at social systems generally, my contention stays the same in all matters, including how content and merit flows: That there isn't a vertical structure of bests and mediocre types, but a level playing field of autonomous and unique entities sharing their anti-best sentiments in harmony.
Coffeeshop open mic nights and workshop readings are probably the best places to see this play out. Theres real community there, real mutual appreciation and security because there is no best or competition in sight. Contrast this with the unspoken bonds of writing on a certain subject among ten or fifty other people, or trying to become poetic in a new way.
But it isn't out of any romanticized vision of the underdog that leads me in this direction as much as a desire to have my cake and eat it too. To be a sort of Wallace or Swartz or Thompson, and the suicide is instead a peaceful retreat in my confinement where best doesn't have power, ideas can traffic in and out of me, and leaving that place lets me know that we're all just creating and sharing like an infinite commune of doers according to our ability with every bit being important.
Call it a cheap study in mediocrity or a disgruntled young creator among a thousand other hapless fucks rushing to the next unclaimed special point in culture, but it all comes from appraising what the cycle is for me: what drives me to do—and what I do to put back in it. If I could formulate any meaningful change, it would be where the ambition and the content bounce off each other instead of content alone being the gamble. People won't evolve to read minds or archive the emotions of the guy who wrote his seminal novel, but they can value the best of all the individual puts in, than appeasing a best within the whole. Where everyone can become better, and not the best.
My guess at the end of all this is that those creators who took their lives were experiencing the realization against bests and greats as a component of the social and spiritual fabric, but also an impossibility in reconciling a substitute form of expressing ambition. Additionally, with the other problems they were confronted with, having the projected meaning of their life and work as nothing important or valid to the public, they caught that infamous train we're all compelled to by being revolted by it.
Existential crises, creative insecurity, conformity and invisibility. They mix and build the worst barriers between an idea and breaking through. Instead of driving through those barriers and failing when you're killed in the crash, let's just go around them. Let's be better, and avoid best.
A brief, opinionated overview of Democracy and Anarchy
March 3, 2017 · [link]
I use the phrase democracy, when describing an alternative social assortment, to refer to people managing themselves on a shared horizontal basis. Doing this is rather controversial in anarchist discussion, because there are recent critiques on the role, meaning and consequences of what has historically been attributed to 'democracy'. Especially, when considering the different implications raised in advocating an apparently fixed system while affiliating with those opposed to hierarchy and imposed order.
The debate around 'democracy' in anarchist circles comes down mainly to semantics and practice. The former covers the abstractness of the word, including the perspective that it has historically developed into a sort of facade to entice the masses into an incorporated tyranny that imposes the will of the majority on the minority, instead of consolidating voices and meeting them equally. With this in mind, there is an idea that it can only be exercised along these lines. The latter questions the positioning of a process once defined: if such a process is central and overarching to all portions of a society like in nation-states, or if its freely carried out by the agreement of individual groups.
The first step is to express the actual nuance of what I mean. For starters, I don't argue for a definite political shape, but I do advocate definite principles by which something might take one. I don't even argue for voting toward a majority [by default] (I think in the worst-case scenario, its necessary for resolving a severe dispute), but I do encourage a mix of valuing our concerns equally through consensus with an understanding that we know when to consent to entrusting temporary power to someone on our immediate behalf when a situation calls for it.
The second is to emphasize not a defense of democracy as any system but as a descriptor. It is used to condense an idea of participatory politics that is bound to emerge in people not alienated by status or privilege. We can easily imagine 'democracy' stripped down to its core idea separate from the historical corrupted practice. Does it really matter if the origin of democracy, the idea that people can rule themselves, is one of contradiction and folly? Does it matter with any idea that became a basis for politics in the future? We don't seem to mind that a lot of the forerunners of anarchism had various contradictions of opinion because of the time in which they wrote, and so it doesn't add up to me to apply this concern then to a label for some sort of self-direction, even if an imperfect one. I don't think it hurts to repurpose the face of a clear idea that hardly ever had its time in the sun because the guy who happened to introduced it first acted on it in terrible, oppressive ways.
There are infinite ways to approach and define democracy in the same sense there are ways to define and approach anarchy/ism. We're talking about a notion of how things interrelate, or should, and the outline of accomplishing something around that. This often doesn't come with a prescribed set traits that the pillars of action need, taking for instance how leftism doesn't narrow to one or two schools. We're left to expand these notions as we go along with action, and with continuous action comes the changed impression of it, such as an interpretation of democracy.
We can probably spend days on end taking one feature used in a political program, dissecting its aim, history, causes and effects and relaying it to the present aim we're invested in. We can do that to anything. We can take self-determination and turn it into a fascist concept because Hitler advocated a sort of nationalist, white self-determination. In the same way, we already know how bastardized 'freedom' has become thanks to the capitalist, patriarchal narratives of the United States. What matters is using terms and ideas in a general proximity to our actual aim through context and elaboration. No one idea is ours or the enemy's, but its up to us to give it an alternative practice.
We've simply arrived at one set of analyses that sees democracy as a holistic product of the nation-state which gravitates toward being an overarching, unportable mode of tyranny in the pursuit of deciding on an action via majority. The problem is that me and those who think this way have been talking about the same thing.
I can and will contend that democracy in the forms people are most acquainted with developed out of a softening of protecting tyranny on other fronts. It didn't develop out of liberation, but as a way to make control more appealing and imbued with the social romance of participation, and it certainly didn't take into account a fundamental emphasis on communal autonomy that we desire now. It stemmed from monarchy and oligarchy and thus inherited a good deal of those undertones, which is seen in the credence of majority-rule. But my defense isn't really about defending democracy, if that makes any sense. Its about defending a way to explain a complex approach in one analogous word or comparison.
Additionally to this is the adjective direct. Direct democracy is another example under this; there is the Swiss quasi-direct democratic model (in which citizens partly take the place of representatives) that is championed by various progressives in American politics, and there is the kind of direct that is theorized, and even practiced, but not the staple of ideal democracy as a diverse body. One that strives for consensus and cooperation rather than a chattering box of winners and loosers. One that is unmitigated and spontaneous in it being compelled only by the result of a freely taken participation. One which makes a viable case that the anarchist objections to so-called 'democracy' are actually objections to oligarchy and opportunism, and not what was actually stolen from us by these barriers.
I am, of course, referring to the deliberative and federal structures that existed in the social revolutionary experimentations of different areas in the world at one point or other. Direct takes on a different form in this sense. It departs from a suggestion in the word alone that the workers directly engage in a competitive environment of how they ought to do things without representation; a glamorized distancing from solidarity. Instead it envisions that we are directly connected to, and responsible for, the situations we find ourselves in and the steps we take to accomplish things, thus sustaining the reciprocal autonomy of the collective and the individual. Direct suggests the residents, the workers: the anarchist conception of the demos (everyone), are the direct cause and effect of collective action; that there is no fixed destination to strive for as the intermediary, but a goal constantly evolving with the actions of those taking part.
The social vision remains precisely the same while the use of terms contrast. It can never be guaranteed if we mean the same thing when our preferences for words are so diverse.
Probably the most popular contrast I've encountered is that we should not have democracy, but anarchy. And while this is completely true for the overarching condition where free decision-making can flourish, we are still subject to define some practices inside the existence of real possibility. We are referring to the existence of any decision-making practice under anarchy. Its through democracy, any process of shared self-management, that anarchy is given meaning and the actual channels to exercise itself. In this sense, when one advocates a direct form of democracy they are necessarily advocating the enveloping condition of anarchy. But the need for anarchy is satisfied through more than just that. Its accomplished by the existence of varied and decentralized methods. Moreover, there cannot be anarchy without an association to confirm that suggestion for themselves.
If someone is looking for a home, that is the guiding condition which will be satisfied by the acquisition of one. But they cannot have acquired a house without it possessing some property of color, shape or size. They then become in possession of a home as the satisfaction of the need, but there is a set of other characteristics that becomes part of the scenario. This is what I'm talking about when I mean democracy. Its the adjective to first describe the closest familiar type of a just arrangement of affairs, and then an extended guiding principle from that understanding to avoid accidentally describing central, enveloping democracy rather than anarchy with autonomous structures under it.
People right now happen to think in terms of Democracy or Dictatorship. That doesn't mean I reduce my own language and understanding for their sake, but I do place self-management to what its closest to when having to describe anarchist principles to everyday people. Thats how I got where I am, and I have a habit of passing on the same thing when I have the chance to inform people. Again, what matters most is elaborating your use of terms in hopes to disarm conflicts of connotations.
I think we're simply facing a tangle in deconstructing everything, meanwhile people like me have grasped what they meant before anything was said. It seems the no-democracy types are addressing the liberal idea of more citizen-participation in the state instead of a situation where individuals, free of class and social authority, are the cause of organizations and decisions directly. But there is a tendency for dialogs to recurse and inadvertently become a critique of its own idea utilizing sometimes confusing points which we already sympathized with.
If we need to level with each other, fine: I'm not defending democracy. Certainly not the state attempt at it, the majority-only approach, the replacement for individual autonomy or the liberal direct concept. But I am defending the use of it as a vehicle to convey our proposed modes of organizing and acting. Democracy is overall a figure of language. Its pliable and abstract, something no term is free of. But knowing this, we should not distance from it. We should acknowledge it's use to explain similar principles that the anarchists take into deeper consideration. It just so happens that there are different historical and political tragedies that we share in being connected to the principles done differently. We share this issue in our conceptions of freedom, equality and liberation that differ from other philosophies, and simply put: it doesn't seem reasonable to hold contempt for an impression of a concept we are otherwise tied to as anarchists.
If democracy is a word anarchists are uncomfortable with, they are welcome to harp on about autonomy, horizontality and self-determination 'only', and while those are the exact principles I advocate through a popular figure of language, they shouldn't expect newcomers to be too open and patient with them when they feel like someone is speaking an entirely different language to them. And thats really all this comes down to. Its not about advocating democracy or autonomy, its about the two being synonymous in a certain context, and unfortunately about people wasting their breath when they could just use one word.
Who are the real "Cucks"?
February 11, 2017 · [link]
Perhaps a slightly dated subject considering its assimilation into expectation, but certainly overdue in the wake of recent events, the components that make up the discourse around the Trump presidency, its offspring movements and the resistance to them are new instances of how overall society views existing power and notions of counterpower.
In sum, we are talking about the competition between contentions, and the nature of why people hold them. All past decades have experienced this same thing, even past centuries. The only questions are whether the closest thing to a side's demand is reached, or if the spectacle itself will shift society onto a different course. Right now is the specific debate around who is more justified to oppose a contention that opposes something relating to the first opposition in question; e.g., anti-fascism.
In conjunction is the present nature of the means to carry on this conversation, specifically, of course, the way its carried on through the Internet. At this point, we're all familiar with the Internet's historical and often times much needed cynicism towards big ideas and pandering. This attitude has often been responsible for more good than harm as seen in pre-2010 mobilization against private malice (the occupy movement) and secretive institutions ruining people's lives (Scientology).
This cynicism was used with a goal, normally with an idea of correcting a specific institutional wrong, in mind. It wasn't a set of full-fledged social justice causes, but simple action against blatant assholes getting away with whatever they were doing. A yearning among teens and young adults to make a difference and organize over the Internet became a force no longer scoffed at as it was before web 2.0 was effectively in place. People were taking on activities that people across the moderate political spectrum could unite on, and in a sense this moderate normalization set the stage for what was to come when we reached the mid to late 2010s.
A considerable portion of online communities, mainly those who grossed over 10,000 active participants, have at that time been farther right than center-right at worst, farther left than center-left at best. Niche corners of full right and left-wing could be unearthed with a little effort in finding them, but they wouldn't be discovered right away. Eventually one side (invested in broader social justice) showed their colors in proposals to explicitly tackle bigotry, universally crude behavior and economic inequality for the betterment of all. This was met with reaction by those committed to the moderate section of online politics as they jumped to the other side in an effort to balance the scales, seeing it as a departure from centrism and moreover an attack on those a little more to the right.
Without completely rehashing the story everyone's already seen play out, this festered and grew into the present centrist outcry against a principled and detailed political fort, and because it was the left that spoke up first, to balance those imaginary scales, they allied with the enemy of the newly found enemy. In the name of that moderate section -- in the neo-classical liberal fashion, they sided with the right against the evil left, who apparently sought to take away straight, white men's free speech and oust them from society.
This raged on for a short while. Gamergate, safe spaces, video essay battles, "alt" online communities, Terabytes worth of twitter arguments and people monetizing the whole show were logs on the fire. It was the left versus the right, with centrist Rationals™️ backing the right and so the two blurred together. As they saw it, the right was the victim: If the left had simply stayed complacent with everyone being committed to non-involvement in substantive issues beyond what they were used to, everyone would be happy. If they had sat quietly as prejudice and wage slavery was as casual an occurrence online as in everyday life, everything would be just fine. Dissent was okay; as long as it was an approved sort of dissent.
And in time, Trump happened. It was probably the succession of what the online conflict had been building up to, no doubt influencing the outcome, but more so it was confirmation of a fearful reactionary response to impotent liberal ventures. The delirium among tragically deluded working class white men angry at basically nothing propelled itself, or provided a reason to keep going. For a response to further drive the cycle. If only we had known what it was at the time; we may have been relieved of that fad before it came to this.
Enter the "cuck", derived from cuckold, wherein one remains committed to a promiscuous lover. Although in Internet socio-political banter, it's used to illustrate one who sacrifices all self-respect in the name of a political ideal and its related tendencies. It had been formed prior to Trump in the reactions to isolated cases of left activity, eventually becoming a mainstay in the "alt-right" cadre that took form in the midst of the 2016 election.
The phrase is used as a sort of intellectual weapon with the intent to weaken the drive behind an argument. In its use against the left, it asserts that the person speaking is simply whoring himself out to a cause which would satisfy him emotionally through a commitment to an idea of justice and equality, even if it means his own destruction. Stripping this down more simply, it refers to any individual with a sophisticated involvement in a set of ideas and practices.
What ignites the cuck argument is the proportion between the wellness of the individual and the wellness of the cause: to the rightist, the leftist is destroying himself to raise up the minority, the migrant, etc., and while he is being destroyed (by what they think is white genocide, degeneracy and so on), he will still be emotionally satisfied because that idea of justice was realized.
It becomes apparent that the end is self-sacrifice for an idea, or that the idea demands it. This state of affairs, it seems, cannot be set out solely on reason, but requires an emotional push to make it possible. To enable the passion and sense of meaning in the individual and make the goal viable. But when approached from this angle, we already know that the right isn't except from this. We understand that all political contentions have varied measures of reason and emotion to build their character.
Due to the history of the right, their emotional push is self-approved as opposed to ethically approved. There was only its own set of institutions to approve anything. Being the political alignment associated with historically imposing power and economic arrangements, their reactions are mechanisms for defending what is and has been the dominant features of society, and not for any seriously needed relief from oppression. The opposition has merely shown themselves, which alone offended the dominant character of society who immediately declared war on an army without soldiers, initiating the aforementioned chain of events.
The right's commonest insult to the left is that they pursue ideas with only "feelings" driving them. No acknowledgement of oppression based on race, gender and sexuality being integral to class struggle (our boldest concern). No mention of any elementary concepts in social theory (and even when there is mention, its reduced to it being incomprehensible or just not true). No mention of inclusion in building organizations to be what makes them sizable and effective. No distinction between liberal and leftist (which is always amusing). Simply feelings, as abstract as that is.
The ideas that the right uphold have already been applied and studied -- maybe more than they should have. All their principles have been taken into account, what they advocate has not only been heard but has played out in the world for well over several centuries. There is no more room for us to debate "fairly", their argument has already won before two sides could even meet.
Because the ideas that begot the present structures have been around long enough to study a hundred times over, we have deduced that they are not only inefficient, malicious and coercive, but obsolete. The dogma behind them has been proven to be composed of emotion, myth, speculation. The very properties they assert the left of having, all which serves emotion than practical human needs and capacity.
The arbitrary ownership over private property around which hierarchy is created. The downfall of economic competition that drives the ecosystem into disrepair and workers into perpetual servitude. The existence of police forces imbued with protecting the people while simultaneously protecting the property relations which enslave them. All this follows down to nothing. There is no end to one component that hands off to another.
How this cluster is sustained relies solely on who perpetuates it. There really is no viable justification for capitalism or state-society any longer, and whatever is done to support it is done through people continually insisting that anything else is not an option, in the name of the ingrained fantasy.
There is only a large bundle of logical facades for the comfort of the people who are born into them, and die by them. It's what leftism serves to correct; to make a coherent body of political practice that exists only to nourish free will and well-being as one. The one tragedy is the stigma fastened to such an idea by the ruling class.
By being chained to baseless feelings, and furthermore defending baseless notions of property rights and always letting anyone say anything they want (without actually doing so), they are acting out the very thing they warn against. In this ideological relationship, there is nothing to gain but their own emotional satisfaction. Their success in making these ideas rule can only build the prison for them. For the pro-capitalist worker, to do one of two things: to build a life as an exploited pawn, or to create the property-hoarding ruling class to steal into; the so-called American dream. For the white supremacist, to forfeit limitless community and mutual cooperation for abstract ideas of racial purity, nationhood and a totalitarian apparatus to impose theses fanciful passions.
Lets not confuse ourselves here. It isn't any passion that deludes an individual, but it rests on the passion to highlight the depth and structure to give it purpose. When an idea encompasses an individual, that will determine what actions the person takes and what they accomplish. If there is no depth, and no end to tie into another idea (to operate on a step-by-step function), the idea is simply conjecture without conclusion.
With the rightists, because it's what they're used to, there is no conclusion. There was never anything to strive for other than to keep the tradition and the fantasies valid in the public eye. It paid lip service to reason with such big ideas as fostering innovation, keeping the family together and obeying a deity, but it couldn't promise any of this and indeed failed the majority when the economy tanked, drowned everyone in poverty and there was no god to save them. The only semblance of a goal then is to guard the status quo with the empires they inherited, and continue reciting the litanies of capital.
It's through this delusion, this incoherent fantasy that oppression has been exercised. In the name of institutions that manufacture success for the boss and plastic, paper hope for working people, precious moments of our lives have been dissolved for a magnificent charade of opportunity and what they call "freedom". Lives and dignities are tarnished for the traditional feelings of the champions of such institutions, and the ingraining of subservience and desperation into daily life has brought all these tragedies home into one reality.
Because of all this, looking at who is responsible for it and who protects it, an enemy of liberty has been defined. We are breaking down and dying because of the empty passions of a collective class of forces, and to resist them is to pursue survival.
By identifying as a rightist, [white] nationalist, capitalist or liberal sympathetic to the guardians of the status quo, one is giving consent to regular beatings from the workers: those who built the very platform from which their enemies shout off the dialog of exploitation. It's by logical succession, in defending the cohorts of political fantasy, that they are declaring to the world that the meek and the innocents deserve to whither and die for the sake of fantasies. In this, they will get what they give.
By adhering to the narratives which casually perpetuate social hierarchy, they are agreeing to killing themselves, their class, and their own potential for the sake of the father-figure bosses whom they will never be, and the cops who keep a gun to their heads at all times, "just in case".
Both sides can't pursue survival when only one is in chains. When one moves, the other counters it. Conflict becomes inevitable as one force fights against the other.
The feeling is mutual, and the radical left knows this. We understand that by adhering to an idea of disjointing social coercion and moving toward united, self-managed communities as the only reality, we are painting the target on our chests. We're on watchlists of some sort right now because we vocally advocate coordinated insurrection against state-society, the capitalist market economy and the diverse enslavement that fuels it all. We are in favor of destroying everything that intelligence agencies exist to defend, as well as subverting their grasp in the here and now. This doesn't deter me from following this, and I don't expect it to be different for fascists in their own goals.
With this made clear, I am not here to submit to the Rationals® by humoring their idea of balanced discussion in the name of coming to a middle point of nothingness. I am not here to respect assholes' feelings at the expense of institutionally oppressed people. I am here to dismantle your warped idea of private property and civility, and physically transform the relations between person and society. I am here to fuck up everything you love which has caused me pain and wasted precious moments of my life and the lives of my comrades.
So I ask sincerely who we should consider the ones destroying themselves for an idea driven by emotions. Do we mock and scold the movements fighting for their lives after centuries under the boot of violent fantasy? Or do we beckon the right to explain why I and billions more must agree to feeble conventions for their passion from nowhere?
Who is really committing self-sacrifice when it's the left who have had limits for destruction imposed on them, while all stops have been pulled out for the imposer?
The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto
January 19, 2017 · [link]
Friction is the byproduct of all social systems. The infinite forms of individuals in a shared region will always come together in a disproportionate cluster of tangles which has equal parts the ability to define or confine us. This is the ends of people and not systems. What counts above all is that our relations are disarmed of any potential to oppress if our system is a parameter to secure our own well-being and free will, and not one for imposing direction.
But never in the longest stretches of human history up until the last one thousand years have we experienced a time where friction becomes competition between classes, and where competition is funneled into a system of oligarchy which is in turn used to sustain profitable inequity defended by political litanies and cultural reinforcement. Where our system is a parameter against case-by-case needs, and moreover a broad apparatus for the elite at the expense of the many.
For the masses of people who work in full for less than half, and those among them who suffer the ills resulting from the historical inequity, their struggle is aimed at, if nothing else specifically, the possibility of freedom and livelihood.
Present society continues what has been done for centuries, only with a new face and refurbished bolsters for the bosses. In regard to the mechanics, we are not different from the serfs of the dark ages, but merely given appeasement in pay for our continued servitude. The institutions connect inward to sustain, in varying ways, the end result of wage labor and exclusive property rights, all which require a workforce not emancipated but not strictly in chains, rather coerced by dominant economic structures protected by the state. This is our current system.
As of writing, tomorrow we will ceremonially patronize a new national headmaster who will be the same bullhorn for profit and enforcement as the last forty or so in the United States. Except now it seems those at the top of the political process have made more than a Freudian slip, but a free declaration of their logical destinations.
"Ban all Muslims." "Torture even if it doesn't work." "Build a massive wall on the US-Mexico border. Because, afterall, they're rapists, they're criminals. Some of them might be good people, but nonetheless." The overlap in the institutions and discrimination has become undeniable, even to the ruling class, and having this realized they will make a last effort to fix their weapons on the working class with a smile. All this suppressed with appeasement, with sensation and with just enough of a supportive demographic to signal those "objective" types to try to fight fairly in an artificially unfair world.
In a way, suppressing the population has a way of destroying itself. Along with incinerating the ecosystem and driving the workforce and consumers into suicide and extinction (as an outcome of anti-democratic practices everywhere), it takes only one person to draw out the inequalities into attainable ideas to light a flame under the workers until they boil over. This manifests, among other ways, as a general strike.
For joint agreement among the working class to protest en mass the injustice that characterizes the system which sustains their exploitation and continual desperation; that is the force behind the general strike. To accomplish an idea where workers halt all service to all employers, both as a means to identify the lifeblood of a society, and to emphasize what happens when that is abused and broken beyond repair.
Historically, on both intellectual and physical battlegrounds, the general strike is a show of force, but it also contains a demonstration of capital's consequences. It seems to bring into reality for everyone that the boss is an arbitrary formality, while the real power rests with those who perform the jobs. Even the defenders of the bosses cannot adequately shrug off the workers' efforts. The bosses alone are the crumbled mortar of a vibrant architectural work. They must simply be outraged at the audacity of the workers for addressing their own power.
This further supports that workers are better suited to run themselves democratically. If not practically, at least logically. Though the strike is not self-management, it reflects the capacity of it. Alienation by designated, central leadership is totally absent, instead directed through free groups of the proletariat acting on group-by-group agreement. In this, we find an organic and free expression of demands, all connecting each other and effectively coordinating what has been composed in libertarian socialism.
Hoisting the bisected black and red flag over the angry masses is many things. It is a symbol of unity in anger and hope. It is a call to defiance against tyranny. It represents the revolutionary Syndicalist tradition. It is the greatest threat to the absentee owners of capital. Perhaps more importantly above all, it is a call to reorganize; a call for revolution beyond designated political and economic structures — a call for social revolution.
In dissolving the exclusive rights over production and management through organized expropriation, we dissolve the resulting imbalances that are the base of capitalism and the labor market. We restructure all of the social and cultural products under an equal arrangement by simply acknowledging from where their ills originate, and acting to repurpose what the capitalists have utilized.
The general strike is the clamor for this realization, a foretaste of it in the streets. Its various nature depends on the event or condition which inspired it. In this present case, it's something of a unique happening. Before now, the past strikes have been solely class-oriented or politically-specific, but we seem to have combined multiple points of discourse stemming from popular outcry rooted in liberal politics, introducing the general strike idea to what can be called "the mainstream."
Class struggle entails a greater cooperation with differently oppressed groups, as history has shown and discriminatory policy has proven. This is not a new revelation, but it is a factor that has primarily been exercised in the radical labor movement instead of liberalism. Bigotry and greed being connected, their grasp on social conditions intersects and injures everyone. The oppression of the worker affects the minority, and the oppression of the minority affects solidarity. One is not separate from the other, as struggles under capitalism come from the same place.
Class awareness has seemingly reached an all-time low in the United States, but is reaching an upswing. While liberalism dispels class anger in favor of reform, its use in channeling more radical messages cannot be overlooked, especially now. This, of course, is not to say that we should join the liberal side, but to incorporate agitation and organization wherever possible; particularly where the greatest number of people are listening.
In the wake of Trump, instead of individual legislation for progressives to rally against, they've found a single figure who resembles all that is loathed in the left. It's almost comical how much Trump embodies the dominant American values that make up its political caricature, which is what liberals default to instead of class analysis, and so there is an immediate guarantee of where attention will be focused. There is undeniable potential for ideas in the current generation to be taken further in regard to where the root of these problems really are. There is a real, shared desire for potent organization and a substantive exchange of ideas beyond involvement in representative politics. An interest in alternative modes of community and economic structures, and consequently a cautiously optimistic gravitation toward social revolution which must be fostered and amplified fully.
This entire collision between a solid continuation of class struggle history and the mainstream being seized into a joint strike against fascism rests on the crossroads between success in an uprising and another lobotomized political period. A responsibility becomes too apparent.
The responsibility is a lost one — a stolen one. If any circumstantial honor among people had ever been, it was to join arms with those who are exactly like you in every way of condition and dependence. Every person already invested in a leftist perspective will need to take on a careful role of condensing the ideas and pairing them with all-too familiar experiences among liberal or apolitical workers. The stigma against a workers' revolution must be fought continually, citing the inequities in private property, enforcement of profit by the state, the mutual relationship of greed and bigotry and the methods of anarchist democracy.
The strike must be universal. It must belong to everyone, but at the same time be united under a basic demand for social revolution. Not enriched appeasement made the basis for the same political structure, but for self-management and autonomy to surpass any limitation; to outdo what anything else could ever try. To reinvest power in those who upheld their own slavery.
Socialism or Barbarism is the evident truth. For us to meaningfully oppose Trump, we must reconcile all of our issues: those of working people, women, ethnic minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ people, under the banner of class struggle through revolutionary tactics. The state can do no justice but for the built-in protection of exploitation and alienation, for the frictions between people made a component of the system.
For freedom to be realized, we must consolidate individual freedom into collectively managed, horizontal portions of society and base our relations on trust and mutual aid. For the health of the planet, the security of our friends, family and ourselves, we must pursue and bottom-up rearrangement of society, and it starts with a General Strike.
January 2, 2017 · [link]
My first hours into the New Year, 2017... I hate writing these kinds of things, because for one thing its an incredibly cheap and easy topic for any writer. Any moron with a language to work with can start one of these things and get attention for it. Secondly, I know that halfway through the year, when everything will either turn out worse than expected or take on a totally different nature (rendering prediction and analysis mere egostroking) I will feel like I wasted my energy on hope and idealism than using it for real-time commentary. However, all this considered, I didn't do any preparation for the turn of the year, being emotionally scattered and indifferent, and so I think that gives me a better look at how things might go in the sense of just riding it through, than going into it with a set list of expectations and things to compare it to that will add insincerity to the experience.
I awoke this afternoon from sorrow the night before, and into the common bustle and noise of this place, but enveloped in a new foreboding. Even now as I write, I was totally unaware of any breaking news or trends, save some drama over Mariah Carey botching a performance somewhere. The only thing I could guarantee was changed was the 6 to 7, and the annoyance of needing to ingrain that in my mind when filling out a date field in a document. I climbed out of bed carefully, like in a new place altogether, got my coffee and sort of just shut myself out of Twitter or any other source of news, contemplating what stood before me and how I would communicate that to prose.
Lets take a second to acknowledge two concrete factors of being: 1, We don't ask to be here, alive, in general. And 2, every person deals with that fact in vastly different ways. In the existential, adolescent sense, we sometimes make that blindingly clear to our parents when the world becomes too much. In the middle-years of adulthood, a time for reassessment of everything you got involved with as a younger person becomes unavoidable. The outlooks are bound to shift as experiences and reactions do, forming long-term conditions and emotions as we keep moving, nonetheless they are still the mechanisms for dealing with what we didn't ask for.
In my case, every person is a representative of some company that is trying to sell me a product, and every moment consists of them telling me that with enough work, with enough effort, with enough ritualistic motivation and a healthy approach to it all, this product (life) can work out great for me. But who wants a product that you need to take constant care of, especially at this point in time? Do you want a device or an appliance that requires insane amounts of maintenance and responsibility, where all that effort takes over from the enjoyment or use? Of course not. Why then is life exempt from this standard? Is it because we fail to quantify what we can control of it, and so we surrender to inevitability and prescribe methods of dealing with that? Can we just not be bothered to change immediate and artificial difficulties, because apparently they make us stronger even when they just kill us? I have to deal with what I didn't ask for, and when the collective attitude for dealing with a burden is more burdens, it defeats itself and then some.
All this restarts with full stamina after New Year's eve. Both the question of what I will make out of this year, and the understanding that the time and place to make something good are totally arbitrary, collide and, if nothing else, emphasize the inescapable difficulties that we are thrust into. Its all going too fast as it is. I need a minute. Let me just breathe and hope to god the shit from last year doesn't carry over and take shape again.
I chose to go in blind, because I think learning of yet another beloved musician's or actor's death or a story of the new president-elect will conjure up the bias of "here we go again" in that vein sense. So while I'm somewhat uncorrupted with whatever is currently happening, if I can convey a general sense of what I think should be the case for this new start prior to the year filling itself with continued drama, I think I can get through this well enough.
Every year I can't help but think of the desperation and bickering that must go on in the media companies and figures responsible for providing the cultural condition of a step in time. The friction and combination of ideas in an effort to appear viable and worthy of the stature they have, to give to those waiting the attitude to follow or the new human clay to mold something out of. Their desperation, the newly found stress of this generation that haunts every one in their time in the sun, is bleeding through when the pressures on every side close in. This does two things: renders the previous product obsolete or at least dated, and gives the idea for the next. A statement or movement runs its course and lays the way for its inheritor.
I have some issues with this model. Although I generally approach problems in a linear manner, the linear order of finding the new approach is just that; the new approach... for the next approach. The distraction on itself takes over any attempt at bettering social life.
What good are new developments in anything if they'll simply become part of the zeitgeist, and dismantled in a few decade's time? Why do we pursue things we'll just get tired of before we have time to rejoice? If we can't make up our minds on principles which will remain and adapt to every smaller development throughout time, what good is there in rewinding our anger to redo what could have been done and over with a century ago?
The process is one of passion, not urgency. Each generation hates itself for being socially stagnant or sedated by individual comforts as injustice continues unscathed. But its action is simply for action alone than for urgency: the historical obligation to find something to be angry about and develop new ideas to follow, because their parents and grandparents did the same, so consequently so must they. Expand or die is the implication: manufactured and forced, blindly hurried to the next checkpoint. If these people truly care about doing things differently and expanding reality, why don't they consider the very framework in which they do things? Why don't we consider when or if we will be able to stop and actually be satisfied?
This is not to say there is no urgency now, but for me the actions I want to take need to be universally encompassing changes, changes that will settle into our social framework and guide every individual shift for as long as we uphold it. A great and socially omnipotent simplicity that enables more complex things under it. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to actively desire a situation where we will need to do things over and over again, opposite to a single massive reconfiguration to take place that will conform to and welcome the smaller, decentralized changes in perspective and association. The opposite seems to be the case for most people, where they desire many small changes in an effort to satisfy a benign, almost nonexistent encompassing configuration. Tiny organic units instead of organic universality to be the mode of life. Frankly, I've grown tired of both the exploiters and the tail-chasing opportunism of those against them to a point where the two blur and mesh into a new oppression; an oppression of direction. Do you or do you not want a better order of life? Than stop pussyfooting around and make direct change on something. Alas, with this new step in time, we will only find what cultural product will lay way to the next.
For half of last year, it took me a lot of agonizing thinking, more fittingly called mind-consuming depression, over what I believe and feel, what those who are striving toward what I seek think and feel as well as if they would agree with me, to come to any sort of conclusion on my own direction. At this point, I'm not certain if it won't be something I will think about forever until the gland in the human anatomy which produces the feeling called anxiety can no longer take it.
I think if there is a meaning or an aim in what I do, it is to come to a point where people can do and be as they want while all the functions of social life are in a state of respectful indifference or mutual support of it, no more and no less. Everything before that is a struggle to overcome the structures rooted in one side against that idea to continue its domination. Be it a condition of socialism, an equitable reconfiguration of present society, whatever. If you can be you and I can be me, and there has been an effective elimination of institutional exploitation, artificial complications and desperation as a result, I can't help but feel that my work in that range is arguably finished, and that I can begin work elsewhere from what that has left. I don't see any current means of convincing me otherwise that that idea is the enveloping change which I desire, and possibly what every person who shares my political alignment seeks when boiled down to its essence.
And maybe these New Years are outer layers of the same mindless cultural production. They repeat themselves until we acknowledge the broken record and actually initiate change instead of just suggesting the idea, reformatted to look and sound new and interesting, to make the best of the crumbling relationship hanging by a few threads. Otherwise, it isn't the fault of causes but life itself. Just another thing we didn't ask for but have to deal with. Ride it through without expectations that make it feel insincere.
Social Anarchism Explained Simply
December 19, 2016 · [link]
The purpose of this article is to give a simple overview of what are the chief ideals of the socialist anarchist tendency of radical political thought, made accessible to the layman.
Considering the volatile shift in the American political environment at present and its influence on the opposition of the victor in the 2016 presidential election, there is bound to be unintelligent conversation when in the course of mainstream discussion around the reemergence of anarchist and communist dialog. This article is intended to correct those misunderstandings in advance and provide an untampered glimpse into the anti-authoritarian far-left. This is done partly against the continuing debate over semantics corrupting substantive discussion in the mainstream, with the hopes of stepping into a less warped understanding of anarchism and what it means to be an anarchist or socialist.
The method used here will be to define and differentiate concepts and institutions to give a nuanced designation of either a concept or institution's mere reformation, or a collective effort to transcend it, under the realization of social anarchist principles. Furthermore, where a concept is not to be totally abolished under a totalitarian apparatus as popular misconception might suggest, but for its practice to transition to work under a far more equitable social configuration than in a coercive, hierarchical system. With this method in mind, we will go through several crucial elements with an anarchist analysis that defines the approach.
The ability to do anything with all social components cooperating with the person taking action, or an individual's free will being practical in a social setting, is the sum of what is meant by "power". The ability to take action in favor or against something, amass and guide support, create lasting change, benefit the wellness of others, pave the way for the future. These are all examples of power, where efforts involving you or others are almost always immediately successful or at least very possible. This can obviously be used for good or bad.
Power concentration is the condition of power being mostly if not totally controlled by a specific ruling apparatus, while those subject to its demands are left with an impotent possession of social power. This is the basis for state societies and governments where we are required to submit to their status.
With this in mind, power is understood as an essential device of human progress, and so anarchism is far from opposing this, and instead wants to see power made accessible to all people without distinction. In practice, the abundance of power would create a self-correcting, self-sustaining federation of communities where the well-being and equality of all people would be the constant aim. This end is assisted by further concepts of material conditions which nullifies the expectation of barbarism in a scenario where there is no restrain on people's ability to do things. As we go on, this will become clear.
Authority amounts to one action or possession of power being varyingly more legitimate than another. This can exist in different contexts, such as a qualification on an intellectual matter or in a profession, which are separate from the central type of authority that anarchists oppose.
In referring to a social system based on the constant exercising of authority, this provides the anarchist movement with its goal of anti-authoritarianism. The opposition to a system of management in which a select few hold authority over the direction of the association is central to this. It may be more adequate to define anarchism as anti-authoritarian and not anti-authority, as authority can exist in a resonable context under an anarchist society, while authoritarianism, the disproportionate system of coercive authority, cannot. This type of authority is exercised by governing bodies, the police and military, bosses and owners, etc.
One key notion as put forth by professor and author Noam Chomsky is that authority which cannot justify itself cannot be justifiable for those subject to it, and must therefore be replaced by a better social system.
Additionally, anarchist theorist Mikhail Bakunin stated the following on distinguishing the function of authority verses coercive authority.
Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person.
— What Is Authority?, 1882
Its important to note that most anarchists will claim that they oppose "authority" when referring specifically to coercive authority and its primary implementation: social hierarchy.
In terms of how an association is organized, social hierarchy is an arrangement of people in terms of their authority or status. This creates a relationship (sometimes called a "relationship of power") where what ultimately matters is who is higher up in the hierarchy (boss, politician, etc.), and that who is in service to that authority's interest is obedient (worker, citizen). This negates the interests of the worker who performs a task for the boss, or a citizen who is subject to the constraints of the state.
As most people would rightly assume the person responsible for the use and maintenance of an object should be the legitimate controller of it, but instead this is given to someone who does not directly operate it, and is simply an appointed, unjustified controller over those who do the actual work. The dictates of the individual at the top of the hierarchy is what matters, and not the interests of the majority subjected to the hierarchy.
With all power centered in a hierarchy, there is no alternative choice of it and we become dependent on it. It forms a self-perpetuating, exploitative relationship where the only option for those within it to survive is obedience, which contributes to the continued necessity of servitude. The instinct to survive overrides the creative and constructive traits of individuals, and reduces them to mere cogs in the exploitative yet sustaining machine of hierarchically structured organizations.
Hierarchy in other contexts is similar to authority in serving reasonable purposes, but it is believed in anarchism that there are arbitrary and unreasonable positions of power over other people that form abusive and inefficient relationships, which in turn unfairly benefits a minority in power and deprives people of their humanity. Unjustified hierarchy, very much synonymous with unjustified authority, is arguably the core enemy in the eyes of anarchists, which manifests in numerous ways.
Property, Ownership and Capitalism
Property is the quality of any item belonging to a group or individual. In the political and economic sense, this refers to who is responsible for the operation of a business or other legally/socially affected establishment. There are a few ways in which this is outlined. Among them, the most common form in state society, is private ownership, in which the authority in a hierarchy controls property (in this case, what is called the means of production: machinery, offices, farms, etc.) while it is operated and tended to by the employment of workers, which generates money, a small fraction of which given to the workers to rent them into continued service (called wage labor) for the productivity of the private business. A market system works alongside this, where a society's transactions of goods and services is directed by many other businesses, which affects the conditions (prices, demands) of items in circulation for the profit of the owners, all dependent on the rented (exploited) labor of everyday people.
This state of affairs is called capitalism, firstly originating from unequal power in ownership, and working through the reduction of human beings to disposable assets. Additionally, the outcomes of capitalist entrenchment have proven to be the most pervasive, widespread and socially accepted forms of malice by any hierarchical institution. It places the importance of profit far over that of immediate human needs, primarily because it continues to aid in the essential presence of money and market systems in global society. Its existence relies on wasteful practices and artificial scarcity to continue its validity in the eyes of those who it employs and who lives in what it has come to dominate through the centuries following the industrial revolution. This is due in part to the immense bulk of wealth generated that is either wasted in continuous growth expenses, or simply lost to the workers who have made that wealth possible.
Within state societies, a set of property rights is enforced by the government to give legal protection to the owners of private property. These are often used against those (anarchists) seeking the transformation of private ownership into a democratic arrangement. Because the state coupled with capitalism relies on the influx of money, it requires the protection of the producers of it to continue functioning, and so a legal framework is made for deterring its interruption.
Property belonging to an individual is personal property, in which the ownership does not affect other people in any way and serves only the desired use of the owner. This includes houses or apartment rooms, clothing, personal vehicles, electronic devices, tools, books; usually everyday things people have. It is very important to distinguish private and personal property to avoid misunderstandings that have presently been accepted as facts of anarchism. Anarchism seeks that these personal belongings be totally unaffected, but that the means to create them and distribute them are made available to people in a democratic fashion through the process of expropriation (which requires the destruction of capitalism). The kind of ownership of productive property which anarchists seek is called social ownership, where the members of a group own and control the property together without a hierarchical arrangement. This also has its own subtypes.
- Collective ownership, which refers to group-ownership by joint agreement; e.g., the members of a union agreeing to own a factory and manage their work democratically. (This can be seen in syndicalism or an anarchist market system, and is the root of socialism.)
- Common ownership, which refers to productive property being owned equally and indivisibly, as a characteristic of society beyond specific agreement; e.g., a community opening its machinery and factories to all members of it. (This form normally constitutes a gift economy model of exchange, and thus the enveloping principle of communism.)
- Among others (mutualism, participatory economics) which share traits of the previous two.
Social anarchists commonly fluctuate between the first two types of social ownership, sometimes viewing collective ownership as a means to recover into adopting common ownership, or combining the two. The purpose of striving toward social ownership is to establish an important guiding principle: labor according to the extent of one's abilities, and consumption according to their needs. This is the basis for emancipation from capitalism, creating material abundance of goods and equitable productivity among a workforce.
Class, referring to social class, is a kind of hierarchy which outlines people's social and economic relation to capitalism and the state. It is primarily determined from one's relationship to the means of production, while other factors include income, occupation, housing and education. Two contrasting sides (with one meeting in the middle) are made from who gains an upper hand in a system built on hierarchical power relations, normally consisting of who gives orders and who follows them, and who indirectly contributes to the oppression of the other class. Simply put, one class has little and is forced to sell their labor for the other class who has much and does little if any actual work in comparison. This creates a stark contrast of material conditions consisting of a possessing and non-possessing class; working class (historically called the proletariat) and upper (owning, bourgeoisie) class respectively, where the working class is forced to rent themselves out to the profit interests of the owning class in order to survive. Exploited and Exploiter thus becomes a noticeable dichotomy.
For the individual, in the course of working to better oneself under this, a multitude of expenses and debts such as rent, bills, taxes and prices are put upon them to overcome while under a limited income, making enjoyment of life increasingly scarce with the pressures of money-dependent society. The atmosphere of dependence on renting oneself out becomes the whole mode of life: basing our daily lives on the time and dates we attend work and carefully planning what fractions of wages we've earned to pay for goods and essentials. Fabricated concepts like The American Dream exist to keep people emotionally chained to the labor market; either to remain an exploited pawn or to assume the role of an exploiting boss.
The class system in the last several decades has expanded to combine different groups of people, such as women, ethnic minorities, the LGBT+ community, disabled people, and others. Because of this, those in lower classes also meeting criteria for these groups experience additional societal disadvantages coupled with being working class. The result is a condition where white, male, able-bodied working people, while still working class, experience an involuntary, unfair advantage in capitalist state society, known as social privilege. This is not the fault of individuals or traits, but a function of social hierarchy. Moreover, it has shifted working people's focus away from class issues and kept it in the direction of race, sex, etc., in the form of impotent identity politics which distracts from uniting these overlapping struggles into a singular force against the source of oppression, and serves to divide people further.
Now, lets put all this together...
Power is greatly filtered and suppressed by forms of coercive authority and social hierarchy which are dependent on the disposable service of those who live under them. In capitalism, the most prevailing kind of coercion, we find ourselves divided into classes which specify what relation people have to the capitalist system. It identifies workers as non-consenting servants to an all-encompassing domination. In the state, an extension of this coercion overlays and acts as the front-end enforcement of profit. Property rights provide the legal protection of exploitation, and institutions like the military and police physically enable it while representative or parliamentary government determines the wages of force.
The state and capitalism are not viewed as separate entities, but as united halves of an exploitative whole possessing similar but nuanced functions. Both interlace and combine powers to form appendages of maintaining each other. Such things as imperialism (the global expansion of state and capitalist rule) are acted on when investing domination in other regions becomes necessary for profit.
Complimentary to this are the prejudiced narratives of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. They originated from other socially hierarchical perspectives, but were directly amplified by the owning class (both in encouraging racist and sexist dialog, and oppressing minority groups) in later centuries to distract working people from immediate exploitation, and initiate a splintered working class to sabotage unity.
There are a number of other factors that play into coercive hierarchy differently, some matters of debate within the anarchist community. But in total, they return to being symptoms of social hierarchy than singular autonomous problems to be added to a long, hypothetical list of issues to tackle.
What all this means
The problem in short is that the important associations in society are arranged in such a way that take advantage of desperation from the conditions which the structure has made concrete to advance itself and keep the subjugated in continued service, working in a cycle. The solution in the anarchist perspective is to bring the working class and other disadvantaged groups together in solidarity and cooperation to replace (by force) hierarchical social arrangements with a democratic and voluntary structure. The way of doing this is to advocate class consciousness, a set of knowledge of what would benefit one's class, in working people to inform them that what they live in is rigged against them — not simply the present condition of the structure (who is in charge or what the law is) but the structure itself (capitalism, the state, social hierarchy).
Social Anarchism is used to denote itself from radically individualistic trends of anti-statism (such as "anarcho-capitalism" or "free-market anarchism") which are dismissive of unifying communal efforts, in favor of individual, sometimes hierarchical, institutions existing free of a state, but nothing further. Social anarchism puts importance on community and equality being integral to the security of individual autonomy and freedom. This is a big reason "social anarchism" is specifically used than simply "anarchism". Interchangeably, Libertarian Socialism is used to lessen an emphasis on explicit anti-statism and instead offer an approach to socialism (worker-control over the means of production) different from the intellectual stigma that has popularly corrupted its meaning.
Anarchy is not chaos, as the most continuous misconception suggests. The phrase meaning without rulers does not entail without rules or without order. It is the condition of people being emancipated from arbitrary institutions of power concentration which thrive off of exploitation and require manufactured violence to vaguely justify themselves. This means that not only will chaos and violence not be abundant, but it will lack purpose when people's desperation is destroyed alongside capitalist domination. Moreover, any violence is far more suited to exist in an anarchist society than a state society, as people's direct efforts of combating it are the only solutions, and therefore the most effective and stable, as decided democratically by those immediately affected by violence.
It further postulates that brutality, crime, prejudice and social competition are outcomes of the imbalances caused by social hierarchy and exploitation, and thus it seeks to overthrow and replace these systems with an equitable and democratic group of systems, where power is wielded equally by all and social security is guaranteed by a resulting abundance of material goods and equitable productivity, disarming inner-class conflicts.
In total, the underlying goal of anarchism is to establish perfect human autonomy in all realms of social life: To restructure things and make people free of coercion, the filtering and restraining of power and labor out of desperation. Where principles of direct democracy, free association, horizontal cooperation and self-management guide the growth and health of a community where its functions were formerly entrusted in the state, capitalism and other disproportionate models of occupancy. To enrich freedom of thought, creativity, expression and the expansion of individual personhood and identity. To make the occupants of communities the direct managers of themselves and associate freely with others; in the hopes of a new global, voluntary community breaking the chains of hierarchical confinement.
Schools of Thought
With these principles in mind, a multitude of tendencies of anarchism interpret the ideal means of achieving this differently, specifying different approaches to aspects of society. A few of the major social anarchist tendencies will be explained in under one paragraph.
- Anarchist Communism — Also called anarcho-communism, anarchist communism is derived from the works of Russian scientist, activist and writer Peter Kropotkin, specifically his books The Conquest of Bread and Mutual Aid. The tendency derives from these works that the state, capitalism, wage labor, markets and private ownership must be abolished and replaced with common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy governing a horizontal federation of voluntary communes, and work being done under the guiding principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". Furthermore, the tendency advocates that human beings are naturally inclined toward cooperation rather than competition in the course of production and general society, in contrast to the Darwinist application to society at large. It was the underlying principle behind the Ukrainian Free Territory led by Nestor Makhno in 1918, and is widely believed to be the most common trend of social anarchism.
- Anarcho-Syndicalism — Originating in the works of Mikhail Bakunin and Collectivist Anarchism (in which collective ownership under a stateless society is achieved through violent revolution), Anarcho-Syndicalism emphasizes radical trade unionism, solidarity and direct action as a means to overwhelm capitalist society and gain large-scale worker control of the economy. With this control, they aim to implement workers' self-management, abolish the wage system (understood as wage slavery) and transform private property into collective property, gradually expanding this control to other territories and countries. Historically, the most ideal example of anarcho-syndicalism put into real-world use is the trade union activity in the Spanish Revolution of 1936. Members of the CNT and FAI trade unions (among other communist groups) rose up against the existing government and reclaimed Catalonia, Aragon and other smaller parts of Spain under principles of workers' self-management and direct democracy before the Second World War. German anarchist Rudolph Rocker outlined the history and methods of the tendency in his work Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice.
- Anarcha-Feminism — Combining opposition to capitalism and the state with feminist concerns of women affected by social hierarchy, anarcha-feminism is a school that seeks to dismantle male-centric social domination (patriarchy) in favor of an equal ground between men and women, complimentary to a stateless, horizontal and democratic society welcoming of free love and non-traditional relationships. Feminist anarchist Emma Goldman famously pioneered the combining principles of anarchism with women's independence from male coercive authority, among fighting homophobia within anarchist circles and criticism of organized religion.
- Mutualism — Often debated as a more individualist trend of anarchism, Mutualism seeks to establish a reciprocal market system of voluntary associations and means of production, either collectively or privately owned, with use and occupancy justifying ownership alongside self-defense and free contract. It is derived from the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who famously began to establish the anarchist perspectives on property, ownership and labor.
- Platformism — A kind of organizing method usually coupled with anarcho-communism, platformism seeks to create tightly-organized anarchist federations as a means to gain broad influence in the working class, rather than only appealing to the far-left. It holds that unity in tactics and ideas, consensus-based decision-making and collective responsibility held by the federation is important in effectively engaging in a class war. This stands in contrast to Insurrectionary anarchism, which instead favors temporary, loosely-connected affinity groups as means toward an anarchist society.
- Infoanarchism — A recent trend of anarchism, Infoanarchism reconciles decentralized distribution of computer-based information with the aim of creating a stateless society — the Internet seen as being a model of such a society. It primarily opposes copyright law, intellectual property and censorship, deeming them to be state and capitalist tampering in the free and anarchic nature of public information. Though not explicitly in connection to conventional class-struggle trends of anarchism, being more associated with Internet piracy, copyleft and the free culture movement, Infoanarchists have made connections to their approach with how a revolution would operate and participate in direct action over the Internet.
The matter of actually convincing one to identify as an anarchist will be up to their own autonomy of intellect. While one's material interests in their unfettered perfection would certainly persuade them to it, no one can expect anyone to throw off what convictions they were born into and cling to in the light of new information. The intention of this essay is strictly to give proper representation of the perspective lost in mainstream discourse, and for the debates over semantics to whither away.
Author's Proposals To Anarchists
The anarchist movement has existed for well over two hundred years. Its core values have been around for about as long as recorded history, but within two hundred years of enlightenment thinking propelling anti-authoritarianism, it has had plenty of time to develop and connect itself with the further identification of hierarchies as they formed. This time has allowed us to examine the methods of bringing people in and what side-effects they had.
Intellectual narratives generally produce a shock in their respective society. In the matter of feminism, it produced a shock in the 1960s and 70s that cultivated discussion around the role of women in society. The drug culture produced shock around illicit substances, their use, their morality and the laws concerning them. These "shocks" are the phenomena of new ideas, not unlike the awe of a marvel or tragedy. The substance is more or less absent to those looking at it, the only genuine value is the spectacle than any meaning.
What really makes the spectacle is conflict, when we have a hypothetical red team and blue team going at it in some way, and nobody is really invested in any side being the victor, let alone anyone joining that side, except for the sides essential to having the spectacle go on. We already know this is the model for contemporary politics, with voting having been reduced to a mere obligation of citizenship. In the age of light-speed access to information, the public's love of conflict merely for one to attach their comments to it overshadows any genuine attempt at social change. On top of this, we aren't even safe from this alone with ourselves. We have layers upon layers of these spectacles: Inner-community drama over orthodoxy, language, methods, tendencies, and even drama over drama. Posturing and hypocrisy boils over, blinded by the banner of socialism or anarchism, causing the splintering, the separating and the cementing, just for us to splinter and separate again as the forces of profit and imperialism expand unhindered.
I think this is bound to happen when we keep putting ideas out in the way we have online (which is, thankfully to a point, the only way of getting anything out anymore) for the last decade. Its my opinion that we don't want to have another culture shock where we merely have another divide between adherents and opponents for the uninvested everyday person and omnipresent capitalist class to act as spectators to. Doing so totally reduces ideas to names than informed approaches to life. We instead want discussion not for the sake of looking correct and representing an idea, knowing its just going to devolve into sensation, but for the actual manifestation of a voluntary structure of society, with a sort of foreknowledge that working people in general can easily sympathize what we mean when we address the latest grievances and the unspoken origins of them when we escape the spectacle.
Mere discussion and team-picking is simply posturing, high school levels of shallowness, and furthermore the divides within sides produces more and more spectacles that make a joke of something crucial to mankind's continued existence. In the same manner of speech and intellectual communities, we should strive toward organizations which emphasize the means of arriving at a horizontal arrangement of society, and more plainly, what we agree on and not mending each difference of perspective. We also do not want posturing given any power outside or within the communities, placing a higher importance on the substance of the association, removing any sort of contradictory competition of who can satisfy a subjective idea of being the best leftist. We want to focus on what we're here for and not let petty contextual differences ruin something good.
We've got so caught up in the process of carefully analyzing every idea that crosses paths with leftism, that an overarching sense of community was sacrificed for the sake of critique. A balance has been lost, one once commonplace. I believe this should be corrected or the last remaining integrity of the left will certainly perish. Thats the matter of ourselves. And with that settled, moving to what matters more: other working people.
In order for us to successfully persuade people into anarchist organizations, I propose that we need to follow a simple and careful procedure of condensing and connecting ideas to real-world current events which will effectively illustrate the problems and the solutions. The independently drawn-up illustrations of immense and complicated proportions in cinematic video essays and stylized publications have been coated in a left-centric aura that fogs the path for many people. It isn't that a sudden revelation needs to be captured and dropped on every working person, its that the ideas need to be made accessible and connected to everyday experiences of exploitation and inequality. The ideas need to reveal themselves to working people with the subtle, case-by-case nudge of anti-capitalism, until that revelation can be reached, challenged, and understood. This is how many of us started out, and how I think we should aim to keep it going. For me, it was gradually reading The Conquest of Bread alongside working my first job in one of the most deplorable corporations in the world. Bit by bit, we began to understand.
Our aim must be for solidarity and agreement insofar that individuals have the same goal in mind for a stateless society, that they can fight side by side, honor a relationship of mutual aid, and reserve other disagreements for a civil and inclusive environment of free discussion.
That which we overwhelmingly agree on needs to be put first and foremost, mixed with a good dose of self-awareness and even humor at our own orthodoxies. The desperation to obsolesce capitalism and destroy fascism will not come easily with a fixed uprightness in each and every realm of life. A hearty laugh needs to be made when needed in a hilariously complex and worthless scenario. "This is my world, my life; and I decide what gets the better of me and what solidifies my humanity."
The intimidation rightfully reserved for hardened reactionaries needs to be directed in the most opposite possible direction of newcomers. The list of burdens must be greatly reduced if not suspended to open the gate for all willing proletarians. We are, after all, seeking to bring the greatest possible number of workers into the anarchist community, and we really can't expect each of our customs to resonate with people of varying educations, convictions and reasons for test-running the anarchist community. Reserving an anarchist organization only for those versed in theory and the other manifold implications is simply inverting the present exclusive jingoism in broader society we are so profoundly opposed to.
We shouldn't view libertarian socialism as a ship to board with quotas and training need being met beforehand, transporting us to the communist promised land. It should be an ethos that molds to the pre-existing passions and traits of every individual with a heart for an equal society. It should possess a sense of simplicity and optimism that innately appeals to the downtrodden and desperate, as if the phrase they could distinctly feel in their heart but could not adequately proclaim. If we furthermore understand libertarian socialism as a lost friendship linking every and all living things with a lightheartedness in innocent differences not detrimental to the shared vision of the future, and apply this to our present affairs in organizing and informing, I think we have the greatest possible chance of moving on from desperately predetermining the most practical way of anarchy and finding the one crucial element in pursuing the admired historical ideals all along — that being unity.
If we already understand collective action to be what enriches individual autonomy, consequently I think we should know collective sympathy and steadfastness to be what will enrich individual might and compassion to prolong solidarity.
I ask that we resolve our ideals into the perfection of our community and commit to a practical motion of our convictions, that we celebrate our solidarity and camaraderie in all circumstances, and hone our anger into the insidious, smirking curse that is the reactionary capitalist foe.
- The Conquest of Bread, by Peter Kropotkin
- Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, by Peter Kropotkin
- God and the State, by Mikhail Bakunin
- Statism and Anarchy, by Mikhail Bakunin
- Grundrisse, by Karl Marx
- The Accumulation of Capital, by Rosa Luxemburg
- Reform or Revolution, by Rosa Luxemburg
- Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice, by Rudolph Rocker
- Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
- Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky
- Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order, by Noam Chomsky
- Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
- Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, by Noam Chomsky
- Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings, by Subcomandante Marcos
- Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, by David Graeber
- War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges
- Death of the Liberal Class, by Chris Hedges
- Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, by Chris Hedges
- What Is Authority?, Mikhail Bakunin
- The Spirit of Revolt, Peter Kropotkin
- Anarchist Communism, Peter Kropotkin
- Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal, Peter Kropotkin
- Anarchism: What It Really Stands For, Emma Goldman
- Minorities versus Majorities, Emma Goldman
- The Psychology of Political Violence, Emma Goldman
- The Soul Of Man Under Socialism, Oscar Wilde
- Documents, Essays and Analysis for a History of the Industrial Workers of the World
- On Anarchism, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Tom Lane
- Excerpts from Understanding Power, Noam Chomsky
- Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Communism and Revolutions
- What it Means to be a Socialist, Chris Hedges (Truthdig)
- The Socialist Alternative, Chris Hedges (Truthdig)
What The Election Taught Me
November 9, 2016 · [link]
The 2016 presidential race was the first I could fully bear witness to with all faculties and a proper reserve of cynicism intact, having been far too young to know of or care about any details of politics during Obama's initial run (knowing only from relatives that he would be the worst thing to the country since Osama Bin Laden), let alone Bush's quest for a second term and his initial race after Bill Clinton's time in office. But now its over, and frankly its too painful to go into at length and too cruel to make you read another one of these. I want only to compact everything I've observed during this election cycle into a few key highlights, and be done with this as best as every sensory origin around me will allow for the next year or so.
Going into it
- Election season comes on slowly, looming over everyone's head as the final year of a presidential term arrives, but its official kick-off drops on everyone like a stone in shallow water when we learn about people starting campaigns and listing their crucial issues for the next president. A lot like waking up from a slumber you forgot you settled in for. We have to elect a new president? Oh, right.
- There are those imbued with faith in the system to some degree who think the whole event is critical to sustaining a legacy of sorts of a past president, those new voters who see an opportunity to contribute to American history with obscure hopes, and those veterans to politics who know the matter to be 20% appearance, 20% pandering, 40% money, 10% logistics of money, 9% sensational drama and 1% repetition.
- All campaigns preface their own failure, a kind of Schroedinger's Cat of politics. Modesty, such as that with Sanders, foreshadows this. Mainly because of the expressed weakness seen by the whole game, like in prison. Once you see that, you know it will turn into an only the good die young situation.
- Learned campaign bystanders will imply the above axiom, letting it germinate and sink in, bursting into a magnificent weed of disappointment and misery for new voters in the election's progress.
- Support in a campaign done with intent of "engaging in your future" while having no direct means of any real engagement is the outstanding oxymoron of elections. Moreover, it is active disengagement in reclaiming your future than engaging in a predetermined caricature of it.
- The hunt for a new president is the search for a new American social period. Bush's time in office encompassed a period of questioning war, interventionism, nation-building, the historic causes of extremism and the US's blindness to digging itself in a hole. Obama's time revolved around accountability, civil rights progression, the simultaneous invasion of them, acts condemned elsewhere done under a different title, and finally the drive to do better all over again. All this propagated by a great shift in media, information and activism.
- With a lot happening in four to eight years, it isn't wrong to say that the election cycle is the actual New Year's Day for the United States. We're met again with what will define our time, the matter of wading through the waters and scrounging up what we will make of this next era, and how the powers at the top will be affected those.
- Eugene Debs' vision of Socialism in the United States has perished, having been reduced to the red-headed step-child of The New Deal in fighting for more comfortable chains than their abolition.
- Good intentions and a following around them won't amount to anything in a system built on bureaucracy and fluctuating cash. The system rewards playing by its own rules and then some, along with it being incompatible with human concepts. Humanitarian campaigns in American politics are like charity under capitalism.
- Issues are just the vehicles for narratives. The two may appear linked in the course of politics, but in the grand scheme its only narratives and support around them than issues that count. Single-issue campaigns contrast by having a steady singular velocity, due to (1) a lack of a figure or personality for things to center around ("We need to elect Hillary to get equal pay"), and (2) the lack of a narrative around this personality ("Hillary said she will get us equal pay"). This furthermore shows that narratives can only drive politics, not issues nor pressing needs for change. There needs to be a political vehicle and occupant; a candidate is elected and a mere facade of hope in an issue is achieved. But this isn't to say that single-issue campaigns are any better, because they lack the power to break through the barriers set up by the state, otherwise there would be no politics to begin with. The results are narratives carried by the supporters profitable only to the administration's appearance, and impotent campaigns of singular reform taken up independently.
- The farther the margin of impossibility and absurdity is set, the more it will be surpassed.
In the end
- Every young adult too basic, disengaged and happily stupid (wielded as down-to-earth) to get into politics will contribute to the death of urgently needed movements of direct action in favor of the most immediate and comfortable "best of two evils", wherefore the contingency for freedom against tyranny, agreed to be "not practical", will be charged back to the social squalor once more.
- Every reduction of greater concepts in the course of campaign narratives will not only bolster the ignorant support of voters, but contribute to the distance between people's autonomy and deeper entrenching a public state directed by private interests.
- Defeat, like the start of it all, comes on slow, but hits harder than anticipated. And when its over the whole picture becomes clear.
- All things accounted for, pandering coupled with aggression and absorption, giant reserves of money and holding on that fowl inflection in speaking hollow promises, mixed with some side-drama for publicity is the key to it all.
- The greater hubris, name and bank account yields the greater outcome, or at least a more worthwhile political spectacle.
- Any ignorant orange blowhard with a capital empire and a name synonymous with everything loathed in the American people will make it in the United States. Truly the American dream.
- There can be no doubt that politicians are as ineffective in countering competition as they are bound to be the people's downfall universally. Lousiness wins as intelligence loses, desperation worsened. Every time.
Onward, every American generation is going to have one of these, every new child with a heart and mind to grow into only for it to work itself into a frenzy of political hope in a hopeless machinery of cogs that work against what they claim to provide for. Thats about the last sad truth every child will learn: After the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and life purpose, they figure out for themselves, wishing that it could have been wrapped in that innocent parental sugar coating so it isn't as tragic, "Candidates are puppets to greater evil, and merge with it quickly".
Even those hopeless maladjusted citizens stumbling behind Trump will find either in his success or failure in what resembles policy that a candidate can only meet below the minimum expectation for better or worse, whether they take him as the second coming of Bush, or a certain leader of a historic German political party, or not.
Ultimately, on the death bed, the final dying lesson learned in the realm of politics is that the state itself is the biggest sham and far from the necessity we were so convinced it was. We always catch glimpses of this, seeing our elders scoff at big brother or Uncle Sam, but always opting instead to battle for a few months every four or eight years in defense of it, and continually missing a world managed solely by the good will and unfettered power of the people alone. Persuasion so deep into the physiology compels them to answer to the call of a new almighty overseer, that the exit door stretches farther away from them every passing season, looking back at it only before the final moment of perishing.
The greatest misfortune to me was the sheer conviction, the angry strife to be aligned in something where everything is crooked and sad. The entire time I spent watching Hillary apologists lecturing people to get out and vote, rewriting sexism to mean not agreeing with her or questioning her record, alongside hollow calls for justice for working people being spewed by an orange madman billionaire wrapped in unapologetic self-absorption and prejudice, I genuinely could only feel hopelessness. A very real sadness was awakened in me that hearkens back to personal times of an emotional sinking feeling at the inertia of the world too powerful for me to overcome. I felt almost precisely that in regard to politics in 2016. It wasn't the actual words that struck me like that, but the nature of the fervor in something so basically stupid and repetitive as an election, mounting at it becoming one between a war criminal opportunist and a Trump.
Coming back onto myself and others, even the despair culture of this election season provided little, but equally so did the demands for mobilizing around a third-party candidate, recurring back to narratives and issues. The third party side blended with the despair side and canceled each other out as the inevitable raged on. If anything, it cemented that Mars colonization can't happen any sooner. But I think deeper still, it awakened just enough people, a minuscule minority nonetheless, to a lesson in approaching politics and holding out hope for some people bound to hold ultimate coercion over you, if not the sum of what it means to partake in the electoral performance and to be free.
There are no necessary evils, there is no best of two evils. There is tyranny and freedom. Any in between ultimately sides with an exception to freedom, and thus nullifies it. Any president however Utopian or benevolent can never do justice. The tyranny is not in any action, but in the very place of power. The very seat and foundation where they sit. They cannot grant freedom because it is innate and not bestowed. It springs from the bottom-up and is chained and mutilated as an oppressor needs, taking generations to regain its roots and grow anew attempting to reach us after being vanquished once again.
There are no good presidents. A president distinguishes your ultimate place at the bottom rung in the ladder of power, and submission and humoring of that structure by telling people to participate in asking for a new slavemaster emphasizes your assimilation on every human front, devoid of greater features and realms of thinking. You choose between freedom and tyranny. Tyranny is a deep and jagged chasm described by its pawns with the sweetest words refreshed to call on the newest generation, functioning in varied complex loopholes and convincing gimmicks, stumbled onto by countless agreements, fees and terms. All this coated in fine-trimmed promises that you grow to hate but still serve out of dependence, up until the very end.
Freedom is not the freedom we know. It is the lightness of the heart in the worst of calamities and the grin during tragedy. Freedom is not an allowance or a pardon, it is the holistic envelopment of self in every shade of life outside the confines of state and master. Its sustains itself solely from enjoyment of it. It holds one singular request in the face of its corruption and needing to be bestowed: Revolt in the spirit of unfettered self-determination.
For the final time, I will let Thoreau's words, often exaggerated and bludgeoned into intellectual jamais vu, make their attempt to sway the heart for approximately the eight thousandth time. Not in the spirit of commentary or angst, but in the spirit of their actual meaning and the hope to see them made real in the world. I feel his ghost weep in this hour.
"Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote."
The Good Old Boy Complex
November 4, 2016 · [link]
just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.
An irresistible historical specimen with unique overtones continues to be a curious case in the Southern United States, or the lower Appalachian region broadly, mostly to its outsiders. Particularly, the subclass of Americans — not entirely what is known as a redneck or hick, but that demographic which rides the line between them, and consolidates their values amplified by sociopolitical ideals common of the Southern ethos. The generation proceeding hardened male working class Christians, who have entered contemporary society with their fathers' attitudes and principles in one hand, and the strange complexities of larger society facing them in the other. The result is a rebirth of that last generation struggling to be in a world that forgot their dogmas along with women needing their husbands' signature for loans, and brushed off the relevance of their character after their collective spite against conditions which would advance their conditions of life centuries ago. I speak of those young Southern men who are in a distinctive social dimension tilting slightly to one side while one foot is in another. Trapped between the past's lost embers and the growth of modern circles, a sort of cultural uncanny valley that becomes obvious when crossing the state line in Virgina, Tennessee or Kentucky, from my and others' experience. The Good Old Boy, as I can most adequately identify from the conversations I've heard, is the passive-pronounced character trait of the congenital Southern American male, and the product of the Southern antagonism meeting current events, new issues and old covenants kept by silent rites.
Those interested in history, social commentary or any owner of two brain cells are aware of this. In layman's words, a southern man. But over time I've observed a kind of subgroup in this background. More specifically, a young, relatively ambitious southern man engaged in the outside or mainstream to some extent. The offspring of the patriarchs, who also existed in this same situation a generation previous, who carry on their fathers' attitudes into the next period of time. The subject at hand has been acknowledged and documented a few times times before. As far back as Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia provided some observations on the castes of Virginian social life close enough at the time to resemble what we're met with now. Varying factors have all been accounted for as the basis for this in different observations by intellectuals leagues above me, but I think we only glimpse at its surface in the course of critically looking at America today, and we've yet to look at how the class of people is fairing in a situation where their only immediate use is the beguiled labor for property owners, and to remind others that they're a thing.
It used to be that the North and South regions held their own separate social and cultural shades, not exactly intended to maintain territorial identity, but as a matter of circumstance. The interests and class stances concentrating in vertical dispositions one century after British colonization, trades and demands segmenting and booming respective of their place on the pole, and economic institutions settling in bountiful areas all contributed to germinating what we have now. A few miles north of Hillview, Kentucky is now still the horizon of the Yankees. They rarely crossed their own invisible boundaries, and even rural and urban sectors were only slightly dissimilar. The civil war of the mid 19th century hardened the regional differences when confederacy and union were propped up, and war over ownership of people hauled from across the Atlantic was waged. But with that old quarrel over and being accepted as staying in that forgotten corner of time, the shades have progressively melded together as travel and relocation for jobs became more common. This lead to Alabama hicks and Florida crackers being found in Illinois and Vermont, spreading out considerably like they never left Dixie; with their traditions following like a stench. Truly blending the ethno-cultural contrasts into the unified American body.
Before moving into the actual notes, lets recognize an important disclosure for the content at this time. The goal here is not simply to take a razor to the whole features of the South or demean its culture, but to deconstruct a social aura that has put itself in front of me since my own inception of critical thinking around my environment, and is past due a written observation of some sort. Of course at this point all social critics have hammered at the complimentary nature of the culture with the political platforms, but rarely I think they've looked at the specific tinges we can find in unsuspected venues should we look hard enough with an eye for its transparent undertones.
My life thus largely spent in Southern states, with a certain fondness and optimism for this region of the continent — but with great disdain for what the culture has always embodied to varying degrees, has left me with a trove of observations and notes from family reunions, mom and pop restaurants out in the boonies, and discussions with elder patriarchs and masters of the universe, opposite to me on all spectrums. I intend for what follows to be a biased but responsible summary from my own accounts, comprising a dialog on an old but filtered breed of people meets the emboldened fixtures of the contemporary setting.
Essentially the good old boy standardizes an assimilation of the redneck to where [subtle] prejudice, contrasting judgment or distrust based on traits and non-conformity is merely a frame, and not a full basis of character in the expected setting, like a person with this trait and the other hackneyed attributes. An example would be an executive director transfered from West Virginia with a Masters in marketing and a quaint demeanor, who is particularly wary of women in hijabs. It removes just enough of the caricature and puts it in every profession or position of power for it to stand on its own.
The engagement outside the culture is the entryway into what reminds us of their existence. Those moments online where you see a 30 year-old new father from Georgia in a camouflage shirt with a Glock 26 on his hip, using emojis and dabbing or what have you. A 60 year-old patriarch signing up for Facebook (and probably snapchat at this point) with the help of his family, sharing and posting rightist political material. Obscure relatives like the cousin of an uncle's step-sister with a specific set of life values, presumptions of social classes and reductionist outlooks on current events, with a contradictory side note that "people are too uptight". Sticking out like a sore thumb. Blinking neon arrows exclaiming "country boy".
From here we move onto the family, and the families that make up a broader family such as the aunts, uncles, in-laws and swarms of first, second and third cousins. Though its more of a product of families in themselves, the good old family has a propensity to exemplify what we normally think of. The sentimentality of families operating as a collective body, folding vague and distant relatives inward into a greater clan when an occasion requests, is an intoxicating and empowering sense of having been born into a magnificent tribe blessed by the good lord, of which the good old family strives to make an empire, both in informal political unanimity and inward power structures secured by firearms and various contrived narratives.
An undercurrent of patriarchal dominance is evident in the family, not as blatantly asserted as in previous decades (while accounting for varying conditions across families today), but it remains in subtle gender relations. Most opposite to adult males are seen with a very delicate tinge of weakness, in the same reductionist fashion elsewhere, just enough to be clearly picked up with attentive observation. Nowadays, the good old family has little choice but to accompany the event of women attaining status as sovereign individuals, lest they suffer excommunication from the society that grants them to be good old boys. Regardless, often coming from both sexes alike, they seem to yearn for a scaling back to when women had a "sense of place" and children fell into familial caste systems of personality to recycle the father's ambitions.
Gentleness is not done solely out of compassion, but compassion as a necessity to secure that pre-determined inferiority and maintain a rigid family structure, the ends seen as justifiable for cruel firmness. One can reasonably contend that the best interests for the child or spouse are in mind, but the nature all around entails a bigger object. Preeminent masculine traits are injected into the child's environment as soon as sentience begins to sprout. For the male, to set a goal to meet. For the female, to understand who is favored to really be in charge. "Man-up" and "Boys don't [do X]" can commonly be unearthed when a male child is acting up or hurt in some way. Into the teenage years the boys may be taken hunting, fishing or the like as a last ditch effort to ensure your kid don't grow up queer, while the girls are prepped by their mothers for child bearing, marriage and possibly to be a provider alongside the husband. All this contoured around the acceptable minimums of the society they will assimilate into.
If not derivatives of classic white power dialog far more reserved for those going above and beyond a simple good old boy, they sustain the contrasted logic of crime and punishment around ethnic minorities adjacent to the scope of power by police that we've seen in the decade's wake of police violence. Furthermore, basic uneasiness in urban areas and a physiological tension in the pit of the stomach around dark skinned persons, perhaps the occasional angry annoyance at the demand for ethnic justice, is about the worst we see. The suggestion of material conditions being at fault for perceived collective wrongdoings in place of race not once presenting itself to them. And even if it did, it would be a fantastical instance of wording to think any such systems of determining contentedness would do any wrong.
Personal ownership of firearms is a core value, a true holy rite. A kind of ubermensch trait of right-wing bastardization, and precisely as important to the good old family as the firstborn child. It must at all times be proudly displayed on their hip for it to complete its intended impact, as it is often idolized in the culture: The adapted version of Dukes and Princes with daggers and rapiers hanging at their sides as they go about their business is the apparent aim. It reflects on the tribalism, the yearning for a dynasty requiring such protection, and a corresponding victim complex. It demonstrates the fetish of the manifold directions of wielding a kind of power against a perceived constant danger, crucial to upholding the justice of the tribe; up to and including acting on an idea of threat by ethnic minorities at nearly every turn. The ownership of land coincides with this tremendously, though it falls outside the confines of the good old boy nature, as they commonly reside in suburban areas or places bordering town and country.
All these combined and intersecting respectively with that distinctive regional flair, they comprise the outward attitude, and this is more or less the actual weapon of the complex when faced with an issue. As sure as one or more of the good old family members has the DRUDGE REPORT bookmarked, they ready armaments of national providence and vindication of social privilege in their righteous battle to uphold their end of a committed incongruity.
The Broader American Antagonism amounts to the mythic-sensory continuum in sociocultural tensions, namely Southern autonomy which in turn encompasses the slave trade, race relations, civil rights and perceived attacks on individual liberty by big government, all complementary to the mythic reality possessed by Southern reactionaries, the right overall, and encapsulated by the good old boys. We define the mythic reality as a reality with absent substance, made from emotional subscription and constructed by those who want it desperately to be separate from myth. By existing, this already creates a dialog which of course creates a battle of ideas. Moreover, it is a historically integral constituent of the political dichotomy in the United States: wherein we seem to inevitably trace back and overlap near that great civil conflict we faced one hundred and fifty years ago. Needless in saying, it set the eternal stage for this nation which it will bear for the remainder of its being. It alone was only a circumstantial occurrence and a pawn to greater colonialism, but from its start it was the American social furniture to which we would apply new upholstery every few decades. Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, police violence, white supremacy and silence in the face of injustice. This is the sensory reality — a reality with tangible elements — possessed by the inhabitants of the greater Union who see through the structures possessed by the complex, and wish to overcome the antagonism.
However, the good old boys also wish to conquer this obstacle, and indeed it is one to them, but from the other side. In total the strife is a game of tug-of-war with the center of the rope composed of two halves — each the goal of the respective side. Each side requires the other to be the instigator with a laundry list of reasons for the strife's genesis. "The liberals destroyed the south's economy after the civil war", or "the ruination of the family" normally among them. It demonstrates strikingly that the social conflicts in the nation can always be boiled down to two defined sides, both of which came out the two factions during the war of the 1860s, always taking form in right or left.
The good old boys, commonly, are the front end, expendable footsoliders to this whole network — but not explicitly in direct service to it. They serve it by being of service to separate but connected monoliths of ideas and attitudes which raise up the complex. The attitudes, culture and enjoyments themselves are mundane and even irrelevant. But their permeation in the repository of American social outlooks is what seems to amplify them, just as much as attitudes common to the left or liberal worldviews tend to amplify and easily mark themselves.
They are victims of a mythic narrative that was inherited by their fathers, who were themselves associated in some sense to reactionary movements, the labor exploiters and religious institutions. These conjured the perfect storm for the antagonism when met with plans for reform, reducing singular grasp of society. The political, economic and social pillars of identity created the precursor to the present manifestation. Right-wing quasi-nationalism, free-market capitalism (now having evolved into a more corporatist neoconservatism) and Christian-centric morality, marking June 26th as a worse holocaust than September 11th, may as well have devised an entirely new United States situated on top of the original Union. They are the delegates in the cities and towns for the rigid and angry families in the hills and ranches, as the emerging generations everywhere continue to overcome the past.
The transformation of the good old boy complex has existed as long as the regional distinctions first became relevant and merged as part of the expansion west. The confederate solider begets the senator in favor of Jim Crow laws, who begets the DEA agent from Alabama, who begets the police officer in the urban squalor. Considering at present the impending election results of 2016, and the constant sparks of current events outlining who falls where, we are nearing a new transformation of its political implications as first seen in the media's acknowledgement of the "alt-right". The transformation, in my opinion, will likely be made up of individual social factions, not oligarchical circles of statesmen, returning to nationalistic, nativist and traditionalist values, and aspiring to make them conventional once more. Consequently, there will be a rise in counter-movements center or opposite to them, and the antagonism will as always take new form and carry on. Cats and dogs; Right and Left. The equilibrium is the life force of the nation.
The question becomes not what we do about the good old boys, not if they should be removed by combating their higher-ups by some anarchic anti-racist/fascist force. They are not only the symptom of deeper issues, they are equal parts the paramours of the culture in their historical region, and inheritors of their fathers' spite against unions and equal protection under the law.
We should seek to defuse the anger and dialog by making them useless. It may take riding out the four to eight years of whichever candidate takes the oath, but inevitably how we actually solve the whole antagonism is to engage in a grand upheaval against the conditions which make the reactionary returns to supremacy seem necessary to those convinced or downtrodden by the ruling economic minority.
The result is the good old boy taking a more modest and fanciful form than one complimentary to the amplification of reactionary narratives. The gentle southerner, born in the parts immortalized by Twain and Faulkner, made melodies by Nelson, Jennings and Charles; not the son of a ranting, raving Trump supporter, doomed to carry that weight in a cozy job in the big city.
Kentucky Workers must Unite
October 18, 2016 · [link]
The recent Jim Beam strike in Clermont, though a passive and contained frustration, is a reminder that the working class in the core cultural pillars of the Bluegrass state such as bourbon manufacturing still hold some semblance of engagement in their trade and consciousness against the structures of capital. It has defeated my sorrow at the late void of working class voices in the commonwealth, and as usual, presents an opportunity to reach out to the strikers to push their grievances into wider political and economic aspects. While the walkout like many is simply a frustration against contract offers, staff shortages and work hours, in these times of mere regulation and deterrence against direct collective action, no angry worker can be left without a hand of unity. It tends to be a signal to leftists to fuel the flames wherever they emerge, that the opportunity is constantly presenting itself but always trampled by the discourse around the conditions the worker relies on.
The obstacles in re-enriching proletarian power are daunting and seem to expand increasingly each passing day of this election season's ins and outs, complementary to the habitual attack on the labor movement and the ingrained shutter from the power structures against the present serfs organizing for their own interests. And even within the more radical left we stumble onto copious internal differences of approaches and viewpoints to wade through until a solid point of solidarity can be reached, moving on to the next hundred or so obstacles of actually getting to what we believe. The entire process has possibly been one of the most boom and bust formations of action in American history, whose resolve depends on the health of the current labor organization getting to the next point, all without tampering by neoliberal establishment. Now is one of those crucial points in time we need to foster.
But strikes and unity alone can't hold up against the forces which dictate the status of human well-being and exploit the resulting desperation. The provisional means of outcry can't carry us into a better way, nor can they last forever in serving our best interests. Like all scenarios in history a need to unite under new order arises when the battle changes form. The working class in all regions must acknowledge itself as the non-possessing entity in a possessing and non-possessing dichotomy of material conditions upheld by the laws of the state, and hence the recipient of all ill burdens of social life. They need to know they fall under a specially designated class of exploited people for the benefit of the possessing class, rewarded, like a treat to an obedient dog, with hardly a quarter of their value for their services and no further. From this understanding of the abusive relationship of concentrated power, working people of all backgrounds must overcome their boundaries and unite as an autonomous, democratic force against capitalism, the state and the emerging hierarchical divides of persons.
For Kentucky and other Red-states, the pressure put on everyone by local governments and their celebration of Right to Work policy, designed to ensnare workers in an unrestrained labor market, more recently in Kentucky with Matt Bevin's governorship, has created the divide on policy among the workers guaranteed to quench any and all flames regardless of the vote's outcome. False and hollow reform distracts class energy from revolution into the bourgeois honeypot where it dies instantly. Otherwise, the ills of working people are revised by the bosses and politicians to scapegoat ethnic minorities and eliminate the very idea of class and its effects.
Disengagement due to political dissatisfaction is either the break from the crushing world around everyone or the innate nihilism in those who want to work a job and come home to their families or breaks from reality, and nothing more. Life itself for the worker is a burden of routine and not a matter of being the master of ones own existence in the company of other self-masters united to build a greater world. Life's purpose becomes suffering for the vague hope of an offspring's suffering to grow less and less over a hundred years, with no substance to guarantee this.
Appalachia is caught between a tense historic antagonism against the left, and being one of the most impoverished working class areas in the country because of this. Towns and neighborhoods lack maintenance, families go without medical care, go starving, unemployed and homeless. Drug use skyrockets and laws combating individual choices create broken families. Meanwhile the course of hollow reform leaves Republican and Democratic workers alike chasing their tails leading them right back where they started. Hope placed in presidential candidates proves the gross lack of people's autonomy in a state society. The union men and women are laughed off and told to accept the imposed changes of the workspaces, let alone seen as the growing potential of a labor revolt in a southern state.
This needs to change, and the change must start with bolstering the spirits of the strikers and organizing them, but not in basic contained unions. Their ambition needs to be influenced for a long-term efficiency of liberation from compromises and desperation. A broad inclusive platform of workers needs to be situated in the region. A dedicated, armed socialist-anarchist federation built on free groups stationed in the states composing Appalachia needs to be arranged and managed horizontally. The group representing Kentucky should begin with engaging with similar workers in the essential cultural productions of the commonwealth. This would gain volume more than any other area to strike in. Kentucky's bourbon industry, which makes up 90% of the world's whiskey, being uprooted and reclaimed by those who develop it would get the world's attention by a thousand times the scope of Clermont's strike. Gradually; ideally, this would apply to places beyond the lower Midwest area, and include Pittsburgh's steel and Oregon's timber, etc.
The opportunities for better organization come and go in all circles, but something in the revolt involving such things as an area's cultural legacy illuminates the image. The trademark symbols of cultural regions should be appropriated during revolt for the benefit and happiness of working people than for the excess intake of industry. The crafts and trades enjoyed by generations taken out of an exploiter class's hands and put under a new social system is a hallmark of our endeavor: Our sources of happiness situated next to universal well-being. Freedom and expressive outlets being integral to one another. Mountain-men shiners under black-and-red flags, drinking happily with their family and friends in a better life. This can only be accomplished with organizing under this idea, and acted on in unity with other states and groups. Kentucky, and Appalachia, must unite.
October 10, 2016 · [link]
Its quite remarkable to see the planning phase, the execution and the reflections or footnotes afterward in the course of creating any type of content. If we lay all these out in one straight line, we can read an entire month's or decade's time of work as a single sentence, and take a shortcut through a huge part of following a creator. This is slightly like memory as well, when we consider ourselves 365 days previous to where we are now; how much we've learned and grown in that time, and how those all made us the person right now. Perfectly listing all the differences that emerged in that course of time would probably leave one dumbfounded. Studying this in media certainly will, when we replace the constraints of time with the vastness of mediums, and the person in question with the odd and manifold forms of thought
The creator often never has a perfect idea mapped out, even when a synopsis and several drafts are done. All the notes implemented and weird little bursts of "Damn, thats a good line!" included. Putting it all in a main draft and piecing things together is still just winging it, all things considered. This is why a lot of times the final piece is very different from the original concept, and even after that there are leftover tidbits to add in interviews or comments on one's own work when its become known to a group or shared the world over. The understanding that the source is ambiguous about the core and the insightful ridges of the work leaves a lot of questions open about its meaning and flexibility. To think that the one who created that great movie or wrote that long, epic story is vulnerable to any degree makes the observers feel as though they have an equal amount of power in determining the direction of the content. It also supports the notion that a story conveys itself by its various perception than by its solid form.
Film and books experience this phenomenon way too often. So often in fact that it ought to be incorporated into that sector of expression altogether. "When I wrote [so and so] I had the intention of conveying X, but ended up seeing the deeper meaning being Y when I looked at how people were reacting to it.", "The film took on a totally different meaning when it reached the audience." and so on.
The way life lessons collide with us in a sudden and resonating way have become a similar unspoken trait of creativity. The work doesn't seem to end until the viewer has a long, introspective moment to assess what was just absorbed, as with the author when the instruments of creation are put away. The work, however complex, is perhaps only the vehicle for getting the viewer as close as possible to the intended message, than for one to follow through objectively.
My modest thought experiment is this: Lets assume a writer has a concept for a book — but he wants to explore the deeper themes of the work in a published assessment of real instances of that thing. Having taken the essay into consideration, basing most or all of the book on that, the larger body incorporates the findings of that publication and perhaps expands on it when the author has time to step back and examine it under a different light. The book is complete and when its reception blows over, the author recounts what went into making that and notes the interesting values learned upon second, and now, third, glance. With all these three steps: The initial essay, The story based on the essay's concept, and the remarks encompassing the two previous steps, is it wrong to say that the third step is the most pure and complete instance of that whole cycle of ideas? We can arrive not only at three, but at five or ninety or five-hundred instances of that third step after so many of the first two have been done — constant expansions and developments that take us someplace else after each other. Of course, after a while this would be cumbersome and annoying to keep up with, but nevertheless its still a form of filtering out the abstractions and getting to the purest batch of that idea. Ringing it dry.
The when its all said and done effect seems to be what trails off of finished work, being the spore that plants the natural continuation, or at least the afterthought, of media. This isn't so unrealistic on the surface when we consider the reverse of Symbolic Self-Completion, e.g., doing less, or at least not enough, and being left with more to add.
I suppose its safe to say we've found an exploit for media; until, perhaps, we invert the phenomenon I proposed and not-self-completion, and we end up just making another mess. I guess time will tell if we get this one right.
Nature and Substance of Infoanarchism
September 21, 2016 · [link]
The related ideals of opposition to centralization of social mechanisms emerge in varying degrees in all things capable of occupancy, community and derivative. We have yet to find anything like the Internet that is capable of going against this. It appears very much to be the outer instance of replication and growth seen in the evolution of animals, instead in social systems. Break-aways and growths. Any concept with a formula and inner-working cells can counteract other cells that form barriers, seemingly devouring the encompassing formula for itself. This is the idea behind anonymizing networks, encryption and independent platforms of communication. These form the defenses of open, vetted communities and services against the gatekeepers of the Internet and the malice of investment in control. Striking against malicious cells. From this idea melded with critique of property rights over files, the source and distribution of information and the private ownership of technology exists a trend that stresses democratic control of a shared online space, total freedom of public information and free ownership of technology. That is the summary of Infoanarchism.
Its almost certainly impossible for any anarchist to pass up the realization of their proposed social system in smaller contained instances which serve as testimonies to the natural universal draw to anarchy. In our place in modern time, we can't help but encounter that fashion of effusive disorder in every basic interaction. Even in structured areas of communication, the underlying fibers are decided by consensus. This seems to be information at large. The distribution of media is multiplied by the initial numbers of people who discovered and shared something. A descending order of heightened volume, regardless of what system it happens under. Natural anarchy, the ends determined by the participants. That is, of course, until the ruling occupation deems it harmful and dispatches its combatants.
This alone puts anarchism in a different light than physical civilization in which Proudhon or Kropotkin centered their attention, and infers that things can spring from within just as uniquely as from insurrection. The hacker culture, though not explicitly dissident to the state, made the earliest form of this. Richard Stallman's GNU project in the 1980s at MIT spearheaded a quasi gift economy model for the exchange of source code between developers and end users, leading to the modern open source community that created the Linux kernel and a myriad of other free software unrestricted by private ownership of the technicalities. Here started the first major questioning of money being important to software: The programmers being the ones developing and distributing the technology, they should have free agency to grant rights to end users to reproduce and share the code under the same conditions.
A decade down the road, the influx of the BitTorrent protocol and file sharing networks as a whole became the first major discord in the information age between free access to media and the profit interests of the entertainment industry. This was the shift from owning and sharing ones own work, to opposing the institution of private ownership of other work. A radiant and perfect concept that ideas made public are common property and transcend regional and material boundaries, not compatible with capitalism. When The Pirate Bay in Sweden was first being legally hammered by the United States, it was a matter of (international) state action against content-sharing in defense of property rights. In this sense, the perfect storm for Infoanarchist ideals was created. Disregard for capitalist and state monopoly on data and direct action to circumvent it. This would play out significantly during such incidents as Aaron Swartz' harassment by the federal government for downloading JSTOR academic journal articles, investigative journalism by Barrett Brown and Project PM, and the leaks by Manning and Snowden. Upon knowledge being made public of the United States and cooperating global powers engaging in clandestine monitoring of all telecommunications — imperialism of the airwaves — perhaps the largest modern pulse of state malice to rejuvenate Infoanarchist involvement against force in all forms had been found. Privacy efforts like campaigns by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, GnuPG and an array of encrypted instant messaging applications were among a new wave of tools for concerned hackers and anti-authoritarians in the 2010s. All these continue now to contribute action against tyrannies who aim to suppress justice, however only in the context of current society's pressing hunger for accountability than a full recondition of institutions and associations that anarchists would wish to see most.
The two above points of significance, unrestrained technology and conflict between monopoly and anarchy, seal the endeavor for Infoanarchists. Its more or less the essence of the whole matter: Free information; free people. With natural similarities to Anarchist Communism and Revolutionary Syndicalism, its essence is inseparable to the broad core of socialism. Now affirmed as an exceptional current of anti-authoritarianism, the question of practical use is in need of answer; something I don't think has been seriously examined, since perhaps this was never thought to be a serious school of thought outside the Internet, since the piracy crowd was thought to be only of angry, unruly teenagers until worldwide pirate parties formed and later began leading in polls in Iceland in 2015.
If we can imagine the radical difference the present world would experience had the circles around the printing press and audio recording suggested an importance in owning technical capacity in common, we can determine the importance this plays in the contention for an anarchist society. The means to build groups concerned with liberation cannot be kept in the hands of the few as rival interests utilize them. This is a clear case of welcoming the Trojan horse into the gates, the perfect moment to pull the rug from beneath opposition. Enter the need for free and open source utilities as a means to build an anarchist platform instead of simply relying on facebook groups and twitter accounts, all under private firms cooperative with global surveillance and censorship.
Ground-up creation of association, connecting messages with palpable specimens of injustice and authority, their injection into working class populations and the rallying of frustration into a democratic platform of direct action and expropriation is the best approach at beginning an effective movement that I can condense into one sentence. None of this can be possible without every component from beginning to end being owned wholly by participants. This is true in the same way that democracy cannot be attained nor sustained through structured authority for one moment at all.
The outstanding trait of Infoanarchism is probably its development as a distinct community practice before a defined theory. Hackers always prided themselves as opponents to authority in some form or other. Be it simple liberal dislike of government tampering, capitalist minarchism or attacking hierarchies in their own communities, they all simply want to keep their transactions safe from coercive power. Ian Clarke's inception of freenet and its coverage by TIME in 1998 demonstrated this very basically.
Clarke is the creator of Freenet, a computer system which allows anything that can be digitalized from political tracts to pirated music videos to child pornography to be traded anonymously on the Internet. "Anarchy means without a ruler and that sums up the architecture of Freenet," says Clarke. "It does not have any kind of centralized control. In fact, it is designed in such a way that it is impossible to control."
[...] While it will allow anonymity and free speech on the Internet to flourish, Freenet will also pose a serious threat to intellectual property rights and the firms that profit from them like book publishers and record companies. "It would be nice if the system were used only for wholesome purposes such as allowing people in China to access political information they might not otherwise get," says the boyish-looking Clarke. "But I know it will also be used for other purposes such as distributing music without paying for it. You have to take the bad with the good."
"The problem [with going after Freenet] is there is no there there," says Bob Kruger, Washington D.C.-based vice president of enforcement at the Business Software Alliance, which represents leading software developers such as Microsoft and Apple. "We have to think long and hard about who would be the target for any type of enforcement action. It's like a wheel when you can't attack the hub then you are forced to go after the tops of the spokes and here we may be talking about lots of people."
Emphasis should be put on a device, e.g., freenet, being impossible to control, but essential to direct. As far as I can tell, this is the situation we want to start at across the board, from the people the platform bring in to the power they take up in communication. A message is not to be controlled in such a uniform way or adhere to any quota, but to exist in many forms that comprise a fluidly directed meaning. Each concern from individual voices inevitably meets the goal that we all subconsciously compel ourselves toward if we are met in a particular situation; a phenomenon of psychology. No matter the individuals' concern, it is destined to exist in the context of civilization's benefit in a self-correcting, self-sustaining informal system of associations. We could think of ten or twenty sub-problems, but two or three of them will quickly prove to be the key to demolishing wage labor and social privilege in a given geographic region.
The stressing of information ownership seems to suggest if like concerns are an entrance to revolution. The intense passion by International Pirate Parties in response to state and private attacks on technology have thus far been the only known instances of related mobilization, more or less desperate proclamations of their existence to the mainstream political sphere. But while we've yet to see banks being smashed and cops being overpowered as the direct consequences of the anti-copyright mindset, we can infer revolutionary scenarios coming from severing ideas and culture from capitalism before the bulk of production as well. As stated previously, the hacker ethos is very closely tied with anarchism when the issue of control over software, hardware and the flow of information is a major issue. The popular sentiment of stealing music and making starving artists being deeply accepted maxims cannot go unchallenged by all fronts for long, should large scale challenging of wage labor also manifest. The innate contempt for authority and the gravitation toward betterment of information exchange and efficient employment of computer science, regardless of political leaning (though its commonly left nowadays), leaves very little room for sectarian divide, that we need only apply copyleft principles of information to labor and quality of living for them to be fully communist.
Even without this, its likely for an information revolution as the fortifier of physical skirmishes to come. The possibility of the frontlines changing place has never been more likely, almost certain, than now. The shift from footsoliders, to naval warfare, to thermonuclear terror is a noticeable continuation of how aggression is transformed. A long-overdue cyberwarfare campaign by anarchists bent on the deliverance of intelligence is both an ideal method of a platform's origin, and the inevitable place to be filled in aggression transformation. Though the divides between the state apparatus and populations greatly limit the fair engagement in matched aggression against the state and capital (as far as nuclear weapons and naval gunships are), the mass connection to networks in all realms of life prove to be the greatest battleground. We've all heard the conspiracies of China hacking us and the NSA doing covert battle by keyboard; theres no doubt that an anarchist federation will take this form of battle unto themselves when the time is right.
No formal outline or hypothesis of this strain of anarchism exists, and I make no attempt to change that. The absence of any "Infoanarchism: Theory and Practice" is in itself a testament to methodological realization of basic principles subconsciously followed. That is, you realize you're doing something good and effective before you write something on it. I assume scholars could venture to propose from this that all further ideas ought to reverse the chain of hypothesis and experiment, and instead seek an experiment in all social doings and record a pattern when noticed. But I think the constant focus on developing new theories stalls bringing the actual vision of the fore-bearers of anarchism to fruition. Concern seems far more needed in formulating how to achieve free communism than ideas to start over in. Infoanarchism seems to simply be the ideas of social anarchism in the context of property rights of media and the means of making information available, and considering our place in time, it could be the best amplification of getting to a free society.
This all adds up to understanding what Infoanarchism brings to the table that other tendencies fall short of emphasizing or correctly defining. In a sense it puts tried and true critique in a relevant environment. The great majority of people today are tragically apathetic to their own alienation by the boss, due partly to the shift in the standards of work and the multitude of escapes from the problem, breaking compulsion to tackle it. But intellectual property is a reachable topic to most people under the matter of capitalism. When TorrentFreak manages to get an article trending and people happen to read it, and it touches on our obligation to buy every digitized work of art, that acts as an entryway to thinking the same way about labor, money and markets. Of course most people think its wrong to copy media for yourself without paying for it, but that small bit of engagement alone means there is room to challenge it and form pockets of discussion. Nowhere is there conversation about if bosses are needed or if a state does the best for citizens, but knowing what the institution of copyright serves and there being some recognition of that corner allows us to talk about artificial scarcity and the massive profitability alone in court settlements, the corporate victim complex and harassment of teenage system administrators. This acts almost as an ambassador to anarchy more broadly, introducing first the objections to private control of media to disengaged people, before the next step of workers' self-management, stateless society and so on.
The free culture movement and its progressive figures, who at best support fortified welfare provisions, have become the meeker sibling of radical seeders and bank vandals. I wish their endeavors in patent reform and free access to code the best, but with the warning that its far from the final stop in this issue. The two sides of copyright critique share a similar environment to the age-old conflict between social democrats and Marxists. The Battle of the Practicals, the Hunt for the Red Estate, Knight-errants of the workers. That same old hilarious spectacle of who can best represent the workers while representing their own conflicting establishment. The parade continues as the people begin to pick themselves up. Not simply socialists, but also indifferent netizens who just want a copy of that new film, take as they please and leave nothing for the hoarding pigs of industry. Proudly so, too. This single idea is the start of a greater flourishing, which continues when they unite in the understanding that we must apply this to all corners of social life, treat human society as a vast and free infinity rightfully open to all as a common inheritance, and put the future directly in the hands of all, starting with information.
Class Consciousness Lite
July 19, 2016 · [link]
With Bernie Sanders caving and endorsing Clinton, effectively neutering his social democratic platform for wanna be socialist youths to ride, Donald Trump securing a vice presidential nominee and Jill Stein of the Green party apparently taking the reigns of the progressive movement, the fallout of American political drama is proved to be as chaotic and sadly amusing as it ever could be. We have a living fascist meme almost guaranteed to be running the nation for four, possibly eight, years thanks to the moron and bigot vote, a repeat war criminal capitalist as the primary contender, a faded beacon of some actual change, and a sub par replacement for the progressive movement edging into the arena.
When Bernie was going strong and winning a considerable amount of states, we still couldn't quite see him getting the Democratic nomination. The people slowly coming to the understanding that they are being screwed by the porky shams of “democratic” candidates looked to this worn Vermont senator as he said what nobody else would say and what the working class wanted to hear, but we knew that the dirtiest and most detestable tricks of the DNC hegemony would be put into full effect to sabotage the campaign before it could really get off the ground to secure the profitability of the common ins and outs. I can now fully agree with Chris Hedges on this and admit that I was wrong.
Even before it was over, it was on life support as it was dripping with the expected impotency of liberal action barely grasping the actual solution to the problems. Raise wages, hold class criminals accountable, reform the police, legalize marijuana. How revolutionary.
This is among the most tragic pursuits of those who would follow someone like Sanders. Dependency is placed on a pedestal-mounted figure and their campaign rather than assuming direct action as a collective force, all the while liberal instances of “getting money out of politics”, “demanding change” and “fighting with non-violence” intended to simply give the self-assuring illusion of power and a say in a “democracy” tremendously overshadows the dust-gathering weapons of the grand old left of organizing and acting in solidarity, regardless of consequence to oneself. The noxious sensation of comfortable, safe outcry online and family-friendly activism is the replacement. An appropriate extension of how everything has really become in our society. Every emergence of desperation to collapse the decay of this abusive relationship and live momentarily in hardship to secure well being for all is struck down with pacifying reassurances that things will get better with votes and donations.
But the problem is not simply laziness or fear of making noise, its misdirection and failing to see the point. Change contextual to the existing state of affairs is not the end solution. Its not the ideal to remain committed to each step of the way. It is to decommission the capitalist ownership of production and the state bound up in its function with the acknowledgment of its innate exploitation and malice. Its not that wages are low, its that we have them as the only means of survival in the first place. Its not that we simply hate working hard for nothing, its that we hate being “employees” instead of owning our work in common. Its not that business is big or rigging the system, its that private ownership exists predominantly as the ruling class that alienates you as an individual from autonomy of labor, backed by the police, military and wealthy political figures. There is no Bernie for you now, neither here nor there. Find what you can and mobilize.
They're just so close to coming to this realization, but always far enough from it. Organizations such as SocialistAlternative seem to perpetuate this under the flag of Trotskyism while mainly pandering to the reformist crowd. Almost a hybrid, and I can't exactly determine where they're leaning.
But this isn't a look back and laugh kind of frame I'm holding up. We will continue to see this attitude desperately retried. The political upholstery refurbished and declared the new “revolution”. New fools found and self-righteous as the veteran activists look over in pity.
Now I'll say gladly, I supported Sanders as a reformist who had the potential to make the present system less terrible, and was very saddened to see him submit to the Clinton monopoly on the party. But now we simply have the confirmation that this idea of obtaining some kind of utopia, at least in the United States, where capitalism is reformed through telling bad people to stop is an unforgivable silent enemy of radical progress. Progress in such a form that is merciless to the decades of misinformation and sabotage of how things could be right now. Progress that eliminates any left or right spectrum, and leaves only the common sense of anarchist communism.
But this can't happen without a great disappointment by the proletariat from the coming reforms' immense shortcomings, that all the working class have a chance at a unified aggression against the bourgeois state and an effective flurry of rage at learning how deep they've lived in lies, settled for a life of necessity and dependency on dollars and cents, uprightness and submission to unjustified authority and defense of the thieves of their work's value if freed from capital.
The greatest, most obvious form of oppression in the entire history of man is thriving and living happily in the faces of all subservient individuals to its internal workings. Those who most suffer the injuries by capitalism rush to the defense of private owners, in knee-jerk fashion outlining their indoctrination by reactionary state control. As Marx refers, the cuckolds of the working class who are encouraged to pride themselves as men of good moral standing. The human race after centuries of slavery and work under the whip of necessity has still not bound together to subdue the most malicious complexities of capitalism which constrain and eliminate the purest manifestations of freedom, which would rid the world of vast physical, mental and emotional turmoil in all who know their purpose in social life to be determined on the amount of surplus value they produce for their bosses. And so the quelling of the most glorious liberation of humanity lives on in the young, naive, surface-level liberals who understand a problem but cannot grasp its inherit cause and corresponding resolve. Who believe that these problems are new and aren't appendages of any greater construct of contemporary feudal servitude that has taken root ages ago. That working people hold all the autonomy tangible, ignorant that they feed the very system preventing their fullest liberty beyond state allowance.
We live with heavy hearts to see the concepts of worker self-emancipation and horizontal organization of society replaced with applying padding to the rough and cold chains we are born into and die in. This is not to say that things will never change, that hope is lost, but that we now understand that the words which barely meet us half way are just as harmful as the darlings of the right. The rerouting techniques of party politics aligned in any spectrum will continually fulfill their role to the ruling class until the whole and undivided people dethrone them. We knew this from the start, but now we see it laugh in our faces as it wins once again in this American presidential cycle.
July 15, 2016 · [link]
I wanted to write something quick to break the silence. Consider it a placeholder at the end point of a series of events spanning a month and a half, and the start of getting back into what I was wading through previously. I'll do a sort of rundown of each notable thing thats happened since, though this won't be very interesting. I almost feel foolish posting this to my actual blog and not on tumblr or something, but considering I've only been inactive here, it should be appropriate. Is it counterproductive to be breaking your hiatus with a rant on your hiatus? Oh well. Thats what I'm doing. Here's your chance to exit if you don't want to read uninteresting personal nonsense.
I've been questioning my integrity as a writer since I let so much get between me and my craft, even though this is totally at my own will. Every previous meddler in this brand of striking on the earth's surface had some level of higher commitment, jotting things down in worn notebooks when away from their primary tool, rushing to grab a napkin to write something down at a restaurant when something grabs their attention. Whereas I barely even think about it when I'm out of my lonesome space, making me wonder if I'm only aboard this to have an idle placeholder for who I am. "I'm a writer, but the last thing I wrote was two and half months ago" which is always the case.
I guess the closest excusable factor is that I'm part of a generation based on doing a lot in a lot of different sectors by diverse means, and not a lot of people keep up too well, especially the absent-minded ones. Some forget or lose things, some drag behind in the productivity realm.
This, and I'm ashamed to admit that it takes me significantly longer than others to complete anything. Something that could take a columnist for a paper of any status about an hour or two takes me two weeks to a month. This is of several reasons. Firstly, I sometimes spend a whole day re-reading and re-writing paragraphs because I'm highly self-critical of my structuring, phrasing and use of devices and literary figures, as if any mistake would swell and corrupt the whole work and make me a dupe to the grand total of two readers. Correspondingly, I can't exactly produce poetic, eloquent sentences in a moment's notice like many honored authors can. I can make it appear so if I invest a month's time in it, or get lucky enough to have a burst of creativity and a free flowing mind, but the whole work you see before you commonly takes a ridiculously prolonged period of time. Even this took a few days, even though its "short." And thirdly, I'm too easily swayed that I can put off work for a day to play a video game or spend time researching a different matter with a subconscious knowledge that I wouldn't produce anything worth leaving in anyway. This is greatly problematic when this becomes my default mood for a whole month, requiring another month to get back at it.
Now obviously anyone who read that would guess that I'm new to writing and I have some further development to go on. Thing is, I've been writing on a scale I do now since I first knew how to form sentences. Going in and out of it, being sidetracked with work in programming and shifting from different paradigms involving typing, has probably worn that dexterity from when prose was my lone craft in its purest shape. Not beyond repair, just into a state of confusion that gets readjusted from time to time. Breaking the cycle normally relies on a single instance of having the perfect idea at the right moment, and following that idea to its end and acting on it. I have plenty of ideas in my notes, only a small handful of them will be revealed to be fruitful and interesting enough to follow to the end into a story. I think a lot of people rest on that rift. We pretty much have the ideas at the ready, but the manner in which to execute them are still up in the air. Drafts within drafts.
Being open about such things is probably for the best. The truth sets you free and all that noise, but this also gives an audience a sense of your inner workings as a creator. We all know what to expect from Scorsese or Tarantino when they release a film because they're open about their quirks and flaws and fixations in their medium. Now you guys know to expect one blog post per month from me because I'm a tortoise of an author who can't leave alone the fact that I haven't written anything for a short period of time and I just have to write about that even though nobody really reads me. Great.
Alright, so onto the main explanation I intended for this.
Minneapolis, June 2016
I couldn't write anything for June, I made some notes here and there, but no actual work done, as something I've been longing for for arguably my whole life happened on the 16th when I flew out to finally meet my lover of about five months, though we've had something special for about a year. I could drone on and on about how sweet and wonderful and fucking gorgeous he is, and how my life honestly depended on confirming the reality of this splendid love we share, but I'd prefer to leave that part up to the summary that I was on the cusp of throwing my life off a bridge until this angel among people came into my life and swept my heart up.
The week was primarily spent going to different shops and places of interest in the two cities, seeing the Mississippi river, consuming different substances and junk food, and cuddling and making out. Lots and lots of cuddling and making out. Perhaps not enough, but that will be corrected next time around.
I came home with a heavy heart and started drafting an overall telling of the experience. I couldn't just let this be something to look back on from memory, I wanted it documented somehow. As of now its still in development, and it might just become a private memoir of our first meet between the two of us, but a better idea of the whole thing can be conveyed in the first draft which is worth publishing.
Take off from SDF shoved my anxious tension into my chest and forced me down into my seat. All I could do is watch the shadow of the plane become smaller as my heart pounded harder, and later burst at the seems as I finally touched down in St. Paul 94 minutes later.
I was going to rendezvous with someone particularly special. Of the romantic variety. Someone who I've come to love on a level not simply of physical attraction coupled with an admiration for character. This individual was keeping me alive in ways I still don't fully understand. Keeping me moving forward in resolving lifelong emotional issues I had forgotten about. We gradually formed this relationship online in November of last year. Each passing day of chatting with each other got better and better, more and more deeper in subject and personal outlook. I think we started saying "I love you" about a week or two into getting well aquianted. From there on out I knew I wanted this person and not any other soul.
Let me put it in perspective. Since I turned two digits old I've never had a genuine friend in my life; let alone a love. Ditching public school for a cross between homeschooling and self-education at 11 years old ruined any chance of forming an important relationship with anyone. Around this time I started learning more that I liked boys, and that I also still liked girls to a very small extent. Upon entering my teens I accepted myself as a bisexual male. Knowing this, all I could really yearn for — in total isolation, as if expressing loneliness was the greatest sin of all — was that of a loving friend. Not even a boyfriend, just anyone who would honestly care about me and hug me when I'm miserable. Seven years later, I'd get more than I bargained for.
Baggage claim 9. Thats where the lonely chapter ended when I looked over and saw him walking toward me. A solid second of my heart arresting and all the memories of sheer isolation evaporating before my mind's eye preceded a beautiful smile and a first awkward hug. That goddamn Hawaiian shirt he wore. It was dorky as all hell but I wouldn't have changed a thing. His hands in his pockets, his shoulders scrunched together, a nervous little grin on his beautiful face as he stepped closer. I think I mustered enough in the moment to simply exclaim "Dude!", and fell into his arms. That sweet embrace I had dreamed of for half a year had finally come, the rift between building the foundation and standing on its peak had been crossed. Five seconds in, holding him by his shoulders and getting his scent in, I pulled out as if I had done something wrong. I stared back at the empty carousel, him staring as well. An excited grin on both of our faces said the same thing. "Holy fuck, its real."
I can't remember the awful small talk we conjured to break the ice in those initial moments, but I do remember jumping into the back seat of his friend's car at the airport and him immediately going into cuddles for the whole way back to his place. This was especially wonderful and terrifying in the first five minutes. I sat there with an uncontrollable smile on my face as this lovely person was hugging my arm and nuzzling my neck. A virgin to all things delightful coming from another person freshly thrown into the fire can only handle a little at a time, but I'm glad I didn't burst *too much*.
Things go by way too damn fast, especially when they're the best moments of your life. When they're spent with your life's love, in a new and splendidly chaotic environment. Why is time so cruel like that? I never wanted to not be driving to an airport so badly in my life. Just seven days ago its all I wanted to do, now I wished every airport in the world suddenly disappeared. Anything at all to keep this person’s arm around me forever and ever. Anything to stop the mile-by-mild progression toward the best week of my life coming to its end.
"This isn't the last time"
"I will see you up ahead"
We exchange a final hug before I break away to get this shit over with. I pick up my bags and go to check in for the outbound flight.
"I love you. No looking back"
Now that I'm back into my usual cycle, I'm of course introduced to new life obligations outside of writing and work – related to money, housing, family and where this relationship will take us. Consider this the part where I say that only my best efforts in balancing my responsibilities with my self-endowed responsibility in converting ideas and events into neat text will be at the helm of my life for the remainder of the year. Normally in a week I would have sorted through my notes and drafts enough to gain direction, but to be safe I'll give myself the remainder of the month to have everything sorted. Thanks to all those who stick with me and those similar to me. Its the small lights that inevitably shine brighter than the greater, shallow ones.
May 29, 2016 · [link]
If only the product of my own internal discord as a meddler in the written word, I'll at least be satisfied in having it documented and available to the public – though I feel like for every issue one person experiences there are at least eight-hundred more to make the same claim.
To do something in any creative field, a basic sense of drive is layered behind it. But this doesn't provide a cause, a goal to accomplish. The fuel doesn't necessarily dictate the direction of the vehicle. This is probably the first important distinction when becoming self-conscious as a creator of any kind, the second is understanding obligatory creation based on social currents and that derived from genuine inspiration or personal investment.
The task of journalists specifically is to follow emerging issues and situations and develop reports on them. Give the news, more or less. This being a job is naturally an obligation to create stories on whats happening. But does personal interest play a part at all in this? The progressive newspapers of the 1960s and 70s were personally invested in covering the development of the American civil rights movement, while divisions of mainstream media such as CBS and ABC at the time were burdened as part of their job, not influenced, to cover this particular emergence and be as cold and unemotional (objective) as professionally possible all the while. So its easily possible to meld assignment with passion in an environment where your job may collide with your political or social alignment, but is it practical? Moreover, does it give an advantage in creating a story?
If we take the work of Orwell for instance in covering the 1936 revolution in Catalonia, its easy to see how his experiences transcended his correspondence with The Labour Leader and became his most abounding political account, Homage to Catalonia. Orwell's placement in the left-wing secured his vigor and integrity in documenting the situation in Spain. He needed to witness this uprising on a personal level. Through his sympathies with the Spanish anarchists, he gave the outside world perhaps the best possible account from the front lines. We see the same in the modern case of Chris Hedges and the Iraq war.
So maybe we could conclude that if you mix your interest with your job, you reach the best place of authoring ideal extensions of the current world, where your interest is your motive. But if, for example, we look at corporate media which day in and day out covers how great their economic hopefuls are apparently doing, they don't seem to go on to expand on such things in writing which draws in the common man in the same way as others. Jim Cramer's ridiculous books didn't really make any millionaires since his time with Mad Money – but he followed close enough the same formula as Orwell and Hedges.
What of unfettered freedom in writing? Thoreau answered to no master and felt no outside impulse to put pen to parchment, and his work was a pure output of his heart's surge in Walden. Likewise regarding Kropotkin or Goldman. Their cases were made free of third-party supervision or direction. Does this then serve to say that without the eyes and ears of an intangible current of literary and critical demand, the influx of new works is more wholesome and virtuous? But is a raw outpour of thought good by default? We can easily say that Mein Kampf was also a free expression of the mind. It becomes a question of chaos or order in this field, I think. A suggestion if something is correct or not, which is never totally certain one way or the other: Do we write about what other people are alking about, or do we seek to go beyond that?
When something new happens, we record and share it. We have vague ideas about why we do it, but we mostly know that we just do. The premise that coverage of events or other developments in a society is what we should pursue is correct insofar that it is helpful or provides a unique perspective – or so we would assume. We aren't dependent on a central responsibility of people. We have unlimited means to get information nowadays, some better than most. The development of the information is the most delicate process where ensuring not only objectivity and accuracy, but personal integrity and worthiness of honor is essential. Works made with passion and ardor have been among the richest of their division, while those lacking fell short of its goal. It seems the former is rarely guarded in places where its needed most.
Covering what should be covered becomes coverage in order to be an excuse to flaunt personality and sensationalism. In TV news, for ratings. In online publications, for traffic and ad revenue. If this is the inevitable end, what good are the means if wasted? Why should we write about what we should if that sector is in constant turmoil? And striving at resolution often does us no good. Insisting to cover whats new draws new desperation. The higher the demand, the shallower the output.
In my own little realm, I sit where I am now with text editor open and feed of the world's trending chaos and conversation alive. I don't exactly keep the last one open to get my blood boiling and find something to comment on like most people do, but rather to poke at that curiosity and see if I should reach out and add my voice to it all. Rarely I do in any notable manner, since I meditate what my honest reaction is to if the most active corner of the world is worth writing about in that specific instance – it usually isn't. Aside from a political panel, event or intersection of pop culture and copyright or capitalism, I don't often follow most writers in chasing the crowd. Maybe I don't quite understand their outlook on it either. I've always found that whatever happens over there, which I usually don't care too much about to begin with, is in better hands. To be among the last ones to spit out whatever fragments of something previously relevant is totally pointless, unless I was the first to sound the alarm at the first glimpse of something interesting.
I suppose the maxim I tend to follow is that whatever one independently witnesses or expresses, they should write the original record; then everyone else is in a better position to branch off of that with critique and expansion, instead of writing about that same thing but in another light. Not that this should be a convention or law, the world doesn't operate on a first come, first serve basis which would be terrible. Instead, it could be the most ideal instruction of conversation wherein many different versions of one topic can exist seemingly interconnected, instead of multiple, carbon copy discourses piled on top of each other, as if in competition of who can be the most pretentious or witty instead of holding valuable contribution.
The mainstream current of journalism or eloquent craftsmanship is tainted, in my opinion. The gonzo league of storytellers always inferred this. Maybe that's the sole purpose of a “mainstream”: To incentivize the honest channels. In any case, the whole sphere in this millennium is entirely predictable – the attitudes and approaches, not so much the stories. I feel like all the postmodernist, self-appointed challengers of a made up status quo are the ones writing what gets read. Each story feels like a self-important 20 year old with a shitty attitude going “No, this is what we need to be talking about” when, no, we really don't. Like they know they're going to save the world with their passionate conjecture. But this isn't so different from previous times. Many authors before have hijacked the report of current events in some manner for their own agenda. The Red Scare afforded McCarthy his witch hunt and thus the propagandizing of Americans, 9/11 and the Iraq war warped patriotism into imperialist, tribalist fury, and now the current 2016 election allowed corporate media to grasp onto Americans' love of everything being a joke and whats trending on social media by making a new reality show for Donald Trump.
This is probably the gleaming reason why standing apart from the most restless subjects of coverage is best when faced with how everyone else is dealing with them. An individual can remain loyal to a basic sense of honesty as the rest of the world is spiraling into excess. The figures who actively opposed the crowds of reporters stumbling over one another to carry on a hollow crux of events are now the ones cherished more than any Walter Winchell or Barbara Walters. Instead of reporting again and again the same crisis or stage of politics, express the solution more ferociously than the status. Assign yourself a responsibility to widen consciousness, not to be a servant of a media model. Tell the people that those whose job it is to make the news are corrupted by contract and pay. Show that the media outlets people run to are owned by the creators of the very problems they report on. Explain why media is common property, not the sole duty of private entities. Yes, everything sucks. No, people don't need an update, they need guidance and honest judgment. But what do we write after we made our great escape?
I think its pointless for someone in my position to write about what someone a hundred times bigger than I already has. I don't try to be like, or outdo, someone at The Daily Beast or wherever else. My work is my own which serves people who would agree or otherwise be looking for a second opinion. I think this is the principle that people moving in this direction should embrace. To an extent, the point of this course is to make you a no-name vagrant who is occasionally unearthed in the heaps of noise by any given wanderer who exposes a few others to what he's found. A small, honest unit in the cycle of discussion. A hidden gem. To express and structure casually is the practice, in the same form you would if you knew the intended reader. The theme contours to all of this – your rant about what artist matters more than people think, the situation in the Middle East, or what have you, exists free of the corruption which deafens the inspirational honesty that larger outlets base themselves on. To write freely; not in the sense to avoid objectivity, rather to humanize what is objective both in story and in reaction. It adds up ideally to those who know what they're after, though not everyone does. People often aren't as immersed to any degree in the social and ethical roots of media, and so they seek the closest outlet which seems intelligent enough to tell them whats what, which is any major publication or TV news network. They go to these places and not your own, and when constant, you're a very small voice.
We wonder if having the largest, broader attention is favorable, or if maintaining a smaller, specific audience is. Truthdig doesn't seem to mind that it isn't as recognized as The New York Times, but if they hold true that they're the honest outlet, surely they would have a larger audience than now. But this isn't their own fault so much as it is domination by major media over what gets attention, even with something like the Internet, theres bound to be a small central focus and not people at large paying attention.
The writers aren't in chains or beholden to any discernible demand, but it seems what one writes about dictates their scope of attention. You'll be paid more attention to if you conform to what people are chatting about. If you deviate from this and talk about something else, you find a lesser audience, but a very specific demographic. The obligation is rooted. Common sense. Because of this, I think a distinction between size and impact is needed. You can easily have 25,000 readers who go about their day not paying a second thought to what they read earlier, far less likely to expand on it or put its proposed actions into motion. Or, you could have 200 to 500 readers who are so dedicated to a subject that they're significantly more likely to act on it or rally others into their association. The crossroads becomes choosing empty size or a wholesome minority. But looking at the present issue of the public understanding urgency and simultaneously being idle and content with their current world, there is much greater potential in the condensed forgotten groups of commentators and spokespeople who, even if lacking in the dust-gathering power of the empires before them, they have a unique devotion to their subject which no greater party can claim. Their energy employed in media acting as the construction of their monuments, as they acknowledge them with modesty. The smallest and most unknown groups of authors becoming the cult icons of media in a decade's time. The legitimacy of an audience rests with what they put forth for what they have subscribed to. They're merely onlookers without a stirring in their hearts, if they haven't been accounted for in a sense of impact.
This is why questions of raking in traffic, subscribers, etc., don't concern me. If anything they horrify me. I've seen the lifeless rot in dozens of upstart magazines and blogs which garnered enough attention which replaced the initial goal of the authors. We have all these followers and views, but absolutely nothing is happening. My concern is if I can strike a chord in the most genuine way in a single individual who can ratify that what I wrote has made the impact, making this practical and real.
But then I wonder if our attitudes thus are too egotistical and individualistic to do the function of writing any good. Do we neglect this burden in being this way? If we assume that countering the mode of writing about current things is to be opposed to them, we are true insofar that they become writing's own enemy. When reports about a blatantly authoritarian presidential candidate gradually warps into the latest addition of sensationalism for the sake of ratings and traffic, and not substantive reviews of new emerging statements (being reduced to mere footnotes), we should oppose any further coverage beside denouncing the figure on a substantive basis from a unique perspective. When corporate tyranny is reported only to the extent that it doesn't “send the wrong message” or make the company look bad, we should suspend all related corners of beating around the bush and resort to direct literary action against the causes of the event.
We neglect the burden of tackling news to the extent that it begins eating itself. To slow down the train so it doesn't miss the station. Or crash and burn.
So yes, there is an ethical demand for expressing the current conditions of a society and relevant opinions. But the extension to this would be to provide not only the best possible state of these things, but also the purest means of doing so. To do away with an obligation to report on for the millionth time a saturated and depraved chain of events which do no good other than angering the most conscious individuals by further pacifying the many, and a strict attitude against harming a money-making quota of so-called journalism by breaking the chain with a human moment. An obligation to resurrect a lost state of nonconformity and anarchy in media – not the same branded and sold nonconformity™ of young pseudoliberals – and to oppose a decade-by-decade mold to conform to in desperation of being heard on a hip, trendy platform.
Outside of the entire cluster, we already know there is nothing but unlimited liberty. Become a reporter for a major outlet or join the level of small commentators with a blog, or anything else. But when faced with what the society or mindset after the fact would expect of the architects before, what would it be? At present, those who we run to for news and commentary are suppressing the effective anti-establishment drive which was the genesis of great social movements. They present domestic and global events in humanly devoid and careful ways, cloaked as objectivity through neutrality, which people begin to think of as the only way to inform. This is how they neglect the obligation to honest writing, as we neglect the manufactured burden of conforming to frail words and standards of limitation. The society would base their information on looking at their impact and into the horizon instead of the traffic, conventions and revenue.
Those who assume the renegade character in media must grow beneath the mainstream until ultimately collapsing the system's purpose. To transfer audience and heighten impact. The goal is not to inherit the whole thing, but to remove the need of competitive news networks and bogus no-spin figures. To inherit all of media means to change who is the enemy. Instead it is to inherit, or rather reclaim, the meaning and spirit of it.
Report: Lexington Rally for Bernie Sanders
May 5, 2016 · [link]
Upon crossing West Main Street at 3:30 in the afternoon and getting in proximity to the crowds of eager supporters, the scent of strawberry vape and industrial paint on Feel The Bern buttons fills the air outside Heritage Hall in downtown Lexington. Faint chatter about finals and getting out of work early to see their favorite presidential hopeful is distinguishable from the noise of the city. I reach the masses, and my eye immediately catches a gentleman in a suit and tie holding a large sign among everyone else, which reads CLINTON IS A WAR CRIMINAL.
The attendees are mostly young, college-aged people. Most of the people are with dyed hair, May the Fourth be with you items and creative, meme-ish scenarios involving Bernie Sanders printed on shirts and stickers. They wait outside and in the food court in large crowds. Families and enthusiastic older adults with Bernie pins and signs are sprinkled among their younger counterparts. People seem to be confused about whether you wait in line for the event or just be prepared to make your way to the security screening to enter. This does well for a few little bazaars of merchandise outside the building’s front entrance. Theres about 3 hours to spare. I start mingling to get a general sense of everyone’s attitude and expectations.
“Absolutely man, I’m a fan of Bernie”, a young man in a University of Kentucky hoodie says. “Ever since he came on the scene where you had John Stewart kinda cracking on him about his crazy hair and how he doesn’t really have a shot, month by month you began to see it progress and more people get into it, and everyone blowin’ up over him, and its just awesome, man.” I ask about his outlook on UK’s political demographic this year. “Yeah, a pretty good amount [prefer Sanders], I’d say probably 75 percent maybe. Most of my friends are like military guys and more on the Republican side, but I’d say a good 75 percent are probably Democratic. Nobody’s voting for Hillary, so yeah.” Finally, I ask about what his chances might be in the Bluegrass state. “I wish that I could say yes [that he will win the primary], but honestly I think this state won’t really pick him up. I think he’ll get some votes, but I don’t think he’ll win it. But, I don’t know; you never know. People thought he was done before Indiana, and we saw what happened there. But its a bible-belt state and there are so many people stuck in their ways, not getting the right education. So I guess we’ll have to see.” An hour passes. The crowds augment.
“I like Bernie because of his stance where you can’t buy politics, that was probably my turning point on why I like him more than I like Hillary or all the other ones”, another guy explains. “He shows that there are still good people who hold power in this country, and Bernie is one of them who will use it to make this country much better as president”, a young woman says.
At about 20 ‘till 5, the lines outside start moseying inside through the food court. This can only mean its time. After going through security I enter the convention room where the actual rally will take place. Immediately, I hear cheering and shouting, whooping and chuckling. Everyone getting hyped for their main man. A gentleman walking next to me shouts “Dump Trump!” as we all make our way into the half-full room where basically anything goes for right now, and I join in with vigor. “Fuck the fascists!” The wide open room contains three small stages. One spare one which a lot of people are sitting on, one for camera crews and the other for Sanders to deliver his speech on. A vendor near the entrance is selling hotdogs and drinks while we wait. After about two hours of waiting, the room is filled. I would estimate around 5,000 people got in while a few hundred weren’t so lucky, and would watch the rally from the food court TV. Prince’s Lets Go Crazy and The Trammps’ Disco Inferno is playing in the meantime. People begin to take their seat on the main stage in the background of the podium. The people on stage begin doing “the wave” with their A future to believe in signs, and the audience below them does the same.
Finally, the Senator is introduced and greeted by thousands of cheering, screaming Kentuckians as he walks the stage. All smartphones go up, taking pictures and snapchatting the event. I stand on my toes trying to get a better view as official campaign signs and banners wave across my field of view. “Are you guys ready for a Political revolution?” the distinctive voice asks. The response is collective applause and then chanting. Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!
The senator transitions into his speech adapted for the state he’s speaking in. He mentions the thousands of manufacturing jobs lost in Kentucky due to NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with china and the thousands of families in Kentucky who struggle with affordable child care. He stresses thinking outside the box in regard to bringing about change in the nation — that the ideas perceived as radical and out of the question are the actual solutions to the issues, ones which the GOP has suppressed time and again.
Sanders concluded in declaring that diversity is our strength. That we are unique in being black, white, Latino, Asian, native American, gay, straight, men, women, some born here, some immigrants — and furthermore that love and selflessness is what drives us forward, that love trumps hatred, that when families and individuals are there for each other in their time of need, this is what comprises the strength of the American people. That this is evident in the political revolution, that the campaign is about thinking big, not small.
At the end of the night, crowds dispersed and faded out into the corners of the city, in bars and restaurants, where whole segments of 10 to 20 people still remained with their pins and signs. As I walk down the sidewalk after getting all I came for from the event, I can hear distant “Feel The Bern!”s and cars honking followed by cheering. Legions of empowered college students and wise elders made their way to their cars and buses from Triangle Park, still teaming and glowing with political fire.
The question now is if this event will have enough effect on the campaign’s chances in Kentucky, which I was most concerned about while planning out this report. In my opinion, if every one of the people who attended the event would go out on the 17th and vote for Sanders with the same energy they had on this night, there isn’t much of a doubt that he would have a huge chance of winning the primary in Kentucky. In the end, its another stone in the road. This one happened to be the fair city of Lexington in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Solidarity in May
April 30, 2016 · [link]
In honor of May Day, 2016 — The potential and strength of the world's working people could never be more obvious in the course of it being taken over by the contemporary model of master and serf in the last few centuries. The continuous devotion to self-preservation in the face of wage dependance being the only means of survival has never been more powerful. The only tragedy in these affairs, aside from capital occupying all tangible society, is that this energy has not been fully directed in such a way to sufficiency secure production and distribution for all, not for the elite.
This is quite obviously the logical follow-through for unions and collectives associated with missions in labor advocacy and worker autonomy such as the IWW, one that is often never understood by mainstream political discussion and warped by decades of nationalist propaganda specifically in the United States. Even those organizations which specifically distance themselves from socialist tendencies, the pursuit of bettering the working class is a pursuit which assists the progression toward socialization.
The adapted idea of the First of May is that worker solidarity is essential not only in honoring the common people, but in establishing the mutual security of every working person; the goal of unions. However one decides to use this principle is completely open to interpretation, revolutionary or reformist, communist or social democrat. This is what we celebrate this year.
Through the decades since events such as the Lawrence textile strike, the distinct energy of the great union has been demonized and dulled by rising alarmism and tribalism woven by the right and internalized by one generation after the other. Although the left is now reemerging as the progressive stalwart in the United States and worldwide, the remnants of the old rhetoric still spark occasionally from the cauldron of public discourse.
Those who tout “individualism” as the only right way in the course of social and economic life and demonize collectivism (as they think it is) have never stopped and acknowledged the roof over their heads that collectivism has built as they make such claims. Minimum wage laws, social security and health benefits. These and more are the result of taking up arms and organizing as a collective. Individualism is merely an essential component of collectivism, and collectivism being the united independence of a people moving toward an agreed, mutually beneficial goal. If we had considered individualism as the one truth at the time of the United States' founding, than evident despotism would be the ruling model. Democracy would be null and void. Welfare programs and basic public services as well. These concepts, good ones which we take for granted far too often, are the fruits of collectivism.
Those who believe that the colossal figures in the game of capitalist domination have honestly earned the stones and steel which comprise their empires have never glanced at the cogs which rig the system against the working class and distribute money disproportionately to the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the world, undermining and causing direct injury to the lower class.
What defeats these convenient delusions? What smites this continual notion that oppression has been once and for all vanquished and that the rich are perfectly innocent in times of economic turmoil?
The ideological strife in the midst of current class struggle is the fuel of the flames, the battleground is spearheaded by the enterprises against the united workers. What separates the two is scope and power, making this conflict particularly unstable but predicable. When the labor movement moves forward either by means of direct action or legislation, both are stamped out accordingly by the agents of the state in protection of the capitalists. When the capitalists move forward, either by means of cutting benefits or dodging unions, or simply murder, they are viewed as protectors of profit, not as exploiters. These are the conditions and double standards faced time after time in this struggle. However, this generates discussion and seemingly establishes a point of political compromise where, instead of revolution by the proletariat, the middle ground is social democratic reform by the likes of Sanders in the 2016 presidential race. Although its more or less pacifying the working class in the face of their labor being stolen from them, its the only immediate direction away from pure corporate totalitarianism before a greater society is realized.
In the case of continual solidarity and ensuring each generation a union to be a part of — if not perfect worker self-management in all corners of labor, the future will as always be up to those who build it. The well being of all will rest in the hands of those who toil to guarantee it. And the many who fight to give workers their rights, either in respect to existing systems or in discarding them, will ultimately fight to break down the barriers and hierarchies which create inequality and suffering to the innocent and the desperate who seek a better life.
When you've made it an Industry, You've killed it
April 17, 2016 · [link]
Putting pressure on a channel of content normally gives you filtered, bitter and normally undesirable results. Like everything that came previously is recycled and polished to appear new. At least, this has been my own experience in the last several years. This is the case for modern commercial content creation and mainstream consumers as a whole being fixated in that particular direction. The pressure on that channel is profit quotas, marketing excess, and – as seen in the contemporary film industry, god forbid – reboots of another overdone franchise in some new light because the previous cow has been milked dry. Its a tragic, in-your-face assertion of what we've become. It goes beyond annoyance of lack of originality, its an insult to those who love the crafts and want to see progress in them rather than it being a means of vain money-making.
We're making music,
movies and TV shows to make money. For no other reason whatsoever,
and we will feign ingenuity and a desire to build upon something to
get you in the theaters and to get
revenue from Netflix or Hulu or Spotify, and then we’re going
to expand our profits in merchandise in other fields and run this
ship into the rocks and start all over again when its
This is the case for when I recently saw the latest Batman v. Superman film on a goof one night. The entire film may as well have been a single, stagnant image containing text, reading “We're making a franchise to compete with Marvel's Avengers and you'll be seeing the same crap from us similar to theirs”. It felt like all the essentials of storytelling, character development (as well as contrast, Superman and Batman were both basically the anti-heroes) and a concise plot were the last burdens of the writers and producers to fit in there among the monuments of branding which they initially constructed, among other shortcomings that comic book fans more versed in the universe than I were especially disappointed to see, letting alone that the entire superhero film subgenre has seemingly become the center of this phenomenon.
It seems the entire wasteland of creativity has made an impact on the amount and scope of content elsewhere as well by making any independent creator a no-name with no chance unless they conform to the insidious system which they're likely avoiding. Everyone in the usual atmosphere of content are conditioned to enjoy new media solely from artists or outlets thoroughly directed by money-dominated interests, which constitutes the more desirable means of delivering that content, e.g., streaming services (YouTube Red, Netflix). The whole network of money inflow creates a border which the consumers contribute to building around the actual content. The vicious circle is that average people dig the grave of sincerity in culture as the industry overlooks them and rakes in the cash. Its equal parts consumers' fault as well as the enterprises' for all of this.
Right about here is where you'll begin hearing the groans of people who don't care about this aspect. “If its a good movie or song or TV show, and people like it, who cares?”. I wonder if people's tastes have degraded along with the standards of mainstream content. Like they're linked; like the quality of content determines the consensus of “good” nowadays. More often than not, it seems I'm right. Nikki Minaj is terrible. Taylor Swift is garbage. Beyonce is over-hyped garbage because of name recognition alone. All these artists are shit. No, that isn't me simply making a jaded, subjective proclamation. Of course art is subjective, but compare any of these artists to the likes of Vivaldi or Bob Dylan in terms of dedication to the craft, passion in the actual work and the disparity between how much money was behind them and I think it becomes easy to understand why I declare this so easily. The glaring vanity is what kills any right to call it art. Michael Bay's films are perhaps the shining mecca of this phenomenon in regard to cinema. Again, compare his work to Scorsese's or Welles' in the same ways, how one set of creators employ genuine themes of humanity, internal struggle and social commentary, and the other literally only uses product placement, atrocious cinematography methods and something resembling a plot or humor.
Something happened progressively in time at which the demands of commercialization outweighed the demand of innovative original content; and at the current time, I think, we're at its highest point and the masses are totally pacified to it. I'd like to think this became an early recognizable spike on a hypothetical graph around the Reagan era when TV, Film and Music were experiencing a renaissance and outside companies jumped on that action quickly and saturated media with product placement and merchandise in different areas, not to mention the political and social atmosphere which rendered every man, woman and child a cheerleader for the free market.
For me and likely others, this concept goes beyond the entertainment industry being lazy and desperate and bleeds into the more broader issue of capitalism. It exhausts and wares everything it touches for the benefit of the few who own its means of development and delivery, keeping the consumers satisfied just enough to ensure the system working and the masters happy. The outputs in mainstream media we're seeing now are the dwindling supply of the bourgeoisie which exploits the submissive cultural proletariat who has accepted the same origin story after origin story with a few tweaks here and there to not anger people too much with the same old. They've accepted yet another fucking break-up/love song or celebrity drama ballad from Taylor Swift or whatever other trophy for record labels and the RIAA. Yet another insufferable season of that one series we enjoyed in the beginning, which is now past death. In leftist circles we often talk about private forces ravaging the ecosystem for profit until collapse; I think we've seen a perfect application of that in entertainment media. The quality thereof is far beyond disrepair. Palpably lazy and annoyed. Just waiting to die… after one more Spider-Man reboot.
For creators, it comes down to one of two choices: Attach yourself to a foundation of corporate income for your content (a good half going to shareholders) and demands to revise the original nature of your work, or pursue a medium in a way which people will adore untouched by incredible profit influence, thus retaining the integrity and honesty of the content. Moreover, we should abandon this notion of intellectual property and copyright which suggests that ideas are material objects able to be kept as commercial property, and that copying and sharing are the same as theft. In the time before the industrialization of media, content circulated in common was not only prevalent, but the default state of culture and ideas. Renaissance scholars read Aristotle freely, musicians played without need of permission or purchase from the original song's creator, visual art was open to all across the world. Centralized, individual ownership of a work wasn't conceived because the work was rightly considered in the minds of all and thus the shared ownership of all. I can't fathom any other reason this changed so radically other than money having come into it all. “Starving artists”, a snarky defender responds. Eliminate money and a dominant market economy, and nobody will depend on arbitrary dollars and cents.
Normally we hear about this subject around a cafe table of insufferable Tarantino-idolizing twenty-somethings who listen to vaporwave and don't do anything about it. I think this should be among the headlines of major news outlets and not simply a matter of comment by no-names like myself, to be perfectly honest. Its a tragedy when greed has blinded the continuation of sincere art – a universal concept which replenishes and refreshes emotions and outlooks on life and society through narratives, moving us forward with a sense of meaning and inspiration. That being replaced by “Explosions! Brand-name mindlessness! Coming soon to DVD and Blu-Ray! Streaming now on Hulu! ALL THIS FUCKING MERCHANDISE! BUY. BUY. BUY.” makes me physically ill. Industry is a cancer. Money is a plague. Underlying material incentive that exploits a medium is among the unspoken horrors of our modern times.
My faith rests in those who create content and make the material gains the last thing expected. Those who still believe in some lost noble essence in giving an unconditional instance of pleasure or entertainment to the world, as the bards and minstrels of our time. Who toiled for quality merriment and music, not for a carbon copy of the thousandth pop song and 5 dollars upfront. This basic concept being expanded and dominating corporate distribution of entertainment is what will truly unleash creators and consumers as the masters of their crafts.
March 10, 2016 · [link]
You're born into this world, you grow up year by year, go to school (maybe college), get a job, work yourself sore, meet someone, get married, maybe have some kids, maybe work some more, save up for retirement, and then take a dirt nap for eternity. And its not all guaranteed to be pretty along the way, either. The last part is the only thing thats certain, if nothing else.
Its a cliche and overused concept to challenge and reject this pre-packaged, stereotypical set of life events, but a valid concern and pursuit nonetheless. Countless books, films, music and other works have used this existential battle of a perceived, undesired fate as the basis for a story or to establish a message. It critiques the conformity in the course of life, the mundane and ad nauseam nature that infects newcomers to this world — and asserts that there's more to this life that we're given than bills to pay and jobs to attend. That more vast possibilities to pursue await us over the horizon.
This is all well, but my own concern in this regard more than anything is seeing how this plays out in civilized society per the individual: The actual application of rejecting all the garbage (something out of Fight Club or Office Space) and pursuing what you want in the midst of everyone else dragging their feet, doing what they really don't want to. If one can live amongst the passive sheep while being something of free and feral hound.
It should first be understood that what we're talking about can be summarized as a system. Be it a corporate, political, social or cultural system, to varying degrees, each aspect appears to intersect and form an underlying mode of normalcy which the majority of people default to as the constitution of life at large. This mold then becomes the burden of each person born into the world. The idea of going to college and having a miserable job and eventually settling down with a spouse and children is the most common example. We could go on to argue that society is determined to give an advantage to those who follow this, but I'll allow that for one who would dig deeper before the actual object of practicality in resisting that system is comprehended.
I've always disliked the idea of something like school or work dominating a fair majority of my time. I've never been comfortable with a consistent burden hanging over my head and staying with me through a period of my life. I need underlying freedom from associations if I'm going to stay sane. The burden serves a purpose, however. School, as intended, to teach you. Work to supply money, and then money to obtain goods. But like anything else, we can circumvent the middle step and go directly to the end goal by our own initiative. As of writing, I never completed public school; I taught myself basically everything I know now step-by-step through encyclopedias and the Internet. In toiling for a wage, I don't have to work nine hours at a job I hate to get what I need/want; I could always grow my own food, mooch off parents or roommates for housing and other such things. If I wanted to risk it all, I could always just steal everything I wanted or obtain money through unlawful means. But for convenience sake, I do work that job because having that paycheck is the most immediate and universal means of getting through the world we're in now with markets and ups and downs on currency. It is what it is, and I don't care too much about that particular aspect to go through the trouble of leaving it, but the idea of doing so interests me.
But I'm still tasked with that one stupid thing hanging over my head each week. From here it becomes a question of being either half involved in the system to get the bare essentials or goods out of society, or to remove yourself completely from it all and go through the world on your own devices, albeit probably missing out on some things. In a way, the former is how I have it right now, if I can keep it that way through adulthood. How it is for those who are fully and not half involved in the humdrum machine along the lines of a full-time office or factory job is something I can only speculate on. If their human side remains, what contemplations of overthrowing their bosses' ownership of their toil they may have had, what thoughts they may have expressed to friends or co-workers so honest of their deepest feelings that it frightened them, what small glimpses of freedom they may have had, only for them to fade away each passing day.
So many people have made a definition for their world with jobs and compulsory responsibilities as the real world, I assume to distinguish the dumbass hippy dreamers who seek a way to breathe fresh air into life from the people who got it right who want to hang themselves deep down inside after working nine to five, insisting that they're fine with it all. I find it prudent to be as relentless as possible to those who repeat that belief through asking if their natural human habitat was the recesses of corporate servitude and if their emotional health relies on such environments. If the weekly paycheck holds the same innate importance as oxygen to them. If there is truly no line between the empires built on misery and stacked on top of each other, and the open spaces and infinite skies of independence all around the tangible spaces of the earth.
In totally abandoning the system, or at least to the most possible degree, we often see it done in a single, romanticized act of courage or outrage when depicted in media. Something along the lines of what Nicolas Cage's character did in Mike Figgis' Leaving Las Vegas: Cash all your checks and head out to a den of hedonism (to drink yourself to death, but you might not want that) as one big fuck you to life. But overall, its a sort of drawn-out suicide than a departure from civilization with a moral background. For that, we can look to the ventures of Thoreau as recorded in Walden, where his truest joys are had in isolation and simplistic living in harmony with the rural area of Concord, Massachusetts. In what minimal interactions with shops and farmers he can survive off of, as expressed in Economy, he basks in the independence and clarity of his own spiritual and intellectual agency. His mind, body, spirit and cottage by Walden Pond are his sole possessions and obligations. This is practical, Thoreau himself was proof of it. It being practical now is another story. In the 1840s, before land basically became swallowed up nation-wide by either public or private entities, when the United States was still fairly young and had plenty of room to grow, it was only one of the most common practices to set off in your own direction and establish yourself somewhere, perhaps with some form of tax on land depending on the circumstances, though Thoreau most likely resisted them, given his background. Now, its all mostly bought to become a new Walmart or gated community. If you manage such an endeavor in today's conditions, you've circumvented the impossible.
Those who live on the road or on the run are perhaps the only ones closest to what human instinct we have left in us from over a thousand years ago, if one can establish his or her life, or at least a period of it, on the principle of having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. Constantly shifting. Continually absorbing new environments, walking the length of railways and city streets, covering miles of pavement and highways in cars and planes, dominating landmasses around the world with their presence, all with what possessions they can carry on their backs and the infinite determination moving them forward. Where they go or what their global direction might be is irrelevant. The object moves three steps forward for every one made by the saunterer, and if nothing else, this is the one meaning in the whole affair. To travel, to make friendships and learn and do all that one can. This is perhaps the greatest example of hanging off the last thread connecting oneself to the entire course of systemic life, if he or she has the peace of mind knowing of potential debts and lost responsibilities piling on top of whatever is left of their name. This is possibly the purest form of freedom in modern existence. The most practical and obvious, the one course of life that isn't (entirely) illegal or regulated. If you can dedicate at least four years of your life to being homeless and scrounging what you can to survive in all manners of direction and location, its correct in saying that you've lived.
In the historical quest to rally human beings into a society with layers upon layers of systems which act as the property of a few to employ the many into dependency, in conjunction with social defaults and norms, have we made ourselves a prison for our souls and our individual and collective capabilities? This isn't to say that society is the problem, but that the seemingly mandatory way of existing in it has fostered a burning sense of hopelessness in those who have their own destinies to make while the system fights them each step of the way. There is no option to thrive or exist happily without a bank account; to enjoy peace from the grasp of enterprises or capitalism; to leave your own mark on the world without it in some way benefiting the system overseers and regulators.
We should acknowledge oncemore that the entire concept is a tired one, often used as a placeholder for a rebellious character in a film. But far too rarely do we actually step back from what we've moseyed along into and ask ourselves if serving the few for a fraction of what we're capable of is worth it on that same level. If doing something we hate, not 'hate' in the sense of brief inconvenience, but a responsibility which we physically and emotionally loathe, and for the outcome to be a pathetic wage, is truly the only way to flourish in our own agency.
I don't write this to explicitly endorse a rebellion or the methods propounded by anarchists or socialists, though I'd be lying if I said this didn't take influence from them, but instead I seek to put the truth of our hearts' desires and our sheer potential front and center, and that standing out in the midst of a century's worth of conditioning into employment, capital, systemic participation and abject submission is the hallmark of humanity restored. For true personal liberty, for genuine happiness and clearity, for unfettered potential and progression.
The Scope of Modern Greed
February 03, 2016 · [link]
There needs to be a crystal-clear layout for why issues stemming from corrupt money interests should be a concern for everyone across the political spectrum. Far too often when criticism of the rich and corporatism arises, those in the ideologically differing side descend to character assassination and dismissal of that person as a radical instead of examining the actual grievances to engage in a rational manner. We see this with the older and younger generations, the caricature of an old-timer telling those damn hippies to stop protesting the crimes committed on Wall Street and by Goldman Sachs and get a job.
People who are vocally critical of overreaching authority cannot rationally defend capitalism and massive establishments built on money at all times. Wealth forms a separate power. One that political philosophers on all fronts have acknowledged and warned of their potential dangers for centuries, and formed theories on dealing with them along with government powers. In a statement in an 1802 letter to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, most attributed to Thomas Jefferson, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered... I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
In the United States, this isn't a question of "How will Democrats and Liberals benefit from Wall Street regulation and campaign finance reform?", or "Why should Republicans and Conservatives defend the idea of Laissez-faire". This is a matter of a nation whose political process and sense of right and wrong has been gutted by special interests to establish an oligarchy and a rigged economy to benefit them at the expense of the people.
Because of this simple fact that is far underrepresented in the media and political dialog, I want to look at the overall situation in a simple set of observations from the bottom-up: the root of money, to greed, to the establishment of industry and corporate entities, to legalized bribery and how it hinders democratic policy action and thus the progress of society in the people's favor.
First, lets consider some of the influence and effects of money itself on a basic level. We have a model (The Dollar, The Euro, etc.) at the disposal of people and enterprises which is used to obtain goods, services and labor. Naturally, this model is going to be prioritized since everyone depends on it, and over time we see desperation for it as the levels of money coming in and out shift, either due to larger competition, lower productivity, etc. This is where compromises and methods are put into action by businesses to correct these negative outcomes. Some are less ethical than others. These include cutting wages and benefits and moving effort into earning more through a certain period than making sure workers are getting what they deserve. In more harsher circumstances, the offshoring of jobs for cheap labor. This is where the scales are tipped to accumulate more money at a certain expense of workers -- one example of desperation arising from money being what decides the actions of an enterprise, which in turn decides the conditions for workers and people who need things from centers of production. From this, its easy to understand that its money and the value system around which things like greed and the unethical compromises of industry revolve around.
But this is simply a function of large businesses when faced with economic challenges, not the individual seduction by the green which branches into other, more severe societal issues. This is the fault of human nature rather than (entirely) the system which we've accepted. And in exchanging material satisfaction and its unfettered domination for the good in the human spirit, we see it flourish more rapidly over time.
The nature of money collides with the impulse to hoard, cloaked as sustaining massive businesses when they're already too big to fail; which creates immense wealth disparity, not obtained meritocratically as the defenders would claim, something poisonous to the bottom 90 percent of American citizens and to equal opportunity. Even worse when the crimes which arise from this formula are defended and largely ignored by the press when they are catastrophic to the global economy. This is greed in the modern era — its as simple as barbarism in a nice suit and tie gets. Those who got to the top, through nepotism or previous criminal activity, follow this compulsion which leads them to pillaging the underclass through a rigged economy and raking in the dough in the most incredible fashion, all in a trail of cover-ups and paying off corporate media outlets to defend them.
Knowing that business shouldn't be generalized as unethical or greedy simply in nature, those which are and deserve regulation (or prosecution) are seldom given so. Most of the largest industries that exist as they are now rely on abysmal means of maintaining production in compliance with a quota of supply and demand. Outsourcing and feeding off the fruits of cheap, third-world labor seems to have become too commonplace for comfort, leaving some to wonder if the moral standards for enterprises has changed, and what the next over the top will look like.
Disastrous 'free trade' deals are endorsed by the heads of global economic superpowers as the champions of labor and business, while transparency groups release their texts locked away from the public, revealing their racket of malice and domination over the world.
As the very rich become richer and the poor become poorer, we aren't living in a fair, sustainable society where necessary regulation is in place to balance monetary distribution, as we continue seeing socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., through the years of corporate welfare being made a priority as thousands go starving and unemployed. Adam Smith remarks in The Wealth of Nations that "it is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion", and yet attempts to implement effective progressive taxation and other such resolutions have been shot down on sight by politicians on the right, major media outlets and by the base of unfettered industry who bought them.
When this recklessness is ignored for what it is in public discourse, it lacks treatment and infects more of society. The rise in wealth inequality and corporatist crimes are the fault of us not collectively calling it to task, and even worse, the funded blockade of policy solutions: when money has control over the internal function of the state.
The stereotype of incompetency and corruption does not exist within the political realm for no good reason. The very simple function of returning the favor unfortunately exists where it shouldn't. Where private funders of political campaigns get what they want through endorsing a politician, the politician has an incentive to endorse the interest of the funder and not of the people. This being a major reason for the irregular ratio between the polling numbers on issues and the actual policies that remain. Take for instance the majority of Americans who support Marijuana legalization and the reaction from the pharmaceutical industry and the politicians who have been known to accept money from them. The same scenario applies to universal background checks for firearms, and gun manufacturers pandering to public servants with money. One can't reasonably conclude that this doesn't turn democracy on its head.
In the most basic sense, people are critical of the wealthy because their fortunes afford them significant power and influence in all manners of the world, only half as similar to the prudence of being critical of your cops, military and government. Wealth and the concept of money should be the foremost thing to question, as it is now what dominates the whole tangible space of the earth instead of the simplicity of living and doing as you please without the constraints and demands of business.
Like I said before, wealth buys power; not in the manner which you and I need to go in accomplishing things. The myth of meritocracy playing out in the world has been one such thing that has repressed bringing this subject to light. The immediate response from the defense is that people aren't working as hard, as if a poor family in Harlem could amass a similar amount of wealth as the current top one percent of people in a reasonable amount of time by working multiple, honest jobs and not eating on some nights. It simply isn't possible for one regular person, family or generation.
Its incredibly frustrating to people who see these things as what they are when genuine evaluations of them are dodged with cop-outs like "Well, you just don't understand economics", or "Well, you're just a left-wing lunatic". Neverminding that this is horrible, careless reasoning — it isn't correct. If anything, leftists policies are the last resort for the integrity of the working class and American democracy. Social democratic policies such as those articulated by Bernie Sanders in his presidential campaign are centrist or center-left and socially and economically stabilizing across the board in many European nations, particularly in the case of Scandinavia. But because of the United States' political spectrum being biased in favor of the right and the unwavering love of capitalism, the second that these proposals reach the ears of the resolute public of this bias, the palpable snark and dismissal of the very thought as crazy ensues immediately. Luckily, the new generations are awakening to the fact that they've accepted a crumbling society owned by the few, robbing the many, and they are eager to resolve that quickly.
The most basic solution, in my opinion, which would open the way for the gradual resolve overall is to remove the influence of money from the United States political system. To mandate public funding of elections and abolish SuperPACs, ingraining the message that the government will not be privately owned into the heart of Congress. From here, when the people are far more likely to have the actual say in elections, we will begin to see their desires springing up from the renewed democratic process and thus the much-needed socioeconomic balances.
We need a division between money and humanity to define the direction of ourselves as a society. And for this to happen, we need to acknowledge the crimes and injustices of industry just as we would those of our government, reject those who serve dollars and cents and not the people, ammend what has been planted by private interests within democracy, and not be afraid to challenge capitalism and corporatism in favor of either the equilibrium of public and private forces, or complete elimination of their grasp on life. Moreover, people just need to know the simple reason why we are critical of the rich so we can progress in the conversation. Thats all I really hope for out of this article.
Bernie Sanders and Socialism
January 30, 2016 · [link]
The Bernie Sanders campaign has obtained an immense deal of support from the grassroots corners of the United States as well as a considerable majority overall. Sanders' platform of moving the nation forward in the fashion of more Liberal Scandinavian nations has resonated significantly with people in the past year. His record for being a consistent and principled Vermont Senator in the fight for equality and the working class has established his character as an exemplary public servant in American Democracy. His tough approach to banking establishments and corporate greed has won the hearts of those seeking economic justice and stability, his refusal to run a SuperPAC has proven to be a beacon of hope for those seeking a man for the people and not one in the pockets of private donors, and his faith in a brighter future for the United States has given a revolution for the people to strive for.
As a supporter of Bernie, as one of the most likely candidates to make it to the nomination, theres a lot I could go on about him and the discussion surrounding him: how his core policies like Medicare for all, Tuition-Free public college and a living wage are largely centrist ideals in other modern, developed nations; how the political spectrum in the Untied States being in favor of the right grants him the burden of being labeled as a crazy person when he introduced these otherwise centrist policies to the US; what his campaign means for everyone across the board, and so on.
In this instance, however, I want to give my comments on his self-identification as a Democratic Socialist, what that means in contrast to simply “Socialism”, if its the correct term when compared to his actual policies, and the responses to this aspect of the presidential candidate.
Bernie has described himself as a democratic socialist for quite sometime in the light of the public, and this has unsurprisingly garnered him mixed commentary. He has defined in recent speeches and interviews his vision of democratic socialism. “It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1968, when he stated that, ‘This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.’ It builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor.” He goes on, “I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down.” [motherjones]
Hearing Bernie talk about his aspirations as President, its evident to me and others on the left where he stands in the socialist spectrum, and its a place not uncommon in history or to the rest of the current, modern world. A place in political thought that has the great potential to bring America into where it should be in 2016.
Understanding the historical and ideological background of the actual term is important in identifying his political alignment correctly. Firstly, understanding socialism itself, it is a socioeconomic system in which the working class collectively own the means of production and the distribution of the fruits of labor, as opposed to the hierarchical, private ownership of production and distribution which is the basis of capitalism. This system has historically been applied through transforming a previously centralized and private economy into the social ownership of the workers, in some instances through reform, but historically through revolution. This is where people get scared that socialism immediately equals revolutionary disruption of their lives, but only through the fault of not taking into consideration the basic function of the system itself (social ownership) and only thinking of an implementation method. However, because of the transformative principle of socialism as expressed by the early notable writers on the subject, socialism cannot be reconciled easily with capitalism, as it is by nature opposed to its operation and wage system. Democratic socialism in its true form is the exact same way: It is the social and economic system of socialism with a political democracy of a sort, as opposed to something like the Soviet Union, the dictatorship of the proletariat or essentially state capitalism.
It seems that Bernie has used democratic socialism interchangeably with Social Democracy, as the two are quite different. We understand that he is more of a social democrat than a democratic socialist based simply on his policy proposals. Social Democracy is a democratic political system with hybrid economic systems, where capitalism is retained and regulated through social and economic interventions, and welfare state provisions, collective bargaining and progressive taxation is upheld. This is where his admiration of Scandinavian nations comes in, where countries like Denmark and Norway have expanded on this in prioritizing single-payer health care, free education, infrastructure, green technology and a sustainable tax system. We also see that the private sector is alive and well in these countries, within reason to where the working class is equally well. This is the overall vision Bernie has for America, where everything is evened out with socialism, welfare provisions, and a more humanized capitalism.
Keeping these things in mind about Social Democracy and Bernie's actual policies, it isn't at all equal to Marxism-Leninism, the form of Socialist thought that influenced Soviet Russia and what many on the right have come to incorrectly think of Bernie as the subscriber to. Not like the commentators actually give a shit about substance and policy; they'd rather resort to slinging labels and the Red Scare around like it means anything to those other than their old, Regan-worshipping audience, incapable of logical independent thought. I have far more respect for people with legitimate concern over Bernie's actual policies than those who simply call him a Communist. I say simply to them that if the Socialist Party USA and CPUSA doesn't endorse him, and that fully fledged American socialists call him a sellout, there isn't much you can argue with.
In terms of the supporters of Bernie, there is nothing more pleasant to see in the course of American politics than people of various backgrounds and even political associations coming together over issues which most of us can agree on. In regard to the label of democratic socialism, this is really my only concern for the support, as one who aligns with actual socialism.
I think some — particularly young — people are just eager to call themselves socialists, without entirely understanding socialism at the root. The nature of socialism is the opposition to capitalism, not the mere support of its regulation. The attitude among Bernie supporters comes back to people simply adopting controversial labels as publicity for something going on, relying on the reaction from the public to fit the name in somewhere, in this case Bernie. I'm not saying this is a bad thing as much as its just not accurate of him. You're not supporting actual democratic socialism if you're supporting Bernie Sanders, you're supporting social democracy — something more realistic and sustainable for the current developed condition of the United States. So I prefer that the supporters would acknowledge themselves as social democrats rather than vanilla socialists, simply for logical correctness. Sharing these distinctions of socialism within the community should be a responsibility for all of us. I would even urge Bernie himself to drop the democratic socialism label and explain Scandinavian social democracy to people more than anything.
But I think this is exactly Bernie's formula for gaining support and recognition, otherwise the media would only be able to rage on about how he's a crazy liberal old man who should head a retirement home or a neighborhood watch group instead of a nation, without the word 'socialist' appearing anywhere based off his own words.
Honestly, how do you get as much commentary and mixed coverage on yourself than by going out into the Democractic presidential race as a proud 'socialist'? To stand out in the humdrum election cycle of the United States requires something new in a candidate. Something bold and exciting to the people. A self-proclaimed 'socialist' couldn't fit that bill any better, especially when he clearly speaks for the people as his policies resonate with them significantly.
Call it a branding for his campaign, a genuine bemusement of democratic socialism, or somewhere in between — it certainly appears to be working. I guess as a stickler for terms and etymology, this gets under my skin more than it should.
Either way, the man has my vote. We have time and again been presented with numerous opportunities in the modern era to set the nation on the course of a reformist, subutopian reconstruction. Alas, we have settled in the current time for the private ownership of our democracy through a horrendous campaign finance system, which has in turn desolated the conditions of the working class as corporate industry expands disproportionately, undermined civil liberties in the veil of security, spread bitterness and tribalism in public discourse to divide us as a people, and secured the citizens in a pacified conscience to the wrongs of the powerful. The policies of Bernie Sanders have stood gleaming as the solution to these ills of our society, and the people are rising to this call. This moment in history we are witnessing is the rift between the progression of developed society, and all its potential resting in the wrong hands, very unlikely to be given back to the people. Do we cross that rift in time to move forward, or remain idle as we elect yet another pawn of the deep-seeded cancer of our democracy?
Perhaps thats one interpretation of Bernie's meaning of democratic socialism. Not simply economic, but to restore this democracy to the people — the workers, the families, the youth, the ambitious, the kind, the noble, all of us. Its ours.
Response to Sunde's Outlook on the Internet
December 12, 2015 · [link]
Motherboard did an interview with Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde concerning the state of the Internet and file-sharing. The conversation was blunt and rather disheartening, focusing on the world's fading concern of Internet freedom and of capitalist interests, censorship and political involvement changing the web for the worst.
Sunde highlighted the conversation by saying that he has "given up the idea that we can win this fight for the internet". He continues, "The situation is not going to be any different, because apparently that is something people are not interested in fixing. Or we can't get people to care enough. Maybe it's a mixture, but this is kind of the situation we are in, so its useless to do anything about it." He concluded that a total crash and burn of capitalist control on society is necessary in restoring the net to the vision most beloved by Internet freedom advocates. "stop treating [the] internet like it's a different thing and start focusing on what you actually want your society to look like. We have to fix society, before we can fix the internet. That’s the only thing."
I'm mostly agreed with Peter on this. Having followed his blog for several years and being on the same political spectrum, I sympathize with where he arrives at things and how he got there. But I think he arrives at this particular conclusion by looking at a few variables differently than I would, and perhaps leaving a few things out.
A big problem is that, while people do deeply care about the well-being and freedom of the Internet (e.g., EFF, Fight For The Future and Demand Progress), your everyday person is significantly less likely to give a shit on the same level of activists. If they can still check Facebook and watch Netflix, chances of them joining in on protests in Washington D.C. or Berlin over CISA or TPP/TTIP, or defending net neutrality are pretty slim. These days all you can realistically do is run a moderately successful ad campaign that reaches maybe 100 everyday people on such issues when a new piece of legislation comes along, but it seems you won't be making a notable difference. The common goal should be to get 50 - 60% of an area or country on board with you're cause, something we haven't reached since SOPA.
So the solution is to change that: amass great legions of demonstrations and outreach on the issue and make the subject unavoidable in public discourse. Some international movement, greater in size than occupy or WTO, centered around the idea that the Internet is a resource that can't be controlled by authoritarian or private forces, lest we begin to see the same slowly happen to the other aspects of our lives. That is necessary in the approach of reform, rather than revolution. We can argue that we've tried it before and it didn't work, but did we really try enough to where it got into the region of popularity and effectiveness that we want? We can't say a massive gathering for changes within the current system didn't work until we actually get there and see. We haven't got there because its hard, and we somewhat expected it to be easy to tell people that the utility that they love is constantly under siege in ways they don't recognize, and suddenly having them on our side. So, in my opinion at least, we need to work hard on this before we consider tearing it all down and starting over.
Another great problem, which is being combatted in the US, is money in politics transforming what we call a democracy into an oligarchy through private campaign financing. Something like making reform to get rid of surveillance, stop attacks and loopholes against fair use, implement net neutrality and other pirate-friendly policies are dead on arrival when you have insane amounts of money perpetuating "I scratch your back; you scratch my back" transactions between representatives and senators and special-interest funders from the right or the copyright defense. The restoration of people, not money, leading in Democracy would be a great light of hope for getting a society like the United States onto a path of fixing things.
As far as ending the capitalist grasp on mankind, or allowing it to begin to eat itself and the society its connected to, this would probably be all thats needed for everything above to happen. In the aftermath, when we're in the ruins of cities and factories, those remaining could rebuild on more honest principles and pave the way for a socialist technocracy. But I think the idea of letting the system overload by letting it gorge itself with profit, or having the worst possible person like Trump getting elected isn't guaranteed to work how we would like it to. For all we know, it would only cement things like climate change caused by fossil fuels and pollution, wage slavery and money ruling the world for the future. We can estimate that it would find a way to sustain itself for another decade or two as they officially raise the flag of corporate mob rule — something Orwell didn't fully anticipate.
We certainly need to put massive industry in its place and sever ourselves from its control, but again, if we follow how the political game is rigged and attempt to reverse-engineer how its been set up through massive global organizing, we have a shot at deescalating the problem before we jump off the cliff hoping that theres something soft to land on.
At the very least, we should consider how information technology shifts over time, perhaps not how we've previously seen. I wrote before how the Internet is an undying concept and a front-end of reality that takes on incredible changes and problems every single day, be it from governments, corporate entities or security holes. At the end of the day, its still the Internet and its still possible to do something or create something new that gets you from point A to B. It comes back to it not being as easy as we've gotten used to, but still possible. When plain HTTP was found to be susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks, HTTPS slowly became a norm. Perhaps the same will happen for BitTorrent and how we share files when the MPAA conducts its next strike. Pirates and hackers are too great of a force to allow the future to be a gloomy wasteland without a fight.
I could be totally wrong and we truly are doomed for the entire duration of where we are now, but its better to remain optimistic and try to do something instead of dropping your sword and giving up. Even if its hopeless, I still want to work either through reform and activism, and then — when it becomes necessary, revolution and re-building society in the model of libertarian socialism.
I think if we want the solution right now, want to re-build society free of capitalism entirely and don't care about the potential for a sub-utopian world that emerged from darker times, the path of revolution and starting over might be what we want. But I would first like to see if we can actually follow a chain of problems within society and apply solutions that restrict abuse of money, attacks on information technology and things that desensitize the public.
To Peter: stay strong, don't give up everywhere or forever, and do what you love even if people want to control it.
Note: Go watch TPB AFK if you haven't seen it. Its great.
Self-Importance in the Expressive Realm
December 07, 2015 · [link]
The modern age affords every person in the developed world the remarkable ease of living and doing things. We arrived at a point where the standards of easy and hard have shifted dramatically compared to past social periods. Hard became something along the lines of getting a book recognized independently (as opposed to firstly needing the right to free expression) or getting customers to your new coffeshop on Second and Main (as opposed to being extorted by the local mob upon opening), whereas easy is now getting these things done through crowdfunding or advertising from the Internet at home in less than an hour. Thats roughly a 100 year gap between the standards of what could be done with serious ambition and effort and what can now be done with technology at your disposal. Not very long when you think about it.
On our end of the line, when the Internet exploded, we applied this to communication. Forums, Blogs and eventually social media and the whole culmination of Web 2.0 emerged from the machine. We eagerly grasped it as a normal medium in our circulation within a few short years, and we ended up with insane amounts of communities, exchanges of ideas, and information and reporting became an instant standard. Knowing me, I could go on.
This became apparent in activism as well — namely Chanology and Occupy. People got messages across worldwide and connected with media outlets in correlation with the massive access to expressive tools. It became impossible for corruption to simply hide in the shadows without it being leaked and beamed off one Twitter account or report to another. People jumped aboard all of this while it was new and sunk into their corner of the appropriate public discourse, people like Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky: Acting and speaking first, and dealing with their image and biography later, circa 1999 - 2010.
Bringing it all up to now and maybe the last three or four years, we see a different course in emerging personalities taking place, most likely a consequence of the immense ease of getting things out. People, especially young ones, investing more in making the qualities of their personality and aspirations the formost bold points in the first-impression portion of outlets and communities, rather than focusing that energy into actually doing things or what they're capable of.
Understandably, many will overlook this aspect as people simply being enthusiastic in what they do: Perhaps they just want this information up front so people know what they're about. And thats completely fine, but the problematic area is outlined when we see this being a bigger trend on its own. It became increasingly obvious that its a matter of some people looking to fit into a mold before having a genuine interest in something, or at least a partial one. The scourge of "Lol yeah I'm a total nerd" that the technical crowd endured when CBS's The Big Bang Theory became a thing was an early example, one that people could sniff out and cringe at in a moment's notice.
Or maybe people are simply far more self-important, rather than it being mere feigning. Perhaps legitimate content-creators and people in certain positions are just more likely to be obnoxious fucks.
Either way, understanding and inferring on the origin of these attitudes is something I think is key in making critical points on why creativity and originality seems to be fleeting, among other things.
In basic terms, [some] young people grasp onto something like activism, publishing, programming, etc. — mainly things which allow a division for oneself — and either commit a good deal of energy to expressing how they feel within that group, or simply use what they've grasped onto as a platform for personal expression. The underlying theme is a sense of mild ego that overlaps the purpose of what they do just enough to produce a sense of revulsion.
Where this comes from might be of a few simple factors. The most obvious one to me, as touched on earlier, is the way information and platforms are so accessible. How people can join onto something, start saying anything and make themselves appear how they want. But thats more of a means than an initial influence, which can't be totally pinned down. But what I can speculate (and potentially be called an asshole for suggesting so) is that its a desire to find anything that one can mold into and use as a foundation for who they are. It isn't something malicious or tragic so much as its something people should recognize and learn to tone down for the sake of the responsibilities they burden themselves with.
My generation obviously has an ingrained want of belonging and communion, something reasonable and good for the advancement of cultures and social experimentation. But in the case where it blurs out the legitimate work of communities they join, that has to stop if we want to see a balance of things being done and people expressing themselves.
Lets be clear that we shouldn't doubt the legitimacy of someone because of their personality, since what they do is what counts. But when what they mostly do is interject their biases or personal motives, its a real problem.
Nor should we curtail enabling the level of exchange and speech that we have today. Expression, discussion, information-sharing and the means of making these things more common are gifts and should be protected and expanded, no doubt at all. What balances everything out is recognizing the potential power of your access to the world sitting at your desk before you make everything about yourself picture-perfect and end up wasting that potential. Do something new and great, and then worry about getting people gravitated to you.
The Internet is a Universal and Infinite Concept
November 17, 2015 · [link]
Concerns about the end of the best platform for expression and information have circulated since its beginning. The Internet follows a cycle of having problems and challenges met with solutions and patches to the holes in the boat almost everyday. In some cases, a government issues a proposal or mandate that would cripple the integrity of the net in a region, such as surveillance or data retention, or in its own function, regulating or banning encryption or certain protocols. In others, communities where free speech and the free exchange of information was once at the core of its principles cripples and corrupts itself for different motives. These issues are real and need battles waged over them — and when they are, it is guaranteed that someone in the crowd will claim that the internet is done for, and we might as well accept certain defeat. But approaching this claim in a basic and not merely idealistic way shows that, like everything else, a problem cannot exist without a solution, or a return to basics at which we can rebuild.
Starting from the bottom-up, the Internet as we know it is composed of hundreds of protocols and instructions for how information is spelled out in binary and source code and moves from one device, to browser or client, to the other. Such protocols include HTTP/HTTPS, SSH and BitTorrent. Each of these serve one specific purpose, but having many working in an ecosystem of computers around the world and beyond is what makes up the net. Its that simple when you lay it out.
The question now is what happens when such protocols become insecure, can be easily compromised or are outdated and a replacement becomes necessary.
Plain, unencrypted HTTP took a backseat in the department of serving webpages when a secure, encrypted variant (HTTPS) was finalized in the year 2000, originally created by NetScape in 1994 when man-in-the-middle attacks became a serious concern. The same for plain text emailing and STARTTLS for IMAP. Situations like these when they arise present the notion that the Internet is too chaotic and unstable to be a realistic medium of communication, and that it will be that way forever. But as fast as information travels and new things are made, so are patches, updates and methods of working around the problem and continuing on a path. This is only the surface of the continuous cycle of problem leading to solution.
Following fixing technical vulnerabilities is what happens within that which protocols enable. Initially it was Usenet and Bulletin Board Systems that served for discussion, but now in late 2015 we are at the height of information decentralization with things like Twitter and WordPress. Where anyone at anytime can become an alternative press outlet or share an idea that could become something larger. The system is put to the test when one of a few things happens: (1) the community or publisher is censored, either by the service moderators, or by the speech regulations of a government, (2) the community or publisher is hijacked by either insiders with certain interests in mind, or infiltrated by outsiders possibly sent by a government. The first situation is all too common when you allow unfettered free expression in something like the Internet, be it the shadowbanning controversy of Reddit in July 2015 (by service moderators) or the atrocious internet freedom ranking of China (by government speech regulation). Secondly, we have instances where new management alters the original state of affairs of a group and their content for nefarious purposes, namely, for example, the concerns which arose from the GamerGate controversy about ethical gaming journalism, and the co-opting of Occupy Wall Street and their message (which some believe wall street officials and the US government arranged). Naturally, what follows is speculation that free speech at large is under siege and that the values of the Internet are fastly coming to an end when headlines come in about Turkey blocking wordpress.com or secular bloggers in Bangladesh being murdered. The same in regard to hijacking communities fits similar criteria.
So when we're presented with these problems, what do we do? If you're sharing an opinion on a forum, about the forum that the moderators won't like, and there is evidence that they deleted the post and the comments, the options to abandon the forum and join or create a better one, raise awareness about the censorship taking place in the hope to make corrections, and/or gather people to abandon the forum as a sort of boycott are right in front of you. When we're dealing with a government blocking access to websites or targeting certain content, the common solution to go around a great firewall is the TOR network, a proxy network or a distributed P2P network for accessing the Internet from outside the location that content is being blocked. When you have reason to conclude that an entity has taken over the community you speak frequently on and caused great harm, you are most reasonably inclined to follow the steps taken with censorship by a service moderator: move elsewhere, attempt to amend the community or boycott it.
I'm sure these things are obvious to most people, as it resembles common sense: If something isn't working, use something else or make something new. But the reason I lay these out is that people have a habit of thinking the Internet will suddenly die in its total (unlimited) scope when problems arise. Similar to religious fanatics that claim a foreign conflict signals the end times. The point is that these things have always happened, not only with the Internet but with all forms of media, from print, to music, to television. Its a matter of expression and information itself rather than what the medium is. How the Internet differs is its broad accessibility and limitless possibilities, meaning that everything beneficial and harmful to what we value most about the Internet is always happening, the question becomes how much hysteria will build over this equilibrium to form a claim of the Internet on life-support.
The underlying implication I'm making with these cases is that all these occur around a concept, and they're not simply direct attacks or effects on a centralized body of things. You can attack plain HTTP, crack email, throttle BitTorrent traffic, censor bloggers and infiltrate communities, but the Internet is still a functioning thing if there is still electricity and the possibility to connect one computer to another. You still have the possibility to send something, somehow to one computer, back again, and find either a solution to the problem or an alternative where you can pick up again when you're facing problems. Hacktivists, programmers and internet freedom watchdogs around the world are too great of a force to be stamped out by a few parties' actions. This is what makes the net immortal and beyond basic physical limits — its been on the tip of our tongues for ages. If we've known that "Hmm, this software isn't cutting it for me, but I'm sure someone else out there wrote a better program that could work for me", applying that to the integrity and existence of connected computers itself is more than reasonable. Even in scenarios where the physical access to a computer is unavailable to some people, necessary information or reporting can circulate in places elsewhere, albeit more imprecise — such as the conditions of someone in prison or political asylum.
If we only have two or three telephones in a neighborhood or city, the concept of making a phone call still remains.
The analogy I've used for a while is that the net is the front-end for reality itself. We can interface with information, discussion and creation more broadly and efficiently than any other tool in the history of technology. As we once needed a few journals, a pen, a camera and a tape recorder, we now only need to have a few tabs open in our browser and a few applications open at the ready. This front-end recurs back to itself in maintaining its own existence by having no centralized dependencies, because it isn't any single thing. Its a concept, a simple formula for working. The only thing it relies on is being in the minds of people who want to use it and keep it going.
Computer Hobbyist and Activist Culture and Media Acceleration Online
November 02, 2015 · [link]
For most of my life I've associated with those who have a culture built around their interests and pursuits in computer science and information technology. Not uncommon with other communities who find different media suitable or compatible with what they do and what their friends do. For several years I've seen this culture change, mold and react to the media they've adopted progress and stretch outwards, for better or worse. People in the community either pick up new media and information and use that to build extensions around whats already there — or go along with it without revision, or something in between. We as social technology enthusiasts created an omnipresent hub of possibilities of expression and life within production and creativity. Things like the nerd persona and the stoic programmer, which have been immortalized in the mainstream through the years, are perhaps the most immediately recognizable forms stemming from the hacker and Internet freedom fighter subculture, but theres a lengthy chain of how and why these things developed into identities and generation-defining movements and communities.
When we look at how communities form their shared interests, we're looking at a branch of evolutionary social application. A creative work or idea generally goes through a subtle consensus trial to determine if its interesting, entertaining, amusing or otherwise defining for the community when someone shares it in a forum of discussion. If it snowballs and reaches enough people as intended, it may very well be seen again and again, sometimes in different or better ways. This is when something becomes a part of a group's culture: when it is naturally adopted and accepted into the community over a period of time, and becomes a norm to some degree. So an example of this in computer hobbyist culture might be the stylized green text in a computer command line, computers and artificial intelligence being put in a metaphysical situation (as seen in the Wachowskis' The Matrix) the stylized clothing, lingo and hacking sequences in Iain Softley's cyberpunk crime thriller Hackers, or a high-tech dystopian future as shown in Ion Storm's Deus Ex video game series. These things became part of that culture because they matched up with what the nerds in a particular sector found appealing. Simple enough. It builds on itself when it inspires further cultural production from within the community, rather than content from an outside entity to be picked up by the target audience. At that point, the full evolution of a culture has been reached and the process has been completed.
The obvious question becomes how did this formula apply itself to computer enthusiasts? First, people had to start doing things and build a community. This began around the late 1960s to mid 1980s at places like MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, UC Berkeley and Bell Labs at the time where innovation in Computer Science was endlessly up for grabs. Here, the development of UNIX and core computing standards by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were under way, the ARPANET packet-switching network was created, and the early workings of the Internet were coming into fruition. Along with technical achievements, an ethical framework was being forged by Richard Stallman, a young computer scientist at the time, through the GNU project and its mission and tenants, in conjunction with the common hacker ethic. From here a social basis was formed for hackers to work and live in — a sort of consciousness influencing creativity and productivity. Its at this point that the tone and shape of the community is made, where members of it have numerous interests and freely exchange them in areas of discussion. It is composed of students, researchers and independent intellectuals who do things in the context of their group: programming, studying artificial intelligence, and designing — as well as hacking — devices. Among their cultural favorites are George Lucas' Star Wars, John Badham's WarGames, Steven Lisberger's TRON, and George Orwells' classic book 1984.
Around this time, circa 1985, there was a political atmosphere growing that would work beside the interests of these hackers, who already had concerns of civil and human rights. The Free Software movement at this time found voices of support across the globe in France by the newly founded 1984 Network Liberty Alliance, who's precursor had organized against the installation of nuclear warheads in Multangen, Germany. The Alliance spread information on the GNU project and trained participants on similar methods of information technology; one of the early instances of Free Software working with activism. Later in the early 1990s, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a very active and important organization in the field of digital rights to this day, was established in response to a US federal crackdown on the distribution of a technical document laying out the functions of the emergency 911 system. It was thought at the time that technical information of the system being made public would allow for people to exploit the system, so that callers with actual emergencies could not be put through. The scope of those wrongfully caught up in this case, a particularly messy and uninformed one on electronic information, soon raised the concerns and grievances for an informed legal framework for dealing with computers, their connectivity and how information crosses around the world in that system; when we, the hackers, were facing challenges from law enforcement and a society having newly stepped into the digital age — "where law and technology collide". The EFF brought expertise and a framework for action and speaking out to the table for electronic law.
What those in the hacker community were figuring out would evolve into what we now call hacktivism -- blending the forces of an effective interest in computing and ambitious hacking with making political progress and referendum for the better. Its not unreasonable to say that the instinct within hackers reaches outwards at times to touch or change the world around their world: To effect state policy or resolve injustice, and to throw their interests in the ring of public discussion.
What distinguishes then from now is how differently media and information could spread and dominate. Not just in regards to news and what we found in books, but culture and ideas. Summaries of our own consciences spelled out and published in text. If we had to pin down a single, specific part of this discussion, to define where the landscape changed radically and where we stepped back and said "whoa", it would certainly have to be the time shifting to where anyone could create a blog, or register a website, or sign up for Facebook or Twitter and share yourself unfiltered with the universe. This allowed for the most amazing and widespread growth of content, communications and relationships that was previously impossible in human history. And because of this remarkable phenomenon, we witnessed new areas in Sociology, specifically how we react to information at a high rate, emerge from the great rock we were chiseling at.
The conventional model for information which worked through newspapers, books and word on the street was static, and thus limited in accessibility and reach. This made media comparatively slower to develop and change over a period of time, which people were used to. But a little while after computers became connected around the 80s and 90s and we created ways of sending content back and forth, the old model became the new stone tablet as we embraced something beyond previous anticipation. It afforded everyone the ability to start a newspaper online or publish a book, and have comments and ideas shared through social networks effortlessly. It nullified the dependency on someone with the know-how to start a new paper or column; everyone could do it themselves easily.
This kind of event is part of what I'd like to call "Media Acceleration". The point at which data as everyone knows it transitions from being a singular, limited form to being something instantly obtainable from anywhere. When we apply this part of the formula to creative media and watch that run its course in communities, and the variable for circulating information and data is replaced with forming cultures, the result is the computer hobbyist community in the early 2000s. A few years beforehand, when UseNet was the goto medium, you could see a few recurring themes and references in threads, different jokes and types of people who congregated in different areas, but nowhere near in size compared to how references from new movies, TV shows and music, amusing original content and jokes were pouring out just a few years later, and how some died out quicker or lasted longer than others. The solidifying of the Internet meme — the great pillar of online humor, file sharing, imageboards and social news all came into existence and perfection around this point: perhaps the most vibrant, free and beautifully chaotic period in Internet history. I don't think many people know how much of a big deal this was and still is, or how much we took it for granted.
Having obtained a massive culture, numerous things to fight for among those passionately online were inbound once more. Hacktivism makes one hell of a comeback at this time. Springing out of 4chan around 2006, when they weren't raiding habbo hotel for fun (lulz) or bringing down a Neo-Nazi radio host, a new confederation of Internet vagabonds was weaponizing anonymity and mass demonstrations against the Church of Scientology for cease-and-desist letters against critical publications of their organization. They form a global audience against the church and expose various incidents of corruption and harassment, called Project Chanology. Their disorderly confederation is called simply Anonymous. Here begins the embodiment of the trend of causes and activism online, something once brewing slowly in the 90s, while the concept of remaining anonymous affords voices to be everywhere because they are nowhere centrally. This would be seen again in the case of the Manning leaks and the support efforts during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution a few years after Chanology.
This is particularly important because not only did it shine light on a far better method of releasing and spreading information, but it did so with the cover of anonymity, and thus security, up front. One needs only to trust in or join the efforts of the millions who are passionate about truth and justice, and seeing those prevail over the Internet.
Culturally, it has augmented the Hacker Ethic revered in the 1980s -- to explore and test the limits of computing, and to share information with the intention to bring good into the world. A newer iteration found itself under the ethic's umbrella: To use speech and tools online to combat injustice and fight for human and digital rights around the world.
At the present time, we are witnessing and building history as we speak. The contemporary hacker community continues to reflect its original principles in a modern setting. Virtually all free and open source projects emphasize the importance of community and the freedoms to revise and share, seemingly a trend growing in technology at large. We find the culture seeded innumerably with all walks of styles and interests, but it seems a few particular bold points are the startup craze, basking in the indie scene as a home (using some obscure linux distro, coding in a language only three people are using, making something only three people will use, etc.) and always looking to stand out somehow (pretentious hipster bullshit or valid personalities, depends who you ask). The drive to effect policy and launch reform remains stronger than ever, possibly because of the ease to jump aboard something, but equally considering the events of the current times. Since the release of NSA documents by Edward Snowden in 2013 confirming speculation about government monitoring of electronic communications, hackers and digital rights enthusiasts have been stirred up like never before. What was always depicted as an Orwellian, far-off scenario has been found to be closer to reality than we thought. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight For The Future and other digital advocacy groups have started hundreds of campaigns against such actions which curtail privacy, free speech and other individual rights. Though we have a ways to go and have barely scratched the surface of what needs to be reformed, the energy and means of doing things are here and ready for deployment when the time comes, on the net and out in the streets around the world.
There is some interesting criticism and analyses of what our culture is now compared to how it was a few years prior, things I've also noted. There is a recurring mindset in some (particularly young) programmers of having a project that goes through an emphasized crowdfunding and crowdsourcing phase, depending on what it is. This constitutes the startup branch of the culture; not a negative one, but one that feels worn out and recylced when considering how many other people have this same style of doing things. Another is the pseudo-hipster (a mindfuck in a single phrase) personality that roughly half of those who align with programming or advocacy communities fit in with. This normally consists of using the hacker identity as a platform to hold up the bold points of one's unique identity and interests. Say what you will about "hipsters" or new iterations of them, but I think the merits and ambitions of the hacker should be the first thing to be judged. Afterall, we're all weirdos to someone.
We start to ask ourselves what the future might be. Where we should go, what more we should do. As for doing great things and effecting the world around us, we obviously need to continue being invested in our principles of testing the limits and moving the horizon forward, defending free speech, information-sharing, free and open source software — and not only encouraging but relying on the innovation of computer systems and tools.
As for our culture, what shades in all these geeks and tinkerers when they gather around, the most forward-moving approach that we're already keeping alive is encouraging the diversity that forms naturally in good communities and the decentralized variations of what hacker's like, the disorderly confederation mindset, and the common ownership of the entire community. Even the concept itself.
You see, the thing that defines what we are and what makes some teenager with a computer and a will so important is that we interact with the most powerful communication and information-sharing tool more deeply than others' care to. Every person who aligns with the hacker culture has the potential to shape the world of tomorrow: to fix something that should have been fixed long ago, or say what should have been said sooner. Thats why this community matters. Every part of it. From what we do to what drives us and fascinates us.
We’re Always Stealing — An observation on File Sharing, Copyright and the Existence of Content
August 24, 2015 · [link]
The system of trade and formal, capitalistic distribution has two simple figures which layout how things are circulated: Buying, providing money up front for something for that unit to come into your possession, and stealing, the bypassing of paying through brute taking of something for it to immediately come into your possession. These two figures are about as simple as it gets in describing how things are circulated through providers to consumers; almost too simple when it comes to examining a separate, unrelated figure that has become more relevant with the rise of the Internet, and has been vilified for decades, if not centuries: Copying. Copying differs from the normal system of identifying purchases and thefts, which is partly the reason for the commercial and legal quarrel around it, eventually leading to one side claiming it is stealing by default, while the other acknowledging its significance from the common trade figures. Copying differs from theft in the regard that stealing removes the original unit from the availability of others by making it the sole possession of the theif, while copying ensures that the one making the copy has his share and allows for others to have their share as well, by not ruining the original unit’s availability for others. Another factor that works with copying is sharing, the distribution of the copied unit, notably these days, through the Internet. Combining copying and sharing forms the basis of the free exchange of information, ideas and culture, a principle highly respected and preserved by digital rights advocates, scholars and Internet users who create and share torrent files — labeled and self-described “pirates”.
Unsurprisingly, this function of distributing content has been met with huge blowback from copyright and patent shareholders and investors, lobbyists, lawmakers and different parties and positions in governments around the world. In average, they are people to benefit to some degrees from cases, settlements and laws against their opposition. A legal commonality has been established within this particular side in the debate: That file sharing negatively effects sales and content creators, and could realistically be defined as theft. The piracy side has little to gain in this fight, other than film and music collections. Sure, they gain some files to enjoy and share with their friends, but in large part, they help a free system of sharing that is built on charity and the democratization of content, one that is more compatible with artists than one that wraps their creations in chains under the guise of “the artists’ protection”.
Returning to the claims by the copyright defenders, the position most taken is that file sharing negatively effects sales of records and films. This argument may sound convincing at first glance. However according to studies [x] [x], there is little to no negative correlation between file sharing and music and film sales. Specifically, they have ventured to conclude that file sharing causes increases in CD purchases, that file sharing tends to lower the price of music, exposure to new material within the file sharing community may promote new sales, and that P2P downloading of music as a means of previewing may lead to more actual purchases of the material.
From this, in my opinion, we can establish that file sharing works as a mechanism for correcting imbalances in profits and the circulation of content, alongside being a means of liberating content. If we seek a fair economic approach to media that benefits both viewers/listeners and artists, and not large copyright shareholders who take up as much as they can and rig a system to benefit themselves, we should defend and protect file sharing as a fair and necessary component of the modern distribution of content.
Its been seen time again that the actions against file sharing by copyright defense has been used to extract money and initiate lawsuits however they can, hiding under the narrative that business is under siege by disorderly anarchists, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. These types of actions are normally called “crimes”, but when someone with money and political power does these things, its seen as an acceptable means of protecting profit by most standards. The complete scope of unethical actions and positions by the copyright industry is unfathomable. Firstly, they allow themselves a costume of moral wholesomeness in claiming that stealing is bad, and if you don’t pay their clients in a manner they find fitting, its a crime. Their hypocrisy bleeds through in looking at their history of not paying artists fairly in settlements and not even paying them at all [x] [x], and lobbying to cut royalties. Branching off from being hypocrites, they are careless of those who enjoy or make content. They have refused the release of expired content into the Public Domain, fought for renewal of copyright on content that is barely making money, discriminated against promotion of content which does not belong to them, and forced revision of content.
The copyright mechanism has set up barriers which enclose free paths of digesting content, and created a framework of what is considered acceptable when it comes to anything that someone bigger than you can profit off of. Greed, corruption, Intellectual Authoritarianism and invasive laws have warped the free, decentralized way of trafficking and immortalizing media. It has stifled creativity and punished enjoying anything that doesn’t throw a dollar in the heaping stacks in the MPAA’s and RIAA’s bank. They’ve gone out of their way for years to scale down others’ opportunity and to scale up their own — redefined terms and conditions which help them along the way. And in these definitions and legal conclusions, they have reached something that resonates with both parties.
We’re always stealing, by the observations and conclusions of shareholders, lobbyists, universal copyright fans and single-minded people. If you’ve ever digested or observed any form of content at all, you’ve “stolen”. Because in the circle of life when it comes to content, you will never be able to go out into the world and civilized society, where people play music at parties and invite their friends over to their houses to watch a movie, without somehow ingesting content without paying. We don’t fine or arrest people in book stores when they skim through a book or write down a passage from it before paying. There is nothing different about hearing or seeing something else for free.
The delusion of people who own “rights” to content is that they deserve an addition to their bank accounts for each time someone listens to a song online or hears a quote from a movie they didn’t pay for coming from someone’s house. Of course, they have a hard time enforcing this idea in reality, but they battle endlessly via countless litigation, trade deals, pushing paywalls and DRM into websites and services, fighting against Ad-blocking, and partnering with surveillance and law enforcement agencies to see that idea made more and more present in reality. Even if it means Authoritarian measures to ensure that nobody can even think about a scene from a movie without paying up. If this doesn’t fit the description of an Ochlocratic siege on content, free exchange and the senses, all for the sake of making just a bit more money, there is nothing to better define it.
The Copyright defense treats what they call “stealing” as if its something to be combatted at every turn, something unnatural and wrong.
Sharing content, and ingesting what is shared, relates more to natural law than to unnatural theft. We digest and build on the world around us by our senses, and from our senses we parse what others built on, in part by theirs. It is human nature to exercise these rights, and to be free from restrictions of these. The effort to suppress these rights all in the name of profit and faux conclusions about sales is incompatible with the Natural State, the reason being that natural rights don’t stop and start at money’s convenience. In the jail cell that a teen will be thrown into for committing the un-godly act of torrenting a film from 1924 that is vaguely “owned” by a major film company, and is making essentially no money, he will feel the walls and see the grime in the corners of that cell, have those sensory impulses ingrained into his memory, for however long, and he will undoubtedly tell others about it; share what his senses have committed to his memory from what he witnessed. If people began making money off the memories of prisoners, we’d begin seeing copyright claims on shit-infested prisons where non-violent offenders are put into, based off people sharing experiences for free. At this point it wouldn’t surprise me, the DMCA is already abused for the stupidest of things.
The process of overcoming the shackles we’ve agreed to for years is a gradual uphill climb, one thats been going on for years thanks to the contributions of the Free culture movement [x] [x], Public Domain advocacy and Creative Commons. In large part, it is composed of challenging and debating the outdated inquisition of sharing ideas and content. The simple truth is that intellectual “property” is an artificial system that controls something natural to unfairly create more artificial money. Nobody can exclusively own what is made available to everyone else and their ability, right and freedom to copy. The natural, orderless exchange of ideas and creations does not pause for the convenience of an unnatural oppressor. Its like trying to hold back the tide to catch more fish. Where we can find an agreement that some things are paid for, some things are paid for and copied, and some things are shared freely, is where we will find true prosperity for all, not a select few.
Copyright Does Copying Wrong: An Anti-Copyright Manifesto
October 12, 2015 · [link]
Copyright and the concept of Intellectual Property is a bogus, oppressive system.
It is fundementally incompatible with basic, natural interactions with ideas, information,
media and content that cannot be stopped or regulated no matter the circumstances of a state
or institution. This is very similar to freedom of thought or freedom of speech. We have an
inalienable right to copy and share.
This right is embedded within every society and government — naturally hidden and protected from authority and monopolies, and does not comply with the rules of any economy, although it rises to the surface of every tangible circulation of affairs from time to time, and is afterwards punished and demonized in some ways.
Copyright conflicts with the embodyment of the free exchange of ideas (the Internet) in its mission to thwart the natural process of copying and sharing for the sake of unnatural, finite profit. It demands that the sharing of content must be stopped to make more money than monopolies can realistically make, and that captialistic institutions should do everything in their power to disrupt this process.
The copyright system looks to control media through the claim of 'rights' to products of ideas made public, and therefore in the realm of possibility to be copied. If someone has an idea or creation that they realistically wish not to be copied without permission, they would do best to keep that idea to themselves, totally unshared. Because when any idea is shared or in anyway made re-processed by someone else, it is impossible to enact restrictions on how that piece of content reaches others, when they have the freedom to speak and think.
When we consider authoritarian governments that wish to disrupt freedom of speech and freedom of the press, among other rights, and compare that with industrious nations and economies whose highest held endeavour is to accumulate profit, whereas the endeavour of authoritarian governments is to accumulate extensive rule, they will adopt similar positions of authoritarianism to protect and control a system which benefits only them and significantly disadvantages the people and the devices of their inalienable rights.
Copyright is impossible and unethical to enforce as a component of the rule of law in a just Democracy. DMCAs, infringement claims and regulations on Fair Use only harm those who ingest content, benefits one party and controls the other, and takes but never gives back. It would serve better as a voluntary, unenforced agreement between an enitity and a responsible enterprise which holds copyrighted content, in which the terms of the agreement would not effect outside, unassociated entities in the public. For copyright to exist for those who would use it responsibly and not force it onto others, this would be the fairest, most realistic implementation of it.
When we agree that ideas are free and the products of them are a natural commons, we will find coexistence with industries through charity and the deprioritization of profit, and the general public who shares information and creativity. In all — Sharing means caring. Copyright is the bully that wants it all to itself.