Rudd’s package stimulates the dead…

29 05 2009

As it turns out Rudd’s immense package didn’t just stimulate the economy of thousands of ordinary Australia’s, no, Rudd took it one step further and stimulated the dead.  It is reported that the corpses responded by lying their, and taking it like a corpse.

Some have theorised that the dead, excited by the intense stimulation will rise from their crypts, in a Hollywood zombie flick sort of way, to take over shopping centres and boutique stores in their quest to increase consumption for the good of Australia.  God bless ‘em.

The Australian government has admitted that cash hand-outs aimed at stimulating the economy have been sent to thousands of people who are dead.

The money was part of a multi-billion dollar package under which every tax-payer was entitled to a payment of up to A$900 ($700, £440).

About A$14m of the money went to dead people, ministers said, and A$25m to Australians living overseas.

Local media have dubbed the deceased recipients “the grateful dead”.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said that the money would still help Australia’s economy.





At Issue

28 05 2009

Browsing the interwebs a few days ago, I found an article that discussed a situation in Cambodia where a whole community is being evicted because it is claimed they are squatting on the property of the French government.  My reason for posting it and the relevant text is that in my mind, it highlights the three tiers of disagreement between Anarchists.  It’s also interesting as looking at the problem from the confines of orthodox statist reason, the only argument that can be legitimately made against the action is that it is an abuse of human rights or that it is ‘just wrong’.  It is, of course, yet the problem is that any solution to the situation is limited by the positive law of governments.  It is clear, in my own eyes, that given an Anarchist society such a situation would never come to fruition and would find itself peacefully resolved immediately.

Now the Lycee Rene Descartes wants to expand.

And along with its landlord, the French embassy, it has asked the local authorities to clear Limsreang’s building so that it can be used for the school.

The lycee insists that the building belonged to the school before the Khmer Rouge arrived in 1975; now it is merely taking back its rightful property.

The residents, however, say they were ordered to live behind the lycee after Vietnamese-backed forces ousted Pol Pot’s government in 1979.

When peace returned to Cambodia in the 1990s, so did the Lycee Rene Descartes. At first the school co-existed with the residents, but an expanding demand inspired the lycee to seek the removal of the community

At first the school co-existed with the residents, but an expanding demand inspired the lycee to seek the removal of the community.

“This site belonging to the embassy must go back to the school,” says Pierre Olivieri, the co-ordinator of a parents’ committee pressing for the move.

“We’re the only French school in the world with a squat – even nations at war like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan don’t have that.

“It’s not good for the image of France or Cambodia.”

The residents resent being labelled as “squatters”, and they were unwilling to leave for the compensation on offer – a few thousand dollars and a plot of undeveloped land on a reclaimed lake on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Limsreang says that City Hall made a series of threats to evict his community – and said it would give them nothing if they did not accept the terms.

Optimistic future predictions aside, this real-world situation can be used as a test to draw out the differences between influences and theory for Anarchists.  This test comes in three tiers; Government, Corporate, Individual.

Government

If we approach the scenario as it is, we come to understand the key problem being government.  Regardless of persuasion, each Anarchist will universally recognise that a state cannot own property.  To take the statist position that governments can own property, we essentially fall to the impasse that befalls the Cambodians right now.  Strictly speaking, this is the Anarchist argument; the French government cannot legitimately claim a right to property, and eviction by force of its current occupants is wrong.

Of course there exists a principle that if I walk into your house, punch you in the face and kick you out, that house can never be mine and should be returned to you when I am no longer around.  This is in spite of the fact that your being removed from your own home breaks any chain of possession or ownership.  However this does not apply to the current scenario, except for the consideration that the state is the one doing the forceful taking of property.

Corporate

The second tier involves a slightly different scenario:

Suppose the group performing the eviction with the help of the Cambodian government is a multinational corporation and the building currently owned is not a school but a factory.  The corporation wish to expand their factory into land which is occupied by squatters, who like in the real-world scenario, had been living in the place for up to 40 years.

Here we begin to see a divergence within people’s theory.  Some individuals will resolutely jump-ship and take the side of the corporation, arguing that the ‘squatters’ are, in fact, trespassing and nothing can justify their presence as the property was owned by the corporation before the take over by the Khmer Rouge.  It doesn’t matter that 40 years have passed.  They’re simply required to move out as the corporation has an unquestionable right to remove them from the area, as their occupation of the building was precipitated by the force used by the Cambodian government of a previous time to force out its occupants.

Whereas another group might argue from a different perspective, that the choice by the corporation to leave constitutes abandonment, for some property rights theorists, and the occupation by the people who have worked together to build a community constitutes ‘homesteading’.  Or words to that effect.  The problem is here that the principle mentioned above, invariably, seems to be in support of the corporation.

The same people may then start questioning whether the corporation has any right to property in the same way taking up the Anarchist label, in part, depends upon the individual’s willingness to question whether the government can actually own property.  So the same question may be applied to the corporation, along with the same tests, such as coercion/exploitation, origin and even public good.  Those people may than take note that the corporation, under current legal systems, is an entity created by the state, which directly seeks its benefit in some capacity.  Such an assertion bleeds over into the origin of property, and how the corporation actually comes to claim ownership to what it does, questioning how you can legitimately own something when your ability to acquire those goods comes through coercion, even if that coercion is outsourced to a hierarchy maintained by violence.  There is no better evidence of this then the hypothetical corporation’s employment of the Cambodian state and its thugs to evict people living in their homes.  Lastly, public good may be appealed to as it certainly stands to reason what turning out a community from the homes they have occupied for the last 40 years to expand a factory has significantly less benefit than leaving them there.

In such a case the principle referred to above may be said to apply not to the corporation, but to the people being evicted.  As there are hundreds of cases of this very same scenario going on world-wide, irrespective of whether the people being evicted are Chinese, or Americans or whether the company doing the evicting is a manufacturing company or real estate developers looking to build condos, given Anarchism, we could see their homes protected.

Either way, this scenario begins to separate out the participants in such a debate.

Individual

Let us change the scenario a third time:

Consider a situation where it’s an individual who ‘owns’ the land, and not a corporation or government.  This owner owns an apartment block and wishes to expand it.  Before the Khmer Rouge, he also owned the area now inhabited by the community, but left during the trouble.  The Khmer Rouge came in, ordered the people to stay in their area where they now live and the Khmer Rouge left, leaving behind the people.  Our individual returns, and takes direct control of the land not occupied by the people and, a few decades later, wishes to force them out.

Here we see a wide divergence in ideals with people pledging allegiance to either party based on a variety of arguments and theory.  Some take the side of the the new inhabitants, others take the side the of the individual who owns the land.  However, all arguments and subsequent solutions come back to the question of limits.  Where do you place the limit in regards to property?  The one giving the answer has a number of possibilities ranging from no limits, to express abandonment, or mutualist occupancy and use as a definition of abandonment or even limit it all and deny property, or even your views on rent may come into play. Whatever your take, here the debate gets messy and is where the most conflict lies.

Personally, I would argue that property is useful in that it serves as a bulwark against the state and other statists.  However, I counter argue that there needs to be a limit, as it is ridiculous to believe that there exists a theoretical possibly that one man may own the world or even a particular resource with which to hold all to ransom.  For this reason I favour occupancy and use to define abandonment, but then a question arises as to whether this conflicts with the principle stated earlier.  Rather than place a limit on the principle, or abandon it all together, perhaps it is more accurate to point out that there are vitiating circumstances where the principle cannot apply; such as in the above case.  If the individual is turning out a community, and looking to the state in order to enforce his claim, can we safely respect his claim to any sort of ownership under occupancy and use with respect to principle?  I’m inclined to say we don’t.

What, I believe, these scenarios show, is that there is more to being an Anarchist than being anti-state.  Although it is certainly a key element, it leads to new ideas and new levels of thinking that require you to confront the fact that coercion, aggression are perpetuate amongst institutions that maintain their power in a hierarchy where they seperate themselves and their allies off from the rest, in order to live parasitically at their expense.  How we define property rights may very well provide a bulwark against the state and external oppressors, or it may be an instrumental tool in perpetuating oppression.





Cold Turkey, a short review.

25 05 2009

It was Thursday.

Detective Cold Turkey knew this because he had read it in his horoscope yesterday.  Say what you like about astrologers but they know what the day is.  They even know what the day is going to be, which was more than Cold Turkey could usually say for himself.

He felt hung over.  His body felt like it had lost an arms race with a major superpower.  This was far from ideal but at least it went some way to explaining the terrible pain in his head.  Heck, it was even a partial explanation for the rope and the blindfold.

There was still, however, one mystery that had not, as yet, become clear.

Even as the thin mists of consciousness enveloped his feeble mind and started to kick-start reality, Cold Turkey knew it was going to be a bad day.  He knew this not because of his horoscope but because he was hanging upside down, some distance from the floor, in ever increasing agony.

Good days do not start like this.

Admittedly Cold Turkey had been having a ‘bad lifespan’ but this really took the biscuit.

This was almost as bad as the Unfortunate Misunderstanding with the Broccoli, except that there were fewer victims this time and he was immobilised with rope rather than used copies of Gardeners World. It was altogether too much for a Thursday Morning.  He couldn’t even remember where he left Wednesday evening, let alone anything important like: where is the aspirin? And, what didn’t I do last night?

Cold’s stomach started suggesting that it might be about to take matters into his own hands and begin examining the evidence from the previous evening.

Things clearly couldn’t go on like this, so Cold decided on a firm course of action.  He struggled lamely against his bindings and went “mmpmmh”.

It was at this point in the proceedings that Cold Turkey heard something interesting and enlightening.

Cold Turkey could list many noises he didn’t like to hear whilst hung over. “Ah, he is awake, let’s teach him a lesson he won’t forget in a hurry” wasn’t one of them, but he was none the happier to hear it anyway.

He left the familiar and unhappy torture of his hangover and entered the slightly less familiar world of searing pain.

And to think this had all started only last Friday.

Cold knew it had been a Friday because he had read it in his horoscope.

And so begins he tale of Cold Turkey and the Case of the Missing Crime by Samuel Morris, a comical, surreal and  seemingly absurdist tale set in none other than the English city of Stoke-on-Trent, and focusing on the misadventures of the former superhero turned private detective, Cold Turkey as he fights to save the city from the evil Captain Rightwing.

The novel itself is something akin to what you would expect of a comic book’s debauched liaison with a DvD containing a season of the Mighty Boosh; a series of non sequiters, private in-jokes and witty observations folded neatly around a bizarre story-line of lycra wearing super-heroes, some bad, some good, most useless.

As you probably have guessed, the novel itself is described by its author as ‘anarchistic’ who, as legend has it, is himself an Anarchist of some description.  Although the novel is far from a didactic piece, but there are moments of clarity where the reader is slapped in the face with a mildly camouflaged anti-state moral, often amidst moments of chaos or calamity to illustrate the point.

Whether it’s a description of the banking system as one that is easier to break into the cavernous halls of the vault than it is to break out, or the mere image of a ‘regiment of freelance superheros’ atop a police van (with the police logo ‘Lice’ formerly written upon the side) converted into a boat for the purpose of beginning the battle against against the evil-doers to cries of “Up the revolution!” and “Bacon sarnies for the people!” –there are many reason to read Cold Turkey.

Samuel Morris, truly has his own unique style.  It’s his witty turn of phrase that makes the book a great read, and if you have a quirky, off-beat sense of humour, Cold Turkey will certainly appeal.

Now we come to the shameless plug, where I urge you to buy the novel and support Samuel is his David-and-Goliath struggle against some equally shameless publishing giants who have refused to publish the book.

So, Samuel has decided to publish independently.

Cold Turkey may be purchased through Amazon, directly through the publisher Melrose Books, or through any small bookshop with the ISBN;

ISBN-10: 1906561303
ISBN-13: 978-1906561307

Help keep Samuel Morris in a healthy supply of biscuits so that he may continue writing.





Newspaper Anaesthesia

24 05 2009

I don’t usually know what to expect from the local newspapers.  The general consensus among everyone seems to be that they are not worth the read, particularly due to their bias, lack of understanding and that naughty little habit of standing up to demand from the powers that be some new element of a fascist police state.  Yet, even with this in mind, I persisted in performing the same ritual as thousands of other South Australian’s on a Sunday morning and cracked open the Sunday Mail.

Somewhere between the articles concerning truancy, which made the front page, calls for the police to saturate Hindley street and a badly written editorial towards the end that lamented the rise of video games with a sort of ‘back-in-my-day’ feel (written by someone who could not have been more than 20).

The two pieces devoted to truancy alone completely missed the point.  I have high standards, I admit, but the grasp of the fundamental issue by each article’s author was non-existent.  I like a little more from my newspapers than the logic behind, ‘kids missing school is bad, we need the strong arm of the law to deal with it, or create some statutory mechanism to punish truants by making it more difficult to get a license’.  Of course this all sounds well and good, with the obvious fact that it’s completely wrong.  The reason for most truancy, is that the current formulation of ‘school’, is a prison.  Where else in the world must a person be forced to spend their time in a place where the routine is dictated to them from on high, where they must ask permission to do so much as piss and where guards with dogs and guns patrol the perimeter.  Perhaps it can simply be said that so many kids of high school age are truants because they don’t want to be there.  Even the teachers, many of whom are intelligent, bright people and actually give a damn about these kids, often don’t want to be at school and must not only put up with a similar domination by the powers that be, but are themselves forced to run their classes like a concentration camp.  In many cases, that fact that many kids don’t want to be there impacts negatively on the kids that do, leading to all the bullying problems, and even, the problems our society is facing in regards to teen drinking.

But, the argument goes, that education is a right and the kids are missing out on the prospects for better employment or higher education and so on and so forth.  The problem here arises where a right is something that an individual may or may not choose to exercise.  A child not attending school isn’t the violation of that right, so long as the opportunity is there.  As for the whole ‘jeopardising’ the child’s prospects, it is in my experience and the experience of others who I talked to that kids who do not want to be in school, generally aren’t looking to be a astro-physicist, let alone want to spend another 3 years of their lives in university.

As for younger children, primary schooling becomes more a case of baby-sitting.  Experts will often say this time of a child’s life is critical and that they need schooling and so on.  But in the end primary school achieves nothing.  Children from the ages of 5-9 are taught to colour inside the lines and make pretty creations out of paper, card and so on.  The thing about primary school is that it’s about socialising with others and learning the basics of reading, writing and math.  Unfortunately, it’s not like kids miss much when they don’t attend.

There also leaves something to be desired when a writer demands that statutory offences be applied to truants; it stands to reason that if you want to help them avoid a life of crime, it doesn’t help to introduce them to the criminal justice system for ‘wagging’ school at 12.

After truancy, came a massive article discussing the need for more police on Hindley street to curb the violence or whatever.   Now, it’s been said before and it needs to be said again, Hindley street is the only street in Adelaide with real character; there are people there from all walks of life come to frolic and on occasion, vomit.  The street has its nay-sayers that love to point out all that bad that is frequent there, but as in the words of comedian Dylan Moran, ‘so is everything else, including sex, coffee and conversation.’  Still, the nay-sayers go on and, in their mind, the only solution to the decadence of Hindley street is to saturate the place with police in a manner truly reminiscent of Singapore.  Unfortunately, the downside to this isn’t mentioned; that if there isn’t stuff going on to arrest people for and there a whole bunch of paid, bored police, saturating Hindley street, stuff gets created… once again, reminiscent of Singapore.  Just without the bribes.

While it may be better of me to avoid bringing attention to the small editorial towards back of the ‘news’ section of the paper, I’m going to do so anyway.  On principle.  The piece, as I said earlier, is the poorly written opinion of someone in their 20’s getting a head start on the nostalgia that plagues the elderly, conservative mindset — the kind of people that propose national service as a solution to all the country’s problems.  Basically, ‘video games are bad’ is the battle cry and the author laments the decline in plastic lego blocks and Barbie dolls, even though I suppose the author is ‘concerned’ about global warming and a reduction in lego blocks and Barbie dolls might does the planets ecology a little good, what with all that oil be used to create little plastic blocks and unrealistic representations of woman-hood.  There was also included a comment made by a researcher at Adelaide university claiming that video games do not stimulate the imagination; and he would be right save for the existence of entire genres of games designed, specifically, to stimulate the player’s imagination such as RPG’s, Simulations (Sims2 and Life, for example, as well as the entire Sid Meier portfolio) and even those dastardly strategy games.  Don’t even get me started on how playing video games has lead many people into programming or anohter area of the IT industry, where they have to be creative problems solvers.

So we come to our conclusion and my justification for spending 935 or so words ranting about the quality of material in a newspaper.  My reason is because these are the people who have control over what is discussed over coffee at breakfast tables and in cafes, but more importantly, the scope of that conversation.  It is all too often portrayed that the only solution to our problems lies in the hands of the state, to be paid for by sacrificing what liberty we have for greater restrictions — a process which will only end moments before we realise we have hung ourselves from the rafters with the red tape we demanded.





Indigenous Australians distrust government

23 05 2009

And reject $100 million lease deal.

Under the Government’s plan to overhaul its services to remote Indigenous communities, traditional owners are being asked to approve long-term leases over the land.

Government funding will then be focused on 20 large communities to turn them into so-called “mainstream towns”.

Ms Anderson told ABC1’s Stateline program the traditional owners will receive compensation for signing over their land, but it could come in the form of assets and services rather than cash handouts.

“Let’s allow this process of consultation to happen between the land councils and the traditional owners,” she said.

“Because compensation could be something that the community says ‘well okay, if you put assets on the ground, we’re benefiting from those assets.’

“And that can be part of the compensation package. That’s all the alternatives that the people will have to look at.”

She says traditional owners may not be forced to sign lease agreements over entire communities to the Northern Territory Government.

“We can have whatever people want. That’s why I don’t think we should get into the nitty gritty of what arrangements we’re trying to do, because we can have leases just for certain parts of the land, or leases over the township if that’s what people want,” she said.

“These are opportunities for traditional owners and traditional owners need to be encouraged to make these agreements with government.”

Yesterday, residents in Aboriginal town camps in Alice Springs rejected a $100 million lease deal with the Federal Government because it would mean giving up control of their land, the Tangentyere Council said.

The Government had hoped to secure 40-year leases over the town camps in order to upgrade infrastructure, such as housing, which would have then been managed by Northern Territory Housing.

But Tangentyere Council president Walter Shaw said the deal was rejected because town camp residents wanted to maintain control of their land and did not trust Territory Housing to administer camp accommodation.

And, from the same article we have a little reference to those nasty unintended consequences which plague political decisions.

Indigenous rangers

Dr Barry Traill from the Pew Environment Group says he is concerned about the effect the plan will have on jobs in outstations.

He says it could impact on Indigenous rangers who have been doing vital land management work.

“Indigenous ranger groups west of Darwin, through their work in removing infestations of noxious Mimosa… have stopped that weed going further west,” he said.

He says it would be impossible for them to do the same work if they moved away from the outstations.

Although development would be good for many communities, the question that needs to be asked is whether that development should be delivered by bureaucrats who don’t know the people, don’t know the communities and don’t really care.





Drawing Lines in the Sand?

22 05 2009

I realise that I haven’t been posting much lately, but I’m looking to change that over the next few weeks.  So to kick it off I thought I’d respond to waves my by Soviet Onion on the Alliance of the Libertarian Left forums regarding a essay by Keith Preston.

So where to begin.

In his essay Preston lists of his Anarchist CV to establish that he is anti-state, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-facist, not anti-semitic and a whole other list of other anti-somethings which culminates on arguing about immigration and, ‘pro-immigration propaganda.’ After citing some statistics concerning themselves with Americans and their views regarding immigration, we get down to the point;

“So it seems that we have the interesting spectacle of anarchists aligning themselves with the political class against “the people” when it comes to immigration. It is not that “the people” are overcome with xenophobia and racist “hate.””

Now I am one of those Anarchists who have, in the past, defended illegal migration as a natural act that should not suffer restriction.  Despite the statistics, Preston’s generalisation is sweeping and I am apparently an Anarchist who aligns themselves with the political class against ‘the people’.  After questioning whether these people are ‘true’ Anarchists, the illegal immigrant bashing begins;

“In a purely legal sense, I don’t think illegal immigrants should be dealt with any more harshly than ordinary trespassers, shoplifters, traffic offenders, or vagrants camped out on someone else’s property…

Yet the propaganda of pro-immigration leftists-anarchists-libertarians would have us all believe that opening the borders to any terrorist, criminal or welfare colonist who wants to jump a fence somewhere would be just fine. Why bother screening for communicable diseases immigrants from countries where public health standards are just about zero? What’s the big deal about tuberculosis, anyway? Why not allow a few hundred million Asian, African, Latin American or Eastern European immigrants to come on over and sign up for public assistance? Why not allow foreign states to empty their prisons of violent criminals and send them to America as Fidel Castro did during the boatlift of 1980? If al-Qaeda wants to open a branch office on Main Street, USA, then who are the rest of us to say otherwise?”

Which then, amazingly, transfers itself into an attack on homosexuals, beginning with;

“So what of the homosexuals?”

Emphasis added.  And it should be noted that once again I’ve cut out the part where Preston details his history of experiences with homosexuals, for the sake of brevity.

“…The source of the hostility seems to come down to two things: My advocacy of political decentralization ordered on the principal of individual liberty, freedom of association, private property and community sovereignty, and my advocacy of political alliances against statism, state-capitalism, and imperialism that transcend cultural boundaries and divisive social issues and, yes, alliances that might sometimes include people who disagree with homosexuality for religious, cultural, moral or philosophical reasons.”

Which all sounds hunky-dory, until, after expanding on his views of homo-totalitarianism we get to the point;

“This hypersensitivity to criticisms of homosexuality found in many anarchist and libertarian circles helps, I think, to explain the otherwise inexplicable “anti-racism” hysteria and enthusiasm for the most extreme forms of pro-immigrationism, not to mention the most ridiculous renditions of feminism, found among these people, virtually all of whom are white, overwhelmingly male, and mostly from middle class backgrounds. Anti-racism, anti-xenophobia and feminazism are simply surrogates for homosexualism. The wider “gay rights” movement has gone out of its way to attach itself to the legacy of the black civil rights movement. They do this because they know that most Americans recognize the treatment given to black Americans prior to civil rights was unfair, and thereby proclaim themselves to be a comparable victim group.”

And then he goes on;

“Therefore, they promote the most extreme and lunatical forms of “anti-racism” and immigrationism, and loudly proclaim any kind differentiation of persons or groups along racial, ethnic, national or gender lines to be the ultimate in human evil, no matter what its purpose, and then subsequently proclaim themselves to the equivalent of an oppressed ethnic group deserving similar favoritism. Apparently, their rallying cry is to paraphrase Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense of sodomy is no vice.”

And back to racism;

“…the origins of racism are no mystery. Conflict of this type has existed as long as there have been human beings. The mystery is those rare instances where peace between races has been achieved.”

And back to homosexuality;

“To my enemies, I would respond by citing the immortal words of Jim Goad:

It isn’t what you do, it’s the way you do it. Not the meat, but rather the motion. It’s not what you’re saying, it’s your lousy voice. It isn’t your private cock-slurping, it’s your public megaphone-mouth. It ain’t how you move beneath the sheets, it’s the way you wave the picket signs around. The problem isn’t your self-consciously “decadent” personal lifestyle, it’s your warped social instincts…”

The solution?;

“As for the rest of us in the anarchist milieu, I say it’s time for a purge, if not an outright pogrom.

Do we really attract more people into our ranks by having so many self-hating whites, bearded ladies, cock-ringed queers, or persons of one or another surgically altered “gender identity” in our midst? Is this really something the average rebellious young person wants to be associated with? Could we not actually attract more young rebels into our ranks if all of this stuff was absent?

Does the average young rebel really want to join an “anarchist” movement that is only going to tell him what a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic sinner he is?”

Okay, so you get the general idea, but also throw in a couple of plugs for National Anarchism and there you go.  If you would like to read the rest, you only need to follow the link provided above.  Needless to say that the response to the post by Preston has been overwhelming negative.  For your enjoyment, first on our list is the post made by Mike Gogulski;

“The anarchist tent may, indeed, need to be bigger in order to achieve strategic goals. But here I see one arguing for a big-tent strategy giddily pushing marginalized groups out of the tent and encouraging others to do the same.

Not only is this a contradiction of the big-tent strategy itself, but it also pushes away all those who sympathize with those marginalized, traditionally hated out-groups. I, for one, am not going to be found standing up for the rights of bigoted assholes to be bigoted assholes, let alone lending them whatever credibility might attach in a given reader’s mind to finding such linked to at my own website.

And so today Keith disappears from my blogroll, and good riddance. For the moment he remains in my RSS reader, since I recognize that there is a fine mind at work in Keith, and one often worth reading, despite what I view as a clear deficit of empathy.

Without substantial work at repentance, Keith will not be welcome at my table, nor in my tent.”

Succinctly, Mike has vocalised my view of Preston’s position as well as the view of Kevin Carson which contained this Post Script, providing context to the original essay;

“Since writing the above, it occurred to me (as Mike Gogulski put it) what a deficit of empathy is reflected in Keith’s reactions. As an outsider to the conflict, I still feel very strongly that Keith’s increasingly demeaning and strident homophobic language is a personal overreaction based on his resentment at being purged from Aster’s Salon Liberty. It’s odd, therefore, that he fails to admit the possibility that what he regards as “hyper-sensitivity” or “victim culture” among racial and sexual minorities might reflect their own subjective response to what they have experienced as a lifetime of exclusion.

In any case, this post may (or may not) evoke some reaction in the blogosphere and in my own comment thread. I doubt I’ll participate much in the debate, either way. I’ve said what I have to say on the subject. As I’ve already stated, I try to stay out of debates on cultural issues because I’ve got a limited amount of time and energy for writing about the stuff I feel personally engaged with, and dealing with personal drama or emotionalized issues sucks the life out of me.”

It’s also a good idea to read the comment section of Kevin Carson’s post.  Funnily enough, Stephen Kinsella, ‘doesn’t get it';

“Kevin, no disrespect, but a few of us on a list are discussing this, and none of us are quite sure what either you or Preston are trying to say. It sounds like a bizarre leftist soap opera on acid.”

So where do I stand?  Well, as a person who has had no dealings with Preston, I cannot say I have the same attachment as someone like Carson.  I have a great distaste for National Anarchists and their tactics, partly due to the writings of Andy and partly due to my own nosing around the corners of the web frequented by National Anarchists.  Clearly, Preston has achieved fame among some for writings on various subjects.  However, I believe my destiny lies under the same stars sought by Mike Gogulski.

As Shawn Wilbur of LibertarianLabyrinth noted on the ALL forums;

“Probably too much “some of my best friends are…,” that turns into “…unnatural freaks who ought to be purged before they give us bad press.” Not a word about why someone might consider “national anarchism” a worry. Oh, and “racism” scare-quoted. Sheesh. Personally, I’m not making any broad coalitions with Keith, or his NA pals. I believe in separatism, to the extent that I don’t have any interest in putting people with “irreconcilable differences” in, say, camps. But my political ambitions all aim at a better world than that.”

I think though, what needs to be remembered, is that no matter what happens, Preston wins.  Even if many disassociate themselves with him, or even outright condemn him, the conservative, orthodox bigot in others will inevitably lead them to follow Preston.  In fact, his ‘hardline’, confrontational approach in the essay linked to and periodically quoted above, will win him followers who will view him as their champion.  I’m not so foolish as to make the assertion, or even insinuate, that this was some great design worked within Preston’s essay.  It is merely an inevitable result of what is written as it is not a piece that will further Anarchist reasoning, but one that will polarise.

On a finishing note, I will re-publish the body of the letter posted to the ALL forums by Soviet Onion.  It’s an eloquent, passionate piece that is well worth the read.

“Proponents of feminism, LGBT rights, and sexual freedom and other filthy deviations from normality must be purged for the sake of the cause. Those serious about the revolution must drop their liberal scruples and be prepared to shoot these infantile deviationist freaks.”

Am I the only one who find’s Keith’s obsessions with graphic depictions of stereotypical gay male sex a little too much, in a Ted Haggard kind of way?

I’m very tired of this war. Everything written in the last two weeks has shown me that the vast majority left-libertarian community is willing to treat me as a human being. I would like nothing more at this point than to put away the armour, stop these unproductive flame wars, and dedicate my time to constructive writing in a community whose ideals and interests I share. But I can’t so that if that community won’t uphold standards against those who will treat me as untermenschen, who refuse the simple decency of allowing me my own name and identity and judging me by something more important than the way I was born.

Preston will never do that. Preston will never give up trying to entryist into left-libertarianism unless major voices in the movement step up and declare that, at the very least, sexists and homophobes will have to find other places to write and other people with whom to work with.

I want to write as I truly believe. My deepest fear, and the deepest experience which have taught me that ethics are suicidal in this world, has been that the only way I will ever by permitted to develop my talents are if I do under the name and authority of causes whose methods are indisputably unjust. I’ve had two wonderful statist-liberal people adopt me into their family, and a wonderful statist-liberal country give me a home I can call my own. I’ve had left-anarchists who sneer at libertarians and individuals treat me according to human expectations which libertarians have repeated flouted in display of the very essence of their ‘liberty’ Together they’ve collectively made me feel things which I didn’t know existed, made ideas like ‘love’, ‘family’, and ‘community’ mean something other to me than slogans for patriarchal abusers.

I confess that I am severely tempted to betray every libertarian principle and walk back into respectability. I swear by my goddess I would not do that just for the prestige and the money. But if there exists no radically individualist community on Earth where I can feel secure in the expectation of basic humane treatment, then I feel as if I have no other choices other than to give up on the life of the mind, or sell my mind to the liberal establishment. I wouldn’t blame any of you for hating me for doing the latter. But please- any of you- ask if you could lend your life to an idealism and promises of a better world could not grant you the happiness is given by an existing unjust world around you?

I feel within a hair’s breadth of a moral apocalypse in which my choices are to cooperate with those who would censor speech, or daily face words which hurt enough to make me want to kill and die.

Please, I implore you, make it final and clear that left-libertarianism will defend their own against national anarchists and other bigotries. I understand if you don’t feel motivated to do it for me, given my own compromises and bloody hands. But do it for Marja, for Soviet, for *Chris Sciabarra*, for everyone whom Preston wants to convince left-libertarianism to sell down the river.

You tell me you believe in virtue. I can see no sanity in an ethic not grounded in indiviudal happiness, but I do want to spiritually grow up, learn responsibility, and get beyond vulgar selfishness. But I can’t fight this. No queer person can fight the rhetoric Preston uses without being dismissed as a specially interested pervert. All I ask is that left-libertarian radicals do as good as can the corrupt institutional left. All I ask is that a politics which calls itself ‘left’ hold to the standards which define what is worthwhile within it. None of you could fight for a cause which the best part of you believes if you knew that the price would be ceaseless infliction of absolutely unmerited pain.

And as a sex worker: please, we have done good things for noble causes before. Roderick, I’m sure, knows the history. We’re not all, or not only, merely callous climbers. Respect the old alliances, and we just might create a world worth living in.

love and strife,

Jeanine Shiris Ring”





Medicinal Marijuana

13 05 2009

This story appeared on today’s Strike-the-Root.  It’s a touching tale of a parent’s struggle to find an appropriate treatment to relieve the suffering of her autistic child.  It’s well worth a read, especially for anti-drug zealots who conjure up images of shadowy characters on blocked off alleyways, waiting for an addict to approach and get their fix.  However, I want to share a particular extract;

Having a license, however, is different from having access to marijuana. While California has a network of “compassion centers,” basically pharmacy-like storefronts that provide quality product from registered growers, Rhode Island’s Republican governor has consistently vetoed that idea, in spite of the local stories of frail patients being mugged in downtown Providence as they go in search of pot. We weren’t about to purchase street marijuana, which could be contaminated with other drugs, so we looked into growing the pot ourselves. But by law, medical marijuana must be grown indoors, and it requires a separate room with a complex system of hydroponics, fans, and precise lighting schedules. (This made me wonder how much THC was actually in the spindly plants the high school goofballs I knew grew in their closets).

The coordinator of our patient group introduced us to a licensed grower. A recent horticulture school graduate, he’d figured out how to cultivate marijuana using a custom organic soil mix. His e-mail signature even quoted Rudolph Steiner. The grower arrived at our house with a knapsack containing jars of herbs. We opened the jars to sniff the different strains of “bud”—Blueberry, which did smell fleetingly of wild blueberries, and Sour Diesel, which had a rich, winey scent. The grower also had cured some leaves for tea, and he brought a glycerine tincture, a marijuana distillate in olive oil (yes, organic), cookies (ditto), and a strange machine that looked, fittingly, like a lava lamp. Basically an almost-bong, this vaporizer heated the cannabis without producing carcinogenic smoke.

It’s amazing from these two paragraphs alone, what can be performed when people are free.

However, this begs the question about how much marijuana on the blackmarket is of poor quality and how much is better quality of the type described above as being sold by the licensed grower.








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