Re: A blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand.

1

Perhaps the reporter just has a perfect mastery of the art fitting form to content.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:02 PM
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Me! I didn't think the reporter got trolled.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:05 PM
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OK, I think Fortuny truly is a dick. But the whole "in a Rolls going to sushi thing" seemed like a total punking.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:07 PM
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He was so getting trolled. Does anyone actually believe there's a big troll conspiracy to wipe out 2/3 of the world's population, and has millions of dollars at its disposal, but can't get apartments anywhere?

That said, I think the article did get at the super-troll mindset somewhat. It's like the worst form of libertarian self-obsession possible, and how decadent is it to spend that much of one's time getting lulz out of tormenting people with terrible diseases, or people who's kid just killed himself?

Are there no sources of humor that aren't about other people's suffering?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:07 PM
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That article sure was ... pointless.

Are there no sources of humor that aren't about other people's suffering?

Don't be foolish.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:10 PM
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whose. God, I'm tired. I got the crap beaten out of me today on the ball field.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:11 PM
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It's kinda impressive that the reported apparently spent several days with Fortuny and with Weev. Even just reading a couple of paragraphs of Weev's conversations was too tedious to bear.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:15 PM
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I think the article did get at the super-troll mindset somewhat.

Yeah, that's what I meant. These guys are assholes; here's what they do; here's why they probably will continue. Whether weev is truly a millionaire, I don't know, and it seems unlikely. That bit was slightly credulous, but if by trolled you mean "attracted more attention that merited by being outrageous" I would say that I subscribe to these views and regard the article as a meager, on-balance contribution to the mainstreaming of the concept.

Not to mention entertaining reportage on the asshole beat.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:16 PM
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Oops, "reporter"


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:17 PM
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I'll give jms one of my r's for her "reported" if I can have one of her n's for my "that".


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:17 PM
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I don't think you can troll an individual. Trolling is an anti-social activity, for better or worse.

That reminds me, I posted a hostile slash on knzn's macro blog. Now he doesn't get commenters, so it wasn't much of a community to troll. But I have check back to see if he deleted it. We do know each other. Hell, everybody knows me.

There could be a long argument to back up my short snark, but I didn't bother.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:33 PM
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11.1 makes a lot of sense. Does that make the Megan Meier case just plain harrassment?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:39 PM
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Hmmm...knzn responded decently with some recognition that my criticism, while wrong & unfair, might have some merit. Should I develop this, something about sub-optimal Pareto efficient states?
Knzn is a good guy, and a good Keynesian, and engaging him would be a lot of work, that many others are doing on the econblogs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:49 PM
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Does anyone actually believe there's a big troll conspiracy to wipe out 2/3 of the world's population

That quote was part of his "Malthusian crisis" speil, about how the world economy/climate/food supply is going to crash sometime soon and the only thing we have the power to do is determine who survives.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 5:59 PM
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Heh. I bore witness to a drunken lecture delivered to the guy who runs 4chan, on the subject of how to deal with the press, not two weeks ago. Guess he didn't need it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:01 PM
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Does anyone actually believe there's a big troll conspiracy to wipe out 2/3 of the world's population

That quote was part of his "Malthusian crisis" speil, about how the world economy/climate/food supply is going to crash sometime soon and the only thing we have the power to do is determine who survives.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:03 PM
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"Malwebolence"? That's e-wful.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:05 PM
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"Malwebolence" sounds like something the priest from The Princess Bride might decry.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:06 PM
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Eh. I'm sure Fortuny and Weez were messing with the reporter some. But there's also an element of truth in that they really do act like this and really are that sociopathic.

Weez, frankly, just seemed like one of those strange crypto-crackers with no social skills. That's not a troll. Fortuny, on the other hand, really is a troll, and really is the scum of the earth. That bullshit about...

""That's uh, interesting. I guess you understand that you have green hair about as well as you understand that you're a terrible reporter."

"What do you mean? What did I do?"

"That's a very interesting reaction," Fortuny said. "Why didn't you get so defensive when I said you had green hair?" If I were certain that I wasn't a terrible reporter, he explained, I would have laughed the suggestion off just as easily. The willingness of trolling "victims" to be hurt by words, he argued, makes them complicit, and trolling will end as soon as we all get over it."

That? Right there? Bullshit. Fortuny may be so emotionally and socially damaged that he can't exist in a world where words have emotional content, but running around hammering the rest of us with his inability to give a damn about anybody else is, frankly, evil.


Posted by: NBarnes | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:06 PM
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Yeah, it would have been funny if the reporter kicked him in the nuts, and then lectured Fortuny about his willingness to be hurt by it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:09 PM
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Does that make the Megan Meier case just plain harrassment? ...rereading the article, I would say yes.

If Drew's purpose or intent had been to demonstrate to Meier & her community that the Internet was unsafe and you can't necessarily trust what you read, then the anti-social purpose would have made it trolling. But as is, Drew knew Meier personally, and had a personal purpose. Fortuny wih his subsequent website, was trolling.

But this is just my definition.

Note:I do not of course approve of all anti-social activity because of umm its form or intent.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:09 PM
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Yeah, I'm really turned off by that whole "I'm just an amateur sociologist studying human behavior by BEING A GIANT DICKHEAD" defense. Get a fucking degree in sociology if you're so interested in it. I don't steal your wallet and call myself an economist.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:10 PM
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22: I don't steal your wallet and call myself an economist.

Well, hey now, you just might be onto something there! Probably ought to redact it before Shearer gets here though.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:13 PM
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19:This could get interesting if I stick around.

A group waving placards "Bush Lied People Died" at the edge of an outdoor Bush rally? Sociopathic? Hurtful? Evil?

Not comparable to what Fortuny does?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:14 PM
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Wasn't Fortuny dating or otherwise linked with JMPP at some point?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:14 PM
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Yeah, they were going out.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:15 PM
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Or maybe they just had lunch together or something. I don't know.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:15 PM
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I'm glad bob has the pro-troll front covered so I don't have to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:16 PM
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A group waving placards "Bush Lied People Died" at the edge of an outdoor Bush rally? Sociopathic? Hurtful? Evil?

Uh, no. Fred Phelps picketing funerals and screaming about your relatives being faggots and in hell, though, that might count, especially since he does it all in the name of free speech for all Americans.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:17 PM
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If 19.2 is ok, then let's try a group of Nazis with placards saying "Six Million More" outside a Holocaust remembrance.

These are way different?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:17 PM
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I'm only partway through the article, but I'm not sure I've seen, aside from an attempt at definition, an example of what I understand to be trolling.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:17 PM
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(online trolling, that is)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:18 PM
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Eb has seen many examples of people hiding under bridges and demanding money.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:18 PM
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29:Well, I'm glad we all have our social allegiances & communities so well defined, so as to create some ingroup mores.

So trolling is about substance, not form?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:20 PM
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19 gets it right. Bob McManus is right too. It seems that once again the concept of "hacking" is being rediscovered, but this time reporters are referring to it as "trolling".

Extortion and pursuing personal vendettas against people whom you hope will commit suicide are not what I know as trolling, ffs.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:21 PM
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36

I rather imagined he'd spent time on commercial fishing boats, Ben.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:21 PM
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37

offline troll


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:21 PM
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35: I reject your definition of hacking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:22 PM
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38: Preach. That's not even a good bad definition of hacking.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:23 PM
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Whether weev is truly a millionaire, I don't know, and it seems unlikely. That bit was slightly credulous

If memory serves, the reporter also let it be known that he thought it unlikely. Ditto the plot to destroy humanity. I assume he's just reporting what his interviewees said (and as far as I know, this is the first time anyone's identified who was harassing Kathy Sierra).

I initially thought that the "trolls are an organized group" thing was irritatingly stupid, but as I kept reading I was like, okay, he's talking about *a* group of people who hang out and enjoy trolling, which isn't quite the same thing.

I thought it was a pretty decent article, really.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:26 PM
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I realize that "ffs" is intended to express exasperation, but representing, as it does, a reasonable onomatopoeia for the sound of a Whoopie Cushion being engaged, it seems to connote the wrong sort of exasperation for the contexts in which it is usually found.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:26 PM
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38: That's not my definition of hacking, either. My point is that trolling, as bob says, takes place in an internet community, to piss off a wide variety of people, generally by misrepresenting oneself.

The main things "Weev" is accused of doing is stealing social security numbers and passwords, destroying people's reputations by manipulating internet databases, and somehow getting rich in the process. Ten years ago this same thing was written about in the same tone, but described as "hacking". It is not to be conflated with mere pointless sociopathic sophistry of the Fortuny variety.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:27 PM
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42: ah. Yeah.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:28 PM
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"Weev" seems to have plagiarized his persona from Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather, so his credibility, and taste, are already somewhat suspect.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:29 PM
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The weev introduction makes him sound like someone Stephen Glass profiled.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:32 PM
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42: To be fair, he is also widely known to be involved with and behind things that actually are "black hat hacking"/cracking/network-and-computer crime. Like, with some of the more hardcore types who came out of /b, the distinction between computer crime and the Fortuny-style "did it for the lulz" is pretty meaningless. Basically, there is a core of technologically savvy /b/tards who use their "hacking" skills in part to aid in their trolling, and weev is one of them.

(Although the millionaire thing is BS, from what I know.)


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:33 PM
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40:My point is that trolling, as bob says, takes place in an internet community, to piss off a wide variety of people, generally by misrepresenting oneself.

And I can't help but try to connect Internet trolling to the broader history and range of socially disruptive or antisocial expression and behavior.

Troll


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:35 PM
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Many trolling practices, like prank-calling the Hendersons and intimidating Kathy Sierra, violate existing laws against harassment and threats.

Isn't that because it is harassment?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:40 PM
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You know what would be a good idea for a hacker to try? Apparently a huge percentage of gift cards go unredeemed, so they could see if they could figure out a way to syphon off some of that money. See if you could find a way to filter out ones that have gone unused for X amount of time, so that the customers themselves were unlikely to ever learn of it....

Is that something that can be "hax0red"?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:44 PM
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48: Yes.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:45 PM
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Troll ...as Conrad's Professor is a troll.

Troll

"I'd say empathy is probably a factor."

Is a socialized, tribal, normative empathy truly empathy? Empathy for "US" but no empathy for "THEM?"

No empathy for destructive anarchists, no empathy for neocons, no empathy for Republicans, no empathy for people who want to to go live under a bridge.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:50 PM
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20: Precisely.

35: Well, let me be more clear. The writer is being sloppy about the definitions and lines between trolling on the one hand, as practiced by the bulk of /b and elsewhere, and cracking / black hat hacking on the other hand ('hacking' means subtly different things depending on context; 'cracking' is usually more specific when talking about black hat computer security breakers). Fourny is a troll. Weez may troll, but mostly he's a cracker.


Posted by: NBarnes | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:55 PM
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I have to say I appreciate someone who, knowing that the New York Times is coming to interview him, arranges to have a Rolls Royce for the occasion. That's funny. Not reedeming, but funny.
As for punking the New York Times, this was better. Harsh realm, dude!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:55 PM
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49: wouldn't be that different from stealing credit card numbers, in theory.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:56 PM
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I think I've punked the Times (or helped, anyhow), but I can't remember exactly. I've definitely punked Fortune. NPR, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 6:58 PM
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55: Links? Oblique retellings?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:00 PM
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53: I've always wondered how "swingin' on the flippity-flop" didn't give the whole game away.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:01 PM
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Thank goodness I wasn't the only one who raised eyebrows at the Rolls.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:02 PM
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56: mmmm some other time. The Fortune thing in particular I still feel kind of bad about.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:02 PM
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I'm not reading closely, I'm afraid, since I'm cooking over there (that'd be in the kitchen) in between, but I gather this, from the article, is what captures bob's attention:

Postel's Law is now recognized as having wider applications. To build a robust global network with no central authority, engineers were encouraged to write code that could "speak" as clearly as possible yet "listen" to the widest possible range of other speakers, including those who do not conform perfectly to the rules of the road. The human equivalent of this robustness is a combination of eloquence and tolerance -- the spirit of good conversation. Trolls embody the opposite principle. They are liberal in what they do and conservative in what they construe as acceptable behavior from others.

For what it's worth, I'd say the author's later reference to empathy isn't quite right. Rather, tolerance. And that's about form, not substance (cf. bob's 34).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:02 PM
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59: Aw shit, Tweety caused the mortgage crisis.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:03 PM
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NPR I just claimed on air to be a neo-Marxist anarcho-syndicalist terrorist. I'm not sure they bought it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:04 PM
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Talk of the Nation?


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:05 PM
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61: nah this was years ago; the Asian economic collapse.

We did kind of punk China, once. But I really can't talk about that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:05 PM
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It's kind of disappointing to find out you aren't really a FARC agent, Sifu. My dreams, so crushed.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:06 PM
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63: coulda been.

In general, lying to reporters is easy and pretty fun, especially if you aren't using your real name.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:07 PM
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As for the specific lulz-based trollers, they sort of seem like really lazy con artists. Socially manipulative enough to fuck with people for their own gain, but too lazy to make it for their own financial gain.

They'd probably make great I-Bankers if they just drank more coffee and spent less time on the internet.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:07 PM
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We did kind of punk China, once. But I really can't talk about that.

Well, not on the eve of Beijing 2008, certainly.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:08 PM
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I read the first paragraphs of the article this morning and then thought I'd wait for the Unfogged thread before bothering with the rest. As a result, I don't think I saw the attempts to troll the reporter until just now, though I expected them. They seem balanced out in the end by the photograph accompanying the article--I find it impossible to look at it without thinking, "gah, what a troll."


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:09 PM
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Ha, my 60 was nonsensical given context. I suck at multitasking, apparently. I wonder what punking is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:13 PM
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I'm disappointed that the article included neither pastries nor sorrow.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:14 PM
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i'm going to Beijing on the eve of Olympics, transit though, it would be so crowded i expect
i too read only the first page, all 7-8 pages were too many to click, lazy
and internet trolls are very easily avoidable, just skip them or do not read their pages, that's all imo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:15 PM
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70: So there's this guy, Ashton Kutcher, and he's a big douchebag. And, well, that's about it, I think.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:15 PM
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70: It's the sort of thing that used to be done by The Germs until it was done by Ashton Kutcher.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:16 PM
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Pwnked!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:17 PM
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Oh, if weev was very good, he certainly could have made millions. You hack into a corporate mainframe, leave notice, ask for $50k to show the vulnerability and never tell anyone you even did it.

Or just transfer $250k to Switzerland. Corporations do not want to prosecute these thefts. Very bad PR and incentives.

Or just blackmail. Companies who have had their databases hacked will not get my personal info if I can help it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:18 PM
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73: I heard that!

Oh wait, he did what? I tell you whut, I will look it up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:20 PM
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bob mcmanus, superhacker!

It is pretty easy lately, though. Steal less than $500k and the FBI won't even bother to investigate.

Back in the day there was no reason to get all complicated, if you wanted to thrive on your ill-gotten gains. Just card everything! Still, living in fear of arrest sucks. Leave the lucrative cybercrime to the Russians.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:22 PM
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76: if weev was very good

He wouldn't even have to be anything more than a marketing-savvy script kiddie to make millions, actually. In fact, setting aside the question of how skilled he is, I think it's fairly well established that the kind of exploit-trading you're talking about is actually less lucrative than general botnet husbandry.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:26 PM
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Speaking of punking NPR, oudemia and CA became a microtrend in an NPR piece once. If we're nice to her, she might tell, or at least intimate, parts of the story.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:28 PM
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60:Not really. Still thinking about Foucault, Debord, Baudrillard and the panopticon, I suppose in my own ignorant stupid way. Just kidding.

How do free societies self-regulate? One of the quotes at the end of the article is:

"A good person is someone who follows the rules. A bad person is someone who doesn't."

I'm so stupid I can't even decide if that is right.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:30 PM
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Come on, Rob. I've always thought of oudemia as a microtrend. Duh. She just reeks microtrend.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:38 PM
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80: oudemia couldn't possibly tell the story without giving out her full name and CA's. Suffice it to say that we, along with about a dozen others, were interviewed for an NPR trend piece. We weren't living in the same place and were interviewed at separate studios. When the piece was finally aired, nothing from the other dozen was used, and the trend was based on one couple (whom they didn't know was a couple) of 10+ years.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:39 PM
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What I think is funny is that while they really did interview a whole bunch of people, they only used CA and me. We rawk!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:40 PM
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81: bob, c'mon, don't be silly. Of course it's not right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:49 PM
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Depends on the rules.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:57 PM
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I wondered whether it was the reporter's first time online.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 7:58 PM
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I have a deranged hangup about reading articles from the NY Times online too far ahead of their paper publication date. It's okay for me to read the Sunday stuff on Saturday, but not before.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:05 PM
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81 How do free societies self-regulate?

Don't know, never lived in one.

But seriously, how do we regulate behavior in this society? You could think of it in terms of the force continuum (or pyramid) that the cops use -- talk too loud on the train and people will use body language and staring to correct you; be belligerently drunk on the train and people will move away, and eventually a transit cop will show up to hassle you. (N.b.: I was at the LRT station a month or two ago, and a train pulled up and everyone got off. It was apparent that someone had spread some bodily effluvium on one of the seats, which was marked off with yellow CAUTION tape. I dunno if it was vomit or blood or what, but the CAUTION tape was an amusing touch.)

If we lived in a free society, everyone would be empowered to act as they felt necessary. Pace mimi smartypants, if someone's exposing himself in public, without a very good reason, everyone around can call him on his shit and intervene to the level required. But the decisions are made democratically and situationally, and are always open to review by anyone who is participating.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:15 PM
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everyone would be empowered to act as they felt necessary.

And then some of them would get the idea of organizing to act as they collectively felt necessary, would be more effective than the unorganized, et voila. Unfree society.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:22 PM
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Right, but that's what everybody'd be brought up to guard against. It's not a question of putting the genie back in the bottle, it's about letting the genie go without asking for any wishes.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:24 PM
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Right, but that's what everybody'd be brought up to guard against.

Of course, organizations would be a particularly effective means of doing this.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:27 PM
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I will mention this for the last time and then shut up about it forever:

I was much happier when online trolling was much more restrictive in its meaning*, when it specifically meant someone (usually an "insider" specifically posting what they knew was bullshit (or inanely provocative) to induce an argument from newbies or otherwise credulous folk. Perhaps inevitable that it went on to a broader definition, but I liked the earlier specificity, it was a behavior worth having its own name.

*At least I believe it was the original; it was the only definition in use in the (mainly Usenet) Internet precincts I visited. Interested if I am wrong in that presumption.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:30 PM
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Depends on the rules.

Spoken like a Canadian. I'm (mostly) serious.

No, bob, that's not right at all. However, if not following the rules doesn't make one a bad person, it doesn't therefore follow that not following the rules makes one a good person, either.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:30 PM
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Social Control After Foucault ...LLanos, from the a link on panopticon Wiki page

Not the panopticon in reverse, but the post-panopticon. May or may not be useful, I had some pastes ready but changed my mind. Is this blog an institution or not?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:31 PM
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Right, but that's what everybody'd be brought up to guard against

Like, magically?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:33 PM
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Anarchism isn't against organization, or organizations. Rather, it's about making organizations that actually do what they're supposed to do. And of course, that's not easy, but clearing away the mystifying cobwebs of the old order is a first step. I'm not going to create playlists for the iPods of the future, but I'm confident that people can organize themselves in such a way as to undo the work of centuries of hierarchy and domination. We see examples of self-organization and democracy all around us every day, but we've been tricked into thinking that the cops and the army and all of that nonsense is necessary for those small acts of liberation to occur. Just the opposite is in fact the case: without the albatross of government and law around our collective necks, we could find the ways to expand our liberated moments into liberated lives.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:33 PM
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Anyway, I want to be part of a trend piece.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:34 PM
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92: I think DS wins that one, Minneapolitan. There's not going to be such a thing as a "society" without organized efforts that necessarily rule out some behaviors in favor of others.

Or rather, rereading 89: situational self-policing? Good enough, but education is a big sticking point. The only way this works is with small communities in which mores are minimally institutionalized. (Which is fine by me, by the way. I'd love it.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:36 PM
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93: JP liked trolling before it sold out.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:39 PM
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I truly hate to seem like I'm playing bait-the-anarchist. Honestly, I have lots of sympathy for anarchist views of militarization and paramilitarization, and there's all kinds of support for those views. But when anarchism gets to talking about how to prevent "hierarchy" in society, I really do get to thinking of the underpants gnomes and that missing second step.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:40 PM
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98: Pedantic philosophy graduate students and the online communities that love them.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:41 PM
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without the albatross of government and law around our collective necks

Not to be mean, but doesn't this condition exist a bunch of places already? Somalia at least. Much of Micronesia also has fairly rudimentary government, doesn't it?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:41 PM
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103: The anarchist counterargument would be that Somalia has lots of small governments; warlordism. But I've never seen a convincing anarchist answer as to how to prevent that situation in a situation where law is completely suspended.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:43 PM
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Think of it not as "self-policing" but rather as revolutionary self-discipline.

You know what would be really brilliant? We should all just work-to-rule. If everybody was absolutely punctilious about following every single rule, every single time, that would really fuck things up.

Instead of "Buy Nothing Day" (Christ, what an argument against Canadian social democracy -- the most swipple, nebulous, ineffectual idea ever, situated on the one day of the year where it will do the least good!) have Buy Everything Day. Or Everybody Pay Their Credit Card Bills On The Same Day Day, or a thousand other tactics.

This civilization's gone through some amazing changes. Maybe what I, and others like me, propose is the most radical one yet, but that's no guarantee that it won't work.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:43 PM
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intervene to the level required

This is just so charmingly naive. Is August 1 a 'fool's day' of some kind in Minnesota?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:43 PM
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I agree with 93, but then, I would.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:44 PM
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97:
External control are you gonna let them get you?
Do you wanna be a prisoner in the boundaries they set you?
You say you want to be yourself, by Christ do you think they'll let you?
They're out to get you get you get you get you get you get you get you . . .


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:44 PM
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Think of it not as "self-policing" but rather as revolutionary self-discipline.

Revolutionaries are not especially known for self-discipline.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:45 PM
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Think of it not as "self-policing" but rather as revolutionary self-discipline.

Then think of the Übermensch, 'cause you're nine-tenths of the way there anyway.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:46 PM
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90 92

I agree with this. Some forms of human organization are not stable.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:46 PM
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"Buy Nothing Day" . . . the most swipple, nebulous, ineffectual idea ever, situated on the one day of the year where it will do the least good!

This, though, totally right.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:46 PM
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104: That's what I'm saying. There are historical examples as well; the period between the collapse of the western Roman empire and the rise of Islam is something to consider, as well as China's several failures of central government.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:48 PM
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I wish the reporter had thought (had known) to cite some of your work on the artistry of trolling, ben w-lfs-n.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:52 PM
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104: Right, a warlord is just the state concentrated into one individual. (We used to call these people "kings", and every sensible person agreed that their authority was vested in them by divine power -- I'll bet it seemed like that particular worldview was completely correct and unshakeable. There's no ideology so powerful as "common sense".)

But a warlord exists at the pleasure of his bodyguards. Where do you get those bodyguards? A pool of men, ages 18-25, who haven't had the benefit of growing up in a compassionate, consensual social context. They've been raised to believe in blood, honor, all that flapdoodle. Mock 'em, that's what I'd do. Tell kids "anyone who'd protect someone who oppresses other people is a joke", see how many bodyguards you can muster then. Rude caricatures, nobody will dance with them when they go to the club, can't get a drink, people make rude noises when the walk by -- the people who are most susceptible to the blandishments of powerful men are also the people who cannot stand being made to look even a little bit silly.

That's not the whole story of course. Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do for a fellow being is to put it out of its misery. Hit a dog and break half his bones, you go into the house and get out the .22 -- it's very sad, but sometimes you have to do it.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:52 PM
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108: I was thinking more:

I say "fuck authority"
silent majority
raised by the system
now it's time to rise against them
we're sick of your treason
sick of your lies
fuck no we won't listen
we're gonna open your eyes


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:53 PM
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110: Are you calling me an anti-Semite? 'Cause them's fightin' words.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:54 PM
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"Buy Nothing Day" . . . the most swipple, nebulous, ineffectual idea ever

Surely this is outdone by Take Your Dog to Work Day.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:54 PM
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Mock 'em, that's what I'd do.

How do you plan to do that through a mouthful of broken teeth? (That's if you're lucky.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:55 PM
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106: You prefer the status quo? I'd rather have one of my neighbors confront me about something and be mistaken, than have a cop hassle me and wind up down at the station.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:57 PM
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110: Are you calling me an anti-Semite? 'Cause them's fightin' words.

No, but I can commence to call you someone who doesn't know much about Nietzsche, if you like.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:58 PM
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Hey, grammar.police is back up!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:58 PM
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119: I've been in situations where I had to resist angry young men, and never had a tooth broken as a result.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:59 PM
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115: We used to call these people "kings", and every sensible person agreed that their authority was vested in them by divine power

OTOH, it's possible, even probable, that many of the earliest monarchies came about not out of "divine right" ideologies, but practical experience with alternatives that didn't work; the Medes (predecessors to the Persians) were traditionally reputed to have experimented with a complete absence of government before founding their monarchy. The evolution of alternatives to monarchy is a lot more complex than simple rejection of "hierarchy."

Where do you get those bodyguards? A pool of men, ages 18-25, who haven't had the benefit of growing up in a compassionate, consensual social context.

Great. And where do you get the compassionate, consensual social context? We're back again to step 2 and the underpants gnomes.

Sometimes the most compassionate thing you can do for a fellow being is to put it out of its misery.

Now there's some revolutionary self-discipline.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 8:59 PM
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I've been in situations where I had to resist angry young men, and never had a tooth broken as a result.

I thought we were talking about societies that were back to warlordism. Seriously, how well do you think this is likely to go over in, say, Somalia?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:01 PM
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105: Minneapolitan, I still don't understand how this can work in communities (societies, polities) of any significant size. With 1000 people, okay. Self-discipline and some reasonable community control of resources. Get to 100,000, though, and I'm not seeing how some outwardly enforced regulation can be dispensed with.

That's not to say it's all or nothing.

On preview wrt 120: are you just wanting small communities (neighborhoods) to self-police, but not necessarily saying anything about entire nations (say)? I'm not getting this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:01 PM
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Did the Spartans have a divine right theory? I have no idea, but also, I would be surprised.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:02 PM
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121: I think you were calling me an anti-Semite, in a backhanded way, with your coy references to supermen. I'm sure a knowledge of Nietzsche is a prerequisite for a successful career in academic philosophy, but his impact on anarchist thought has been, so far as I've been able to determine, fairly minimal.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:03 PM
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One way to ditch outwardly imposed discipline is if the LORD writes his law upon our hearts.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:03 PM
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Actually, relatively few monarchies had "divine right" theories per se. But many of them evolved similarly circular rationalizations for the concept, so we can concede some poetic license.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:04 PM
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Get to 100,000, though, and I'm not seeing how some outwardly enforced regulation can be dispensed with.

Anarchy is really just one of the forms of reactionary socialism Marx abuses in the Manifesto.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:04 PM
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120

"You prefer the status quo?"

Yes. The saying "better 100 years of tyranny than 1 day of anarchy" may be a bit of an exaggeration but I agree with the general point.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:04 PM
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AnarchismProcedural liberalism isn't against organization, or organizations. Rather, it's about making organizations that actually do what they're supposed to do.

There.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:05 PM
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121: I think you were calling me an anti-Semite, in a backhanded way, with your coy references to supermen.

Is that what you think? That's cute.

I don't think an outright writing of "Übermensch" counts as a coy reference, though.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:06 PM
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124, 127: Those are straw-kings if ever I've seen them. I'm not claiming that every king evar was a god-king or something like it. Just that a whole lot of recorded history occurred in the context of similar ideologies holding sway. And now they don't. Now, you could of course argue that this is a function of some teleology that is alien to everything else I've said, but then you're going to have to expand the scope of your argument far beyond the Medes and Spartans.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:07 PM
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134: Of course it does. You're not willing to engage what I've actually said, so you refer, pejoratively, to discredited philosophical position that supposedly has some connection with it. It's just guilt by association.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:09 PM
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132: Easy for you to say, so near the top of the pyramid.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:10 PM
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I see this thread going differently had Hillary Clinton locked up the nomination.

Yes, my blog is back! The internet is exposed to my diverse opinions once more.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:10 PM
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135: Those are straw-kings if ever I've seen them.

Actually, the example of the Medes has extremely direct relevance to the potential appeal of anarchism, so you don't get to just wave it off.

Monarchic ideologies do not, now, hold sway in much of the world, including those parts of it in a state of warlordism, so that doesn't really get you much further toward your point.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:11 PM
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Get to 100,000, though, and I'm not seeing how some outwardly enforced regulation can be dispensed with.

The anarchies I envision, and I consider Marxism an anarchy, are all pretty much post-scarcity or even post-property. Remove the incentives. Obviously status competition will remain, but will remain much milder and benign without rewards.

Examples:the internet, the blogosphere.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:11 PM
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136 is stupider than you realize, minnie.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:12 PM
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Wait, is everyone feeding minneapolitan because they admire his trolling abilities and the fact that he's doing it on a thread about trolling?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:13 PM
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but his impact on anarchist thought has been, so far as I've been able to determine, fairly minimal.

His apparently minimal impact on what you choose to call "anarchist thought' is not necessarily an effective criticism, never mind a scathing indictment, of the work of Nietzsche, though.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:13 PM
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The anarchies I envision, and I consider Marxism an anarchy, are all pretty much post-scarcity or even post-property. Remove the incentives. Obviously status competition will remain, but will remain much milder and benign without rewards.

There will always be rewards. Even if they only amount to comfort.

In the absence of property, if I enslave you and get you to fan me with a big leaf all day, my quality of life has increased, no matter how incrementally. If I have the ability to enslave you, why shouldn't I? And if I am used to having a fan, I don't want to go back to the days before air conditioning.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:14 PM
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Ah, but who's trolling whom, M/tch?

Actually, I just like arguing about anarchism. A large part of me wants to be surprised for once by the anarchist side of the debate, but it never happens.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:15 PM
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Fun fact: Marx didn't consider Marxism to be anarchy.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:16 PM
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145: Are you accusing me of anti-Semitism?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:18 PM
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The Uebermensch reference refers not to anti-Semitism, but to the idea of one who is ahead of his time philosophically, self-disciplined, and creates his own moral order. (More or less.) Sort of the very thing minnie was mentioning. Hence, I imagine, the reference.

I'm not sure Nietzsche could be described as an anti-Semite: he didn't care for the Jews, but he didn't care for any people, ethnicity or culture, railing about the Germans, the English, the Poles, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:18 PM
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147: That, and general rapey-ness.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:19 PM
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I don't think minneapolitan is taking positions in bad faith or is taking the piss so I won't say that's trolling. I tend to agree with Stormcrow in 93.

Community standards, community policing, blogs, systems of governance, and epithets. Nicely woven thread.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:21 PM
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147: general, except for the Jews, of course.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:23 PM
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The Uebermensch reference refers not to anti-Semitism, but to the idea of one who is ahead of his time philosophically, self-disciplined, and creates his own moral order. (More or less.) Sort of the very thing minnie was mentioning. Hence, I imagine, the reference.

This all is reminding me of the last few decades in George Bernard Shaw's life, when he went into more and more detail about how Communism would be the ideal society, with more and more consideration of the practical implementation, how different aspects of society could be reformed or left alone, how different people would respond and what their incentives would be. But there's always the point where he admits that the only way it would work in the long run is if a mechanism were put in place for nobody to ever hold power except members of the Fabian Society.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:24 PM
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But I've never seen a convincing anarchist answer as to how to prevent that situation in a situation where law is completely suspended. ...DS

I pretty much agree, which is why I am not a libertarian, or anarcho-capitalist. They want to remove the strustures of power while leaving the incentives to corrupt and stratify a society in place.

I am the opposite. I do not attack gov't in almost any form, but I want the incentives drastically reduced by confiscatory taxation on wealth. Even the Soviets got compensated with nice apartments and imported goods. Do people really want power for power's sake alone? Perhaps. We don't have a lot of historical evidence, do we?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:25 PM
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Nietzsche was much harder on contemporary antisemites than he was on the Jews, for the most part. (Though, you know, only for the most part.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:25 PM
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Cala! you saucy minx intellectual warlord, you. Please stop trying to dominate the discussion by recourse to the weapons of nuance and reason. This thread is all about hte trolling.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:26 PM
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148: In philosophy circles, (American or Continental?) or in popular culture? Being all "Dude, you think you're a superman!" doesn't convey, to me at least, a deep-seated skepticism about anarchism or what I choose to call "anarchist thought", as much as it does a cheap dig, and a dog-whistle at that.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:26 PM
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150: I think you're right, actually, it doesn't seem to be in bad faith. It's just the failure to actually engage in discussion in favor of simply reasserting statements, aggressively misreading others, and spewing stupid accusations that has the tang of troll about it.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:28 PM
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I don't really give a shit what it conveys to you, minnie; you be advised, though, to consider the source in your interpretive adventures.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:29 PM
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If I have the ability to enslave you, why shouldn't I?

We are talking about large modern post-industrial societies. I doubt that such fan wavers will be necessary or possible. I'm your next-door neighbot. I and ten of my friends will liberate him.

Without wealth, you won't have the gang to stop me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:29 PM
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155: Hey! Totally reasoning, over here. Hel-lo.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:29 PM
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Without wealth, you won't have the gang to stop me.

Will he have the gang to stop you if you want to enslave him?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:31 PM
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We are talking about large modern post-industrial societies. I doubt that such fan wavers will be necessary or possible. I'm your next-door neighbot. I and ten of my friends will liberate him. Without wealth, you won't have the gang to stop me.

How did you get those friends without wealth? Don't tell me this is going to be some sort of a charismocracy.

And what will you do with me now that you have exerted your power over me?


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:32 PM
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I pray that you will all forgive me, but I was up quite early this morning embodying capitalism (and taking out the recycling -- oh, so swipple!), and it is time for me to sleep.

Also, it was not my intention to derail the discussion about exactly what constitutes "trolling". I'm guessing people like s/ocum and the other Crooked Timber rightist trolls are just about as sincere in their protestations as I am in mine. The thing is, I don't think they're sincere in their ostensible wish to actually engage the left-liberal Timberites. Whereas I am quite hopeful that I may be able to sway a few people here towards my position. Perhaps that's mere vanity, but I think it does distinguish my interventions from those of an actual troll.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:33 PM
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156: In philosophy circles, and in pop culture by anyone who's read the books. It's not a guarded secret known only to initiated ABDs after mysterious and arcane rituals.


Ben can speak for himself, but it does convey a deep-seated skepticism: from what you've said, it looks like your new society requires fundamentally different people who will just will the new society into existence. (Will there be these philosophers of the future?)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:33 PM
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the tang of troll about it

Yeah, it tastes like copper.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:33 PM
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Hey, MC!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:34 PM
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156: Minneapolitan, obviously in philosophy circles, where the pop culture misreadings of Nietzsche are kind of off in the distance. He's actually not such a bad guy. It's very plain to me, anyway, that ben intended no "dig." Okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:36 PM
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I'm open to swayage, but please explain how this:

If we lived in a free society, everyone would be empowered to act as they felt necessary. Pace mimi smartypants, if someone's exposing himself in public, without a very good reason, everyone around can call him on his shit and intervene to the level required. But the decisions are made democratically and situationally, and are always open to review by anyone who is participating.

works? Who gets to vote? Who gets to participate? How is open review carried out? If the person called on their shit ignores the democratic and situational decision, how does the decision as to what level of intervention is then required get made? Who gets to, or has to, carry that decision out? Some details would be nice.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:38 PM
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155: This thread is all about hte trolling.

A society free of hierarchy and domination will never be possible until people stop having babies.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:39 PM
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It doesn't count when black men reason, DS.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:40 PM
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Bless you, LR. That society would also be quite short. Which might be an improvement.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:40 PM
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It doesn't count when black men reason, DS.

Sexist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:41 PM
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and taking out the recycling

Damn. Thanks. I forget to bring in the green thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:41 PM
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That society would also be quite short.

Which would explain why they wouldn't have babies.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:42 PM
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And what will you do with me now that you have exerted your power over me?

And the thread takes a turn toward the familiar. Dear Penthouse, I never thought it would happen to me—I'm not even sure I believed that a new society would be capable of producing a gang of philosopher kings. . . .


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:42 PM
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174: Not big ones, at least.

It's been a while since I've read Republic, but I seem to remember thinking it was a bad idea for the philosopher-kings to give the jocks control of the military.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:44 PM
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A society free of hierarchy and domination will never be possible until people stop having babies.

A society without teh cute is a society not worth having.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:44 PM
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177: Oppressor of babies!


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:45 PM
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177: Cats and dogs and penguins aren't people, b.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:45 PM
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170: Technically, we're only supposed to have a sort of low cunning. So I think it should count double.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:45 PM
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179: Well, yes, I thought about that. But I doubt you'll get the baby-free society. Plus, sexist!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:46 PM
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I don't think the baby-free society is actually sexist. Or, well, apply liberal amounts of handwavium, and assume a post-gender society where all conception and birth happens deliberately and outside of human bodies.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:47 PM
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Speaking of teh cute, this seems like it would be an awesome pet.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:48 PM
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Soylent Green is not cute.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:48 PM
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Isn't the baby-free (motherhood-free) society likely to be the only non-sexist society?


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:49 PM
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A society that reproduced entirely via cloning would be a billion times sexier than our own. I'm not kidding.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:49 PM
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and not think it was the reporter getting trolled?
Meanwhile over at Sadly, no!:

* If and when the cache is updated and the comments disappear again, we've made a (sigh) screen-shot, as though this were some kind of flaky comment-altering Usenet dispute of the primordial 1994 variety. I mean, wow
JP:when it specifically meant someone (usually an "insider" specifically posting what they knew was bullshit (or inanely provocative) to induce an argument from newbies or otherwise credulous folk.

I'm having flashbacks man! Trolling as in fishing, not trolls under the bridge, I agree. So I would say that the only trolling going on in the NYT is the reporter's trolling. As in trolling for Senate hearings.

Most of what she reported as going on is not trolling (or flaming) or even cracking, but straight-up harassment, terrorism and pranks of the dangerous or destructive variety. Assuming of course, that it occurred as reported.

(Flashbombing epileptics? Could you get anymore lame? Terrorizing the parents of a dead child? Quite evil, but hardly trolling even in the people- under-the-bridge sense.)

Taking what they're reporting as straight truth (whether it is or not) the word that comes to mind to describe them is brigands (and thugs, I suppose).

max
['And chickenshit.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:49 PM
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183: I actually do think that that's sexist. Inasmuch as women have babies, and assuming a post-gender society in which "people" make babies that gestate outside their own bodies means assuming a society in which we're all effectively men.

Since Minnie's gone to bed, I figure, we need something new to argue about.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:50 PM
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bob's right, bob's right! It's all about private property (control of resources). Death to private property!

162: How did you get those friends without wealth?

This just seems stupid. Sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:52 PM
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183: Best shrew ever.

I wonder if anyone's thought to tap palm wine from bertram palms.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:52 PM
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185: Actually, I tend to think so. Blah blah, LOL Shulamith Firestone, etc.

That's apart from the fact that I think sentient-being-conceiving is, in essential nature, an act that is both dominating and heirarchical. Because I'm a hippie. Except not the kind that believes in souls that choose their speshul destiny and lyfe lessonz before birth.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:52 PM
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188: First you like the tree shrew, then you say it's sexist.

Also, if we're all effectively men in a post-gender society, then sexism can't exist, just like prejudice against nonexistent beings can't exist.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:52 PM
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sentient-being-conceiving is, in essential nature, an act that is both dominating and heirarchical

Oh, bah.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:53 PM
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192.2: Lovely. How about if we have a post-gender society in which everyone's a woman, instead, okay? I like being a woman and I don't particularly want to be wished out of existence.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:54 PM
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193: Well, sure, but Lunar's vision means guilt-free sexxxorz for everyone. We can table a few philosophical quibbles to get behind that, can't we?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:55 PM
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189.3: My point was that his claim that he would have "friends", but I wouldn't have a "gang", makes no sense.

We would both have friends.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:55 PM
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193: Seriously. Plus that's not hippie.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:56 PM
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I'm cool with guilt-free sexxorz for everyone.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:56 PM
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Hey! Totally reasoning, over here.

Of course you are! But (and I hate to be the one who has to break it to you) you don't really count, darling. This is a fundamentally American, and one might even say a basically inter-familial, argument, between the anarchists, on the one hand, and the libertarians, on the other (and has any other country in the history of the world ever given rise to such interesting extremes?), who, one might almost say, are just two sides of the same coin, what with their shared radical rejection of the "so-called," each side would say, lessons of human history, as so far recorded to the best of human abilities (sadly fallible, alas), and of everything we think we know (we are almost certainly misguided, needless to say) of human nature. God bless America for its various and sundry and sometimes truly weird if wonderful cities upon the hill.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:56 PM
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188: I actually do think that that's sexist. Inasmuch as women have babies, and assuming a post-gender society in which "people" make babies that gestate outside their own bodies means assuming a society in which we're all effectively men

Actually, I would say that is only true if you're an essentialist for social gender, which I am very much not. You're basically suggesting there is something that is fundamentally "male", outside of biological sex (which is itself really murky once you look too close, and irrelevant anyway in a post-natural-birth society). I disagree.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:58 PM
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188: So you're saying that unless I have a baby I'm not a woman?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:58 PM
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This is a fundamentally American, and one might even say a basically inter-familial, argument, between the anarchists, on the one hand, and the libertarians, on the other (and has any other country in the history of the world ever given rise to such interesting extremes?)

America didn't give rise to anarchists. The only anarchists who ever caused any trouble in America were European immigrants, I think.

192.2: Lovely. How about if we have a post-gender society in which everyone's a woman, instead, okay? I like being a woman and I don't particularly want to be wished out of existence.

Oh, lord. In a society without genders there is no discrimination based on gender. I thought that was what you meant to say, based on your use of the phrase "post-gender society". So then I said it and now it's a sexist thing to say.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:59 PM
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199: Would that Canada were free of libertarians, but it ain't so. As an Albertan, I can attest to this, believe me. Likewise the anarchist; during the G-8 Summit protests here, the Black Flag guys had to be physically restrained from attacking... wait for it... a McDonald's. Bet you didn't see that coming!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 9:59 PM
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169: I have long said that the greatest failure of most revolutionary movements was the failure to answer the question, "So, um, what do we do with the kids?" Without some concrete plan in place, the conventional models are so conveniently ready to hand.... It's especially bad when you're trying to run some kind of subversive movement rather than a revolution, because unless you're going to shield your kids entirely from the outside world, you're going to have to face up to the fact that conventionally raised children are total fucking dicks to anyone who deviates even slightly from the norm.

So now I've kind of talked myself into the notion that a truly revolutionary movement has to give up on the adults altogether and start directly with child-rearing.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:00 PM
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201: Just, you know, un-feminine.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:00 PM
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So now I've kind of talked myself into the notion that a truly revolutionary movement has to give up on the adults altogether and start directly with child-rearing.

If you're going to do it that way, it makes more sense to go with the George Bernard Shaw communism or Plato's Republic, and raise a small minority of kids to be the benevolent philosopher-kings.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:01 PM
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205: Oh no, I must wear something ruffled!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:02 PM
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198: You missed the crucial third "x." I don't believe you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:02 PM
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206 would work better if it just said "monarchy" instead of "the George Bernard Shaw communism or Plato's Republic".

Goodnight everyone. (why is it only read who says this?)


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:03 PM
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193: Oh, bah.

What? I mean, it's not necessarily all that much more dominating and hierarchical than a parent taking a dangerous item away from a toddler who's gnawing on it, but it is.

Basically, my point is, a society where everyone is 100% free from the control of other human beings is, at its largest, consistent of exactly one brain inside a vat hallucinating everything and everyone else and aware of this fact, which magically willed itself into being, and which can restart and alter The Matrix at will.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:03 PM
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210: I got sick of the whole "moralizing about how the very act of thought is dominating" thing a long time ago. Apparently Bitch did, too.

I can think about you all night long, and maybe I will, but it doesn't constrain your actions in the least.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:05 PM
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I don't think Lunar is moralizing. She's making the (very Foucaultian, if I may say) point that one is never outside or not implicated in power.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:06 PM
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210: LR, it's not the bearing of children that's what you want to call dominating, it's the raising of them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:06 PM
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201: Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Women as a class create and birth children, therefore every single individual woman has to create and birth children or she's not a woman.

You're basically suggesting there is something that is fundamentally "male", outside of biological sex (which is itself really murky once you look too close, and irrelevant anyway in a post-natural-birth society). I disagree.

No, I'm saying there's something fundamentally female, and a big part of it is the ability to gestate and give birth. And inasmuch as I think those things are not only fundamentally female but also fundamentally human, I don't think that a utopia where we solve sexism by giving them up is a utopia I'm interested in.

210.2: Ah. Well then I think you and I are in agreement, yes? That such a society is far from ideal?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:08 PM
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211: I got sick of the whole "moralizing about how the very act of thought is dominating" thing a long time ago. Apparently Bitch did, too.

I can think about you all night long, and maybe I will, but it doesn't constrain your actions in the least.

Where was I suggesting or necessitating that it did? Thoughts, no; the fact that human babies start out small and weak and dependent and unaware, yes.

The simple fact of being born as any unique individual, in a universe like ours, is a constraint. It may not be a big deal, but it's a constraint.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:09 PM
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As an Albertan, I can attest to this, believe me.

I believe you. My parents are even afraid to visit your province, because "don't they sound like neo-Nazis out there?" Mind you, they think the residents of Guelph, Ontario are "very Americanized," which is sort of amusing, I think.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:09 PM
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And now I am going to go watch a movie with my family, thereby indoctrinating PK and completely dominating his mind. Bwahahaha.

Night, all.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:09 PM
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216: And oddly enough, Calgary is indeed currently undergoing an outbreak of neo-Nazis. Though the crackheads are a much more prominent social ailment thus far.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:12 PM
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I feel so unfulfilled.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:12 PM
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Maybe crack's what's missing.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:14 PM
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213: Well, no, the bearing too; in as much as it starts at birth, and really, why do the parents of a sentient being get to be the ones to decide whether or not it will exist, and not that sentient being itself?

I think my arguments might make a little more sense if I pointed out that, for example, while I realize that most suicidal people are motivated by mental illness and not clear and perfect reason, and that many don't even genuinely want to kill themselves, I think the illegality of suicide is ridiculously stupid and wrong. Which is not to say we shouldn't be providing lots of support for suicidal folks, and so on, but the only thing close to a legitimate argument I've heard for the moral basis of banning it that, basically, the second society legitimates it in some way, you start down the road to necessitating it. I'm not a fan of slippery slope arguments, but I'm enough of a cynic that I'm mostly sympathetic to that one.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:14 PM
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219: Hey, us men suffer too, you know. I haven't crushed my enemies, seen them driven before me, and clasped their women to my breast in ages. Don't you have any thought for what I'm going through?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:14 PM
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215: We're social animals. Society by definition involves constraints on the individual, yes. Some forms of constraint are bad, some are neutral, some are good, many are inequitable (and sometimes that is bad, and sometimes it's not). Individuals with no constraints whatsoever = sociopaths.

Okay, I really am outta here now.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:15 PM
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220: T-shirt slogan / mouseover text.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:16 PM
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truly revolutionary movement has to give up on the adults altogether and start directly with child-rearing

The kibbutzim, at least the most radical ones, tried this. They failed. I'd tell you why and how, but then you'd never buy my forthcoming novel. It's a love story in which a young Palestinian girl and a rough-hewn Sabra who's a kibbutznik... Well, I've given away too much already. Suffice to say, it's incredibly romantic -- in an effortlessly egalitarian sort of way.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:16 PM
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212: one is never outside or not implicated in power.

Good to know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:16 PM
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Whereupon Polemarchus said, "Socrates, you appear to have turned your faces townward and to be going to leave us."

"Not a bad guess," said I.

"But you see how many we are?" he said.

"Surely."

"You must either then prove yourselves the better men or stay here."

"Why, is there not left," said I, "the alternative of our persuading you that you ought to let us go?"

"But could you persuade us," said he, "if we refused to listen?"

"Nohow," said Glaucon.

"Well, we won't listen, and you might as well make up your minds to it."


Posted by: plato | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:21 PM
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and has any other country in the history of the world ever given rise to such interesting extremes?

Russia?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:23 PM
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PLATO YOU STILL OWE ME FIFTY OWLS YOU ASSHOLE


Posted by: OPINIONATED XENOPHON | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:26 PM
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||

Obama's ready to sell out on offshore drilling.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:27 PM
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Also:

Could we have some new mouseover text? "Axis mundi-less" is giving me fucking hives.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:28 PM
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in as much as it starts at birth, and really, why do the parents of a sentient being get to be the ones to decide whether or not it will exist, and not that sentient being itself?

Well, once that sentient being is born alive into the world, it's not the parents who get to decide whether or not that being should exist, of course. And before that sentient being is born alive into the world (some would say that being is not really sentient until born, of course), that being basically inhabits the body of its (or his/her, if you will) mother in an at least somewhat slightly parasitical relationship to her, and whether or not that mother has the right to decide whether or not that being should exist gets us into some pretty tricky territory indeed, to say the least. At least until we have all escaped the confines of human embodiment (which once defined the very parameters of the human experience, but who am I to oppose progress?) and have all been raptured, or perhaps subtilized, into euphoric bliss, or drafted into citizenship in the Republic of Virtue, these issues remain morally difficult, and fraught with perils and pitfalls.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:37 PM
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Maybe if children weren't had in the current way, we'd just come up with some other way for women still to exist. I bet it wouldn't be very hard.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:41 PM
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231: I couldn't put an en dash in the "title" attribute. SORRY.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:41 PM
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It's a love story in which a young Palestinian girl and a rough-hewn Sabra who's a kibbutznik...

That's so romantic! Sigh. You know, Ari, there's a real market for such dreck on eBay.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:41 PM
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232: I am overwhelmed with admiration for MC's having answered that question straight.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:46 PM
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233: we'd just come up with some other way for women still to exist.

They come with their own pocket! And it can hold a pen!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:46 PM
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237: Damn, that's cute.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 10:51 PM
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All of you suck.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:10 PM
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Stras, I think you're totally underestimating the transformative power of my literary voice.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:14 PM
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All of you suck.

Well, yeah.

And your mother wears army boots, so.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:15 PM
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I'm not sure if hamsters can be said to wear army boots; it's more like they inhabit them.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:20 PM
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the transformative power of my literary voice.

Me, I almost already feel like a new person. And, to be perfectly frank with you, I've only just read the Coles Notes.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:22 PM
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239: That was kind of how I felt after reading the minneapolitan bit above. It was like we turned into the Snarky Cold War Liberal Club. People, Todd Gitlin has more societal imagination than you do tonight.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:41 PM
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In other news, see Harold Pinter's Betrayal if you haven't. There are two productions up in Los Angeles right now. The one on Peach Grove Street is excellent.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:42 PM
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Harold Pinter is being performed everywhere all at once right now, it seems.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:44 PM
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244: You know, Cold War Liberal or not, I actually think it's not assholish to expect anarchism to have some sort of a semi-plausible hook for its vision.

245: Pinter. I won't be hopping a plane to LA anytime soon, but I wonder: is it any better than [i]The Homecoming[/i]?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:49 PM
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The Homecoming, that is to say?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 1-08 11:49 PM
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244: I was disappointed too, it's such an enduring topic that I find it intriguing. But really, the entire discussion was basically

Q: If existing hierarchies are removed, no new hierarchies will appear.
A: Yes they will.
Q: Well, if everyone adopts non-hierarchical attitudes, they won't.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:05 AM
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247.1: I find a lot of value in articulating it as a tendency, as a heuristic for critiquing the institutions we live in. That's not pie-in-the-sky--there are principles that you can bring into the institutions you participate in to tear down the hierarchies a little bit, and that gives you a perspective on how the slightly bigger ones could be torn down too. You can peel the onion from the inside.

Going right to "but how will the trains run?" seems indicative, at least above, of a conservative, panglossian "democracy is the worst except for all the other ones" comfort. Revolutions are complicated, and since we're not going to actually make a run for the pitchforks tonight, "What if" is more interesting to me than "No, but."

It's not out of line to ask how you get there, but the discussion above seems proudly indignant and anti-radical.

247.2: I've read The Homecoming and The Birthday Party but not seen them; Betrayal is less weird. That may make it less powerful in some ways, but the way in which it is weird I found completely lovely and cutting. It's just three actors (other than a waiter who drops in for one scene), a woman, her husband, and her lover (his oldest friend). The action unfolds in rough reverse, with scenes progressing from the present nine years into the past, from the unraveling of the marriage to the start of the affair. The relationship each of the characters has to their own sense of their self and morality is fascinating and unexpected.

To give a man horns is to demonstrate cognitive mastery over him, but the prized knowledge does not belong to the cuckoo.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:07 AM
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proudly indignant and anti-radical

Funny, I didn't read it that way. I saw people asking minnie if he'd be willing to deal with a few practical matters before asking us all to hop on his ponies.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:11 AM
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I find a lot of value in articulating it as a tendency, as a heuristic for critiquing the institutions we live in.

Oddly enough, I remember saying something rather similar upthread.

Going right to "but how will the trains run?" seems indicative, at least above, of a conservative, panglossian "democracy is the worst except for all the other ones" comfort.

When the other party has gone to "this is what a Free Society will look like," it seems a propos to start asking the big questions, no?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:16 AM
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"but how will the trains run?"

Freely.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:17 AM
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I remember saying something rather similar upthread.

Then I applaud you, sir.

199 was the biggest example of what I was picking up on.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:31 AM
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While this was going up I was watching The Dark Knight in IMAX and chewing my knuckles to keep myself from screeching with delight. I just want to note this for the record.

I started to read the article but realized it was going to involve Fortuny and was seven pages long and decided that life is too short. A dicknosed shit is a dicknosed shit with or without a keyboard or a fancy self-justification.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:43 AM
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Lucinda dares to ask the big questions:

How would the world change
If thick became thin
And the world was rearranged
If the rains brought down the moon
And daylight was feared
And the sun rose too soon
And then just disappeared
If dogs became kings
And the Pope chewed gum
And hobos had wings
And God was a bum
If houses became trees
And flowers turned to stone
And there were no families
And people lived alone
If buildings started laughing
And windows cried
And feet started clapping
And out came inside
If mountains fell in slivers
And the sky began to bleed
And blood filled up the rivers
And prisoners were freed
If the stars fell apart
And the ocean dried up
And the world was one big heart
And decided to stop
If children grew up happier
And they could run with the wolves
And they never felt trapped
Or hungry or unloved
If cats walked on water
And birds had bank accounts
And we loved one another
In equal amounts


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:45 AM
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It really was good, right? Hmm, I wonder if it's playing on an IMAX screen around here, now that around here is California again.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:54 AM
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257 to 255.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:55 AM
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Boy I go to sleep for a while and things veer straight off into the weeds.

Not the thread, the kid who just flipped his car outside my house!

Heyoh! He's okay, folks! Tip your waitress!

Seriously, though, the thread went off the rails. Different.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:57 AM
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off the rails.

Probably a problem with the way the trains were run. (yes, I will beat this pun into a dead horse, the horse having been hit by a train)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:02 AM
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I'll tell you one thing, though, I bitterly cursed the pigs for asserting state authority and arresting the kid for drunkenly launching his car into our tree (handily between the house and the road) when I could have just shunned him.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:07 AM
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I think they understood where I was coming from.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:08 AM
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The thread got results, you stupid chief!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:13 AM
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Is the tree okay? The market will sort out the kid, no doubt.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:18 AM
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The tree is no more, sadly. Now some other truck is out there doing something else loud, I can't figure out what. Maybe tree-hauling-away, but that seems like it could have waited for morning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:21 AM
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Maybe there's a downed power line?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:23 AM
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Maybe tree-hauling-away, but that seems like it could have waited for morning.

If there were no government, this wouldn't be a problem.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:27 AM
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Ahh, I hear chainsaws. Efficiency defeats sleep!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:37 AM
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214: No, I'm saying there's something fundamentally female, and a big part of it is the ability to gestate and give birth.

Sounds an awful lot like the Catholic Church's definition of marriage as a vehicle for procreation..



Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:25 AM
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"Lie Bot, what is the saddest thing?"

"Philippe, Philippe, Philippe, . . . The saddest thing is a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand."

"Nooo!"


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 5:01 AM
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From 237: Years ago, I was traveling with my then-almost-4-year-old son, flying to visit grandparents in Florida. I was sitting in the aisle seat, DS was in the middle, and a pretty 20something young woman was in the window seat. She smiled at my boy, who smiled back, and then reached over and fondled her breasts with both hands--he literally batted them around like they were hackysacks.

DS, once wild and free, now a slave to conventional thinking.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 5:38 AM
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Who is the mysterious Esme?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 5:50 AM
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i'm convinced anarchism is at least not for us
just if to look at the july riot, so ugly, it was like classical anarchy it seems
and who gets all damages, it all leads to opposite of what they wanted, if there was any organizing core, they empowered more the ruling party, presidential authority, weakened parliament, which is unable of any decisions and, i'm not sure, seems it's still not gathered yet after the elections, they are just always in some kind of deadlock and it discredited the democratic movement etc
they started fire to save some of theirs catched by the police they say and the fire destroyed not only the party headquarters, but a fine arts gallery, the archives of the composers society, which means almost all musical scores recorded in the last century are gone! isn't it tragic, the instruments, inventory, costumes of the theater of the traditional dance and music
clearly not one of them rioters ever build or create anything in their lives, to not think about what damages they are bringing
there was an argument, what is of more value human lives, 5 of the rioters died, or the gallery etc, but still it's like a classical karmic lesson
what one does causes one's fate
hopefully we have enough talented people to restore what is lost but it will never be same again
and hopefully there is a lesson to be learnt for the government, to take better care of the poorest coz sure there are limits of waiting for the change


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 6:49 AM
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caught


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 6:55 AM
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271: Why do you think Slack doesn't still act like that? I heard there was a Toronto meet up where he told BitchPhd that her butt was "big and squishy"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:05 AM
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here is an example
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs3XcFBcBmQ
the musician tried to make it modern, though it's an old XVII century's religious spiritual song


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:10 AM
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The problem I have with the anarchy discussions is that I don't have any sense at all of what getting partway there looks like (or at least any sense that distinguishes half-measures from liberal efforts to make our current system nicer, which I'm all for). The force of the Somalia example isn't so much that it's a "Boo-ya! Workable anarchy is impossible, because living in Somalia sucks," it's that taking away the strong central government doesn't do anything recognizable as moving toward workable anarchy -- the sort of warlordism that arises spontaneously when you destroy a govermentment isn't any closer to what Minneapolitan seems to want than our current society.

If I had any sense at all of what progress towards the good kind of anarchy would look like, I could engage in this conversation more enthusiastically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:13 AM
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So, you're all in agreement that my comments were naive, stupid, trollish, whatever, because I didn't give you a foolproof, step-by-step plan for how the revolution is going to work? It strains credulity, to say the least, to think that everyone here has a foolproof, step-by-step plan for making their own ideologies work. Unless, perhaps, you think environmental destruction, war, torture, 2.2 million in prison, crime, oppression etc. etc. is evidence of your own cleverness at supporting the status quo with muted calls for minor, incremental reforms?

Of course, I don't have a complete plan for revolutionary change. If I had one, and it worked, you'd see it happening. But I do have the knowledge that thousands and thousands of other people, all over the planet, are thinking about these questions, discussing them, experimenting with different tactics and strategies, publishing the results and learning from mistakes.

On a side note, I've seen a disturbing tendency for the phrase "pie-in-the-sky" to be inserted when something that denotes a naive belief in revolutionary utopia is called for in an argument. Now, certainly, by all means, criticize naive beliefs in revolutionary utopias, I do so myself. But remember that in its original context "pie-in-the-sky" is a metonymy for the belief that people should endure oppression for the sake of some fanciful idea of a post-mortem reward. "The Preacher and the Slave" is arguing in favor of organizing around bread-and-butter issues that will have a concrete effect on people's daily lives, and dispensing with the idea of waiting around for things to fix themselves magically. (And what is a belief in bourgeois democracy but the irrational certainty that if we just put a few more foxes in charge of the chicken coop, we'll be all right eventually?)

Has anarchism strayed from this path, which won it so many adherents in the period between 1880 and 1940? Of course. But there are quite a few anarchists who recognize that failure and who are working to correct it. Will we be successful? Again, I can't prove to you the fact of something that hasn't happened yet, but if we're going to take that bet that doing something to advance an idea, even given a slim chance of immediate success, is better than throwing up our hands and abdicating our responsibilities, then it only makes sense to me to work toward the best possible solutions, rather than capitulating to the inertia of outmoded forms.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:17 AM
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277: Shorter minneapolitan: "Know what I want, but don't know how to get it!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:20 AM
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278: I'm guessing that 278 and 277 were crossposts. To make 277 a little more concrete, the kind of question I can't answer for myself in relation to anarchy is "If X real-world change happened, it certainly wouldn't be everything, but it would get us closer to the society I want." I've got plenty of answers for that in terms of liberal social democracy: universal health care, equalized funding for schools, cutting military spending way, way, way down, nothing non-obvious, but that sort of thing. Doesn't mean I have any kind of effective plan, but there are clear interim goals.

What are that sort of interim goals for anarchy, and are they distinguishable from goals for liberal social democracy?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:27 AM
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379: Free the comment references!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:27 AM
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273: just if to look at the july riot, so ugly, it was like classical anarchy it seems

Could you amplify that remark, read? Riots and insurrections happen under virtually every government. In fact, I think we can say with some degree of accuracy that riots are nearly always caused by the actions of governments, not by the actions of anarchists. How many people have anarchists murdered in the last 10 years? A handful perhaps, although I'm hard-pressed to think of even one. Now, how many people have been murdered by the state in the last 10 years? Uncounted thousands, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Burma and China and Texas. You argue that anarchy is indistinguishable from riot, but the reality of our situation suggests much more strongly that government is indistinguishable from murder. The state is nothing but concentrated violence. Violence that is freed of the fetters of decentralization and allowed to grow and multiply until it obliterates everything else (please see the history of the 20th century for more examples of this phenomenon.) I'm not a fan of violence, or murder, but to assert that some how government prevents these evils while anarchism supports them flies in the face of every bit of evidence available to us.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:27 AM
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If I had any sense at all of what progress towards the good kind of anarchy would look like, I could engage in this conversation more enthusiastically.

When I was a kid, people used to point at the brief experiment in Barcelona in 1937, when the CNT/FAI militias took over the city before being crushed by the Communist Party militias after a few days. That was before we understood about the tyranny of structurelessness. I suspect that progress towards the good kind of anarchy would in reality be a very long and tortuous path, involving some very nasty episodes and others which showed people behaving at their best. I also doubt that I will see much progress down that road in my lifetime. Last time I was in Barcelona, I couldn't help noticing that the CNT and the CCOO, the Communist affiliated union, were sharing offices, because union membership overall had fallen so low as to leave them no alternative.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:30 AM
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279: Shorter Stormcrow: "Nyah-nyah-nyah, I can't hear you!"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:32 AM
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Again, Minneapolitan -- I don't need a foolproof plan. I certainly haven't got one. But can you point toward some interim, partial, political goals?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:45 AM
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So, you're all in agreement that my comments were naive, stupid, trollish, whatever, because I didn't give you a foolproof, step-by-step plan for how the revolution is going to work?

No. Step-by-step isn't required; I think most of us aren't sure of what you think the endpoint looks like. There is no state at all. Is there property? How will disputes be resolved?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:48 AM
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Okay, directly at LB's point: What would successful steps towards an anarchist society look like? Laundry list:
*Decentralized decision-making
*Federations to take action on larger questions
*Pro-feminist, anti-racist, pro-queer values predominate (i.e. ending the common forms of oppression)
*Mutual aid among individuals and groups
*Economies of sharing (de-monetarized, redistributive)
*Sustainability in production
*Appropriateness in technology

I'll probably have some l'esprit de l'escalier and come up with some other pointers, but that's the core of it, I think.

In narrative terms, I'd like to see people reclaiming their responsibility for themselves and their communities. Direct action like Critical Mass, or guerrilla gardening or "skill shares" is about the level that we reach right now. What would building on those methods involve? It could mean digging up a whole unused street to provide food and other products, or organizing carless weeks or months. Setting up health care collectives that could treat people as well (or maybe better than) the medico-industrial complex. Creating energy collectives that could retrofit existing structures with passive solar systems. The throughline here is putting decisions back in the hands of people who have to live with them. You're all smart people. If you sat down and thought about it you could come up with a hundred other ideas and the means to realize them.

283: The history of anarchism in Spain is something that everyone (not just anarchists) should study. There was real promise there of something better, and lasting, but a variety of forces coalesced to make sure that didn't happen. Should anarchists have joined the government? Should they have made common cause with the Communists who went on to betray them? Should there have been more focus on preventing the tit-for-tat atrocities? Could the Church have been engaged to actually work for the revolution instead of against it? There's a lot to think about there. I think we could say, in a very reductionist way, that "war anarchism" has, at best, a tenuous connection to the kind of anarchism that most anarchists have advocated. Was that the "fault" of the Spanish anarchists? It's hard to say, because so many of the choices seem to have been completely out of their hands. With other left ideologies, we have a great deal more data to work with in answering these questions. Unfortunately, for anarchism, concrete examples always put us back in Barcelona, and there's not a lot to feel unabashedly positive about there.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:58 AM
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287. I would add, as interim goals for anarchists:
* Measures to increase workers' control in large enterprises, from effective workers' councils to election of management
* Abolition of personal immunity for directors of large enterprises, private or public, ultimately abolition of limited liability
* Measures to make it more difficult to wage aggressive war; election of officers in the forces, all posts above Major/Commander to be appointments not ranks

These aren't original. They're pretty standard fare in most revolutionary movements.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:16 AM
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Hrm. You know, the problem with decentralized decision-making is that I like community gardens, food coops, and healthcare collectives, but I'm not fond of sundown towns. The decentralization prong and the pro-feminist, anti-racist, anti-queer, sustainable production and technology prongs seem to me to be in conflict. But I do understand what I believe to be your position that things are bad enough on those fronts with centralized government that there's no reason to think decentralization would make things worse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:17 AM
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Mostly, I guess, what seems unworkable to me is that I have a hard time picturing a devolution of political control to the community level that wouldn't incorporate a certain number of communities that were seriously unpleasant, and I'd expect the unpleasant communities to be more violently inclined than the ones I like. Devolution of politics to the community level seems fine, but I still want the state monopoly on violence to protect the healthcare cooperatives from the wannabe warlords.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:23 AM
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LB, looking back to the days when I knew a lot more anarchists than I do nowadays, I'd say that the most of them recognise this. Devolution as far as appropriately possible, depending on what's being devolved, combined with maximal democratic control of the remaining more centralised areas would be the interim goal. Absolute devolution of everything would be the aspirational ideal which should motivate people to prevent re-centralisation, but not the be all and end all.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:31 AM
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re: 291

Yeah, that's probably how I see things myself. I'm not, personally speaking, a full-on anarchist, but the sorts of things in 288 and 291 combined with (bits of) minneapolitan's 287 seem sensible.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:37 AM
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Also, as you say in 288, most of these are fairly standard fare. Common to various left-libertarians, council communists, mutualists, anarchists, at the more lefty end of some 'social democratic' movements, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:41 AM
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282, i don't know much about modern anarchism what i remember vaguely from history classes is something about Bakunin and Makhno band
maybe riot does not equal anarchism, the july riot was precipitated by the alleged election fraud, so it's sure the state responsibility too, if to talk about what it caused, that and corruption and growing social inequality, poverty and unemployment
anarchism might be good and desirable at the certain level of society development, if all its members are self-sufficient and knowledgeable
something like the next step after comminism, then it will all be like heaven on the earth, no?
just it wouldn't work as communism didn't work
though the anarchist idea is very close to our ideal and mentality, i suppose, all our poetry is about that, something like, just let me be, live my simple life as i want etc
'zulgen deeree geree xatgaad
zugeer l neg am'draxsan....'
sorry, i can't translate, it sounds beautifully though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:49 AM
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290: I'd expect the unpleasant communities to be more violently inclined than the ones I like

You're absolutely right that this would be a difficult issue to grapple with in an anarchist (or proto-anarchist) society. That's not to say that it is impossible to imagine a way around it. From the principle that every problem contains the seeds of its own solution, let's break down the scenario you're envisioning: A small community, relatively isolated, where the overwhelming preference is for some activity or prohibition that conflicts with the larger societal values. (Of course, we see plenty of this right now, and there aren't a lot of really great solutions being evolved.) But what could we do? Perhaps a constant stream of people who held different values could visit or indeed move to this community. If the other aspects of an anarchist society remained in place, some solution would have to be worked out, either a stalemate or a synthesis or something like an agreement to change behaviors if not ideals. Yes, you probably couldn't expect a really excellent solution overnight, but you would have the core of some kind of movement in the right direction. Alternately, people in the neighboring communities or population centers could withhold economic activity. Not to starve people out, but to deny them the extra benefits of society while they persisted in actions which were detrimental to the fundamental principles of society. As above, in an actual case, people would probably have multiple useful ideas about how to change things for the better.

I think OFE's points are well-taken. Certainly, for an anarchist society to move forward, the existing structures of control have to be altered and probably destroyed (bit of a tautology, there). Syndicalism and Industrial Unionism make some good cases for how to go about that in the economic sphere. Similar methods might very well apply in government, religion and other institutions.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:54 AM
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I have to admit, I tend to think that absent direct interference by this isolated community in the lives of others, the principled thing to do is to leave them the fuck alone.

If we are serious about high levels of political devolution the removal of top-down direct control of people's lives by an overarching state, then we are also going to have to expect that in the patchwork of overlapping (and isolated) communities and polities that result, there are going to be some that have pretty offensive/odd value systems.

Surely that sort of pluralism is partly the point?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:59 AM
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So long as we're not talking about walking away from the state monopoly on violence (or at least so long as that's an ultimate last step once everything else is solved) , none of that sounds problematic to me. OTOH, as 293 suggests, none of that sounds like it conflicts much with other varieties of left politics, other than in far-future ultimate goals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:05 AM
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Surely that sort of pluralism is partly the point?

Urg. As someone likely to be on the losing end of any interpersonal conflict where violence isn't effectively barred, 'that sort of pluralism' gives me the willies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:09 AM
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re: 297

Well, yeah, although these are all fairly lefty positions. Not really congruent with 'liberalism' as currently understood.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:10 AM
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This thread makes me very sad. Back when I was young and hopeful, I tended toward anarchism, but that was decades ago, and my optimism has disappeared.

At one level, I don't see the anarchist answer to "What do you do if a charming, charismatic, manipulative, cunning man who is willing and able to kill people decides he wants to take over? Most people do not have the capacity for resistance, many people will collaborate, and the ad hoc decentralized resistance is usually ineffective against a well-organized violent group.

In another sense, the two models of anarchist organization are free voluntary individual transactions on a market and the acephalous tribal society. But tribal societies are normally dominated by custom, consensus, and the elders, and aren't really liberated even though there's no formal authority, and markets depend on law and property.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:18 AM
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I didn't say it was naive because I hadn't seen the plan, I said it was naive because trusting in the restraint of the neighbor is naive. There are many here among us for whom 'kill 'em all, let God sort them out' is a default response to anything scary. You'd have to start with re-education; and it doesn't get any less anarchic than that.

I have nothing against people banding together to engage in whatever community experiments they want. Set up health cooperatives, gardens, whatever. But if they want to be able to coerce people, to make rules and enforce them, then I'm going to have to insist on procedural liberalism all the way down.

To OFE's list, I'll just add that "measures" and "liability" presuppose a state.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:33 AM
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At one level, I don't see the anarchist answer to "What do you do if a charming, charismatic, manipulative, cunning man who is willing and able to kill people decides he wants to take over?

Which is why I referred to the tyranny of structurelessness at 283. Any realistic anarchist model requires some compromise to prevent this. But I think this is recognised by all except the most naive these days.

There is a third model, the council communist/anarcho-sydicalist tradition. Only it's never been shown to be practicable, unless you count Tristan da Cunha.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:41 AM
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301: Can't we all just get along?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:43 AM
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Poking around, I find that Guiteau had lived at Oneida. I had no idea. And Czolgosz lived there a short time.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:43 AM
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302 -- The truly disheartening thing, though, is that you can't really even get started -- beyond the reach of a group house -- without a charismatic figure.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:49 AM
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To OFE's list, I'll just add that "measures" and "liability" presuppose a state.

Well, up to a point. I deliberately included that sort of terminology because the conversation was started by LB wondering about interim goals. Even among committed revolutionaries, nobody expects seriously to usher in the millennium simply by storming the barricades, issuing a few proclamations and hanging the last aristocrat with the guts of the last priest. I'm not an anarchist personally, but I think the anarchist tradition is one that it's important to keep alive as an antidote to the proceduralism which tends to devalue human ideals at the expense of institutions. Apart from the obvious monsters, my favourite villain of the 20th century is Bernstein ("The goals are nothing, the movement is everything"). Way to avoid looking at the stars when you're lying in the gutter, Eduard!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 10:10 AM
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And people say that Utopians don't get practical results!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 10:17 AM
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When a species of intelligent cats evolves, then we'll see a successful anarchist or libertarian society. Damn you social hominid ancestors!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 10:35 AM
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What would successful steps towards an anarchist society look like? Laundry list:
*Decentralized decision-making
*Federations to take action on larger questions
*Pro-feminist, anti-racist, pro-queer values predominate (i.e. ending the common forms of oppression)
*Mutual aid among individuals and groups
*Economies of sharing (de-monetarized, redistributive)
*Sustainability in production
*Appropriateness in technology

Except for the second point, those aren't "steps", those are goals.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 10:58 AM
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Interim goals was what I was asking about. How to get from here to anyplace is a problem with any sort of political change -- what was bothering me about anarchy was that I couldn't figure out what being partially there would look like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:06 AM
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310: Except that even as interim goals, you *still* can't figure out what being partially there would look like. (And by "you" I mean "I'.) I mean, "economies of sharing (de-monetarized, redistributive)"? On a society-wide level, how do you get there from here?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:11 AM
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Okay, strike my last sentence. I still have no clue what a de-monetarized, redistributive economy of sharing looks like at anything beyond very-small-town size.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:14 AM
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Pro-feminist, anti-racist, pro-queer values predominate (i.e. ending the common forms of oppression)

So would there be a collective police force to go in and shut down localized communities that organized around, say, a patriarchal family model? A la the Texas child protective services?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:19 AM
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So would there be a collective police force to go in and shut down localized communities that organized around, say, a patriarchal family model?

No, the surrounding communities would clearly shun the patriarchal family community.

How that's any different from what Colorado City looks like today, I'm not exactly clear on.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:22 AM
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If we can keep the state in check, not permit it to be captured by the wealthy or by oppressive militarist/authoritarian agendas (a huge if), it's quite possible that simple growth in wealth can create levels of personal and communal freedom similar to those that anarchists hoped for. A kind of social singularity, if you will. Marx saw that the levels of production created by capitalism would eventually become incompatible with the restrictions of the property and class system. We are well on the way to that now, if we don't screw it up.

Environmental scarcity is a wild card that has to be managed wisely. Intense material limitations will reintroduce feudal oppression, not banish the oppressions of capitalism. But I think the left tends to look to environmental scarcity to create the sense of intense limitation and the sacred that people instinctively belive is connected with communal solidarity.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:29 AM
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re: 313

yeah, that was sort of what I was getting at in 296.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:33 AM
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I agree with 296, in that I think the overarching values system is going to have to be a very deep and thoughtful belief in mutual tolerance on the communal level, rather than a specific set of values. An issue with how tolerance is understood today is that tolerance on the individual level (liberal individualism -- no favoritism between individuals whatsoever except for criminalizing violations of Millian rights) is very different than tolerance on the communal level. Different communal arrangements are basically different arrangements of favoritisms -- modern liberal society is a very unique and specific communal arrangement, not the Hegelian end of history. Insisting on liberal definitions of tolerance is potentially quite intolerant of other communal forms.

The problem with 314 is that you will eventually get networks of small communities that share beliefs and "shun" (i.e. do not trade or interact with) other networks that have different values. Not sure i see that ending well.

It would be cool if some future anarchist utopia evolved something like the Amish rumspringa -- a collective treaty allowing wandering and personal selection between different communal forms at a formative time of life.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 11:47 AM
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I was going to mention the Hutterites as a communal people with no private property who are, however, completely dominated by custom and the elders.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:01 PM
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The US is already comparatively decentralized as far as nations go. Individual states have a lot of control over what goes on inside their borders. At least based on what I read here, this does not appear to help advance leftist goals (i.e. abortion in South Dakota, education in Kansas or much of the South, etc etc).


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:07 PM
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295

"... Perhaps a constant stream of people who held different values could visit or indeed move to this community. ..."

People generally prefer to live in communities that share their values. I don't think this is very practical.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:16 PM
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No, the surrounding communities would clearly shun the patriarchal family community.

How that's any different from what Colorado City looks like today, I'm not exactly clear on.

Word.

Something else that puts me in the "group tolerance, but not on coercion" camp is seeing the refugee groups that have been brought here. The African groups like the Sudanese and Somalians don't know that certain, ah, "traditions" like beating the fuck out of children can't be done.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:21 PM
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The US is already comparatively decentralized as far as nations go.

I don't think that's really true -- states don't have much autonomy. But a big force toward greater centralization has been liberal disgust at local violations of human rights (ummm, slavery, Jim Crow, etc.), so there you go.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 12:40 PM
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319

"... At least based on what I read here, this does not appear to help advance leftist goals (i.e. abortion in South Dakota, education in Kansas or much of the South, etc etc)."

This is a selective list. Consider gay marriage in Massachusetts or assisted suicide in Oregon.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:21 PM
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310

"Interim goals was what I was asking about. How to get from here to anyplace is a problem with any sort of political change -- what was bothering me about anarchy was that I couldn't figure out what being partially there would look like."

Well you could try for local communities organized along anarchist lines to prove to skeptics like me that the idea is not total nonsense.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:24 PM
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321: gswift, it's going to be interesting being a policeman sympathetic with anarchism. (Probably a useful corrective to job).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:27 PM
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298

"As someone likely to be on the losing end of any interpersonal conflict where violence isn't effectively barred, 'that sort of pluralism' gives me the willies."

But this is a selfish objection. Naturally those of us at the top of the current pyramid are disinclined to shake things up. You need to argue the rule of law is good in general. Obviously it is good for lawyers.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:31 PM
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Federalism, whether real or not, is very far from anarchism or localism. The smallest American state has over a half a million people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:33 PM
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Federalism, whether real or not, is very far from anarchism or localism. The smallest American state has over a half a million people.

What's the largest organizational unit that qualifies as localist or anarchest?

There's lots of sociopolitical theories that will work if you get to indoctrinate people from birth; perhaps the most well-known is strict rational-choice economics. There are others that will work if you remove all resource constraints. It's a particularly poor theory that requires both.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:49 PM
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Strict rational-choice economics is a fantasy.

Maybe Iceland could be anarchist (pop. 300,000 or so). However, Iceland is not disconnected from the rest of the world, nor self-sufficient, even though it is geographically definable.

Wyoming has some geographical integrity, but all its borders are lines on a map.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:52 PM
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326: No, what I was talking about is that toleration of communities including those that accept mediating interpersonal disputes through violence or physical coercion is going to put someone like me (women generally, children, disabled men, men without particular violence related abilities or skills) in a bad position within those communities. (And toleration of such communities, if real at all, is going to involve toleration of their putting restraints of some sort on the right to exit.)

While I'm probably as selfish as most people, you could certainly talk me into a societal change where I wouldn't be in the same position on the economic ladder I'm in now, and I'd accept that as just. A position where I'd be at risk of being subject to routine physical coercion, depending on what community I ended up in? That I'd have problems with.

To put it another way, I don't know that the rule of law is good in general, if you mean for every individual. It's probably inferior to warlordism for young men with an affinity for violence and a high tolerance for physical risk, at least in terms of their relative position in society. I think it's a profit for everyone else, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 1:55 PM
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328: I'm a consistent federalism hater -- the fiction of state sovereignity makes our legal system clunky, inconsistent and peculiar, and the historical justification for it has been obsolete since the Civil War. In this context, Emerson's right that the states are just too big for the kind of decentralized/local politics to come into play; the relative difference in power between an individual and the government of Maryland isn't meaningfully different in kind from that between an individual and the federal government.

I think we'd have to be talking about communities in the size where personal relationships were possible as a real factor throughout the community -- say, maybe under 10,000?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:05 PM
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Strict rational-choice economics is a fantasy.

Because it completely ignores what we know about how people actually work in favor of some very narrowly held theories?

However, Iceland is not disconnected from the rest of the world, nor self-sufficient, even though it is geographically definable.

Iceland is probably self-sufficient at a lower level of development than it currently has. So are the various tiny communities isolated by hostile geography (huge canyons) in Paupa New Guinea or wherever it is. I like being connected to the rest of the world and not having to be self-sufficient, and don't think I'm alone in this.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:08 PM
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325: Yeah, I'm picturing gswift making an excellent cop.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:09 PM
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330

"... A position where I'd be at risk of being subject to routine physical coercion, depending on what community I ended up in? That I'd have problems with."

But you are subject to routine physical coercion now if you break the rules. So this is unclear.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:16 PM
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330

"To put it another way, I don't know that the rule of law is good in general, if you mean for every individual. It's probably inferior to warlordism for young men with an affinity for violence and a high tolerance for physical risk, at least in terms of their relative position in society. I think it's a profit for everyone else, though."

I meant overall or on balance not for every single person. So you believe in the rule of law. How about private property?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:20 PM
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269: Let us muse for a moment on the distinction between "descriptive" and "prescriptive."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:25 PM
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331.1 makes perfect sense; thank you.

I have no idea how you'd keep a bunch of 10,000 person communities that were in reasonably close communication with each other from collapsing into fewer larger communities, to either beat up their neighbors or prevent their neighbors from beating up on them.

I guess that's another useful metric for sociopolitical systems - to what degree are they tolerant of subpopulations that don't agree with the broader social goals. Modern democratic societies seem pretty tolerant of moderate disagreement among the populace, as do some of the more totalitarian systems. Anarchism seems to require pretty explicit buy-in from everyone...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:28 PM
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334: It's a rule of law thing again. Agreement through the democratic process in which I have an equal voice with every other citizen to a limited legal code enforced by physical coercion doesn't bother me at all. Once that turns into physical coercion enforcing individual whim of whoever's pushing people around in my community, I get all tense and cranky and dissatisfied.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:40 PM
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I basically think that society-tolerance and individual-tolerance are more like opposites than they're like twqo versions of the same thing. The Hutterites are a very distinct society, but not an internally tolerant one. I'm sure that if we looked for dissident, oppressed Hutterites we'd find them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:43 PM
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339: Yup. That's right. If you've got a strongly tolerant society in terms of the rights of individuals to make their own decisions, there's a whole lot of community forms that are right out (or are at least only allowable if there's a powerfully enforced right to exit from any community.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:46 PM
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So you believe in the rule of law. How about private property?

I approve of private property on utilitarian grounds: provided it is embedded in an appropriate system of laws, the institution of private property contributes to material prosperity, and it's difficult to imagine how we could get the same results without that institution.

However, I don't value property rights in any metaphysical sense, in the way I do the rights to life and liberty. I'm also skeptical of the Hayekian argument that property is a necessary condition for personal liberty; the empirical record is too ambiguous to support that claim, IMO. It's clearly not a sufficient condition, and I'm not completely convinced it is a necessary one.

Also, the fact that the rights associated with property have become more limited in scope and subject to more restrictions over the last couple of centuries is, on balance, a positive development.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 2:51 PM
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There are a lot of half-way houses between large nation states and small quasi-tribal societies with strictly enforced elder-driven codes.

You could envisage a system with highly devolved Swiss Canton sized units which are largely autonomous on many levels operating under the framework of a larger quasi-national state with some limited powers to enforce some basic civil rights and protect borders, for example.

A lot of the smaller European nationalist parties want something in between that and the current status quo, for example: with largely self-governing units the size of Catalonia, Scotland or Corsica*, say, operating under the aegis of a large supra-national body like the EU.

* all smaller than most US states ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:09 PM
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You could envisage a system with highly devolved Swiss Canton sized units which are largely autonomous on many levels operating under the framework of a larger quasi-national state with some limited powers to enforce some basic civil rights and protect borders, for example.

Didn't they envision that in this country, at a point?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:10 PM
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339-340: Right, there's a direct contradiction between "tolerance" at the individual and the communal level. But I think we lose out by not taking community-tolerance more seriously than we do. It's possible to lose sight of the forms of absolutism and narrowness involved with individualist rights-thinking. You can see the toll of this when it plays right into the sort of demonizing the Muslim world that is used to e.g. encourage war with Iran. On a less serious level, you get a kind of restriction of the notion of diversity, so it's different lifestyle/consumption choices within the uniform social organization of the global shopping mall. Inter-communal diversity is mostly celebrated in the area of cuisine, other stuff gets threatening pretty quickly.

People are social animals to the core; freedom is much less interesting if it can't be used for varying forms of social organization. But it's also far more threatening and dangerous in the social context. Because communities are so much more powerful than individuals.

I'm a consistent federalism hater -- the fiction of state sovereignity makes our legal system clunky, inconsistent and peculiar, and the historical justification for it has been obsolete since the Civil War.

You're historically and factually correct, but I'm a theoretical federalism-lover. It's true that states are too big for everyone's favorite small-autonomous-community fantasy. But they are just the right size to offer sufficient collective resources to support some genuinely autonomous choices, but at the same time sufficient diversity for genuine experiments. It would be really cool if people could choose between moving to single-payer health care, semi-socialist state vs. libertarian-competition state. There's much less of that type of social experimentation now than there could be with some changes to our governmental setup.

Or, well, apply liberal amounts of handwavium, and assume a post-gender society where all conception and birth happens deliberately and outside of human bodies.

Brave New World! The best 20th century dystopia -- so much more prescient than 1984.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:11 PM
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342 is pretty much what I was getting at in 344 with my point about the possibilities of federalism.

I think that something like single-payer health care would outcompete free-market health care in a fair fight. But states can't institute it individually because they are A) hamstrung by Federal regulations, and B) the Federal government has pre-empted the tax base to fund it.

We lose out on a lot of opportunities like that.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:14 PM
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341: My rhetorical preference is that actual land ownership be specifically called stewardship. I favor this even if consisted of precisely the same rights that folks get with land "ownership" today. I'd also be comfortable pushing the notion of "stewardship" to all tangible goods ownership to highlight the ongoing lifecycle of the materials involved and the need for some manner of responsibility for what happens to them next, but I think it makes sense* to start with land.

*not USian political sense of course.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:15 PM
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It would be really cool if people could choose between moving to single-payer health care, semi-socialist state vs. libertarian-competition state. There's much less of that type of social experimentation now than there could be with some changes to our governmental setup.

I think the problem here is that free movement of citizens from one state to another is going to be awfully hard on the social welfare states. Emerson, assuming him to be entreprenurially inclined, and with the health history he's described, goes off and sets up his sweatshop in no-labor-law-no-welfarestateia, in the knowledge that if he ever seriously needs expensive medical care, it's free after he establishes residency in SocialDemocrakota.

When the different social setups are in one nation, I think it's doomed to be a race to the bottom.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:21 PM
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Brave New World is a dystopia?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:24 PM
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PGD wouldn't be so idealistic and naive if he had any hands-on experience with government.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:34 PM
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345

"I think that something like single-payer health care would outcompete free-market health care in a fair fight. But states can't institute it individually because they are A) hamstrung by Federal regulations, and B) the Federal government has pre-empted the tax base to fund it."

I don't find these objections convincing. Possibly adverse selection would be.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:38 PM
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347: I think you're underestimating (by a lot) how important happy workers are to productive firms. People like public services, and so do businesses. High service places are desirable places to live.

This all collapses for cases where there are big cross-state externalities, like air quality regulation. There you need federal regulation. But for health, it's simple enough to guarantee that only people who pay into the tax base will get the coverage.

The big problem is the export of unskilled manufactured goods from low-cost, low-tax, poor-service places to high-cost, high-service places. But since we already have this to a pretty much unlimited extent, no big loss. On the global scale, the U.S. is no longer a country that does a lot of really unskilled manufacturing anyway, nor are those very desirable jobs any more.

Basically, high service places will specialize in high skill jobs. Which the whole U.S. should be doing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:45 PM
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347

"I think the problem here is that free movement of citizens from one state to another is going to be awfully hard on the social welfare states. Emerson, assuming him to be entreprenurially inclined, and with the health history he's described, goes off and sets up his sweatshop in no-labor-law-no-welfarestateia, in the knowledge that if he ever seriously needs expensive medical care, it's free after he establishes residency in SocialDemocrakota."

And why couldn't SocialDemocrakota exclude pre-existing conditions?

" When the different social setups are in one nation, I think it's doomed to be a race to the bottom."

Not clear to me, rich people care about things besides low taxes or they would all leave New York City.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:46 PM
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351

"Basically, high service places will specialize in high skill jobs. Which the whole U.S. should be doing."

So you support restricting low skill immigration?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:50 PM
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I don't find these objections convincing.

Regardless, the two reasons I gave are correct. Trust me on this one, I follow this stuff closely. There would be a substantial minority of American states with some form of universal health care, and probably a few with single payer, if not for those two factors.

"Sick people moving to your state" is at this point a theoretical objection. No doubt it would happen to some extent. But given the existence of Medicare and the ability to set residency requirements for coverage it shouldn't be crippling, and no one has ever gotten far enough to see how much of an issue it would really be. Whereas the stuff I pointed to are things that come in right at the start with every state effort to do health care reform, of which there have been many.

So you support restricting low skill immigration?

actually, I do believe current levels are too high, but that's another topic.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:53 PM
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347: we already have differing levels of services, and there's no clear race to the bottom in evidence. There are limits to how steep of a gradient in services you can sustain across a border, but these limits are far from zero.

Out here there's a moderate amount of bitching that California is too expensive for businesses and that they will all move to Nevada, but it never seems to actually happen.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 3:53 PM
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355: whenever states try to do anything that requires anything from business, the business lobby makes the race to the bottom argument. It's especially rich in the case of California, an "island" state surrounded by mountains and deserts that contains the wealthiest market in the U.S.

I guarantee you that even as I write this, there is some business lobbyist in Sacramento making the argument that a one-quarter of one percent increase in a tax rate would cause his client to move from SF Bay to South Dakota.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 4:07 PM
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"Sick people moving to your state" is at this point a theoretical objection. No doubt it would happen to some extent. But given the existence of Medicare and the ability to set residency requirements for coverage it shouldn't be crippling, and no one has ever gotten far enough to see how much of an issue it would really be.

There's a large federation of states, cough, some of which already have universal health care, that is dealing with this right now. It's not really a big deal.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 4:39 PM
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357: Right. I was thinking of the EU as pretty close to a level playing field on that front, but come to actually think of it I'm sure that's not accurate, particularly with the more recently admitted countries.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 5:30 PM
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I love the EU with its quaint local customs and safety nets.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 5:45 PM
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The lack of a common language has to make a big difference in inter-state migration.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 5:49 PM
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278: So, you're all in agreement that my comments were naive, stupid, trollish, whatever, because I didn't give you a foolproof, step-by-step plan for how the revolution is going to work?

The time is past for this, but Minneapolitan, I hope you don't think the comments last night were univocal, despite Wrongshore's odd 244 and 250. There's obviously a difference between mocking dismissal and the asking of questions in the interest of clarification and good faith discussion.

Several people have indicated that the size of the communities or polities in questions seems a central difficulty, and I'd love to see some engagement with that. The issue at hand in, let's see, comments 296, 317 and thereafter, that is, how to address communities embracing principles contrary to the anarchist/cooperative/whatever spirit, is deeply problematic.

I don't really need to reopen the debate, but Minneapolitan, sir, I hope you don't think you have no allies here.

(/getting it off my chest)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 6:18 PM
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107: I agree with 93, but then, I Matt McIrvin would.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 6:27 PM
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361: I may have overstated the case last night, but today's discussion does seem much more earnest and less gotcha. Could be me.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:12 PM
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363: Friend, I can't get much more earnest than I was in 126.

Meanwhile! Amazon.com has bought Abebooks! Muttering ensues. A friend writes an amusing satirical press release in which Cthulhu, Inc. acquires Amazon, tentacles and all: "initially we will miniaturize and set all top executives eternally
dancing like demonic dervishes on the heads of pins."

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 7:46 PM
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Meanwhile! Amazon.com has bought Abebooks!

Bleh.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:02 PM
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I know, ben, I know. What means "bleh"?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:07 PM
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It means something that you know, I guess.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:13 PM
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I have heard that there's a fair amount of intra-EU labor exploitation going on, actually. Someone was muttering about how a giant labor camp was built in central Berlin for the (cheap) Portugeuse workers who built I think it was the new Potsdamer Place. The laborers never left the camp since it was too pricy out there for them on their portugeuse wages, so the language barrier wasn't too big a deal. And then French movies are all being shot in Poland and the Czech Republic because the secondary crew people are so much cheaper to hire.

I don't know how real the problem is, in economic terms, but the kvetching is real.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:16 PM
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Oh, and Jason Fauntuny should be thrown in a canvas sack and drowned.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:17 PM
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367: People who buy via Abebooks will henceforth pay more for it. They will never know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 8:34 PM
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Could be me.

No, it's probably me. I've been in a read only mode all day. No one is stopping anyone from building their utopia: start a commune in the Yukon, prove that it can be done. The problem is that the utopians want to tell other people how to live.

Erase every pro comment above that relies on forcing people to comply with the anarch-utopian dream. What've you got left? Precious little.

Even Minnie's wish for a community where he's not hassled by the police falls down: those police weren't brought here by alien invaders. They arose from a community, and, in hassling Minnie, are doing that community's bidding. If you don't like it, your choices are either to change the community's bidding -- by a democratic process, most likely, or move. (And I bet Minne would see much less harassment in Elgin, or some other Mayberry-like spot).


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:01 PM
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371 was mine.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:04 PM
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People who buy via Abebooks will henceforth pay more for it. They will never know.

They'll pay more but... not realize it?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:09 PM
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A friend writes an amusing satirical press release in which Cthulhu, Inc. acquires Amazon, tentacles and all

Has this friend read William Browning Spencer's Résumé with Monsters?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:17 PM
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373: Yes. Is that unclear somehow? It's a monopoly.

374: No idea. He's a specialist dealer in occult, mystical, sf, alchemical, magick, blah blah stuff. Which is not to say he's unwilling to flog your basic 20-dollar early pulp featuring boobies and bondage. That shit sells.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:41 PM
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Napi, you have a place on Hornby Island, right? That's as close to a self-policing community as I've ever seen. Native population something like 800 (during off-season), and they have, I seem to remember, one cop there from September through June. 10 months out of the year.

That's really not the problem. In terms of proving it can be done, the problem is private property and control of resources. Dwellers on the rock (Hornby) would like to tell others how to live: fuck yer control of property which is driving us off the island. Stewardship, please. But they can't.

It's not as though those who currently control western civilization aren't telling others how to live. Show me a contemporary societal template that doesn't involve forcing people to comply.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 9:57 PM
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376 is admittedly a bit rash, but I'm tired.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 2-08 10:00 PM
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No, I'm just a sometime very short-term visitor to Hornby. Self-policing in some senses, sure, just like Elgin or any other small town. If there's a crime, though, the police come -- the Mounties, I suppose, if its serious enough. There are taxes, realtors, enforcement of contracts, kids in the Army going to Afghanistan, whatever.

I make no claims for the current system, certainly not as an anarchist's utopia. Of course there are people telling people what to do: the underlying philosophy is that people -- a significant number of them, anyway -- are going to choose wrong, if left completely free. Laws against cruelty to animals weren't invented just because someone wanted a nanny-state. Breach of contract, negligence, nuisance -- these causes of action exist because they have to exist.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:04 AM
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278: So, you're all in agreement that my comments were naive, stupid, trollish, whatever, because I didn't give you a foolproof, step-by-step plan for how the revolution is going to work?

Don't be dense. I, for one, was simply asking for a plausible answer to a basic conundrum that faces the big-picture anarchist vision; the same conundrum restated by Emerson in 300.2. It's sort of an important issue for anarchists to face up to if they're going to talk about posited future "free societies," since to the extent that left radicalism contributed to the enormous shitshow that was Twentieth Century, a failure to face up to rather important details like "how do you prevent the stateless society from transforming into another form of dictatorship" was largely to blame. Those mistakes cast an unmistakable pall over radical activism today and, arguably, will prevent wider acceptance of anarchist actions and projects so long as no answer is found to them.

To respond to the call for such answers with petulance is the worst possible thing you can do. You should consider the possibility that the people asking these question aren't necessarily trying to make you look stupid; some of them are trying to encourage you to construct a more convincing and compelling anarchism. I'd construct one myself but I don't see a way past that basic conundrum, at least not in large-scale societies. That doesn't mean I don't think a solution to it could exist; you're just going to have to forgive me that I don't take its existence on faith.

Yet in 287.3 and 287.4 there's lots to agree with, obviously. Like Wrongshore said, there's a lot of value in articulating anarchism as a tendency, especially as a means of motivating people to move beyond "muted calls" for "incremental change."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:14 AM
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379: You should consider the possibility that the people asking these question aren't necessarily trying to make you look stupid

Some of them might also have actually had or be related to people who had experiences in the places where "left radicalism contributed to the enormous shitshow that was Twentieth Century", and thus be predisposed to see anyone refusing to answer those kind of questions as basically being dismissive of tragedy. I think it's a lot harder to be tolerant of this kind of thing when you've seen first or even second hand what the price of failure is.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:31 AM
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The worry warts blathering on about "trolling" tend to be from corporate--aspiring Rothschilds, Infragard-badge wearers (as with NYT). Or they're anti-rationalists of various sorts---pious or PoMo.

A skeptic logs on to some do-gooder preacher's site--Bilge-log--and takes issue with posts/threads insinuating that, say, Richard Dawkins, be viewed as a Mengele-in-potentia, and do-gooder's then on his cyber walkie-talkie to the feds and/or his xtian-zionist kiddie porn suppliers................eeek! Bilge-logs should not merely be trolled: the server should be cracked, and the mierda.com flushed......


Posted by: MalfeasancioX | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:47 AM
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379,380: One can even leave out the left radicals' role in anything. Lots of places have ended up stateless for short periods of time. They usually end up violent. Now, it might be quite right that the violence is due to the reasons that the state fell, or even another state. But what's interesting is the number of places where people fell behind a dictator or local warlord because he was the one who could ensure some kind of order and safety. The anarchist can postulate 'we shall teach the children to mock those that would hire big thugs to enforce their will (though even minnie seemed to think violence was an option)', but that loses out to the guy that can say 'I can keep the big thugs from murdering your son and raping your daughter.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:36 AM
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382: Minne (or, rather, more OFE) does have an answer for that, albeit one that I'm not completely confident is practical. The idea as I'm following it is that you build up the community institutions (health care collectives, food coops, Critical Mass, whatever) as protected by a tolerant and relaxed central government that respects the community institutions while maintaining the state monopoly on violence. And then when/if the community institutions are strong enough, maybe we don't need the state anymore.

That actually makes more sense (I don't know that I think it's workable, but it's beyond the self-evidently ridiculous point) than I'd realized -- while sympathetic, I'm wildly ignorant on lefty politics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:52 AM
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I get the idea of the endpoint. But if the state's going to disappear, the monopoly on violence is going to go with it. How does it go away? Ideally, it just withers away because it's no longer necessary. (Though I wonder, if a tolerant and relaxed central government isn't doing much harm, what the impetus for anarchy would be. And I wonder of the feasibility of building up strong institutions that don't seek power themselves.) But then what? Surely we can't postulate perfect people who never try to harm each other. I'll spot you mostly perfect people, though. That's generous; even successful revolutions don't have a majority of people on board, and anarchism seems to require that everyone be on the same page (hence the strong community institutions.)

What happens once someone fucks up? What if they fuck up violently? The community will shun them, if I get it right.

I don't want to be glib here, because shunning can be a powerful tool. The Amish manage it. But it doesn't always work as a method of social correction. Rape/incest is a big problem, especially because once the shunning is done, the person has to be welcomed back. Forgive your rapist, and if you treat them any differently, you get shunned, too. He might rape you again. This isn't uncommon.

Still, the society survives. The women who have a problem with it leave. And the Amish have the benefit of a strong religious-influenced belief holding everything together.

Can we assume the same commitment to anarchism? The standard anarchist answer to why, e.g., Somalia wasn't a paradise is quite right: that's not how the anarchist vision is meant to come about, so it's not fair to judge the project by Somalia. But the utopian version seems to have the same problem. If we have a weak, tolerant and relaxed central government that respects the community institutions and manages to lock up rapists, what's the advantage of moving to one where the person is shunned? What would keep people from saying, hey, wouldn't we be better off with someone in charge locking up the violent offenders....


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:17 AM
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Somalia is an extreme and basically pathological case, but the stateless societies I know of during historical times (the last thousand years or so) tended to be ruled by clan militias in a semi-stable way -- periods of peace (during which there'd be little evidence of leadership or government) would be interrupted from time to time by outbreaks of violence (during which the clan would elect leaders). From the outside these systems look chaotic, but there are discernible patterns, though they're very different than the patterns of order of a state system.

Recommended: Black-Michaud, "Cohesive Force": Intermittent violence as an ordering force.

Evans-Pritchard on the Nuer (in various books.)

Stateless systes are anti-individualistic, because everyone must be under the protection of a powerful clan leader or else they're fair game, and the strong clans normally bully and exploit the weak ones.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:48 AM
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The community will shun them, if I get it right.

I don't think this is the idea for individual wrongdoing -- the shunning thing was brought up for communities with unsavory standards, which might be shunned by other disapproving communities. Within a community, I'd assume that there'd be other tactics of sanctioning bad behavior: there isn't an anarchist principle that shunning is the only possible response to crime.

But it is a real problem -- whatever the community response to crime is going to be, in the absence of legal standards I'd think it would certainly appear, and would probably be, biased and arbitrary. Crime committed by the unpopular against the popular would be a lot more likely to see a community response than the reverse. Identifying a problem doesn't mean it's fatal, necessarily, but you're absolutely right that it's a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:06 AM
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Identifying a problem doesn't mean it's fatal, necessarily, but you're absolutely right that it's a problem.

And, I should point out, before we get into that strawman, it's not that I expect the only thing holding everyone back from becoming criminals is a fear of the law. It's just I'm not sure what happens when crime does occur. Shunning works, but has its limitations. The other popular alternative historically has been to find someone bigger and have them whack the guy bothering you. Neither of these seems to ensure the strong will not harm the weak.

Plus, if we're being charitable, we're not waking up one day with anarchy, but building towards it, with the last step being a very weak central government. No standing army, I presume. And presumably, along the way, the anarchist project has succeeded in creating really great communities, and the law-enforcement aspect is mostly irrelevant to everyday life. (And of course, if the project doesn't build up in this way, then chances are the anarchists are going to be violent revolutionaries, and good luck with getting people to put down their guns.)

I'm imagining it kind of like a small town sheriff, or one of the small branches of the RCMP. Most everyone's law-abiding, so all the guy has to do is fish most days and now and then put out a dumpster fire started by some bored kids. Sometimes he has to break up a domestic violence dispute. Most of the time he doesn't have much to do. When someone breaks into a house, the police bulletin is 'Residents are reminded that closing and locking doors is often good protection against theft.'

And so the reason I need a good account of how crime would be dealt with is not because I think there's going to be an outbreak of violence, but because in this nearly-anarchist-but-not-quite stage, everything's working pretty well. What's the benefit of getting rid of the procedures for dumpster fires and domestic violence in favor of hoping the guy doesn't beat his wife because no one will talk to him, or that her brother will come over and beat the guy up?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:26 AM
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386: Crime committed by the unpopular against the popular would be a lot more likely to see a community response than the reverse.

Hardly a solved problem even in our proceduralist world of course, but I guess we do at least have the theoretical framework to address this. You can call it reëducation if you want to rhetorically try for the high ground, but some level of directed education/socialization is going to be required for any level of change, even if it is simply to dispense with the existing framework. And someone/group has to decide on that "direction", I'm guessing the popular folks. Not necessarily a knock against "anarchy" compared to other systems, but at the end of the day I think it relies as much, if not more, on people who are in a position to impose their will on others for personal gain not doing so (or at least a significant majority not doing so).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:49 AM
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What's the benefit of getting rid of the procedures for dumpster fires and domestic violence in favor of hoping the guy doesn't beat his wife because no one will talk to him, or that her brother will come over and beat the guy up?

Back in 89 Minnie seems to envision everyone being empowered and acting as they feel necessary. But, understandably, most people don't want to be the one to intervene when crazy hobo starts waving a knife around on the subway or when ex NFL noseguard decides to beat up his wife. There's pretty good reasons why most of the population prefers to have their taxes fund a professional police force.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:53 AM
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You can have a health collective right now. What state apparatus does it make redundant or unnecessary? Licensing of doctors? Approval of pharmaceuticals? Medicare? The county public health department's inspection of restaurants?

Or is the answer that you're getting rid of two private entities: the insurance company and the private practice for physicians.

You can homeschool your children. I suppose if every single person did this, you could do away with the school board. And I guess no one would need the funding for special ed etc that are partially funded by that evil federal Department of Education. But not everyone is going to do this, and far fewer than everyone will do it well enough to be left alone with it.

The crime in my neighborhood is said to be caused, by far, by people who do not live in our neighborhood. Or even in my county. (Other than the white collar crime, obviously -- but anarcho-utopia will be very good for white collar criminals). Shunning may not be an option that attracts much support in my little community, although I'm sure there are people from nearby communities who might like to see us replace the police with it.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:57 AM
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386: I'd think it would certainly appear, and would probably be, biased and arbitrary.

I'm dubious about that. Why would it seem biased and arbitrary? If you went to the meetings, you'd hear exactly why people felt the way they did. It seems to me that our current system is about as biased and arbitrary as you can get. Why have a prohibition on cannabis and not on tobacco or alcohol? That's an example we've all considered, but there are a thousand others. Why is the General Mining Act of 1872 still the basic law governing mineral exploitation in the US when it is so clearly outmoded? What about all the examples of cronyism and one-off exemptions in the tax code? A community-based, directly democratic initiative to provide safety and peace for people who lived in that community would be as far from "arbitrary" and "biased" as possible.

I'm also curious about the arguments that various conditions of "statelessness" should instruct us about the dangers of anarchism. What examples are you talking about? So far we've talked about Spain (never technically without a state) and Somalia (riven by warlordism and enabled by the interventions of powerful states*). What other cautionary examples occur to you? There've been several revolutionary periods where the old order crumbled just before the new junta took over, and I agree that it's useful to study those situations, but all the ones that I know about basically break down to "old state attacked by groups that want to form a new state" -- not much anarchist about that.

*If you don't think that's so, tell me, how many AK-47s did the Somalis manufacture?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:59 AM
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387: Most everyone's law-abiding, so all the guy has to do is fish most days and now and then put out a dumpster fire started by some bored kids, and the occasional bus beheading.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:03 AM
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There's pretty good reasons why most of the population prefers to have their taxes fund a professional police force.

Perhaps there are pretty bad reasons too.

You can have a health collective right now. What state apparatus does it make redundant or unnecessary?

An ideological state apparatus!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:10 AM
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A community-based, directly democratic initiative to provide safety and peace for people who lived in that community

In what way does this not describe the Minneapolis Police Department?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:10 AM
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389: understandably, most people don't want to be the one to intervene

Ergo, we don't live in an anarchist society. That's just a tautology -- we have police, so nobody wants to be the freelance police. In an anarchist society, renouncing the right to ignore things happening around you would be one of the costs. Not every situation that arose from that would be a lot of fun, but my contention is that the benefits derived from dispensing with standing armies, spies, police etc. would more than make up for the few times in your life where you might feel a little bit more endangered than you feel now. (If such instances even increased. My experience with police interventions is that they almost always result in escalating violent situations past the point where those situations would otherwise have been deflated.)

390: but anarcho-utopia will be very good for white collar criminals

It would? How? The kind of white-collar crime I'm familiar with -- embezzlement, ignoring environmental regs, cooking the books to bilk investors -- is a bit of a category error in a society where capital is owned collectively. What, are workers at the food distribution center going to hoard more apples than they can eat? Is the worker at they recycling center going to secretly haul old crankcase oil to dump in the stream that runs through his neighborhood? Are the workers who plan the shoe factory's annual output going to pretend that they made more shoes last year than they actually did? There's no profit in it.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:11 AM
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This is an interesting discussion to me because I'm dealing with some problems that modern-day law enforcement is just not very good at addressing -- but critically, the rest of the community is even less willing to take on. It's kind of similar to gswift's 389.

When you have people with active, apparently-untreated mental illness behaving disruptively in a public setting, it's really hard to balance their rights and everybody else's. They have the right not to be involuntarily committed -- check. Everyone else has a right not to be physically assaulted -- check.

Almost nothing else about the situation is clear. Do they have the right to talk loudly about violent acts, or make personal observations about others? Do they have the right not to be forcibly medicated? Do they have the right to refuse treatment? Do others have a right to enjoy a public space without having to deal with a disruptive, unpredictable stranger? Does staff have the right to a workplace in which they don't have to spend 20% of their time dealing with problematic members of the public?

I don't think these problems are entirely created by our current society, nor would they necessarily disappear in some kind of anarchist-utopia. But it is a puzzle. How do you solve it? You can't reason with them. Absent specific threats, you can't ban them. You can work long term for better-funded community mental health care, but that doesn't get to the problem of people who refuse treatment. It's really a tangle.

Shorter me: How does society effectively protect all its members given conflicting values?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:17 AM
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394: In a number of ways.
*It's not community-based. The cops roll in from the station without a feel for what's happening in that house, on that block, in that neighborhood.
*It's not democratic. If the cops are making a mistake, there's no way to call them off. Quite the contrary, if you see a cop hassling someone for wearing the wrong clothes or being the wrong color, and you try to ask the cop to see reason, they'll turn on you and fuck you up good.
*It doesn't provide safety. The police do a terrible job of preventing crime. The murder rate in Minneapolis stays pretty constant at around 60 people per year, allowing for the occasional statistical deviation. And yet every year we spend more money and hire more cops. Yet year-in, year-out, another 60 folx get killed.
*It doesn't provide peace. As I said above, the police virtually always escalate the amount of violence in a given situation. Most murders of people by police occur in situations where no killing had occurred, and where no killing was imminent. The police have a vested interest in managing the amount of violence in society. Perhaps you've heard what the former mayor of Chicago had to say on that topic?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:18 AM
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395.2 -- You lack imagination, my friend.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:18 AM
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394: Dude, Napi, no disrespect, but there is no way I would describe any police department as directly democratic. And I think you wouldn't either.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:20 AM
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397: I think you're conflating (some) police departments as they currently exist with (all) police. I have absolutely seen examples of community policing where the officers actually did know the neighborhood. More importantly, I have seen times where police actually did "provide safety" by effectively de-escalating a situation or educating community members about crime prevention.

I'm not saying this to dispute your points in general. Heaven knows there are many, many awful cases too, and most of them are driven by the structure of how we have chosen to set up law enforcement in this country. If you read enough oral histories of police, you realize how thoroughly the blue wall phenomenon envelops its members, more or less regardless of the officer's race, class, gender, background, etc.

At the same time, I think it's really important to acknowledge that it's not that humans are incapable of designing a police force which could truly be peacekeeping -- just that we mostly haven't.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:26 AM
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397 --

a. You're just applying your own definition of community. Minneapolis conceives of itself as a single community for this purpose. I suppose you could campaign to break the city into smaller cities. O you could move to White Bear Lake.

b. It's democratic -- answerable to the city council. You've just been outvoted. Your inability to 'call them off' doesn't say it's not 'democratic' but that it's not subservient to each and every member of the community at all times.

c. You think the police department is responsible for the crimes? You think your empower gangs will do better?

d. If the rules of engagement are allowing too much police caused violence, they ought to be changed. This might be easier to accomplish than abotition of private property.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:26 AM
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Witt, what does directly democratic mean with respect to police? That the officers are hired by initiative, rather than by a city manager? Agreed, no community I know of hires this way (although I wouldn't be shocked in some New England towns hire or more likely fire their single officer in this way).

And you're absolutely right that any number of models are possible where police are more familiar with particular neighborhoods/individuals. If the people of Minneapolis wanted this, they could get it. The current structure of that force wasn't imposed by a foreign invader -- if the community wants to do it differently, it can. This too might be easier to get people behind than abolition.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:32 AM
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396: How does society effectively protect all its members given conflicting values?

Exactly! Now we're talking about a real issue. Because I would argue that our society does a piss-poor job of this right now: 2.2 million in prison, hundreds of thousands homeless, untold numbers trapped in brutal situations because the machinery of the state grinds too slowly to help them.

There's a particular chronically homeless fellow I know in Minneapolis, African-American, in his 40s or 50s, who clearly has a constellation of issues -- mental health, chemical dependency, subject to racism, etc. Does his freedom to not bathe, importune passers-by to sign his coat, and occasionally yell a bit trump my freedom to be free of those nuisances? I'd say yes. Furthermore, even if someone feels otherwise, is having the cops roust him, destroy his possessions and knock him around a little if he's uncooperative, a just way to prevent his irritating someone? I believe otherwise. Yes, it's annoying when he comes up to you at the bus stop, but we have cops and he does it anyway. That's kinda where the arbitrariness comes in -- if he's hanging out in front of a fancy boutique downtown, the cops will definitely come and haul him off. If he's actively annoying people, but not infringing on anyone's sacred property values, it's just based on how that particular cop feels that day. Arbitrary as hell, and no realistic democratic way to alter the situation in our current social context.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:34 AM
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Stateless societies: tenth-century Iceland, Tibet until fairly recently, the Atlas mountains in N. Africa, areas in the Balkans and Caucasus, the New Guinea highlands or the Amazon jungle before about 1900 or 1950, the Eurasian steppe during many periods. These were all areas which, even if nominally part of the territory of a central state, were not under state control and were living according to pre-state forms of order. I recommend Black-Michaud's book again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:35 AM
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What other cautionary examples occur to you? There've been several revolutionary periods where the old order crumbled just before the new junta took over, and I agree that it's useful to study those situations, but all the ones that I know about basically break down to "old state attacked by groups that want to form a new state" -- not much anarchist about that.

Right, but one reason groups want to form a new state is the interim period isn't pleasant. It's not as though the groups don't have the support of some of the people. So trying to institute anarchism by having a violent revolution and hoping people don't want a state back is unlikely to work.

But what you suggested is a more gradual transition. Build the society first, and then anarchism will be the next step. There are plenty of states that are better off than the U.S. in terms of militarism, and we can imagine the anarchist steps happening there. No standing army, no military-industrial complex, no war on drugs, universal health care. Now extend that -- we're training everyone right -- strong local institutions, good community spirit, etc.

At this point what would moving to anarchism get me that enlightened procedural liberalism with a weak central government (and no standing army) wouldn't?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:36 AM
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Representative democracy is not direct democracy.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:37 AM
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what does directly democratic mean with respect to police?

It means that there is no direct pathway to raise objections about police behavior, for one. There may be a Community Advisory Board, or an ombudsman if you're very, very lucky. But they won't have any power to discipline officers.

Under the present system, if I witness a group of teens call 911 for help after being attacked by other teens, and they get ridiculed and told "Go home" by the responding officers, how do I complain? I can write down the officers' badge numbers (assuming I am close enough to see them, and let's say for the sake of argument that since I'm female and toothpick-shaped, the officers aren't too threatened). I can file a written complaint with the department, which will likely never be acted upon, although with luck it might be placed in the officers' files. I can complain at the next public meeting that the commissioner holds (which is quarterly). I can call the Community Relations Officer for that district. I can call the captain of that district.

None of these are particularly quick, but more significantly they are not very effective. Again, it gets back to how we have chose to structure our police departments. There was a huge outcry recently when the police commissioner decided to fire some officers even before they had been convicted of a videotaped beating. And that was physical assault, caught on video, where there was no dispute that they had participated and that it had been brutal. Can you imagine if the incident is "only" that a bunch of teenagers got hit and taunted by other teens?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:40 AM
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401.c: No, my point is not that the police are responsible for all the murders in Minneapolis (although they do commit some of them), rather, my point is that we spend a huge amount of our resources and relinquish a great many of our freedoms, specifically because the police have told us that they will work to prevent people from being murdered. And yet, they do not do so.

Furthermore, from the investigations I've read, it looks like about 40% of the murders in Minneapolis in any given year are directly related to drug prohibition. The police and the courts and prisons all advocate continuing drug prohibition, and that's hardly surprising, since without it, they'd have far fewer resources. So yeah, I think you could say that the cops have a hand in about 40% of Minneapolis murders, even if they do not actually pull the trigger themselves.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:42 AM
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Arbitrary as hell, and no realistic democratic way to alter the situation in our current social context.

I agree, but would like to hear you address how it would be handled differently in the social context you're envisioning.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:44 AM
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The argument in 397/408 about police not decreasing the crime rate assumes the rate would be no higher in the absence of police. I'm sympathetic to the idea the spending *more* and not getting an improvement means that the increase in spending isn't justified, and with the idea that drug prohibition contributes directly to the criminality and turf wars there, but assuming that that baseline of 60 would be steady with no police seems unjustified.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:51 AM
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404: How was Tibet a stateless society?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:55 AM
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In an anarchist society, renouncing the right to ignore things happening around you would be one of the costs. Not every situation that arose from that would be a lot of fun, but my contention is that the benefits derived from dispensing with standing armies, spies, police etc. would more than make up for the few times in your life where you might feel a little bit more endangered than you feel now.

Something else I don't understand is what happens to people who do decide to ignore something happening around them, who renege on their renouncement of that right?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:59 AM
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410: Also, if there is one thing that the endless wars over the Lancet study on Iraq deaths taught us, it is that recordkeeping is powerful. Police records are selective today, but at least they exist. If we abolish the police we would need to establish some other way of keeping track of crimes. Certainly not impossible, but complex. Murder is actually one of the easier things to track, because it's usaully unequivocal. There's a dead body.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:02 AM
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Tibet had no single central authority. The Dalai Lama represented Tibet to the outside world and was normally sworn to allegiance to the Chinese or Mongol ruler, but his allegiance to them was less than complete submission --- more than a military alliance, but less than incorporation in the Chinese state. It's called "suzereinity" in the literature and is most like a relation of feudal dependency.

Likewise, the Dalai Lama had many advantages over other lamas because of his outside connection, but he did not control Tibet the way states control nations. What political power there was was exercised by a decentralized network of basically-independent llamaseries belonging to a number of different sects whose recognition of the primacy of the Dalai Lama was only partial -- not like to Pope for Catholics.

Around 1950 Tibet was incorporated into the Chinese state, and this is all history now. The precedents the Chinese used to justify this were basically fraudulent.

Trivia: "Dalai" in Dalai Lama is a Mongol word. The title was awarded by a Mongol ruler, probably Chinggis Khan. The Mongols were not initially Buddhist, but they eventually became, and now remain, Buddhists in the Tibetan tradition.

Along with no state, there was no religious orthodoxy in Tibet. Besides the various Buddhist sects and the somewhat Buddhicized indigenous Bon religion, there were a lot of free-lance prophets and miracle workers, many of whom eventually formed nominal affiliations with the sects.

Source (tough, but recommended): Civilized Shamans, Geoffrey Samuel


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:09 AM
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my point is that we spend a huge amount of our resources and relinquish a great many of our freedoms, specifically because the police have told us that they will work to prevent people from being murdered. And yet, they do not do so.

They do not work at all to prevent murders from being committed? Or they do not reduce the murder rate to zero?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:20 AM
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I think Napi makes the key point. If the people of Minneapolis wanted a different kind of police force, they could have it. The police are not an occupying army. There's no reason an anarchist society wouldn't choose some subset of its population to harass, just as the current people of Minneapolis have chosen.

New York used to have much higher crime rates (including murder) than it does now, so it's not like the level of murders in a city is a law of nature. The empirical evidence suggests that more cops leads to less crime, or so I have read. (I haven't read the papers in detail, so I can't vouch for their accuracy.)

For whatever reason, minnie, you have chosen to adopt a political philosophy that (in my personal point of view) flies in the face of almost every single fact of history and human nature. Anarchy is not a stable outcome. Those who successfully organize large-scale violence dominate those who don't. If the US became an anarchist utopia, its conquest and colonization from the outside would be only a matter of time.

While its true that various horrible things happen under the current system, it seems to me a total certainty that things would be worse under anarchy. The current era is the peak of justice in human history. Things could be a lot better than they are now, so our work is not done, but political progress is not achieved by intellectuals designing a new society based on their own limited and particular understanding of human nature, but by the accumulation of small victories. Political progress is the slow boring of hard boards.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:22 AM
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Because I would argue that our society does a piss-poor job of this right now: 2.2 million in prison, hundreds of thousands homeless, untold numbers trapped in brutal situations because the machinery of the state grinds too slowly to help them.
I would argue that our society is not piss-poor, but not great either. I favored the 'great society' in this respect. I also think much of the war on drugs is merely to create a permanent war necessary to keep the military industrial complex in place.

By pointing out Tibet Emerson illustrates what I consider one of the biggest flaws in a stateless society - it is vulnerable to external threats.

For my money tweaking 'majority rules, minority rights' is the best way to go.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:25 AM
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Shoot Walt, your 416 said very well what I was trying to say in 417, I am happily pwned.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:26 AM
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In general I tend to agree with the theory that the current dominant societies in the world came about because of repeated competition that came about mostly because of the geography of Europe. That is taking the longer view. In current times, since WWII, I think the US took advantage of our natural resources and temporary depletion of the European and Japanese resources. We lead the pack towards the efficient consumption of as many of the world's resources as quickly as possible.

Now that some resources have reached their peak the situation has changed and we will have a period of scarcity followed by a period of sustainability.

I think it is pretty hard to argue against this assessment.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:34 AM
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The stateless societies I named mostly got their independence from geographical difficulties in conquering them, and to a lesser degree from economic poverty making them less tempting for conquerors.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:36 AM
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414: Sounds like an interesting book, but I don't see how weak, decentralized state structures amount to a "stateless" society.

416: The current era is the peak of justice in human history.

EURRGGGGHH. I think maybe no.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:38 AM
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On the contrary, Tripp, I think that we can expect a lengthy series of arguments against your conjectures.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:38 AM
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I think Napi makes the key point. If the people of Minneapolis wanted a different kind of police force, they could have it.

This massively [comically] underestimates just how difficult it is to enact these kinds of reforms in our society(s).

The point has already been made above that our police [in the UK and in the US] are incredibly hard to subject to any kind of oversight. That's just trying to require the police to act within the boundaries of the current status quo. It's not radical root and branch structural reform.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:39 AM
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They weren't state structures, they were lamaseries ruling their immediate neighborhoods. Large areas were ungoverned and unpoliced.

Fried's "Evolution of Political Society" is also recommended. You never get away from political power, except possibly at the hunter-gatherer band level -- loose groups of 10 or 20 people which are often part of a larger loose group of 100 or more people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:45 AM
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EURRGGGGHH. I think maybe no.

When would you say the world was more just?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:49 AM
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Also, the if the people wanted X they could [would] have X argument can end up looking like democratic Panglossianism. There are unwarranted optimality assumptions being made [to use an analogy from the philosophy of biology].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:53 AM
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I'm not going to argue that police departments are all responsive to their communities, but I think you'd have a better chance of convincing people that they need a better civilian review board/ombudsman/community policing than you would getting them to overthrow the government. It's relevant that the Minneapolis police department isn't an occupying army.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:58 AM
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Here in the US, I'm pretty sure that if left to plebiscite the police would behave even worse than they already do. Ten years ago (I don't know if this is still true), the Philadelphia court system and prison was overwhelmed by the level of crimes, so many crimes -- crimes as large as auto theft -- were left unprosecuted. The police response was to rough up anyone who they arrested for major property crimes. Every single person who I ever talked about it thought this policy was awesome, and they thought I was a weirdo for complaining about it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:59 AM
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A friend of mine in Portland, OR said that in the 50 years of his adult life, no mayor had ever succeeded in controlling the police force.

Groups authorized to use violence against citizens are hard to control. This becomes clear whenever attempts are made to establish civilian review boards, especially if community members (rather than just blue-ribbon politicos) are on the boards.

I've seen policemen refer to "the community" basically as an adversary -- sometimes it seemed to be short for "black community".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:59 AM
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425: I'd say trying to determine when "the world" was "more just" is probably a mug's game given the number of interactions going on within and between societies in any given era. It's arrant self-flattery, however, to suppose that a global world order that was built and sustained on various forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism from its inception right through the last century has an edge in Justice in world history.

If we're talking about the record of justice internally in Western societies, our age which has seen massive erosion of privacy rights, due process, even simple human rights can hardly claim to be at its apex.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:02 PM
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re: 427

Sure, I'm not an anarchist, anyway. But I'd be pretty adamant that the current status quo vis a vis law enforcement is very much not OK.

Both in the UK and the US I am sure we can think of cases (recently) where the police have straight-up murdered people, and nothing has happened.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:02 PM
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Minneapolitan, I have a pair of questions. (Actual questions, not an attack disguised as questions.)

One aspect of my health problems is that my body doesn't make neurotransmitters fast enough. Any period of intense mental activity - stress, concentration, whatever, be it good or bad - has to be followed by down time. One of the reasons I live a very isolated life is that the demands of operating safely in society at large with all my other problems are high enough that on days when I go out, I can generally do no work, nor the next day.

As a general principle, do you regard it as more desirable that I help police the community, or that I do something to be gainfully employed? Because twenty-odd years of trying shows me that I can't do both, and effective treatment is barely closer now than when this was first diagnosed.

That's a rare circumstance, fortunately. But there are a lot of other people who, for various reasons, can only engage with so much potential stress and conflict before they break. Among my immediate acquaintances are people with PTSD from sustained domestic abuse, bi-polar depressives, folks with degenerative diseases like MS, and so on. They cannot function as average members of the community when it comes to taking over a lot of the functions now assigned to the state. Is the idea that others pick up the slack for them, that they martyr themselves trying, some mix of the two, something else?

I admit that this problem is one of the reasons I disbelieve in most of the anarchisms I've studied - they don't seem to take the reality of social and physical impairment very seriously, and proposals for treating the needs of the impaired often boil down to warehousing. But right now I could use some more reasons to feel happy about possible futures, and would love to hear something more informed.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:07 PM
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By and large I think that the problems with policing are a function of the jobs the police are asked to do, and are only amenable to a limited degree of reform. For example, if you have a propertyless class or a homeless class, the propertied are going to want them suppressed.

Around here the police are pretty mild, unsurprisingly given the ethnic uniformity and relative absence of a dispossessed class. Even so, occasionally a police chief will throw his weight around or conduct a vendetta against an individual.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:16 PM
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426: Not at all (at least in my case; fuck that Churchill dude). I think its the advocates of direct democracy that are more guilty of democratic panglossianism. Direct democracy would have led to Jim Crow in the South as surely as representative democracy did. And while far from anarchism, direct citizen action was an important part of what made Jim Crow work.

The middle class wants the police to use extra-legal means to keep the lower classes (particularly the black lower classes here in the US) in line. The system works as intended by the people. On preview, pwned by 433.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:18 PM
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(There's also the problem of people who are by physical fact not well-suited to rapid decision-making. I think of my father in his later years with his growing hearing impairment and the cognitive speed problems coming from multiple heart surgeries and then the brain tumor that finally killed him, or a good friend of mine who reports that he just doens't have the reflexes used to thanks in part to the various artificial bits regulating his heart and circulation. Unfortunately, as we see with the problem of stubborn old people driving years after they should have been off the road, not everyone is prepared to admit "I shouldn't be doing this." One of the reasons I favor representation over direct participation on a lot of democratic issues is that it slows the pace and allows more folks to participate. A direct-democratic process that can't weed out those actually not qualified to judge on a matter is one that's going to collapse.)


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:19 PM
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Around here the police are pretty mild, unsurprisingly given the ethnic uniformity and relative absence of a dispossessed class.

This seems to be true often of small-town or rural police in homogeneous communities.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:19 PM
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433: There are actually a fair number of locals who hate all police in a hillbilly kind of way. I just ran into a guy who became famous in his 20s for stealing the police car and hiding it for two weeks. During the Sixties/Seventies police-community relations did get a little tense.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:22 PM
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412: Something else I don't understand is what happens to people who do decide to ignore something happening around them, who renege on their renouncement of that right?

They get a talking to. That sounds glib, but is not. Like so: Hey, man, why didn't you tell anyone so-and-so was in the process of flipping out? Please, here's my number, call me if it starts to happen again, and we can try to figure out what to do. Or: Why didn't you do anything when that guy was harassing that other guy? Hm, want to take some self-defense lessons with me? I've been thinking about it anyway, to build self-confidence.

On other words, people who renege on their responsibilities don't immediately get a pass without some explanation. This is not a hyper-individualistic societal model; you don't get to say that you were busy or tired or distracted, or about to be late for work, so it's too bad that guy got beat up. What we do with our existing model is farm this stuff out so that we can ignore it ourselves.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:25 PM
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I think I'm just not cut out for this anarchism thing. My reaction to the idea that we pay someone to think about something so that we don't have to is a feature, not a bug. I of course have responsibilities as a citizen to think about a certain number of things, but I'm perfectly happy to pay the civil engineers to do the civil engineering.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 12:37 PM
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408

"... specifically because the police have told us that they will work to prevent people from being murdered. ..."

Actually they try to avenge people after they have been murdered.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:15 PM
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439: Yeah, you know, although people are paying lip service to consideration of such a model, it's really quite radically different from the way we've learned to conduct our lives. The point is to consider that the ways we've learned are themselves pretty bizarre. It's kind of making us sick.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:21 PM
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441: What do you mean?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:23 PM
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This is not a hyper-individualistic societal model; you don't get to say that you were busy or tired or distracted, or about to be late for work, so it's too bad that guy got beat up.

But the function of the police isn't just to protect people from being beaten up (if that's part of their charter at all.) In fact, quite a lot of what they do is after the fact: trying to find out who the person who committed the crime, interviewing victims, etc. Some of these things take quite a lot of time. Some of them even require expertise.

Describing the resistance to this anarchist picture as wanting to be able to call someone else to deal with the person getting beaten up on my lawn because I'd be late for work really misses the point. I'm pretty sure most people would take action now and be late for work. What they wouldn't do is quit their job to track down the person who beat up the guy they found on their lawn this morning.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:25 PM
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I'm pretty sure most people would take action now and be late for work. What they wouldn't do is quit their job to track down the person who beat up the guy they found on their lawn this morning.

It seems that in this society nobody would have jobs. We would all be generalists.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:27 PM
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432: That's a great question, Bruce. How does a society without official support structures support those who need something outside of the ordinary? And, further, as you note, how does a society with somewhat less of a strict division of labor divide labor fairly and efficiently?

There are many social functions that require some more-or-less intrinsic attribute in their executors. Anarchists don't expect that a future society will have no use for people who, say, can't hop on and off the recycling truck to grab a bin of excess compost, or who can't see, and thus can't drive the truck safely.

Imagine yourself transported into the future anarchist society. You wake up in your apartment, get out of bed and realize that you were supposed to be at your neighborhood peace & safety meeting 20 minutes ago. That's okay! Anarchist time always runs at least 45 minutes late, so you've got plenty of time to go a couple blocks down the street to the community center.

Once you get there, it's probably a bit stressful. There's 30 or 40 people there, it's a new social situation. The facilitator asks everyone to check in. When your turn comes, you say "Hi, I'm Bruce, I just woke up here from the pre-anarchist past. I have trouble dealing with social situations like this one, and they generally leave me pretty wrecked for a couple of days. I see that I was supposed to go along on the recycling pick-up this morning, with a make up day of the day after tomorrow, and tomorrow I'm apparently scheduled to work in the community daycare center. I don't think I'll be able to do either of those things."

This is probably the most excitement that the peace and safety meeting has had since Cuong's dog got into Maryam's marigold-and-strawberry patch. The facilitator thanks you for the information, a couple of people volunteer to pick up the shifts you've mentioned, and a couple of other people volunteer to meet with you in a few days to figure out how to better use your abilities and reshuffle your various commitments so that you won't be overwhelmed.

***

Back in the hell we currently inhabit: One of my closest friends suffers from PTSD. She was shot with plastic bullets by the cops while standing on the sidewalk observing a demonstration. Even now, many years later, she can't watch even fictional depictions of police violence without severe emotional reactions. She's got other symptoms, like poor short-term memory, that made it very hard for her to find gainful employment for a number of years. Added to this are some family problems, and the fact that she's queer and doesn't conform to a lot of gender expectations. You know what our current system of bureaucrats and cops did for her? FUCK ALL.

A network of friends has helped her every step of the way, providing food, medical care, housing, and various other kinds of support. Yes, her case is exceptional. She has anarchist friends.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:30 PM
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443: I wasn't speaking to the role of the police, but to the question posed in 412. I'm not committed myself to there being no role for an investigative and judicial apparatus to deal with things after the fact.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:33 PM
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442, see 445.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:37 PM
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I think Emerson is right in his posts above that there are plenty of historical examples of stateless communities, but no communities without political power structures. Stateless communities typically use various forms of informal violence to keep things in line.

They get a talking to....On other words, people who renege on their responsibilities don't immediately get a pass without some explanation.

If you thought your privacy was threatened by FISA, just wait till your anarchist neighbors get all up in your business. I think Oscar Wilde said the problem with socialism was that it took too many nights. (All those community meetings...). I'm sort of envisioning it like an Unfogged gender thread, except in your face and continued for all eternity.

Of course, this can be somewhat mitigated by community shopping. There will be a little community of cantankerous loners somewhere on the high plains of the Dakotas, with plenty of space for all.

Basically agreeing with Walt in 439 here, I guess. Under anarchism society becomes more like a family, with more closeness but a constant flow of mutual nagging.

It's arrant self-flattery, however, to suppose that a global world order that was built and sustained on various forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism from its inception right through the last century has an edge in Justice in world history.

An edge in Justice, no, but it's pretty clear that this is the wealthiest period in human history by far. And the level of wealth sets up a decent claim that a greater proportion of the population have more liberty today than ever before, with the momentum worldwide toward more wealth and more freedom. The dynamic now is the push toward freedom of choice created by mass prosperity and also peoples' attempt to figure out what they really want to use their wealth to do. The trickiest questions happen when you want to choose richer forms of communal organization, as opposed to more individual consumption. Of course, it's all in a big race with big-state warmongering, nuclear terrorism, and environmental collapse.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:38 PM
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The point is to consider that the ways we've learned are themselves pretty bizarre. It's kind of making us sick.

I think this is in certain ways true (and sorry Parsi for my comic exaggeration of your description of mutual aid before). But my question would be whether it's the existence of the state that's really stopping us from getting better? I think of it as more consumerist individualist culture that does it, and in the advanced countries that's a culture that it's increasingly possible to voluntarily secede from given sufficient material resources and clarity of purpose. To the degree that it's not, because of environmental problems or maldistribution of wealth getting in the way of personal freedom -- e.g. no health insurance -- then the solutions seem to lie in more state intervention, not less.

In many ways the modern state (in its non-military aspects) works to support the hyper-individualism that facilitates capitalist labor markets. That hyper-individualism is spiritually damaging, but it's simultaneously liberatory. The higher synthesis between individualism and community will not require the complete elimination of the state. Simply joining my personal cult will suffice.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:49 PM
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448: Under anarchism society becomes more like a family, with more closeness but a constant flow of mutual nagging.

That's about right. It's a different way to live, and it's not unproblematic. On the other hand, there's no reason people can't go dark on occasion: there's a 'leave me the fuck alone! for the next few months!' phenomenon that could certainly happen regularly and be well recognized and respected.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:52 PM
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I've gotta go watch some radical theater, but until then, think about reading the following:

Anti-Mass Methods of Organizing for Collectives

ABC of Anarchism by Alexander Berkman

Living My Life by Emma Goldman

all available from AK Press


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:53 PM
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John,

On the contrary, Tripp, I think that we can expect a lengthy series of arguments against your conjectures.

I didn't say there would be no arguments. I said the arguments would be hard to make. Some people seem to enjoy making hard arguments, which is their right of course.

minneapolitan,

Back in the hell we currently inhabit:

With all due respect I think this statement is hyperbole and detracts from your case. Your friend seems to have done OK with the support of her friends. Our system allows for anarchists to exist.

Why would you force anarchy on all of us.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:53 PM
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Little known fact: only anarchists have ever helped someone in need.

I grew up in desperate circumstances, and do you know who helped out my family more than anyone else? The United States government. Anarchists didn't do shit.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 1:54 PM
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449: We've been understanding the state in this discussion in terms of its monopoly on violence. We haven't talked about the effects of free-market capitalism, which is another ballgame.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 2:07 PM
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454: I wasn't even really talking about free-market capitalism so much as the broader culture of liberal individualism that took shape from the 18th century to the present, and displaced earlier traditionalist forms. Market capitalism is a critical part of that but only a part. I guess I was saying the ways we are "sick" have more to do with that broader culture than the state monopoly of violence per se.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 2:15 PM
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Actually they try to avenge people after they have been murdered.

There's likely killings prevented by cops showing up to in progress crimes like domestic violence calls. My brother and his sergeant showed up to a DV call the other day where a woman was on the ground, and the boyfriend was standing over her with a gun.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 2:37 PM
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I've been skimming this thread on and off for the last couple of days and I am (genuinely) happy that it's gone on this long, and been this productive.

Let me go back to the practical questions. There's been a lot of talk about the Police, for obvious reasons. It strikes me that, if you're interested in anarchism, one of the immediate, incremental steps, is to try to convince more people to distrust the Police. Is this accurate? I don't mean that sarcastically. The Police have a institutional authority in our society, and for that to be taken away, people have to feel like the physical authority does not represent any legitimate moral authority.

Asking the same question, from another angle: LB wrote earlier:

The idea as I'm following it is that you build up the community institutions (health care collectives, food coops, Critical Mass, whatever) as protected by a tolerant and relaxed central government that respects the community institutions while maintaining the state monopoly on violence. And then when/if the community institutions are strong enough, maybe we don't need the state anymore.

I know people that are actively involved in building strong local community institutions. By and large they don't think of themselves as anarchists, but they do think of community building as an alternative to either government or capitalism as a way of organizing and coordinating activity.

Let's say I'm convinced by this discussion that I support steps to move towards an anarchist future. Should I be trying to convince those people that are currently building community institutions to do anything differently? Is it important that new community groups be built with an implicit anarchist philosophy, or is it just important that people are building them, and they can be co-opted into an anarchist future later?

I'm curious how much believing in this vision of anarchism implies actively working to "heighten the contradictions."

I'm also worried about selection bias, for lack of a better term. If you think that some people are currently involved in explicitly anarchist communities and that, via selection bias, they are probably the people most sympathetic to that viewpoint, how does one think about involving large numbers of new people in anarchist projects without either watering down the explicit connections to anarchism, or pushing a lot of those people beyond their inclinations or comfort levels.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 2:42 PM
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455: Yes, right, I knew that and used free-market capitalism as shorthand, but they're not to be conflated. Yet liberal individualism does not necessarily entail abdication of personal involvement in what goes on around you. It doesn't entail the sort of extreme atomism we engage in today (which is making us sick). Does it? Surely not: Millian liberalism is all about autonomy with responsibility. Personhood as embedded.

I really grind to a halt at this point, because I cannot see how to separate the consumerist, capitalist culture that has encouraged this atomistic behavior -- our extraordinary division of labor -- from the theory any more.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 2:53 PM
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457: Nick, to respond to just one part of this, I don't see a need to advert to the anarchist label at all. It does make people uncomfortable, and the communities I've known who engage in the kind of cooperative endeavors we've been talking about don't call themselves anarchists.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 3:02 PM
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Minneapolitan, I can't say that I can imagine (or feel) it working, but I like that you find it one of the interesting questions. That puts you way ahead in my books, and I don't mean that flippantly at all - I think that being interested about lives unlike one's own is very important in any effort to improve the world.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 3:40 PM
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An edge in Justice, no, but it's pretty clear that this is the wealthiest period in human history by far. And the level of wealth sets up a decent claim that a greater proportion of the population have more liberty today than ever before, with the momentum worldwide toward more wealth and more freedom.

I wouldn't say, actually, that more wealth equals more freedom, or that the worldwide momentum is toward more of both. Distribution of wealth could arguably lead to more freedom, but not necessarily; the extremely wealthy population of the United States has shown an amazing degree of willingness to sacrifice freedoms and countenance the concentration of wealth and power for ideological reasons. Freedoms are in retreat in similar ways if not to the same degree elsewhere in the Western world. The rise of wealth and the middle class in China has not yet led to any discernible momentum toward greater freedom, for similarly ideological reasons -- China is much more concerned with demonstrating its potential as a cohesive modern nation-state than with establishing liberalism. Unfree labour has witnessed a resurgence worldwide that in scale already rivals if not surpasses the Transatlantic slave trade, albeit that it hasn't yet indulged in savageries like the practices of the Middle Passage.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 3:53 PM
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In Remarks on Marx, Foucault pops off with "the history of the subject is the history of subjection." Or maybe the interviewer does, by way of trying to summarize Foucault.

Randy Newman: "In America every man is free / to take care of his home and his family." And not, by implication, much else.

The rise of the bourgeois individual accompanies the rise of large-scale institutions that allow that individual to imagine himself free. Prisons, schools, the mass media, the consumer society. Let's grant that these institutions confer a degree of freedom via safety, education, expression and choice. They also create limits on those very same things. Most importantly, they unceasingly protect the bourgeois individual's ability to flatter himself with images of others free like him, and to avoid portrayals of those unfree and unlike him.

It may be possible that this is the most massively free planet that there has ever been, and also the most massively unfree.

It may also be possible that I get aphoristic when I'm out of my depth.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:02 PM
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See, 445 seems to me like a just-so story that, pace Bruce, in fact doesn't really address interesting questions. You can make any posited social order sound attractive with just-so stories.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:03 PM
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You can make any posited social order sound attractive with just-so stories.

cf. Heinlein, Robert A.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:06 PM
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463: Yeah, I see a lot of tension there between individuals who (truly or falsely) believe that they are unable to carry out community-imposed duties and communities who (falsely or truly) believe that the individuals are slacking. It's another area with real risks of turning into a popularity contest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:08 PM
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you know who helped out my family more than anyone else? The United States government. Anarchists didn't do shit.

I don't doubt that this is true, but it seems a strange way to express it.

I mean, when I was getting food thrown at me in 8th grade, the SuperFriends didn't lift a goddamn finger.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:11 PM
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European cities eliminate traffic signs

This may be more an allegory for anarchism than an example of it in action, but it's one thing that I return to (and that yes, DS and parsimon were more receptive to than I gave credit for above, sorry about that) -- that an anarchist tendency in questions about society can reveal that certain rules, strictures and relations of domination are unnecessary, and that if you call upon people to participate, they will.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:16 PM
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Via the House Next Door, and somewhat apropos this discussion:

The heartrending, irrational justifications of the Good Liberal go like this: because there is relatively little violence, terror, or direct and perceived coercion in the life of a middle-class American, there must be relatively little violence, terror, and coercion in the entire order that enables this life. And (this is a quite obvious assumption of Hampton's) because hordes of middle-class Americans are not signing up for "the Left," it is unthinkable that the popular masses in any part of the globe could ever align themselves with "it," could ever express themselves through "it," could ever feel like "it" was something pluralistic and non-dogmatic that they might "want to join." For some people, "the Left" is not a club that must make itself attractive to prospective members.

Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 4:40 PM
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Eurasian steppes
i think this chronology is what we are taught at school
sure there should be all the references out there somewhere
i was reminded of this reading JE's Dalai Lama naming trivia


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:00 PM
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cf. Heinlein, Robert A.

What are you talking about? The social order where I get to live forever while traveling around the galaxy accompanied by a harem of beautiful, adoring young women listening to me pontificate is objectively very attractive indeed. Certainly much better than our current social arrangement, to say nothing of these endless "community meetings" described above.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:05 PM
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PGD, the harems tire you out. It becomes a duty.

Just like the private jet. A pain in the ass, really.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:20 PM
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the stateless societies
from 'my' dialectico-evolutionary point of view
the current states of the human society anywhere wouldn't allow peaceful anarchistic transition for now, though in some future time it could be possible maybe if to follow the natural chaos-order-chaos path of the social development
just due to more dissonance already existing between different parts of the world it could become that that the paths would return to the previously chaotic states if those will prevail
and not advance to the postorderly-chaotic ones
so the paths would develop like circularo-cyclically
and all those paths were and are intermingled at the various stages of the chaotico-orderly states
so it's a strange world
or all the previously chaotic states would develop into the rigidly orderly states if the orderly states'd prevail, states as conditions i mean
and it would take a longer time to proceed to the next transition step which would occur not simultaneuosly
again creating chaos and so on ad infinitum


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:23 PM
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461-462 are really interesting and certainly I can't claim to have an answer. But DS in particular seems to be identifying freedom with political freedom, which I didn't mean to do. We may underestimate the sorts of constraint involved with scarcity and material poverty -- e.g. pre 1980s China was a savagely poor country.

The triumph of bourgeois individualism involved a massive self-disciplining. But it also led to the acceptance of an ethos of self-fashioning on a mass scale that is unprecedented. We're just at the beginning of seeing what this will lead to.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:24 PM
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471: this is why the pontification scenes are more frequent than sex scenes in Heinlein's books. The human male drive to pontificate is unquenchable.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:29 PM
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I'll give you a ride on my jet one of these days, and you can give me a break from the harem girls.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:32 PM
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451:Re Berkman, he is of course online in multiple places, as is Goldman and other anarchists

Berkman Collected Works ...an excellent site, may it live forever

Minnie may have been trying to help a publisher, and some people prefer hardcopies.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:43 PM
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The page linked in 468 is interesting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:54 PM
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I don't doubt that this is true, but it seems a strange way to express it.

Not that strange in response to 'Yes, her case is an exception. She had anarchist friends.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 5:56 PM
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465: Yeah, I see a lot of tension there between individuals who (truly or falsely) believe that they are unable to carry out community-imposed duties and communities who (falsely or truly) believe that the individuals are slacking. It's another area with real risks of turning into a popularity contest.

LB, I'm having trouble understanding your concern over the popularity contest. Perhaps I'm being dense, but the popularity contest is a feature of every society, every one, no matter its form. I'm not sure why you think the anarchist picture as seemingly laid out here* poses more of a problem in that area.

* I might say for the record that I'm not completely on board with Minne's picture as it seems to have been painted here. In particular, I'd want to see more fluidity in community responsibilities: if I really can't stand doing daycare and therefore suck at it, let me stage a play instead, or something. This is not at all incompatible with the general vision, as long as the daycare center isn't understaffed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:22 PM
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What's the difference, Parsi, between that and you selling some books? You could sell some books and put on a play.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:35 PM
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And if it's a really good play, people will give you notes that you could use to exchange for a fresh baked apple pie. There's a guy down at the food coop who's been hoarding apples, hoping to get enough of the notes together to get a new kayak. The kayak maker has her eye on a silk dress, and the silkworm keepers have become so bored they'd love to see a play, and hey wasn't this an episode of M*A*S*H* . . .


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:41 PM
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Me again.


Posted by: N&#@@%pi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:42 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: N#&225pi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:43 PM
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484

[gives up. logs out]


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:47 PM
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480: Well, yes. I've never adopted the anarchist moniker. Call me hippie socialist. All I've tried to articulate here is community responsibility. I have no problem with the notion that we should be called upon to engage in community support activities.

It's interesting, though, that I begin to sound as though I'm a small- (or no) government type, and in real life I've never particularly argued that. Minne is defining government (or the state) in a very particular way. Interesting, all of it, as I say.

By the way, I'd not wish to sell books. I might distribute them. Even then, doing so is not the love of my life.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 6:51 PM
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I have no problem with the notion that we should be called upon to engage in community support activities.

Man, this gives me hives. I'd much rather have my taxes pay people to do things.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:06 PM
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486: Me too, in all honesty. But then you think about some of the more rotten things your taxes pay people to do, and that justifies a few hours of thinking how things could be different.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:26 PM
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486: or other people's taxes pay you to do things, as the case may be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:26 PM
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486-488: After the revolution we'll all change our own oil.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:29 PM
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Man, this gives me hives. I'd much rather have my taxes pay people to do things.

What, you don't like freedom?

Seriously, though, I like voluntary hippie socialism, and wish its practitioners well.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:31 PM
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concern over the popularity contest.

I can't speak for LB, but one thing that I want to know about anybody's utopia (or alternate society, even if not utopia) is what faith I can have that it will be better than the present system, at least for most people.

The situation I was describing in 396 is already hard enough for people of average "popularity" -- in that case, several unrelated adults had to step in to shield some young children from the disruptive person. You can cast this as "the system works" or "if more community members took on this responsibility, we wouldn't need the police". But the young children were pretty popular by the standards of our society -- children, clean, well-dressed, female, of an ethnic group that is often glossed in American culture as passive or sweet. Who stands up for the mentally disabled, unwashed black woman when the white guy in a business suit is screaming insults at her on the subway?

Knowing all the problems that unpopular or marginalized people have in the current setup, I want a better understanding of how they might be equally, or better, looked-after in an alternative world.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:39 PM
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Right. It's not that there are no elements of 'popularity contest' in how law enforcement works now (it's a huge element), but there at least purports to be a set of objective standards to appeal to. The absence of such impersonal standards worries me.

When I call 911, while response time may vary by neighborhood (and that's absolutely wrong), the speed and enthusiasm of the response doesn't vary based on my personal relationships, or lack thereof, with the operator or the cops who respond. If I'm yelling for help from my neighbors, and they don't like me much, I don't know if they're going to come.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 7:52 PM
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I'd love to join this conversation, but the fact that my best online friends have a 500+ comment thread on anarchism is proof that nothing much has changed in my life since I was 18.

Further proof: oudemia just turned me on to some cool Crass covers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 8:17 PM
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A network of friends has helped her every step of the way, providing food, medical care, housing, and various other kinds of support. Yes, her case is exceptional. She has anarchist friends.

Unless you're defining "anarchist" to simply mean the kind of people who help out friends with food, medical care, housing, and various other kinds of support (in which case it's a pretty meaningless term), this is just astoundingly arrogant nonsense.

I'm very glad to know you're the kind of person who helps out others in this way, and I have no problem that you find fulfillment in being and being seen as an anarchist. And it may well be that in your case your affinity for anarchist thought is the prime motivator for your altruistic behavior.

But positing that it's only those exceptional anarchists who help others out in such fashion? Astoundingly arrogant nonsense.

It's of a piece with you automatically ascribing indifference to suffering and injustice to anyone who at all questions your personal prescriptions. If you're trying to sway people to your position, automatically assuming that they just don't give a shit the way you do is a terrible strategy.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 8:27 PM
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If you're trying to sway people to your position, automatically assuming that they just don't give a shit the way you do is a terrible strategy.

New mouseover text?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 8:40 PM
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495: Easy for you to be so callous about the mouseover text, so near the top of the pyramid.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 8:50 PM
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Being called "petulant" by dsquared has got to be some kind of career high.

Addressing this problem is crucial.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:08 PM
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493: Well, do they?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:09 PM
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497: Link?

498: I'm not sure you've got the right comment number there.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:15 PM
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497: Oh, maybe you mean DS? DS is not dsquared.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 9:16 PM
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All this comity & reasonableness is giving anarchism a bad name. Where is the romance? I have the shaggy beard although no beret.

Berkman's decision to assassinate Frick was criticized by none other than his old mentor Johann Most, who implied that Berkman's act was not only counterproductive but even designed to elicit sympathy for Frick himself. Goldman was enraged at this charge, and famously horsewhipped Most after a lecture at which he refused to recant or apologize...Wiki

This thread started with Fortuny and ended with "people who help out friends with food?" Anarchists do not play well with others, it is part of our image. The Official Anarchist Organizing Committee denounces you all. Up against the wall.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:04 PM
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Threadkiller

Insurrectionary anarchism is not an ideological solution to all social problems, a commodity on the capitalist market of ideologies and opinions, but an on-going praxis aimed at putting an end to the domination of the state and the continuance of capitalism, which requires analysis and discussion to advance. We don't look to some ideal society or offer an image of utopia for public consumption.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 10:12 PM
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||

I usually don't participate in the food threads: my taste in food preparation tends neolithic - meat, stick, fire. Tonight, though, I had some of my dad's homemade gravlox. I'm ready to go over the wall.

Are you food people making this? It is so good.

|>


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:37 PM
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Gravlax is indeed awesome. I'll make some as soon as Will brings me salmon.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:44 PM
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He's bringing you sockeye, right? Don't let the Easterner off with a chum.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:55 PM
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I am completely happy with the version of anarchism as articulated by the quote in 502. It's the actual articulated positive program that is unnerving me.

Why, yes, Wrongshore, it has never occurred to me ever groups reasons for adopting stances further to the left of my own, since I am completely ignorant of the history of everything ever. I am a Good Liberal solely out of ignorance. But thanks to you, I have accepted that about myself.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 3-08 11:57 PM
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parsimon, I would like to hear what your argument against our extraordinary division of labor is. To me, it seems to me a fairly positive development. I'm perfectly happy not knowing how to make my own ice cream.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:07 AM
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if I really can't stand doing daycare and therefore suck at it, let me stage a play instead

Come the revolution, baby, we will all stage plays.

I'm not surprised to see that Howard Hampton is a target of 468's wrath. Hampton's cultural myopia seems to be matched only by his belief in his own critical acuity.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:37 AM
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I prefer the post-scarcity McManus of 140 to the bombthrowing Bob of 502. I don't like violence. Or better, don't trust it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:00 AM
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508: Personally, I'm trying to figure out why, in a wholly distributive economy with no chance of white-collar crime, where there's no incentive to steal apples because they are just handed out, we'd need daycare. (We're not talking a terribly high tech society, it looks like. Do the Amish need day care? Can't the kids just come along to work at the co-op?)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:11 AM
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I think in utopian societies, the word "day care" is replaced with "creche".


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:12 AM
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||

News from Tofino: Hippie Capitalism is OK too.

And the best Eagles song is The Last Resort.

|>


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 4:10 PM
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DON'T SLIGHT HIPPIE LOWERCASISM EITHER, MAN.


Posted by: OPINIONATED HIPPIE | Link to this comment | 08- 5-08 5:16 AM
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Fucking Berkman.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 5-08 6:10 AM
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