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The Anarchist’s Dilemma; Part One

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We’ve come to crossroads, and a climax as well. If some sort of federalism, presumably the ideal form of government, management, administration, whatever, spanning the entire globe stands for the climax, the pinnacle of what’s ultimately achievable in the realm of politics, where do we go from thence is our next question; hence the crossroads.

In particular, the first is a necessary condition, the essential aspect of any anarchistic thesis that’s worth its salt: a measure of peace and relative stability must be secured worldwide and without fail as a necessary precondition for any of the smaller units which comprise the greater whole to be able to pursue their unique, self-determined futures without undue interference from any of their neighbors, near or far. And the second, the direction this inquiry must take.

Lest you wonder, we’re talking about a world government, a kind of government that would command ultimate authority if and when push comes to shove, a government that would serve as a court of last appeal if and when need be, both authorized and empowered to resolve any and all differences that might possibly arise between any of the smaller units. For indeed, if a network of constantly warring and competing nation-states represents the greatest obstacle to attaining human happiness and justice, not in any personal, isolated or idiosyncratic sense, apart from the life of the community but as an essential part of such a community (and that’s the gist of the anarchistic thesis as best as I can understand it!) then surely, a world government of one kind or another is the only way to go, if for no other reason that it renders the very idea of nation-states, ever warring and competing nation-states, obsolete. Problem solved

Keep in mind, however, this is a conceptual analysis by and large, a Gedankenexperiment of sorts, and as such, it has no direct bearing on what is or is not likely to transpire in the immediate or near future; it merely outlines the possibilities, nothing else. Nonetheless, it does stand to reason that, whether due to the kind of global challenges facing  humankind or simply by virtue of our self-preservation instinct (or, if we really want to be magnanimous about it, our evolutionary potential), better sense will prevail and we shall escape relatively unscathed, ready to face a brighter tomorrow. The motivation surely abounds and it’s one basis for hope. Meanwhile, we can’t help but tend to the thereafter, the aftermath, the likely or the unlikely eventuality that, even in the best of all possible worlds, with a world government firmly intact and in place, we’re not exactly over the hump. Problems remain.

To name but one, how exactly are we to envisage the nature of the would-be relationship between such a government and any of the lesser units? More specifically, perhaps, in what administrative capacity ought it serve? What should be the proper sphere of its jurisdiction (i.e., the extent of its authority), and what powers must it command in order for it to be able to enforce its decisions in the event that all efforts to amicably resolve the seemingly irreconcilable differences came to naught?

I take it as axiomatic that some such government, if we are ever to get to that point, would have to command sufficient power and resources in order to overcome all manner of resistance from the less cooperative members; otherwise, its authority would be vacuous, more in the realm of fiction than fact. How exactly would the requisite kind of power be amassed and maintained in a state of readiness? That’s a logistical and, from the strictly conceptual standpoint, uninteresting question.

I suppose one fair solution would be for each and every member to be required to contribute manpower and related resources to the common pool, not unlike the situation whereby the Greek city-states were required to pay a tribute, as good a term as any, to Athens (the hypothetical government we have in mind) in order ensure protection from any and all enemies, foreign or domestic: that was the explicit purpose behind the Delian League, the first recorded experiment with federalism, and a successful one at that, until Athenian hubris took over and perverted the notion. Needless to say, the combined force of the federation would have to exceed that of any of the coalition’s members in order for it to be decisive; and the whole concept would have to be predicated, besides, on a mutually agreed-upon disarmament down to the bare minimum, however you’d care to define that minimum. So here is another precondition!

For better analogy, think of the UN, for instance, with the capabilities of NATO, both idealized, of course, to form an incorruptible body or organ, either beyond any and all challenge. A tall order, I hasten to add, but then again, not an inconceivable one. The decisions would be reached by a show of hands, and they’d be final and irrevocable.

But as I said, that’s a logistical problem and not all that interesting from the conceptual standpoint. What is interesting, however, and what is of far greater import, are the limits to which we would be prepared to go when it came to defining the proper sphere of some such body’s jurisdiction, its proper and rightful authority, an authority we could all go along with and agree upon. For surely, the idea of mutual protection guaranteed to each and every one in order to stave off all manner of aggression from any and all quarters, a Hobbesian idea if there ever was one, is one thing; and in this respect, the concept of world government is not only justifiable but a necessary one as well. But it’s another thing entirely if we were to go beyond, beyond those limits, that is.

All of which brings into sharp relief the question of justice. How so? Because if we do go beyond the auspices typically associated with a dominant protective agency, its intended role and function, a concept that has been invoked time and again in order to justify the existence and the perpetuity of the state(see Nozick, for instance, in particular, Anarchy, State, and Utopia). Except that this time we’re talking about the world at large, the one and only state, and if we’re to go beyond, into areas and concerns which are clearly beyond the purview or the intended objective of guaranteeing protection, then we’d surely be on shaky grounds; and the reason again would be, the anarchistic thesis!

For indeed, if we take the main gist of the anarchistic thesis to mean that we shouldn’t ever interfere with other people’s lives, or put another way, that live and let live is the anarchist credo and motto; and further, that any interference that would go beyond the express purpose of offering protection would surely count as a flagrant violation of said principles and creed, then surely, each and every community (the lesser unit, in a nondescript, undifferentiated and generic sense) must have its say, no matter how abhorrent or morally repulsive it might be.

To take things to extreme, even a community that would thrive on the institution of slavery, surely an abomination if ever there was one, couldn’t be interfered with because of the anarchistic principle. Each community, for better or worse, would thus be entitled to write its own ticket and determine its own future, right or wrong. And there’d be nothing the central government could do to alter that future except by persuasion, cajoling, bribery, the kinds of things we usually resort to if we want to have our way yet can’t do so forcefully, since use of force would be out of the question (again, because of the anarchistic principle). In effect, therefore, what we have here is an extreme argument for states’ rights (except in a wider, all-encompassing context), and for federalism at a bare minimum.

All of which seems to suggest that the anarchistic thesis takes the concept of justice for granted; and furthermore, that since rules relating to human conduct, the laws, cannot be enforced from top-down so as to become the law of the land but must be left to the discretion of each and every community to do as it sees fit, a correlative assumption attaches to the anarchistic thesis as a rider: all questions pertaining to justice will, if not sooner than later, whether by hook or by crook, be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, case closed!

But surely, while we may entertain such lofty ideals, hope and pray for their realization; and we may draw here on a variety of sources, from our belief in human evolutionary potential, to Christ’s pronouncement that the Kingdom of God is (already) at hand (or the Kingdom of Ends, on Kant’s rendition of the concept), it’s too much to take for granted here and now. The bottom line is, justice is problematic on the anarchistic scheme of things, especially on the macro level.

And so, if there is anything to take home from these investigations, it has got to be that the concept of tolerance appears to lie at the very heart of the anarchistic thesis: tolerance pure and simple, tolerance beyond question, absolute tolerance. This is rather disturbing though not exactly unexpected; disturbing in light of a great many cogent arguments against “pure tolerance” (see, for example, a joint effort by Robert P. Wolf, Barrington Moore, Jr. and Herbert Marcuse, A Critique of Pure Tolerance); and “not exactly unexpected” . . .

Well, it’s not all that easy, at least in the popular mind, to dissociate anarchism from the live and let live philosophy. So surely, we must examine the main thrust of the anarchistic thesis in light of these and other texts, in particular, the extent to which the stress on tolerance, or more precisely perhaps, the inability of the anarchist thought to dissociate itself from tolerance, may hamper its eventual development so as to make it ineffectual.

All told, we have a great deal of work cut out for us. First, we must try to restore anarchism to a position of respectability as a serious contender among competing political theories of the state. In particular, if the concept of tolerance does indeed figure in, and in a major way, as an indispensable aspect of the anarchistic thought and action, then it surely behooves us to try to set limits to what kind of tolerance are we talking about, how far should it extend, which things exactly should be permissible and therefore protected by the tolerance principle and which should not. Surely, we can neither subscribe to, nor endorse, the idea of tolerance without limits, the anything goes kind of stance: after all, we can’t have the concept degenerate to a kind of licentiousness, not only in the interest of ordinary language but, just as importantly, in order to salvage what may yet end up to be a viable political theory of the state. And so, that’s one cluster of problems we must deal with.

What’s further down the line? Well, perhaps in the interest of clarity, we may have to distinguish between two different moments or phases of the anarchistic program and thesis, the macro and the micro: label them “A” and “a” if you like. In any case, and this is just a hunch, perhaps the kind of tolerance that might be justifiable at the macro level would be out of place when applied locally, to any of the lesser units.

To put this query into sharper focus, perhaps another question is in order: In what exact sense are the objectives and concerns of the larger, all-encompassing community, a confederation of states, all “states” in this instance, different from the objectives and concerns of any of its lesser units?

Offhand, I should think the two sets of objectives and concerns would be quite different if not incomparable. Why so? Because in the first instance, the object would be to keep the respective sociopolitical units at arm’s length if need be (so as to prevent any and all acts of potential aggression), again, the main function being to serve as a peacekeeper, which surely doesn’t include or justify meddling with anyone’s internal affairs; and in the second? Well, now we’d be talking about securing good will and cooperation from humans, real humans, presumably each and every one a willing member of a human community. Quite a different set of objectives, I daresay!

There isn’t much more that I can say at this point about the anarchist program at the macro level to make things any clearer. In any event, since the devil is always in the details, we’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I’d be perfectly happy to leave the matter of general housekeeping (or peacekeeping, if you prefer) to a dominant protective agency, duly empowered and represented of course. But surely, there’s a great deal to be said about the anarchist thought and program at the micro/local level, about anarchism with a small a, about the nitty gritty and the nuts and bolts of it, about the philosophy of a community, an anarchistic community of all things. And it is here, in this and no other context, that the question of tolerance must ultimately be resolved if we’re ever to come to terms with some such community and rescue anarchism from the kind of disrepute it suffers today in order to restore it to its rightful place as a viable contender among alternative political theories of the State.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • Doug Hunter

    I think the problem of tolerance will be solved in great extent by the same forces that generated the one world government. The government need not use force, they control your education, your healthcare, your retirement, the media, the food supply, etc., etc. It’ll be almost impossible to set up a separate environment for socialization… that is why even at today’s federal level the government has set idly by and let the family die, religion is on it’s way out as well… the future is no organizing principle but the almighty government.

    You’ll never get the density to create an alternate system as the big government will kill it in it’s infancy. Even if adults try and choose different, they get your children from age 3 to 25 or so in the education system (if the family is still in play at that point, it may be extinguished soon) to indoctrinate them as they please. Again, they control all aspects of your welfare as well so there is ample room for manipulation outside of the much maligned ‘force’.

    I think at first the big issues like slavery, starvation, disease will be the targets but as the world population is homogenized in culture and thought additional targets like the ones we are wrestling with now, smoking, overeating, alcohol will be dealt with as well. Your mind will become the government’s palette to design as they please. They will design your children as a good worker bee, if you beg to differ you’ll be labeled and outcast, a bigot, selfish. The people will have a death party when you pass.

    Oh, the glory of ‘progress’. The same ones who fucked it up royally when given a little authority now really, really promise that if you’ll give them ultimate authority over the whole planet they’ll make it worth your while. Good luck with that!

  • roger nowosielski

    It’s an Orwellian scenario, Doug, and not all that impossible if we remain docile and complacent. My thinking though is, there will also be a great many who will have learned to depend less and less on the government for their physical and spiritual fulfillment, and that’s a basis for hope.

  • Doug Hunter

    As a pertinent example, modern governments have cowed the population. The times of successful revolution without outside influence have largely passed. Why is this? Besides the mismatch of weaponry and government playing a smarter long game and avoiding short term crises. In other words they can compromise in the short term and still get what they want in the big picture. No force necessary, just train the next generation to believe whatever you wanted to force on them was a good idea. We have been indoctrinated that the use of force against them is never acceptable… nevermind that they kill thousands, imprison millions and have guns on every street (or at least a camera or officer connected to guy who can call in the guns).

    It is near impossible to stop government even with powerful outside forces, how much easier of a time will it be when there is no alternative reality to consider? I wonder if like 1984 (and the very real North Korea) outside conflict will then need to be manufactured to keep the people in line… it will be if needed. How much easier will we fall into that trap and how much harder will it be to escape? The people of North Korea can’t do it with the rest of the world as a counterexample staring them in the face begging them to change. What hell it will be when the whole world is North Korea and we’ve been trained to not even know it. The death of the human spirit and the populace spit on it’s grave.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    I don’t see world stability and peace as a result of world government as a necessary precondition for the advance of anarchistic ideas and practices. Primarily, I don’t think the ruling class of the world state created by such a government would have any interest in general stability and peace, since its métier would be the forceful suppression of enemies and dissidents. On the contrary, to stay in business it would have to find or create new enemies as it defeated the old ones. (The post-Cold War behavior of the United States is a good example of the principle, although the United States falls short of being a world government.) This would apply as well to the smaller units operating within the sphere of the larger: they might not be allowed to fight one another, but they would certainly be allowed to fight their own citizens and to demand help from the higher-order bodies for this purpose, just as localities and (U.S.) states today get help from the Federal government to carry on the Drug War and other useless, destructive projects. Just as capitalists must find or create scarcity, so governments, including world governments, must find or create conflict and disorder to legitimate the monopoly of violence.

    Secondly, it is not necessary to completely quiesce the sociopathic sector of human societies (that is, the state) to begin to subvert it. There is probably enough space in a polity of normally competing capitalist liberal republics to build voluntary, that is, anarchistic institutions. The point would not be to perfect the state but weaken the state to the point where it could not easily carry on wars. For this reason, anarchist movements must be international, vigorously anti-imperialist, opposed to militarism and police surveillance and intimidation. We can see the beginning of this aspect of the anarchist project in the sympathies expressed between Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, and earlier between the various uprisings of 1968-1969.

  • cindy

    Roger,

    I consider it the most basic principle of anarchism that all people shall be free. I would consider it my “duty”, as an anarchist, to interfere with any group, in our federation above, which enslaved people.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I know you and Cindy will probably snap my head off for this, but historically speaking, only those nations with a strong central government have had strong enough economies to build their infrastructure to the point where the people could truly prosper.

    Looking at the world today, one must ask how a world that has embraced anarchism (as you describe it) would be capable of continuing to build our infrastructure, up to and including satellites…and how would they be able to send up space probes and space telescopes?

    I ask this because in all these cases, from the roads of Rome to China’s Grand Canal to the Manhattan Project, the Interstate System, and the Apollo moonshots, it took great national will and taxpayer support of epic scale.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    I call the problem Glenn poses the ‘Big Airplane Problem’. Many years ago, in another discursive venue far, far away, I was ranting on about anarchy and one of my interlocutors protested that if there were no government, big airplanes could not be built or flown; and in that case, he could not go to Europe for the summer as he was wont to do, being a highly-placed academic, and enjoy life as highly placed academics in Europe do. My reply was to accept his assumption, and point out that the government cannot exist without some non-trivial probability of killing people, since it has to manifest itself as the Gewaltmonopol, the monopoly of coercive force. Each big airplane, then, is associated with a certain amount of killing, and we can ask how many executions a big airplane is worth. This could be a fraction; it is possible that, to get ten big airplanes built, only one person would have to be killed. But there is some relation, and it should be possible to quantify it at least approximately. In any case it exists and ought to be considered.

    Of course I could have denied the necessity of government to the construction of big airplanes. I have read Axelrod on cooperation, and did not see an upper limit to the size of cooperating voluntary societies.

    One might dismiss the big airplane problem as an idle moralistic cavil derived from mere aestheticism or sentimentality, but I believe moralizing also has a practical, material aspect: to some extent it indicates behaviors which make life possible. As a corollary, the abandonment of moral order by more than a small minority in any population presages the death of the community. Therefore we will want to know what we are trading for what.

    For another view of this sort of problem, see ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’, a story by Ursula LeGuin.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ana –

    I have read Axelrod on cooperation, and did not see an upper limit to the size of cooperating voluntary societies.

    If societies cooperate voluntarily, that’s great. But there’s a little problem with that – it’s called ‘human nature’. As I pointed out tonight on a different thread, while times, technologies, and societies may change, human nature doesn’t. Oh, sure, he might be more peaceful if he’s properly educated, but we have pretty much the same range of personalities (good, bad, and insane) today as we had 10,000 years ago.

    What does that mean? It means that – with very few exceptions – different societies work together only when they must, when they have no other good choice. Things like national pride and societal prejudice (of race, religion, ethnicity, political belief, whatever) get in the way today just as they did thousands of years ago…

    …and that’s without even taking into consideration of what one society does when the other society won’t give up or sell something that the first society needs. Our world’s oil reserves are finite, for one thing…and even more worrisome is water. When a society no longer has access to water (which is one of the primary concerns with the march of climate change), they ARE going to get that water from someone who does have it…

    …and all of a sudden the darker side of human nature takes over (as it has since time immemorial) and the ‘voluntary’ cooperation of one society is given only because it has been subjugated by another society.

    Ana, it’s said that the more someone studies war, the more one hates war…and I truly hate war. But wars great and small are a fact of human existence. If you’ll study your history, you’ll find that even given the Rwandan genocide, the Sudan, and our wars in the Middle East, the past twenty years are (relatively speaking) perhaps the most peaceful in human history. Can you think of another two consecutive decades in all human history that are (again, relatively speaking) as peaceful as the world has been since 1993? I can’t.

    It’s really nice to think how easy it would be if we’d all just pass the peace pipe and get stoned together…but I’m sorry, Ana, all of human history tells us that we aren’t and likely never will be that way.

  • John Lake

    You addressed the question of enforcement, and that is the rub. If we can enforce, we already violate the Anarchistic Thesis. No matter that varied geographic areas have vastly differing rules and regulations.
    I take it as axiomatic that some such government, if we are ever to get to that point, would have to command sufficient power and resources in order to overcome all manner of resistance from the less cooperative members; otherwise, its authority would be vacuous, more in the realm of fiction than fact. How exactly would the requisite kind of power be amassed and maintained in a state of readiness? That’s a logistical and, from the strictly conceptual standpoint, uninteresting question. I can’t imagine a question more interesting.

    The whole concept would have to be predicated, besides, on a mutually agreed-upon disarmament down to the bare minimum, however you’d care to define that minimum. So here is another precondition! That seems to limit the possibilities of our discussion….

    For better analogy, think of the UN, for instance, with the capabilities of NATO, both idealized, of course, to form an incorruptible body or organ, either beyond any and all challenge. A tall order, I hasten to add, but then again, not an inconceivable one. This incorruptible global body of which you speak… are you saying it’s already here? I find the whole notion, as you so well started out in paragraph one, to be based upon defining the body, not suggesting it already exists, under our very noses.

    The decisions would be reached by a show of hands, and they’d be final and irrevocable. Well that certainly limits the discussion.

    Mere anarchy, loosed upon the world! The Divine Comedy, heaven, or is it hell? If anarchy becomes the definition of order, there may be a more favorable place to be.

    Comment 2: That seems like an idea out of some ancient fiction; we drug the populace to keep them peaceful and happy.

  • llort

    …can a regime of international privation and environmental degradation (enforced in large part by the militaries of social democratic nations) reasonably be considered a state of peace?

  • llort

    I think that it’s fair to say that food-not-bombs has achieved the status of Anarchist Institution so a close look at its history structure goals internal politics external politics and the like might be a good idea

  • llort

    …finally – the subjunctive conditional often assumes too much

  • cindy

    Glenn,

    the people could truly prosper

    “truly prosper”? what does that look like? is this prosperity?

    does American-style prosperity have any social consequences?

    and lastly, “prosperity”? for whom? and at whose expense?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    As terrible as anything you might show, the fact – the fact – remains: life is better now for humanity as a whole than it ever has been in all human history. People live longer now, and as I pointed out to Ana, humanity has never been more at peace (relatively speaking) than it is right now.

    What you’re doing is seeing where we’re at, and how far we have to go. But unless you understand just how very far we’ve already come, you’ll never have a true perception of where we’re at, of how far we have to go.

  • llort

    …”humanity as a whole”

    yeah – it must be nice for that guy (relativistically speaking that is)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    Relative, not relativistic. And generally relative, not general (or even special) relativity.

  • cindy

    7:22-7:10 = 12 minutes

    the fact – the fact – remains: life is better now for humanity as a whole than it ever has been in all human history

    Did you see the facts in the 3rd video Glenn? I put that 3rd one right there with all the statistics just for you.

    If you watched the 3rd video, how can you say this? It clearly shows that 80% of the people in the world are suffering under capitalism.

    I can’t talk to you if you don’t look at my perspective. Please feel free to grab yourself a mirror and have the whole discussion by yourself. Don’t waste my time.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @4, Anarcissie

    “I don’t see world stability and peace as a result of world government as a necessary precondition for the advance of anarchistic ideas and practices.”

    (1) Doesn’t that depend of what you mean by “anarchistic practices”?

    For example, if the main purpose of such practices is “to [disrupt, sabotage, and] weaken the state [not only] to the point where it could not easily carry on wars” but for any reason, even on general principles, then of course you’re right. Or to expand on that definition, as per your own description:

    “. . . people will have so much energy and knowledge at their disposal, even poor people, that the notion of class will no longer be intelligible. In a sense it will be a kind of anarchy: the government will not be able to function much, and there will be a communism of basic goods and small toys. Not everyone will be able to have a yacht, but everyone will be able to have a potato and a smartphone and live in a house. But this will not be a utopia, or even necessarily very nice. Much of the world will look like a big, shabby hippie commune . . .”

    Well, even in this case, world stability is not any kind of precondition; quite the contrary, it’s very instability provides the right kind of impetus as well as justification for “anarchistic practices.”

    My point however is: With “anarchistic practices” so defined, anarchism is destined to remain a counter-movement and always on the defensive, never a “real utopia,” to borrow from a CT thread jargon

    (2) With anarchistic thought and practice so defined, even the philosophy of a community has to be redefined (since we can no longer speak meaningfully of anarchistic communities in any traditional/territorial sense, but only of virtual communities – for example, the internet community, etc.)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    Okay, I watched your (extremely noisy) video.

    Read history much? Because if you really did, you’d find out that “the good old days” never existed. Relative to the population of the times, there is no tragedy ongoing today that hasn’t been exceeded in scope at some time in the past. That goes for war, starvation, genocide, and tyranny of every type. Want an example? How about China’s Taiping Rebellion of the mid-1800’s where 20-30M people died. That would be like up to 180M people dying in China alone today, since our world population is over six times what it was in 1850. It’s close to the number of deaths, relatively speaking, to that of all of WWII…and it was all in China alone.

    That’s why I keep saying “relatively speaking”, because when we take into account the populations then as compared to the population now, we see that as a whole, humanity is better off today than at any time in the past.

    Cindy, you’ll never hear me defend unbound capitalism. I strongly support socialism. But I also know that democracy of whichever economic stripe is much preferable to any alternative.

    Now – have you ever spent much time in a third world nation? Yet again, I’ll refer to the Philippines. On any given day you’ll see destitution – not quite to the level that one sees in much of Africa, but much worse than anything one sees in any first-world nation. Child labor is normal – and they count themselves lucky to be able to earn a few pisos a day. There are vast shantytowns, great mazes of sheet-tin-roofed squatter shacks with walls of concrete blocks or cast-off hard sheets of plastic or metal or even cardboard. These are places with little or no electricity where people bake by day and live in fear of the local gangs by night. Fresh water can be had at a communal hand-pump, but they still use chamber pots like we in the West did until the Industrial Revolution, and such gets emptied into the ditch. And it stinks.

    I haven’t lived in such a shantytown, Cindy, but I know a lot more about them than most Americans.

    But you know what’s really puzzling? Just as in every other third-world megalopolis on the planet, people still come streaming into Manila from the provinces every single day to find work, to build a future (which is how a third-world megalopolis becomes a third-world megalopolis in the first place). The people out in the provinces know what waits for them in that city of 15M people, but still they come. They do this because – just like in the sweatshops in China or India or Pakistan – the pittance they earn there is more than what they’d get out in the provinces, and they’re glad of it. And they know that at least there, they can send a little back to their families, and their children can get an education, and they just might be able to someday have a real apartment of their own.

    Cindy, as bad as things are for so many people in the world, a greater percentage of the world’s population has it better than at any time in human history. READ your history – particularly the tragic stuff which comprises most of history – and you’ll come to understand that. It doesn’t mean we should do our utmost to help the downtrodden and dispossessed – we must do so – but anyone who thinks the planet is going to heck in a handbasket really does not understand just how far humanity has come.

    One more thing – if you want to worry about something, then worry about what presents the biggest threats to human civilization – like climate change and pandemics (like the H1N1 flue that killed 50M people in four months in 1918 (which is why I’m closely following the reports from China about the H9N7 flu – unlike H1N1, we have no natural immunity to H9N7)) – or spaceborne existential threats (asteroids, comets (see Shoemaker-Levy 9).

    We do what we can to help those in need, absolutely! But I refuse to metaphorically take a leather whip and flagellate myself bloody just because I have it better than a billion or so other people, not when I know that as a whole IS better off now than at any time in human history.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    In regard to human nature, if humans are such that they require institutions of control through force and the threat of force, we are probably doomed, since there is no one to staff these institutions but the very same humans who require forceful control, and the very people most likely to be attracted to directing these institutions will be those most in need of control and least suited to the task. Before we had modern technology, this didn’t matter as much, because there were physical limits on how much humans could destroy. The advance of technology, industrialism, engineering, science has torn away that bit of safety.

    ‘Formerly, man could not do as he desired. Now he can do as he desires; and he must change his desires, or perish.’

  • cindy

    Glenn,

    I will be back tomorrow to address your points. In the meantime, I hope you consider learning about the benefits of the mute function on your computer’s sound program. 😉

    Good evening.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    ‘… My point however is: With “anarchistic practices” so defined, anarchism is destined to remain a counter-movement and always on the defensive, never a “real utopia,” to borrow from a CT thread jargon.’

    Yeah, I don’t think anarchy or anarchism could ever be complete, could ever provide a utopia. I don’t think the human predicament has a solution. I think the question is whether we can live, can survive, can eke, can patch it out, can get through the night. It may be a tragic question.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ana –

    Before we had modern technology, this didn’t matter as much, because there were physical limits on how much humans could destroy. The advance of technology, industrialism, engineering, science has torn away that bit of safety.

    If the advance of technology is a two-edged sword, then you’re looking only at one edge of the sword. The other edge is that technology has enabled the spread of information to an extent that was unimaginable less than two centuries ago…and it is this spread of information that has enabled greater understanding of other peoples and cultures, and of the need for tolerance.

    See not only the bad side, but both the bad side and the good side.

    ‘Formerly, man could not do as he desired. Now he can do as he desires; and he must change his desires, or perish.’

    Well said.

  • yort

    remember – lentils chick peas and quinoa are three near perfect foods

  • yort

    Glenn – your argument seems trapped in that ontological fairyland that exists around the edges of statistical analysis

    if you were to concern yourself with humans rather than with humanity and questionable quasi-quantifiable notions of peace and the relative general good in this dialog then I think you’d see the picture change…

    then you might start asking questions like – why and how do people in first-world nations take so much for themselves while everyone else has so little and how did we get to this situation of mass hunger amidst plenty

    but I imagine you know this already

  • Glenn Contrarian

    ‘yort’ –

    You know why I keep telling the others to learn their history first? Because they apparently don’t really know what life was like in the past. The problem is not 80% of people in the world are on the edge of starvation because of capitalism – most people in the world are not going hungry, regardless of what one of the videos above would have you believe. The problem is that we’ve developed truly vast wealth, and that wealth is not ‘trickling down’ to the poor as conservatives assured us would happen with the advent of Reaganomics. It’s as Charlie Rangel said: “We got the down, but we never got the trickle”.

    Yes, there’s a billion people in the world living in destitution – I have a home in a nation where one sees this every day. But at the same time, I also know that as poor as those people are, most of them have opportunities that their ancestors would never have dreamed.

    For instance, if you’ll look it up, you’ll find that there’s 6B cell phones in use in the world today…in a population of 7B people. That means that all but the bottom 14% of the people in the world today are using something that was science fiction little more than a generation ago. This doesn’t mean that the lives of the poor are easy – of course not! – but it means that while their lives are hard, their lives are not nearly so hard as they were a century ago.

    If you want to help the people, then socialized democracy is the best way. It raises the standard of living of the population, which almost always results in a lower birth rate, and poverty becomes much less of a burden than before.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, whilst I agree with your general point, the fact that 6 billion mobile phones are in use by our global population of 7 billion doesn’t mean that it is the bottom 14% of that population that don’t have phones…

  • cindy

    Glenn,

    I have decided not to reply at this time. Perhaps another time.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    True. I’ll take the hit for that one. Thanks.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    The production of cell phones is hardly the equivalent of the good life, or even the sustainable life.

  • yort

    Glenn – there’s a purpose for every history under heaven…what’s yours?

    while cell phones might not be the end-all-be-all we at Acme Farmasueticals are ready to roll out our newest line of Humanity Products – we call it Repu – for the treatment of end-stage starvation…now your loved one can exit this land of woe feeling that she just finished a turkey dinner

  • yort

    Roger #18 – how about: CT’s Head of Academic Sociology’s admonition to get real smacking of recuperation (not unlike inoculation by repooperation as Cindy pointed out a bit ago elsewhere) flies in the face of an anarchist outsider aesthetic

    and yes this aesthetic is something of an illusion – even F-N-B is a scavenger group dependent on the offal of the dominant culture

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ana and yort –

    No, the possession of a cell phone does not denote a rich life – I didn’t say it did. I used cell phones as an example to show that for most (but certainly not all) of the poor, poverty now is significantly different from poverty two generations ago. In America, for instance, what’s the poorest state? Mississippi. And what’s the fattest state? Mississippi.

    Yes, there are more people today that are truly destitute, who are starving…but as a percentage of humanity as a whole, there are fewer than ever before. Yes, there are millions of people who are every bit as destitute as at any time in history, but for most, the world of the poor doesn’t even resemble what it did two generations ago. For instance, perhaps the greatest difference between the poor now and the poor a century ago is that most poor of today know how to read, most poor of today have an opportunity to go to school and learn about the rest of the world. The poor of a century ago largely had no such opportunity…and poverty of the mind is almost as bad as poverty of the belly.

    Let me tell you about my wife. Unlike most Americans, she knows what true hunger is. She was one of ten siblings, and she remembers nights that if they had something to eat, then it was rice with salt…and that was it. In better times, they had a small bowl of rice with a bite of banana. And if they were fortunate, the ten of them and the mom and the dad all shared one can of corned beef with their rice…and the dad would get about a third of that can of corned beef to himself…and of course anything they had to eat was shared with anyone who happened to be visiting, because it’s their tradition (just like it is Down South) that if someone comes to visit, you do your level best to share your food with them no matter how little you have. And my wife has many times told me how she never felt poor, how they considered themselves fairly well-off compared to many of their neighbors.

    Go to the part of the city where she lived today, and you’ll find tens of thousands of destitute people who are living in squatter shacks with no electricity, much less running water. But you know what? None of them are starving – and quite a few are overweight, some downright fat. And pretty much all of them can read. This is not to say they don’t need help – they do, absolutely! We gladly help when we can – we’ve been sending money to help her family every year for the past 21 years, and we’ve put at least three of our nephews and nieces through college so that they can also help out the family. We’ve been living “pay it forward” since long before it became a popular phrase.

    But I digress. The point is, the poverty of today for most of the world’s poor is NOTHING like what it was in generations gone by.

    I’ve never known real hunger or real poverty – but I pay attention to and am very close to those who have. So please spare me your morality lessons. Go get some real perspective first – by, say, getting up-close-and-personal over a number of years to the very poor in a third world nation – and then come back and talk to me.

  • roger nowosielski

    The Gospel according to Glenn:

    “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you a cell phone and make your burden easier to bear; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light, and I understand your plight.”

  • roger nowosielski

    @32

    Well, perhaps there’s no escaping the fact that borrow we must, from whatever culture (especially if it’s true that we all stand on the heads of the giants, that there’s nothing new under the sun, etcetera). Besides, I’m not as hung up, as Cindy might be, whether the culture is a dominant one or not: I think what matters here is which values shall we regard most dearly, where our emphasis should be, how shall we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

  • yort

    1. this is not a game of averages

    2. the sensation of hunger to the point of death probably hasn’t changed a whole lot recently…(all that will change with Repu of course)

    3. can’t speak for Anarcissie but as you have little idea of how or where I developed my perspective your attitude is (as usual) presumptuous

  • yort

    (my 36 refers to Glenn’s 33 of course)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    If you just have to misuse Scripture for your own ends, remember two things: Jesus taught us to always do our best to help the poor, and He also said, “the poor will be with you always”. And He was right.

  • roger nowosielski

    I’m surely glad you’re comfortable with that pronouncement.

    “Just give ’em cell phones and all will be well” — Gospel according to Glenn

  • Glenn Contrarian

    yort –

    1. this is not a game of averages

    I didn’t say it was. It IS, however, a matter of proportion. Mankind will never, ever, ever reach a point where there is no one on the edge of starvation…but we can do our best to do as well for as many as we can. When we are doing the best we can for as many as we can, then I will not go around bewailing our failure as a species. So far in human history, the system that has benefited the greatest percentage of people is socialized democracy. If you’ve got a better idea, then put it out there and show me how it’s better. But if you can’t, then what good are your complaints doing? Not much.

    2. the sensation of hunger to the point of death probably hasn’t changed a whole lot recently…(all that will change with Repu of course)

    But what has changed is that a much smaller percentage of people are starving. I’m sorry that that’s not good enough for you, but humankind will never, ever reach perfection. I’m sure you know this, so why expect perfection? The Serenity Prayer applies.

    3. can’t speak for Anarcissie but as you have little idea of how or where I developed my perspective your attitude is (as usual) presumptuous

    Maybe it is. I know that I’ve got more experience in third-world nations than most Americans (assuming that you’re American (or British or Canadian, for that matter)). I know that I’ve traveled more than most of the above “A-B-C” group. Perhaps you have more such experience than I do…but what does that experience really mean?

    Look at Kenn Jacobine – he’s got more experience and exposure than I do in every one of those respects. But he’s also a strict libertarian, or tries to be…and libertarianism is nothing short of disastrous when it comes to economic (and sociopolitical) systems. Look at Dave Nalle – he, like Kenn, is a history teacher and, like Kenn, has lived overseas to an extent I never have. But he, like Kenn, is a libertarian…which tells me that he, like Kenn, drank from that Pierian spring but did not receive its deepest benefits: they received knowledge, but not understanding.

    This just goes to show that while experience is crucial, the understanding of said experience is even more crucial. A wealth of experience is like having a really nice car; the understanding of experience is knowing how to drive that car.

    But I think it’s more the difference between looking at something, and seeing what’s actually there and why it’s there.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    You’re simply being snarky at a high-school level – you’re not contributing anything at all to the conversation. C’mon, you can do better than that!

  • roger nowosielski

    Not really, and certainly not under the circumstances. It is not I but you who brought up the matter of cell phones as though making some kind of contribution to the discussion.

    I’m merely taking a page out of Christopher Rose’s playbook — irrelevant!

  • roger nowosielski

    Can’t help but import the following comment from a CT thread. It’s a keeper.

    “Not to mention that what we are doing is more honorable than picking our navels – of which this thread is a particularly depressing example – or maintaining the flag of fools for capitalism, especially since the only folks benefiting from said capitalism are multi-billionaires such as the world’s richest person here in Mexico who provides me with piss-poor internet service for this phone from which I am posting, or El Chapo Guzmán who will make sure you receive your order of illegal substances to convince you that the US is the center of the universe, or the arms cartels, familiarly known as Big Guns, or the Big Oil folks ordering their peons to frack and lay pipelines in the sacred places on indigenous lands – after all the sacred place of those gringos who wouldn’t give you folks the time of day, much less 5 bucks for a coffee at StarBUCKS, is Wall Street, which despite the example of the indigenous folks of the EZLN in Chiapas, upon whom OWS supposedly modeled itself, continues to be occupied by the high priests of the Big Bucks cartel.

    My recommendation is that you come down off your white horses and if you cannot accept the full reality of this planet, at least learn a few languages, spend some time in uncomfortable places of ferment and make some steps toward joining the human race.

    As Chief Seattle said, maybe we will turn out to be brothers after all – we shall see.”

    Marthe Raymond #359

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, correcting your misunderstandings is almost a full time job. Will you start to pay me for it?

    You and Jesus are wrong, the poor will not always be with us and it is not true that “Mankind will never, ever, ever reach a point where there is no one on the edge of starvation”.

    As you yourself have pointed out on more than one occasion (and you are actually right about this, probably more because of the stopped clock thing than anything else), more and more people are being lifted out of poverty as we evolve out of the dark ages of ignorance and suspicion and the knowledge age embraces us all.

    As to food production, only this weekend I read this The World Is Not Headed For Disaster, which clearly shows that food production is increasing rapidly.

    Further good news are the projections of falling population growth worldwide, falling energy costs and other positive data based indicators.

    The author concludes “None of this is to say that we don’t have problems. We do. The rise in the price of oil, food, and other commodities has had a tremendous negative impact on people around the world…

    Other problems that the market doesn’t even factor into its numbers also loom: Climate change, dwindling fresh water supplies, ocean overfishing, and deforestation, just to make a few. Those are very serious challenges. We shouldn’t trivialize them. We shouldn’t stand by and watch them happen without responding. But neither should we given in to fatalism. We’ve solved such problems in the past.

    We’ve solved them, in every case, by innovating – by coming up with new solutions that grew the global pie of resources. In fact, we’ve done it again and again and again, from the dawn of humanity until today. And those times that societies have failed and collapsed, you can draw a connection directly to their failure to innovate…

    In the end, our minds and their ability to create new ideas are the ultimate source of all human wealth. That’s a resource nearly without limit.”

    Human problems and human solutions; no deity required.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    ‘and yes this aesthetic is something of an illusion – even F-N-B is a scavenger group dependent on the offal of the dominant culture.’

    FNB does not have to scavenge to do its thing, but it does have to maintain its existence embedded in the larger capitalist culture for the time being. As I see it, it gives its participants, some of them, a chance to catch a glimpse of the paradise of communism. But only a glimpse, and a short, conflicted one at that. It’s a thin thread to hang on, but there are not many threads out there.

  • roger nowosielski

    I’m trying to come up with a correct link to FNB, thus far to no avail.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You and Jesus are wrong, the poor will not always be with us and it is not true that “Mankind will never, ever, ever reach a point where there is no one on the edge of starvation”.

    Chris says it’s not true that we’ll always have someone starving somewhere, and he calls me a faithist!

    Good grief!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Chris cited an article with stats and data to support his contention, Glenn. What did you cite to support yours?

    And as I’m sure you’re aware, there are societies who’ve lived quite successfully for thousands of years in the rainforests of South America, equatorial Africa and south-east Asia, places so fertile that you’d have to be pretty bloody inept to starve.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    You will always be able to find this or that geographical region where people don’t starve…but that’s a geographical region and not a planet. And if you want to claim that people don’t starve in equatorial areas, see here, where thousands are starving in a Liberian rainforest.

    I mean, come on, Doc – that search took less than thirty seconds! I can’t believe that you didn’t even think of making that claim without checking to see if there were people starving in equatorial areas. The fact that the starvation is due largely to war is immaterial – it’s still starvation, and we’ll always have conflict, especially given the ever-rising population and finite nature of natural resources.

    Chris’ reference essentially says that life has been getting better for the human race as a whole and that it’s likely to continue getting better, but there’s NOTHING in that article that says that contradicts anything I’ve said! We already manufacture enough food to feed everyone on the planet and then some, but many millions are still starving. Why? Because of the evil that men do.

    I know that unlike some others, you’re not so pollyannish to believe that men are going to stop committing horrendous acts. But as long as there are men who are evil-minded and have the opportunity to rise to positions of power, we will have armed conflict, we will have prejudice, and we will have starvation.

    And really, Doc, do you need a reference in order to give that last sentence credence, especially given that such has been the pattern for the whole of human history?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Doc –

    Chris’ reference essentially says that life has been getting better for the human race as a whole and that it’s likely to continue getting better

    I want to emphasize that sentence. I’ve been saying time and again in this thread that things are better for the human race now than ever before in all human history, including for the poor. That’s why I said his reference doesn’t contradict me at all. But the author of that reference didn’t address war at all…

    …and if you’ll check, the greatest starvations since 1900 have all been human-caused (in no particular order): the Armenian genocide, Stalin’s famine in Georgia and Ukraine, India during WWII (which may or may not be due to Churchill’s orders), the killing fields under Pol Pot, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and his Cultural Revolution, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan.

    Stop evil men from ever getting into a position of power, and you might end all starvation. But what are the odds you’re ever going to be able to do that?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    Jesus was rebuking the hypocrites who were trying to shame the woman who emptied the contents of the alabaster box on him as an act of worship. Those men were calling her a whore, and using “the poor” to try to shame her even more. Don’t you think he was talking to them, instead of to us. They would have the poor to serve for the rest of their lives, was the point, and Jesus had only a few days before he would die, only a few more days for the woman to express her worship Jesus in this extraordinarily extravagant way.

    Poverty wasn’t going to be eradicated by 70 AD, but there’s no reason Christians shouldn’t try to be stopping it these days.

    Now, we have the opportunity to pour that extraordinary extravagance onto Jesus through redirecting to the poor and the prisoners.

  • roger nowosielski

    None, of course, the odds are next to nil, again because of “human nature.” Hence, the poor will be with us always.

    However, things are always improving, infinitesimally so, because of governmental intervention (what is it we’ve just heard about the evil men in power?), the essence of the liberal creed. And so the wheels keep on spinning.

    Tis the world according to Glenn, a brave new world none but him would dare to inhabit.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    My faith is that when we pour out extraordinary extravagance (though service and or money, or any other kind of activism) on the needy and marginalized and hungry as an act of honor to God, we join God in a tangible way in the spiritual battle against the wicked forces in the world Glenn is talking about.

    That vision gives the Christians who are doing good in the world power and hope.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Irene Athena

    So I’m done with my Forcing God on People for the day. Have a good one everybody.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    None, of course, the odds are next to nil, again because of “human nature.” Hence, the poor will be with us always.

    And Roger is so wise and knowing – he alone knows that someday all humankind in every corner of the planet will be well-clothed, well-housed, well-fed, and gathered around campfire’s singing kumbayah.

    Never mind what ALL of human history tells us.

  • roger nowosielski

    @53

    except that the world Glenn is talking about is forever destined to be subject to the wicked forces, and there is nothing either you or I or anybody else can do about it, be they a Christian or Muslim or an ordinary good woman or man. And neither the telos troll was talking about, nor eschatology, not even the eventuality of human evolutionary development have any say on the matter, case closed.

    Only governmental intervention, liberal edition, can make things more and more bearable for the multitudes, in spite of the wickedness of men.

  • roger nowosielski

    @55

    I never claimed, Glenn, that that would be the outcome. To borrow again from Chris’s own playbook, you’re just making things up, as usual. It is your abysmal view of the world, with no room left whatever neither for hope nor for the efficacy of the human or divine agency, that is so open to caricature. I’m just enjoying the ride and having fun.

    But of course, since you are the consummate student of history, you’re the one who knows what “human history tells us.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Dude, you’ve just got to learn to stop projecting!

    To borrow again from Chris’s own playbook, you’re just making things up, as usual. It is your abysmal view of the world, with no room left whatever neither for hope nor for the efficacy of the human or divine agency,

    So I’m the one making things up? Look at what you claim is my view:

    the world Glenn is talking about is forever destined to be subject to the wicked forces, and there is nothing either you or I or anybody else can do about it, be they a Christian or Muslim or an ordinary good woman or man

    So how do you square that snarky claim with my repeated statements in the comments on this very thread that humankind has it better now than we ever have in all human history?

    You have to see both the bad and the good, Roger. It’s downright silly to think that humankind will (as Chris says he thinks) change to the point where we will “transcend attempts at division along racial lines”, or prevent evil-minded men from ever reaching positions of power, or end all starvation. These are all classic utopian concepts, and thus fallacious.

    But on the other hand, it’s every bit as silly to not be optimistic about the future, for who knows what it holds? Thirty years ago none of us dreamed of what the internet could do for the world. Look at how far we’ve come in almost every walk of life you care to name, from health care to particle physics to energy generation to food production to cell phones (gasp! He used the C-P words again!).

    Okay? What the hell is so wrong with seeing both the bad AND the good? Oh, I forgot – it’s me who said it, and that makes it wrong since you’re the one who’s reading it. Never mind….

  • roger nowosielski

    Sorry to say it, Glenn, but you have acquired a reputation by now, and a very deserved one, if I may add, for being consistently off point, not to mention your poor reading comprehension and what not. I do disagree with Mr. Rose on a great many things, but in this respect he’s on target. Even if one had tried, tried real hard, one couldn’t do any better at basic misapprehension, a thing that apparently comes to you naturally, without the least of effort. And that’s saying a lot.

    Your obdurate claim that “humankind has it better now than we ever have in all human history,” and that this trend will continue, is neither convincing (see troll’s comments, for instance) nor has it any basis in theory or in fact. At least in Chris’s case, he stakes his claim in “human evolutionary potential,” to be realized, and so does Dreadful, I suppose. Irene does it in terms of a kind of our eventual realignment with God’s purposes and taking responsibility for what we, humans, do here and now. Never mind me, although you seem to know where I stand on the matter although I haven’t expressed an opinion one way or another — but that’s just typical of you, so very typical. But look at you!

    You stake your claims in nothing other than infinitesimal progress in spite of all the evil that resides in the hearts of men, the kind of evil that will never be eradicated or go away.

    It’s sheer insanity, a height of delusion, and anyone who pays you any credence is as great a fool as you are. You just don’t make any sense.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Your obdurate claim that “humankind has it better now than we ever have in all human history,” and that this trend will continue, is neither convincing (see troll’s comments, for instance) nor has it any basis in theory or in fact.

    When has mankind as a whole lived longer, been more educated, been able to travel farther, been involved in fewer wars, suffered fewer famines, was more tolerant of different beliefs/races/ethnicities/religions, and was under less tyrannical regimes than right now?

    When, Roger?

    Do you really know why you said that my claim is “neither convincing…nor has it any basis in theory or in fact”? Because I’m the one that said it, and you somehow see it as your personal duty to tell me just how terribly wrong and misguided I am.

  • roger nowosielski

    Never denied that we’ve made some progress. Again, your reading comprehension is abysmal. What I did say, however, is that your cause for optimism to the effect the trend will continue has no basis in theory or in fact, unlike Chris, Irene, or Dreadful And that, of course, you do not address.

    Yet, it’s precisely because you hold such an abysmal view of human nature and continue to argue for progress (on what grounds, God only knows?) that you border on being unintelligible.

    Not a new condition for you, I’m certain, but it’s certainly getting stale.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Again, your reading comprehension is abysmal. What I did say, however, is that your cause for optimism to the effect the trend will continue has no basis in theory or in fact

    Actually, what you said was:

    Your obdurate claim that “humankind has it better now than we ever have in all human history,” and that this trend will continue, is neither convincing (see troll’s comments, for instance) nor has it any basis in theory or in fact

    Look again at what you said: “your obdurate claim that humanity has it better now…AND that this trend will continue….” (all caps mine). I don’t know about you, but seems to me that due to that little word “and”, you’re saying that neither of my claims have any basis in theory or in fact. But of course my reading comprehension is SO terrible, so I’m going to have to ask your help on this one.

    So…am I right or wrong that humankind has it better now than at any other time in human history? And if I’m right, can I safely say that you merely, um, ‘misstated’?

    And when it comes to the second half of my claim, please read the below:

    In #49 I said: “Chris’ reference essentially says that life has been getting better for the human race as a whole and that it’s likely to continue getting better, but there’s NOTHING in that article that says that contradicts anything I’ve said!”

    In #58 I said: “But on the other hand, it’s every bit as silly to not be optimistic about the future, for who knows what it holds? Thirty years ago none of us dreamed of what the internet could do for the world. Look at how far we’ve come in almost every walk of life you care to name, from health care to particle physics to energy generation to food production to cell phones (gasp! He used the C-P words again!).”

    Since we’re talking about the future, it by definition can’t be proven in fact – so I guess you’re right on that point since no one can say much factual about the future beyond the fact that it hasn’t happened yet (though some physicists postulate that time, including the past, present, and future, might not exist in the first place).

    So that leaves us with ‘in theory’. In #49, I said that Chris’ reference did not say anything that contradicts what I said. While that doesn’t mean that I’ve said anything to support what I believe about the future, it certainly implies that I agree with what the article says.

    But of course you’ll blow all this off, because Roger Shalt Not agree with anything I say.

  • roger nowosielski

    I’m glad, Glenn, that you concede a part my point. Trust me, I’m not looking for an argument here. All I’m saying, I just can’t see how you can be both hopeful and pessimistic at the same time.

    Perhaps you ought to explain it.

  • yort

    the early theatrical script of F-N-B included dramatic elements highlighting the waste created in our food distribution system – something of a descendant of the old ‘it’s free because it’s yours’ do’s – and a significant stage crew is still involved in gathering the Leftovers for the show in most areas as far as I know

    it’s also true that commie food producers can and do use the groups as vehicles to get the fruits of their efforts to hungry mouths and hopefully this practice will grow

    so I’ll happily amend my early remark to read “even F-N-B has been a scavenger group etc’

  • cindy

    Histor(ies)

    Glenn,

    You say, “learn your history”. But you don’t say whose history. Which/whose account are you basing your narrative on?

    This is not a part of everyone’s history in regard to the introduction of cell phones to the 3rd world. We, from where we sit in our judgment, would have no basis to imagine that cell phones could be responsible for this:

    Rape and murder, funded by cell phones

    “If you talk to Obama or the phone companies, tell them what happens here,” a rape victim requests.

    (Yeah, good luck with that.)

    In any case, that is a part of the history of some regarding the availability of cell phones in the Congo.

  • cindy

    Glenn,

    My understanding of hunger, historically, is that it has been manufactured by colonialism and robbery by powerful empires.

    Roughly: Empires, like the US, England, etc first rob poorer countries of essentially anything of value, and then they develop those countries into suppliers of first world needs. The people in 3rd world countries are kept dependent on the 1st world for “charity”, much of which comes in the form of loans, which can never be repaid. Thus, the 3rd world is indentured to the 1st world and forced to relinquish all of its most valuable food products as part of the bargain of getting loans. Having given away the most valuable assets leaves the 3rd world perpetually unable to make gains and unmire itself from its servitude.

    Sometimes hunger is created by the hubris of those within the empire to discount the history of those marginalized.

    The Ingredients for Hunger

    Man-made famine isn’t new in world history. For example, an 1878 study published in the prestigious Journal of the Statistical Society found thirty-one serious famines in 120 years of British rule in India and only seventeen recorded famines in the entire previous two millennia.’° The reason for the change? According to Mike Davis’ recent commentary, it happened because the British integrated the Indian food system into the world economy while simultaneously removing the traditional supports that had existed to feed the hungry in times of crisis-supports that were rejected as the trappings of a hopelessly backward and indolent society. And so, by the end of the 1800s, “Millions died, not outside the ‘modern world system,’ but in the very process of being dynamically conscripted into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of Liberal Capitalism.””

    What does the history of empire tell us about the other histories it marginalizes, Glenn?

  • roger nowosielski

    Excellent post, Cindy.

    To put it succinctly, the effect of colonization — and yes, it’s still a prevalent practice, albeit presented to us in humane terms (e.g., “nation-building” or some such) — is that it renders the colony unable to fend for itself; btw, it’s also a major objective of the colonizing power, for only then will the colony will be ripe for unimpeded harvesting, which is the main objective. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that colonization/harvesting is restricted to “Third World Nations.” It should be more and more apperent that it’s also being practiced in the home countries as well, on its own populace, so as to render it, in a likewise manner, unable to fend for itself. Where do such unseemly things take place? Look in your own backyard — the nations that champion progress, the post-industrial West.

    As an aside, I find it somewhat suspect (and ironic) Glenn’s notion that whatever progress has been attained in the past fifty or hundred years, it has been limited to the civilized West.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    If you’ll look in #59, I said that all of the major famines since 1900 have been human-caused. Earlier on in this thread, I also said that I would never defend deregulated capitalism – that leads to tragedy. I said that I strongly support what’s been shown over the years to benefit the greatest proportion of a nation’s population: socialized democracy. I don’t think these contradict anything you said.

    Humanity will never IMO reach the point where there are no humans starving anywhere. Why? Because we’re human, and there’s always some bad egg somewhere that will weasel his way into power, and innocent people will suffer. Fortunately, as the world progresses this is becoming less and less common.

    And one more thing, when it comes to what I feel is (despite all the tragedy we see in the world) the constantly-improving overall state of humanity, here’s a (somewhat imperfect) metaphor: imagine a teacher with a class of thirty kids. At one point, half or more of the class is failing and setting themselves up for failure. But as the years go by, teaching methods and technology improves, and a smaller proportion of the class is failing. Today, perhaps one-sixth of that class is failing.

    Do we decry the inadequacy of the teacher? Or do we say, “You’re a lot better than you were, but please keep improving”? I would hope you’d say it’s the latter.

    You see already that I’m referring to humanity as a whole. In the 1800’s, most of humanity lived in poverty, and in the earlier centuries the percentage was even higher. But today, about a seventh of our world’s population is destitute and going hungry more often than not, and maybe another billion are in real poverty.

    That’s not good – but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was, and thanks to the spread of democracy – specifically, socialized democracy – there’s a lot less war than there was before. More than anything else, IMO, the decrease in war and in totalitarian states are the two greatest factors in the decrease in starvation in the world.

    We’re getting better, Cindy – humanity as a whole is getting better. We’ll never be perfect, but there’s a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about the future.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I find it somewhat suspect (and ironic) Glenn’s notion that whatever progress has been attained in the past fifty or hundred years, it has been limited to the civilized West.

    Huh? Where did I say that? Perhaps I should point you to this article I wrote just over four years ago. There’s been a great deal of progress in the third world as I point out in that article.

    I’m glad, Glenn, that you concede a part my point. Trust me, I’m not looking for an argument here. All I’m saying, I just can’t see how you can be both hopeful and pessimistic at the same time.

    I’m not hopeful and pessimistic at the same time – I’m hopeful and realistic at the same time. It’s not pessimistic to say that human nature isn’t going to change appreciably in the decades (much less the centuries) to come. That’s just being realistic. But I am quite hopeful thanks more than anything to the spread of information to the masses. It is that factor more than any other that will allow humankind to continue to improve.

  • roger nowosielski

    @69

    “So you’re saying that the progress that Western society has made (because there’s not been much progress outside the Western world) in the past fifty years – the past one percent of human civilization – is enough to justify your apparent contention that the government no longer needs to provide legal protection to minorities in the private sector.” #68

    Granted, I see now I may have taken this excerpt out of context (and relied then solely on my memory), for the kind of progress you seem to be talking about here is not exactly what I had in mind when posting comment #68.

    Gotta admit though, Glenn, most of the times you’re so much all over the map that’s really hard to keep track of what it is exactly that you mean or where. Progress in one area (as per the above citation), definitely not; progress in another (as per your vehement rebuttal in #69 above, with a hyperlink provided to boot), definitely yes.

    Would you please make up your mind.

  • cindy

    I said that all of the major famines since 1900 have been human-caused.

    Oh, I am sorry. I thought you said that people were better off now than they have ever been. I guess I was mistaken.

  • yort

    …what if there is no moral calculus enabling the comparison of societies based on proportionality…what if it’s a nonsense to claim a moral equivalence between a society of 1 million with 10% poverty and one with 300 million and the same rate?

    and shit — I thought that we were through with the human nature thing having agreed that the set includes all conceivable human actions thus leaving the door open to significant change

  • roger nowosielski

    and I was under the impression that the subject of “human nature” was more than adequately handled by Shakespeare, at least insofar as tracing the contours is concerned, from the ridiculous to the sublime, with all such things as good, evil and mediocre in between.

  • roger nowosielski

    @72

    Perhaps some such calculus makes sense in econometrics, I have no idea. But then again, I have no idea most of the times when Glenn is coming from.

    Actually, I think I do. What I question is whether it would be worth the effort to bring to light all the hidden assumptions.

  • roger nowosielski

    Actually, troy, the entire thread relating to this BC article is quite revealing. I took time last night to read it and re-read it again, from beginning and on, and must say it’s about as good a microcosm of the BC world as one could hope for. Everyone is amply represented in living color and all dimensions, from Christopher to Dreadful, from Irene to Glenn: all the usual suspects, that is.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Gotta admit though, Glenn, most of the times you’re so much all over the map that’s really hard to keep track of what it is exactly that you mean or where.

    If you were to ask my close family, they’d tell you with a smile that it’s because of my ADD. But since it’s me that you’re communicating with, well, all I can tell you is that I’m infallible except for when I’m fallible, and that’s going to be permanent till it changes. See? Makes perfect sense to anyone who knows about Attention Defi-hey, there’s a breadcrumb on the keyboard!

    Yum.

    Okay, now, where was I?

    Progress in one area (as per the above citation), definitely not; progress in another (as per your vehement rebuttal in #69 above, with a hyperlink provided to boot), definitely yes.

    Would you please make up your mind.

    Rog, this is humanity we’re talking about! You really expect progress in all areas at the same rate? Sorry, but we’re a sloppy species – for the most part we’re improving, taking two steps forward for every step backward. We’re sorta like the stock market – spikes and dips, atmospheric bubbles and screaming crashes, but in the long view, we’re most definitely improving.

    But we’ll never be perfect, so please don’t expect perfection.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    Oh, I am sorry. I thought you said that people were better off now than they have ever been. I guess I was mistaken.

    We most certainly are. For humankind as a whole:

    Life expectancy – Almost double what it was in the 1800’s.
    Education – Much better, but needs work.
    War – less this past decade than in any other decade I can think of.

    Disease – MUCH better. Had smallpox or polio lately? Probably not. But keep an eye on avian flu viruses – in terms of likelihood of great catastrophes, this is humanity’s single biggest threat. Keep an eye on what’s going on in China – that H7N9 is legitimately scary. It’s deadlier than H1N1 (which killed 50M people worldwide in four months in 1918), but unlike H1N1, humanity has developed no natural immunity to it. But at least we’ve got far more ability to attack the problem than we did a century ago.

    Freedom – Depends on whom you ask. If you ask a Tea Partier who thinks we should go back to the days before the Civil Rights Act and that the guv’mint shouldn’t oughta be tellin’ him that he can’t carry an AK-47 into a Safeway store, he’ll say NO! But in reality, much of the world has shifted from totalitarian states to democracy (even if ‘democracy’ seems to mean different things in different places), so I’d have to say YES, most of humanity is freer than it once was. Yes, we’ve got a long way to go…but we’ve made a LOT of progress since, say, the 1950’s.

    Women’s rights – better than it was, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
    LGBT rights – better than it was in the West, but in most of the world, not so much.
    Hunger – Even with what’s going on in Africa, a significantly lower percentage of humanity is going hungry today. I don’t see how anyone can say that’s not a very good thing.

    Cindy, yes, our problems today are legion – but they’ve always been legion, and today they’re simply less so. Don’t ignore the stuff that’s bad or wrong – of course not! – but at the same time, realize that yes, humanity as a whole is getting better.

  • roger nowosielski

    I haven’t said a word ’bout my expectations. I’d like to believe I’m far more responsible a speaker than you happen to be, for which reason I try to be careful, very careful, what I put down on the page. It’s your expectations and your statements/pronouncements that are on display here, not mine; it is you, not I, who should at least try to be consistent about what you put down on paper and what you say. And thus far, going by the aforementioned, rather glib response you presented, I see nothing but a dodge.

    This “this is humanity we’re talking about” is a perfect example: it’s your default position (just like “first-rate non-OPEC nations” or “official atheistic states”) which, in your thinking, gives you a license to say what you will or whatever comes to mind (no matter whether it makes any sense or not and without any regard for meaning).

    Sorry, I’m not buying it!

  • cindy

    “Drizzle, drazzle, druzzle, drome; time for this one to come home.”

    Good night, Glenn.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I’d like to believe I’m far more responsible a speaker than you happen to be, for which reason I try to be careful, very careful, what I put down on the page.

    Like when you said that zing and I are the greatest threat to democracy, hm?

  • yort

    so Cindy – the Lizards are behind these machinations?

    perhaps frontal lobe implants

  • roger nowosielski

    Don’t be demeaning Lizards now, not as a species. It’s the individual specimen that count, and at times, it’s a toss up.

    @80

    And I still stand by that statement, Glenn (although I’m withdrawing it when it comes to zing). But it’s not you as a person that is the obstacle. Rather, it’s what you stand for and what you represent.

    But even this I must qualify now, for surely, liberals, as a class, can’t be as fucked up as you happen to be. And if they are, then God help us all!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Y’know, Rog, I think your #82 says a lot more about you than about me. The sad thing is, you probably don’t understand what I really mean.

  • roger nowosielski

    Right, Glenn, your standard rebuttal, just as you’re fond of saying to Christopher you pity him and he has no idea why.

    It’s my fault, of course, for trying to take you seriously. Many have already given up

  • roger nowosielski

    cont’d

    but I try and try again on this fool’s errand, which makes me a greater fool myself.

    Sorry, I don’t have Dreadful’s patience to be leading you by the nose as he does time and again, nor do I have Christopher’s or Clavos patience to treat your meanderings with the kind of detail that he does. In that respect, they’re better men than I am, so I’ll just have to live with my limitations and make the best of them.

    But seriously now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a waste of both our times to engage one another so let’s call it quits, shall we? And if you will, I’ll definitely stick to my end of the bargain.

    Wishing you the best, however, and be assured there are no hard feelings, friend.

  • cindy

    lizard wisdom:

    “You do not need a parachute to skydive;

    you only need a parachute to skydive twice.”

  • roger nowosielski

    @9, John Lake, Apr 13, 2013 at 1:10 am

    A belated response, John (better late than never)

    The kind of difficulties you’re raising throughout your comment, John, cannot be dealt with satisfactorily, which is to say, in sufficient detail, for the simple reason – we’ve got a long way to go before we reach such a point,, if ever! It’s impossible to say with great degree of accuracy what the world will look like fifty years from now, let alone a hundred. Which doesn’t mean, of course, that we can’t or shouldn’t engage in educated guesswork, for it is also true that even the unpredictable future is built upon the past. (See troll’s comment, for example, #32, as to how even semi-anarchistic institutions such as F-N-B (Food Not Bombs) can’t help but be parasitic upon the existing, in this case, capitalist structures.) Besides, there is an intrinsic value to be derived from engaging in utopian kind of thinking, even if we can’t put some of those ideas into immediate practice.

    So yes, even for the purpose of this intellectual exercise, we can’t help but draw upon what’s already here. In that vein, I brought up such institutions as the UN (a deliberative body) and NATO (its executive arm, for instance). There are other examples to draw upon: the EU experiment, for one, far from perfect, of course, but already bearing certain features of what future world organizations might look like. Or we can always draw on science fiction for inspiration, and here, my favorite one is Star Trek, in particular, The United Federation of Planets. Notice, however, that we never really learn much about the exact structure of that body, what makes it tick, except for glimpses here and there on how decisions are made in a general counsel. For the most part, however, it is left to our imagination to envisage it and, even more importantly, to acknowledge its implicit presence as a necessary precondition for there being any kind of stability and order in the Universe. It’s simply presupposed, and the Enterprise (along with other starships, I suppose) serves as an enforcer. So much for the superstructure, and I’ve done nothing else, can’t do anything else, at this point.

    Of course, once we assume the presence of some such body, then we can proceed with some detail to sketch the contours of a local, anarchistic community (again, whose very survival, freedom from aggression, extinction, etc. would be guaranteed by “the federation.” That’s the philosophy of the community I was talking about towards the end of the article, and the would-be subject of Part Two. But now, since my comrades-in-arms (e.g., Anarcissie, #4, #22) are skeptical concerning the possibility of such a community in any traditional sense, a local community, territorially-bound, that is – precisely because the idea of humanity coming together, in unison, in order to form such a federation is indeed a long shot (and if they’re right, then I agree), it looks as though I must consider the idea of a virtual community as well – such as an “internet community,” for instance – as an alternative (and, given present circumstances, perhaps the only) form/structure in the context of which anarchistic ideas can possibly be realized.

    If you’re interested in the kind of work that’s being done nowadays by the academicians, here are some of the references, in the chronological order. The comments are just as interesting as the articles themselves.

    ”Envisioning Real Utopias seminar (now with added links)”

    ”Utopianism, Conservatism, Ideal Theory: Who is Trying to Get Where, From Here?”

    ”A Little Bit Utopian”

    ”Erik Olin Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias: Diane Coyle”

    ”Envisioning Real Utopias: Response from Bill Barnes”

    ”The Possibility of Little Utopias”

    ”Socialism Without a Map”

    ”Mainstreaming Utopia (updated)”

    ”Reflections on Real Utopias”

  • cindy

    Anarchists are the hard-nosed realists. People who have this fixation on some ideal government (which has never existed) which isn’t fundamentally just a criminal gang with flags are the starry-eyed dreamers without a firm grasp on reality. –Brad Spangler

  • roger nowosielski

    In that case, you agree with Anarcissie. The best we can do is to sabotage, no?

  • roger nowosielski

    The following is a concise summary of Erik Olin Wright’s “utopian” project: “COMPASS POINTS, Towards a Socialist Alternative,”, New Left Review.

    I’ll comment on it shortly.

  • cindy

    I wasn’t really answering anything (I didn’t read the links or put in any thinking.), Roger. I was just putting an alternative way of imagining, partly cautionary, about words and meanings.

  • “We have seen, we have understood. The means and the ends. The future that is reserved for us. The one we are denied. The state of exception. The laws that put the police, the administration, the judicial authorities above the laws. The judiciarisation, the psychiatrisation, the medicalisation of everything that escapes the frame. Of everything that flees.

    We have seen, we have understood. The means and the ends.

    When power establishes in real time its own legitimacy, when its violence becomes preventive and its right is a “right to interfere”, then it is useless to be right.”

    “I need to become anonymous. In order to be present. The more anonymous I am, the more present I am. I need zones of indistinction to reach the Common. To no longer recognize myself in my name. To no longer hear in my name anything but the voice that calls it.” – Tiqqun “How is it to be done?” last century

    we are starting again again again

  • cindy

    i love that!

  • roger nowosielski

    I thought that was your post.

  • cindy

    Roger,

    Did you look up Tiqqun?

  • roger nowosielski
  • roger nowosielski

    Overview

    “Society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration. Empire is the administrator of this desolation, the supreme manager of a process of listless implosion.”
    – from Introduction to Civil War

    Society is not in crisis, society is at an end. The things we used to take for granted have all been vaporized. Politics was one of these things, a Greek invention that condenses around an equation: to hold a position means to take sides, and to take sides means to unleash civil war. Civil war, position, sides – these were all one word in the Greek: stasis. If the history of the modern state in all its forms – absolute, liberal, welfare – has been the continuous attempt to ward off this stasis, the great novelty of contemporary imperial power is its embrace of civil war as a technique of governance and disorder as a means of maintaining control. Where the modern state was founded on the institution of the law and its constellation of divisions, exclusions, and repressions, imperial power has replaced them with a network of norms and apparatuses that conspire in the production of the biopolitical citizens of Empire.

    In their first book available in English, Tiqqun explores the possibility of a new practice of communism, finding a foundation for an ontology of the common in the politics of friendship and the free play of forms-of-life. They see the ruins of society as the ideal setting for the construction of the community to come. In other words: the situation is excellent. Now is not the time to lose courage.”

    Introduction to Civil War

    A blueprint for anarchistic activity?

  • John Lake

    #87
    I look forward with great interest to your forthcoming part 2. I appreciate your study and research. I do however point out that a perfect government cannot be conceived, and then implemented. Government must evolve over time.
    An example of a disastrous attempt to install new concepts over short spans is the attempt of George W. Bush to establish a “New World Order”, commencing on his speaking, and being fully installed “by late spring.” I exaggerate. At the time I recall writing that sweeping changes require several generations to become manifest.
    To bring real change, we must realistically review whatever current form of government we find ourselves entangled in, and then propose change, explaining and understanding at every juncture the rationale behind the change. We can learn from the past, as is your overriding purpose, but the future is always going to differ from earlier times, and the guide-books will offer only limited valuable instruction.

  • roger nowosielski

    The following excerpt from Erik Wright’s article (see #90) is of direct relevance to the kind of strategy that’s being recommended in #97:

    The central question of a theory of transformation is this: given the obstacles and opportunities for emancipatory transformation generated by the process of social reproduction, the gaps in that process, and the uncertain future trajectory of social change, what sort of collective strategies will help us move in the direction of social emancipation? Struggles
    for democratic, egalitarian, emancipatory ideals have historically clustered
    around three basic modes of transformation through which new institutions of social empowerment might be built: ruptural, interstitial and symbiotic.

    Ruptural transformations envision creating new institutions of social empowerment by a sharp break with existing forms and social structures. The core idea is that direct confrontation and political struggle will create a radical disjuncture in which existing institutions are destroyed and
    new ones built, within a short space of time. A revolutionary scenario for
    the transition to socialism is the iconic version of this: a decisive, encompassing
    victory of popular forces resulting in the rapid transformation of underlying economic structures. However,ruptural transformations
    are not confined to revolutions. They may involve clusters of institutions rather than the foundations of a social system; they may also be partial rather than total. The unifying idea is of sharp discontinuity and rapid change, rather than metamorphosis over an extended period of time.

    Interstitial transformations seek to build new forms of social empowerment in the niches, spaces and margins of capitalist society, often where they do not seem to pose any immediate threat to dominant classes and elites. This is the strategy that is most deeply embedded in civil society and often falls below the radar of radical critics of capitalism. While
    interstitial strategies are at the centre of some anarchist approaches to social change and play a large practical role in the efforts of many community activists, revolutionary socialists have often disparaged such efforts, seeing them as palliative or merely symbolic, offering little prospect of serious challenge to the status quo. Yet, cumulatively, such
    developments can not only make a real difference in people’s lives, but
    potentially constitute a key component of enlarging the transformative scope for social empowerment in the society as a whole.

    Symbiotic transformations involve strategies in which extending and deepening the institutional forms of popular social empowerment also solves certain practical problems faced by dominant classes and elites.

    The democratization of the capitalist state, for instance, was the result of concerted pressures and struggles from below which were initially seen as a serious threat to the stability of capitalist dominance. The increase in social empowerment was real, not illusory, but it also helped to solve
    problems in ways that served the interests of capitalists and other elites,
    contributing to the stability of capitalism. Symbiotic transformations thus have a contradictory character to them, often taking advantage of a tension between short- and long-term effects of institutional change: in the short term, symbiotic forms of social empowerment are in the interests of elites and dominant classes; in the long term they can shift the balance of power towards broader social empowerment. pp 122-3

    Clearly, the kind of program recommended in #97 falls under the rubric of “ruptural transformations.”

    (John Lake, in light of the kinds of questions you’re posing, this may be of interest to you too.)

  • roger nowosielski

    Here’s the summary of the three modes of transformation:

    “These three modes of transformation suggest very different postures towards the politics of transformation. Ruptural transformation, at least in its more radical forms (‘Smash the state’), assumes that the core
    institutions of social reproduction cannot be effectively used for emancipatory
    purposes; they must be destroyed and replaced with something qualitatively new and different. Interstitial transformation (‘Ignore the state’) aims to get on with the business of building an alternative world
    inside the old from the bottom up. Perhaps there are moments when established institutions can be harnessed to facilitate this process, but interstitial transformation mostly sidesteps centres of power. Symbiotic transformation (‘Use the state’) looks for ways in which emancipatory
    changes can be embodied in the core institutions of social reproduction,
    especially the state. The hope is to forge new hybrid forms which have a ratchet-like character, moving us in the direction of enlarged scope for emancipatory social empowerment.”

  • cindy

    To bring real change, we must realistically review whatever current form of government we find ourselves entangled in, and then propose change, explaining and understanding at every juncture the rationale behind the change.

    Where does the above action take place? When did the gov’t ever do more than present you with Larry and Mo and then say pick one?

    What does it matter what we realistically review or want? The gov’t says, here is Obama and here is Mitt Romney, pick one. What did anyone’s ‘realistic review and proposals’ do?

  • cindy

    This Is Not A Program
    By Tiqqun

    Overview:
    Historical conflict no longer opposes two massive molar heaps, two classes–;the exploited and the exploiters, the dominant and dominated, managers and workers–between which, in each individual case, it would be possible to differentiate. The front line no longer cuts through the middle of society; it now runs through each one of us. . . ”

    –from This Is Not a Program

    Traditional lines of revolutionary struggle no longer hold. Rather, it is ubiquitous cybernetics, surveillance, and terror that create the illusion of difference within hegemony. Configurations of dissent and the rhetoric of revolution are merely the other face of capital, conforming identities to empty predicates, ensuring that even “thieves,” “saboteurs,” and “terrorists” no longer exceed the totalizing space of Empire. This Is Not a Program offers two texts, both originally published in French by Tiqqun with Introduction to Civil War in 2001. In “This Is Not a Program,” Tiqqun outlines a new path for resistance and struggle in the age of Empire, one that eschews the worn-out example of France’s May ‘68 in favor of what they consider to be the still fruitful and contemporary insurrectionary movements in Italy of the 1970s. “As a Science of Apparatuses” examines the way Empire has enforced on the subject a veritable metaphysics of isolation and pacification, “apparatuses” that include chairs, desks, computers; surveillance (security guards, cameras); disease (depression); crutch (cell phone, lover, sedative); and authority.

    Tiqqun’s critique of the biopolitical subject and omnipresent Empire is all the more urgent as we become inured to the permanent state of exception that is the War on Terror and to other, no less intimate forms of pacification. But all is not lost. In its unrelenting production of the Same, Empire itself creates the conditions necessary for the insurrection to come.

  • roger nowosielski

    You’ll like this, Cindy.

    Looks like I’ve got to bring Foucault back into the picture!

  • roger nowosielski

    And this (PDF)

  • roger nowosielski

    “The summer and fall of 1969 in Italy’s northern industrial cities witnessed intense confrontations between capital and labor, most exemplarily at the Fiat factory in Mirafiori on the outskirts of Turin.

    The new key element of the confrontation was the . . . “de-linking wages from productivity [which had the effect of] transform[ing] the wage from an objective mediation between capital and labor into an index of worker ‘needs’ that would be unilaterally asserted by the class itself. This made the wage into the lever of destabilization, and wage demands into an affirmation of ‘worker power [potere operaio].’ ”

    a citation from the link above — “The Politics of Incivility”

  • squat

    There are numerous ways to slice and dice The Movement for Transformation. Why does Wright chose his?

  • roger nowosielski

    Ultimately, because he’s an academician and, for all his talk of emancipatory politics, a believer in an “orderly transition.”

  • roger nowosielski

    To wit,

    “The impasse of the present, everywhere in evidence, is everywhere denied. There will be no end of psychologists, sociologists, and literary hacks applying themselves to the case, each with a specialized jargon from which the conclusions are especially absent.”

    From The Coming Insurrection

  • John Lake

    I have been trying to resolve cindys dilemma. She says modern American government doesn’t provide much opportunity beyond a choice — Obama, Mitt — she mentions.
    There are so many variations of government. The religious zealots, like the Chechens, for example, have chosen to blindly follow leaders who they believe are in touch with some supreme truth.
    North Korea blares propaganda from every rooftop and building-side. The people have televisions with only one channel, which floods their existence daily with more propaganda. The people are obliged to refer to Kim and his ancestors each time they speak. They are obliged to hate America, and all that America suggests.
    In Syria, the ruling group rakes in the cash, and does as little as possible for the people, just enough to provide workers and consumers, and to keep the people from rebelling. This was, in the dark and frightful past, maybe the basic form of government, prior to the sunrise of freedom and democracy.
    The modern anarchist then would be foolish to attempt to destroy the existing authority, and instate some antiquated pre-freedom ideals that have already failed, and will fail again. Also, the modern anarchist knows better than to burn the castle, chain the king, and make decisions for a new course on a daily basis.
    What we need do, here and now (I speak of America, because I live here) is to put guns to the heads of the congress, and the supreme court, and demand they return, lock, stock, and barrel, to a time just before the onset of special interest and corruption. Overturn Citizen United, completely eliminate offshore accounts, and end all financing from anyone with a cause to promote. This can be done, and should be done. I sound like a teenaged occupier.

  • yort

    …do your thing and good luck with that!

  • roger nowosielski

    @109

    John, I don’t know whether this will help or not, just a shot in the dark, perhaps, but here is another view, quite critical of the kind of system and institutions you’re defending; and I do know you are well-intentions. It’s a rather easy read, although somewhat lengthy. Let’s you what your reaction might be:

    “The Coming Insurrection.”

  • roger nowosielski

    . . . have good intentions …

  • yort

    translation of “How it is to be done” can be downloaded here

  • yort

    (“How is it to be done?” that is)

  • roger nowosielski

    thanx

  • John Lake

    FYI I am just starting on “The Coming Insurrection”, the version from Roger. This may take some time. JL

  • roger nowosielski

    Just don’t be shocked. Try to take it in stride.

  • roger nowosielski

    The following article on post-democracy is an apt estimate of where the Left is today and the political impasse we’re all facing.

    It’s a part of a larger discussion on CT (Crooked Timber) as per the following link.

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    In reference to Erik White’s symbiotic mode, I have just read the draft of an article by a Food Not Bomber which reflects on something called ‘tactical urbanism’. He suggested that I start by using Google to search for this phrase. You may wish to do likewise. In short, tactical urbanism seems to be a process for coopting, absorbing, and denaturing what we might call ‘street politics’ and ‘street economics’. By these I refer to the various strategies ‘street people’ and other poor people evolve for dealing with city life, and related activisms which the better-off participate in, such as street camping and squatting, dumpster diving, scavenging, drug dealing, guerrilla gardening, graffiti and other public art, street performance, bicycling and skateboarding (Critical Mass), Food Not Bombs, Whose Streets Our Streets, Times Up, and so on.

    These are managed if possible into institutionalized ‘bourgeois’ practices; for instance, someone got a grant to rent and fill a number of dumpsters with topsoil and garden plants and park them on a street in a slum neighborhood with the approval of the municipal authorities, who hoped thereby to speed the process of gentrification, or at least tame the more aggressive and imaginative among the children of the slums by involving them with the project in some orderly, subservient way. (You may be able to see pictures of that as a result of the aforesaid Google search.) Had a vacant lot been filled with topsoil and planted by the indigenes, when the real estate developers came to bulldoze it there might have been trouble; but dumpsters can simply be hauled away in a moment.

    The reach of bourgeois cooptation can be surprising. Not only is Food Not Bombs mirrored by City Harvest, and guerrilla gardens absorbed into the park system, but several years ago, in a slick corporate office, I encountered a large cardboard box in which employees were asked by some institution to throw the empty cans they wished to discard; a sign on the box explained that doing so would somehow help the homeless. ‘Jeez’, I thought, ‘they’re even coming for the can hustlers.’ I also met an artist from Buenos Aires who got a big grant down there, along with several other people, to turn garbage into art. Going by the pictures she showed me, most of it still looked like garbage, but that may have been the point. This is in constrast to, and probably an absorption of, art like that here which as far as I know was entirely autonomous in its origins.

    Remembering that corporations and major academic, charitable, and religious institutions can be reasonably considered part of the state, one is reminded of Mussolini’s dictum: ‘Everything inside the state, nothing outside of the state, nothing against the state.’ Even the can hustlers must be gathered up and set in order.

    As one looks over the field, one can see that the response of at least the soft-cop sector of the ruling class to the strategies of the poor and the dissident includes very rapid and rather efficient cooptation. This is nothing new, of course. It does raise the question of whether symbiosis is ever effective for leftist concerns, and whether it can be a vector for the subversion of established authority, as some imagine.

    • roger nowosielski

      Just noticed this very interesting post.

      However, as I’ve been googling for the phrase, most every entry I’ve come across is already co-opted, like this one, for instance.

      Look it up yourself if you don’t believe me.

  • roger nowosielski

    @119

    I understand your concern. As the strategies by the activists to bypass the state (and to enlist in this project the armies of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised) become co-opted, the popularity of the project stands on shaky grounds, as the state will absorb all the creative energies which were directed at making it less and less relevant.

    In this connection, you might want to look up the article I linked to in #104, “The Politics of Incivility,” which speaks to one radical break with the societal norms of the past, not only as a possibility but actuality.

    Also pertinent here is the recent article on CT (again, see #118) which speak to the “post-democratic” era and the resulting political impasse throughout the West.

    In connection with the latter, I asked Marthe Raymond to take part in the discussion, especially in regard to post #6 where it’s argued that “Chavismo was a direct response to the ‘post-democracy’ dilemma …” Since she used to be in direct contact with Chavez and his administration, I asked her to elaborate.

    Naturally, I expressed my reservations, speaking as a “post-anarchist,” concerning any state, socialist or capitalist, to serve as a panacea in the long run (although Chavez, and some of his South America followers, may have done a credible enough job to ward off the capitalist aggression, and that’s got to count for something.)

    Shall see!

  • http://1freeworld.org Anarcissie

    As with Fidel Castro, Chávez, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, certainly exhibited unimpeachable taste in his selection of enemies. I think one must respect that.

  • roger nowosielski

    A couple of entries if not for now, then for future reference.

    “Have you read any of Luciano Canfora‘s stuff on democracy? Any opinion?

    I bring it up because, without disagreeing with you on the current moment, we might want to think more critically about what it’s being counterposed to. It’s interesting to think of “democracy” not as in some sense the normal structural condition of rich liberal states, not as a set of political institutions, but rather as something that happens in discrete moments of disruption and conflict.

    In Canfora’s vision, as I understand it, a closed elite is perfectly capable of reproducing itself within a political system organized around elections. It’s when non-elite people riot in the streets – literally or metaphorically – that they win concessions, which are then gradually eroded over years of routine politics.

    I think this is, at least, a useful alternative perspective – that there’s nothing especially unusual about the lack of democratic accountability through the formal political institutions of Europe, and that the variable that matters is the amount of pressure being exerted outside of routine politics. Certainly it seems that to the extent we’re seeing a turn away from austerity, it has little or nothing to do with preferences registered through the electoral system, but is all about the increasing threats of disruptive reactions outside of routine politics.” Post-Democracy in Italy and Europe” comment #12, Crooked Timber.

    And here’s a link to Canfora’s entire book, Democracy in Europe: A History of an Ideology, in pdf format.

    I haven’t been able to verify whether the aforementioned interpretation is right-headed, but from what I have seen thus far, it’s a hell of an interesting read. And if the interpretation is right, then the idea of democracy comes handy as one of the available strategies to upset the status quo by taking the struggle beyond the auspices of “routine politics.”

  • roger nowosielski

    A second entry, long overdue:

    An interview with James Scott on Theory Talks, “James Scott on Agriculture as Politics, the Dangers of Standardization and Not Being Governed.”

    Notice the intricate connection between agrarian reforms and radical politics, a connection that has been validated throughout European history, and still holds as an essential ingredient of any successful struggle in Latin America to free itself from the imperialist yoke.

  • ozarkmichael

    “If some sort of federalism, presumably the ideal form of government, management, administration, whatever, spanning the entire globe stands for the climax, the pinnacle of what’s ultimately achievable in the realm of politics, where do we go from thence is our next question; hence the crossroads.”

    Federalism-over-time looks very different from what the small constituencies initially signed up for. The framers of our government were concerned about the accumulation of power over time and tried to check it, but 200 years later the guard-rails look flimsy and in some places are gone altogether.

  • ozarkmichael

    “Keep in mind, however, this is a conceptual analysis by and large, a Gedankenexperiment of sorts, and as such, it has no direct bearing on what is or is not likely to transpire in the immediate or near future; it merely outlines the possibilities, nothing else.”
    I am a huge fan of this process. It is a way to ask questions without using question marks. It harnesses playful creativity, which, when well informed, can go farther than asking a series of questions.

    • ozarkmichael

      Since my enthusiasm for thought experiments is so great, and since my post above only partially reflects it, I must respond to my own post!
      Direct questions have a their use. I have a science back-round, and am well aware that the more precisely a question is asked, the better chance your process will establish a valid conclusion. In the legal process… the same. But think of the atmosphere that must surround the process in both cases, how it shuts out all other possibilities and variables in order to establish one narrow fact. Think of how the human brain responds to that narrowness: it is unnatural, stilted, and frankly people don’t like being so confined. It conjures childhood memories of being grilled by a parent who wants to know exactly who spilled the milk. It shuts down gestalt and creativity unless one is trained for it. It has to be learned, and even if it is learned it is of very limited usefulness in day to day life. Even those of us who are good at it probably only use it 5% of the time.

      A thought experiment about a history or a future human society invokes creativity. The folks involved are invited to play and it lights up the entire brain. This atmosphere shuts nothing out, and the interesting result is that hundreds of hidden questions are discovered, questions that the inventor of that thought experiment was unaware of.

      Now those hidden questions, once discovered, deserve to be narrowed, confined, and researched directly. I am not against that. But you wouldn’t find them without the thought experiment!

      This is what the author of this article was trying to do. The response by some commenters seems to say: “there is no time for such foolishness”. I couldn’t disagree more.

      I am no anarchist, so I don’t have much right to criticize. But it seems to me that anarchists, more than anyone else, would want discover and ponder the unforeseen pitfalls of their idealistic project, in order to guide the reality(if it ever occurs) to the most solid ground.

  • ozarkmichael

    “Meanwhile, we can’t help but tend to the thereafter, the aftermath, the likely or the unlikely eventuality that, even in the best of all possible worlds, with a world government firmly intact and in place, we’re not exactly over the hump. Problems remain.”
    I liked the way the last sentence corrects the happier one a paragraph earlier. That was well written.
    But more important it was very wise. The more you rub on “Problems remain” the better off you will be if it ever comes to pass. Maybe I am wrong, but if I was a revolutionary I would give a lot of thought to the process of getting there in order to minimize the “problems that remain”, because how you get there is a pretty good indicator of what sort of result you will get. For example, if your process involves deception, then deception will be an ongoing and adherent part of the new arising structure. if some people have inordinate influence while ‘lesser beings’ have second class status, then that will be embedded in whatever institutions prop up the new regime. If some ideologies must be suppressed during the revolution, one can imagine that suppression continuing for some time after the revolution has succeeded.
    Mine are not comments about the evils of revolution, but merely human nature. Thinking about these things is very wise. recognizing it in oneself… more so.

  • ozarkmichael

    “For better analogy, think of the UN, for instance, with the capabilities of NATO, both idealized, of course, to form an incorruptible body or organ, either beyond any and all challenge. A tall order, I hasten to add, but then again, not an inconceivable one. The decisions would be reached by a show of hands, and they’d be final and irrevocable.”

    Please consider the implications of “final and irrevocable”. I perceive that you take solace in the idea that the long history of squabbling and competition will be firmly and irrevocably broken, but please think this through. Those few who would make such decisions already have tremendous power over multitudes all over the world, do you really want them to have that power infinitely multiplied by making their decisions apply to all the generations to come?

    Now I will be a stickler about something that is hidden in my last question. It might be advisable to have a less faith towards the future god-like virtue of the world governing body. In my opinion this is a major problem upon which your discussion sinks under the weight of heavy premises. You mention “incorruptible body”, but human beings are corruptible in all sorts of ways, and remarkably adaptive in new situations…of creating new ways that are unforeseen by idealists.
    Do not give up on your idea. Merely recognize the pitfalls and then your idealism might figure ways to overcome them

  • ozarkmichael

    I think I will interrupt my bombardment of questions with a disclaimer, and a friendly lecture for roger, and anyone else listening.

    There is a limit to how much you should feel bound to answer against opposition. If you submit anything you believe to everyone’s approval before you act on it, you will never make a move towards your goal.

    To put it more sharply: if you expect that conversation will eventually move an opponent will approve of what you are doing, you might be in for a very long wait. Because the very thing you propose that opens the way to your success, will be the one thing his heart will object to the most, and his mind will follow his heart, looking with a microscope and finding “great flaws” in your plan. Even if he is a friendly, intelligent, well meaning fellow he will object the most… to your most effective plan.

    That is not evil or deceptive on his part, its just human nature.

    I don’t want to talk you out of listening to me. Every person who proposes something should certainly listen to opposing views, and consider if there are some adjustments to make. “As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another” I think its a wonderful thing, and I do not approve that you feel gradually shallower connection with folks who disagree with you. One reason I don’t like it… is that I find myself doing the same thing and I don’t approve of myself that way either. Is that really how we will all get along better? To totally segregate ourselves further into small like-minded cliques? Even my Amish friends don’t go that far.

    • roger nowosielski

      Got to give me some time, Michael, to respond to your comments. I’m still active on the other thread, but I will return to aspects of this article shortly.

      • ozarkmichael

        I am 4 months late to this, so I can wait a month or two before you answer.
        So don’t hurry or worry

  • roger nowosielski

    Michael,

    The first known experiment with federalism was in ancient Greece, the so-called Delian League, with Athens in charge, and the purpose was to form a united front against the Persian threat. For the time being, the Greek city-states were all accorded a relative measure of autonomy until the Athenian hubris took over. Kitto had some interesting things to say about it in The Greeks, but I can’t seem to locate his book at this point.

    In any event, whatI had in mind is something which would approximate the United Federation of Planets, the original Star Trek series. The underlying idea is doing away with the ever-contentious nation-states. Each planet (political entity) is under obligation to abide by the decisions of the interplanetary council to settle all disputes. In addition, the Federation has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of each polity if and when there are reasons to believe that some of its constituents are routinely dealt with unjustly. (By no means do I mean to suggest any kind of micromanagement.) My thinking is, only under the conditions of relative geopolitical stability will each polity be able to determine and forge its own future. The “final and irrevocable” clause was a hyperbole. The idea is that the Federation would serve as a court of the last resort.

    So this is a partial response to some of your comments. More to come later.

    • ozarkmichael

      The Star Trek Federation was one of the references I quite enjoyed.

      • roger nowosielski

        Michael, I posted some links on top. You might find them interesting.

  • roger nowosielski

    A number of interesting articles on the subject of federalism, as per the following links:

    (1) “Federalism” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences

    (2) “Federalism: The best solution for developing societies”

    (3) The Ashgate Research Companion to Federalism

    (4) “Greek Federal States and their Sanctuaries: Identity and Integration” McGill University, Classical Studies

  • troll

    When I hear ‘this as a thought experiment not as a claim about reality’ I understand that I am being invited through the looking glass into the world of the experimenter’s predilections and biases. Without significant agreement at that level, the experiment fails, imo. Here’s a recent piece on the structure of the thought experiment game (pdf) – indication that it’s not a technique to be trivialized.

    • ozarkmichael

      I have always been taught that as a conservative I have too many biases, prejudices etc. So I submitted myself to whatever lessons they had for me, in whatever form the lesson came, including thought experiments. If what they say is true, i would like to know. If what i believe is true, it will stand up to it. I am completely willing to try.

      To address your article(and thank you for it): I disagree with what I read so far. The antecedent of a thought experiment is not a trap. It is laid bare, and there is no need to “feign belief” as the article says. I consider thought experiments to be a great learning tool. From within the experimenters bias, we question our own bias. And theirs. Yes, that is crucial.

      It is possible to indulge in the thought experiment wholeheartedly and from within it sees the questions more clearly. Perhaps one finds unsuspected truth there. Or unsuspected danger. So it is worthwhile to suspend dis-belief and personal bias, and submerge in the experimenter’s bias and perspective.

      One questions from within the Other standpoint, both oneself and the Other. Its all good

      • troll

        I did not intend to throw the technique out with its analysis. However, as I see it, the bias precedes the antecedent and is not laid bare in it.

        • troll

          …or perhaps I should say ‘not necessarily laid bare’

  • troll

    ozarkmichael, your comments rely heavily on the idea of human nature. So that readers can get a better idea of what you mean, a list of a few actions that humans perform that are not in accord with your notion of human nature would be instructive.

    • ozarkmichael

      With very few words you put your finger on a foundational issue. The whole project(and not just world federalism but my own philoshophy, as well as yours) rises or falls based on the answer to your question, one which I took for granted and thus wasnt really aware of.
      I wasnt aware that i was relying heavily on the idea of human nature, but you are right. Oh, ans it is wise to rely on that idea… if i truly know what the heck it is, which I dont.
      Maybe instead i merely have a portion, or a method, a constrained sort of knowledge, for I do know some parameters of human nature that we ought to count on instead of ignore.
      So for me human nature is not understood by making an exclusionary list of things-that-are-not. Instead i merely try to account(and not forget) for our bad outcomes. One more thing: I do not think human nature changes, therefore i dont think that some humans, just by taking up a new philosophy, have evolved above the foibles of the common man.
      troll, that was an uncommonly excellent question, and very kind of you to read me and then ask a hard, deep question like that.

  • troll

    ozarkmichael, I’m now going to ask you to consider the possibility that one might choose to avoid taking part in a thought experiment premised on the necessity of a world totalitarian government (one with “ultimate authority”) for reasons both tactical and principled. I’ll read with interest what you deep thinkers come up as you mark the requirements of such a State.

    • ozarkmichael

      You say that you will “read with interest”, but last week I already opened up some questions on the topic:

      “Federalism-over-time looks very different from what the small constituencies initially signed up for. The framers of our government were concerned about the accumulation of power over time and tried to check it, but 200 years later the guard-rails look flimsy and in some places are gone altogether.”

      and

      “Please consider the implications of “final and irrevocable”. I perceive that you take solace in the idea that the long history of squabbling and competition will be firmly and irrevocably broken, but please think this through. Those few who would make such decisions already have tremendous power over multitudes all over the world, do you really want them to have that power infinitely multiplied by making their decisions apply to all the generations to come?”

      and

      “It might be advisable to have a less faith towards the future god-like virtue of the world governing body. In my opinion this is a major problem upon which your discussion sinks under the weight of heavy premises. You mention “incorruptible body”, but human beings are corruptible in all sorts of ways, and remarkably adaptive in new situations…of creating new ways that are unforeseen by idealists.”

      • troll

        ozarkmichael, I read your comments when you posted them and found lots of areas of possible agreement – that doesn’t establish a requirement for me to add my two cents.

      • roger nowosielski

        Michael, a couple of points with respect to one of your posts:

        First, I do respect the views and opinions of such commenters as Anarcissie and troll, even though I may not always agree with them. We’ve been communicating online for quite a few years, and I can vouch for their integrity. They’re anything but “shallow.” They do read my stuff even when they don’t comment as often as perhaps I’d like to.

        Two, having said that, I must also say that I’m my own person don’t lack any confidence in my own views, even when confronted with considerable difference of opinion. Witness for instance my bout with Anarcissie on the most recent thread concerning the concept of justice. So no, I don’t easily buckle under, and I’m sure either of them can attest to this.

        And lastly, cross-posting and cross-referencing from one thread to another, a matter you recently referred to on my latest thread, is quite an acceptable procedure, IMHO, especially since none of these articles are standalones but form a continuum, as it were, and the interlocutors I cited are surely aware of that. As a matter of fact, posting on the most recent thread makes just as much sense as posting anywhere else, especially since the Disqus system we’re laboring under makes it rather difficult to keep track of any and all comments, especially when they’re posted on separate threads.

      • ozarkmichael

        just to clarify, that last post of mine was an answer to troll. and I am already seeing how Discuss is very confusing as to who is answering whom

    • roger nowosielski

      Would it necessarily be a “totalitarian government”? What conditions would have to obtain to make it so? What conditions would have to obtain to prevent it from being so? The mere act of forging a union doesn’t qualify as a necessary condition of totalitarianism. In addition, many thinkers regard the idea of federation as one powerful antidote to centralization of power.

      • troll

        My 8 ball says that the chances are good.

      • troll

        …more seriously, you established the condition with your phrase “ultimate authority” – if there’s no outside, the environment is total.

        • roger nowosielski

          a hyperbole – court of last appeal to adjudicate disputes, a happier phrase. The counsel is made up of the representatives of confederated polities. The council’s interests are limited to the interests of preserving peace and stability, not the interests of privileging one polity over any other. As to “the outside,” being part of the federation need not be mandatory.

          • troll

            Wake me when we get to the point of considering each voluntary organization its own “ultimate authority”.

          • troll

            re: voluntarism,autonomy, freedom, and the like…. What conditions would have to obtain to make a society so? What conditions would have to obtain to prevent it from being so?

          • roger nowosielski

            Don’t you agree with the article’s hypothetical, that in order for each and every community or polity to be able to exercise their own autonomy and write their own future, they must be, relatively speaking, free from outside aggression so as not having to devote most of their energy and resources to fending all such attacks but inwards? As to practical considerations, how feasible it is that some such conditions (or relative peace and stability) may obtain, one can think of any number of scenario that might lead to it– “an external threat posed to all,” for one.

            As far as I am concerned, mindless pursuit of power and preoccupation with accumulation of power, unless it is necessitated by practical considerations of securing safety and ensuring the community’s survival, is a pathology. Eliminate the conditions, I say, which make accumulation of power on behalf of polities or communities a matter of practical and dire necessity, and you have eliminated for all intents and purposes the concern with power. You of all people who believe in the malleability of human nature should see the point

          • troll

            People have tried the government approach to peace and stability for some time now, and it fails rather miserably in each case I’ve looked at. Perhaps such a peace is a matter of personal responsibility and choice requiring a culture shift at that level.

            Just say No to killing Syrians, boys and girls.

          • troll

            Actually, I’d best limit my last to ‘we Westerners'; some indigenous cultures appear to have persisted in relative peace and stability for thousands of years.

          • ozarkmichael

            I like the way you wrote in the article. Your hyperbole invited us to think about the possibilities, and to question the pitfalls. You know, when people write so much more carefully than Roger, they can cover over/obscure all sorts of potential problems.
            I havent read the federalist articles you sent yet. Please pick one that is best for me

          • roger nowosielski

            You have a point there, Michael. It’s precisely leaving the meanings open and subject to varying interpretations which makes for “strong writing” and multi-layered texts. It’s the beauty and forte of natural languages that the meanings are not too well-defined. It allows for flirting with the boundaries.

            As regards your question, the article I linked to first is the most comprehensive; the second linked-to article offers a decent summary.

          • troll

            A problem with such a hyperbolic style is that some readers might mistake you for saying what you mean.

          • ozarkmichael

            I think roger does mean it. Such bold strokes firmly establish the direction of thought while creating room to critique the thought.
            Hyperbole has usefulness, including remarkable brevity. It is a sort of honesty that folks like myself, and yourself(troll), don’t use.

          • troll

            ozarkmichael, I agree.

  • troll

    (come up with)

  • cindy
    • roger nowosielski

      Cindy,

      We moved the general discussion to this site.

      • cindy

        Thanks Roger…