Semi-Auto(nomous) Weapons

December 14, 2012

Maybe, just maybe, after the prayers* go out and we turn towards the inevitable discussion about what happened and what needs to be done, people will step outside of the usual, calcified scripts and realize that there are more possibilities than (racist/sexist) fear-mongering government gun control schemes and (racist/sexist) cock-swinging gun fantasies. That American-style gun culture is messed up is not a reason for more legislation and that our approach to social regulation is messed up is not a reason for American-style gun culture.

Yes, if we were to ever get to the kind of society I dream about, there would really be no place for de jure limitations on the possession of personal firearms; that would simply be the result of taking liberty and equality seriously. But at the same time, if we get there, we’re going to have taken “a good hard look at the social relations and lack of or failing social structures which would cause an individual(s) to resort to shooting up a school” and there would be no place for “systemic crushing alienation” either. (HT John Sabin Adkins @ Facebook)As Shawn P. Wilbur said in a Facebook post:
I’m pretty sure that no amount of modification of our gun policy (in any direction) is going to fix things as long as we live in a society where anger and despair are equally foreseeable responses to conditions that seem unlikely to ease. We probably won’t end the spectacular forms of senseless tragedy without ending the tragically systematic senselessness.
For those tempted to add that we cannot eliminate “psychopathy” (or murder or…), maybe not. What we can do, essentially, is confront the notion that we live in a society where acting autonomously, i.e. doing things because they are ends-in-themselves, is reduced to a minimum. What we seem to be getting as a result are people desperately finding ways to do just that, but these ends-in-themselves are violent, immoral and, if you must, psychopathic. But I’m not going to pretend that “psychopathy” (or whatever you choose to call it) is just some isolated thing that happens to some Other, nor am I going to be afraid to understand something because I might be viewed as excusing it.What kind of society do we want to live in? One that fashions us into semi-autonomous “weapons” of Hate, Alienation, and Destruction or one that fashions us into fully autonomous seekers of The Good, The True and The Beautiful?
* Repose in the eternal Fullness grant unto them, O Eternal One, and let the Light above the Æons shine upon them. May they rest in peace.

In the many discussions I’ve been in where I’ve argued against capital hiring labor and in favor of labor hiring capital, inevitably someone poses a question like the following:

“This contract [wherein labor hires capital] can say just about anything, stipulating how the capital is used down to any detail. How is this different from an employment contract?”

Well, if the details in question go as far as being functionally identical to employment, it wouldn’t be very different. In fact, it would be an employment contract. What makes a contract an employment contract isn’t that the words “Employment Contract” are written at the top. What a contract is or isn’t is going to be a matter of the reality of the situation it brings about. So if employment contracts are not seen as valid contracts in a given society, then they can’t “say just about anything, stipulating how the capital is used down to any detail.” It’s not about avoiding the “magic words” but about actually eliminating the renting of people, explicitly or through legal gamesmanship.

In the Mutualism group on Facebook, a user posted the following Proudhon quotation:

‎”Every possessor of lands, houses, furniture, machinery, tools, money, &c., who lends a thing for a price exceeding the cost of repairs (the repairs being charged to the lender, and representing products which he exchanges for other products), is guilty of swindling and extortion.” – Proudhon

The quotation was accompanied by a skeptical set of examples (following Proudhon’s list) meant to appeal to the reader’s intuition and, I presume, lead them to conclude that Proudhon was full of it and that there is nothing wrong with charging for the use of something you own. The upshot is that today’s mutualists, if they agree with Proudhon, are full of it too. Read the rest of this entry »

Distinguished Capitalists

October 30, 2011

After initially disagreeing with me (by defending the idea that capitalism is fundamentally about “private ownership of the means of production” or POOTMOP), Stephan Kinsella conceded that for a system with “private ownership of the means of production” to count as capitalism, it must have certain features (emphasis mine):

If society adopted some kind of bizarre model with no firms, no division and specialization of labor, no significant accumulation of capital, I guess I would not call it capitalist.

Kinsella has now elaborated on that idea, fully embracing (along with Marx) the notion of “capitalistic patterns of ownership and control” as distinct from “a free market in land and the means of production,” including  “employers and employees and employment.” He sees the link as inevitable (as may, arguably, Marx and unlike me*) but at least we seem to agree that POOTMOP, by itself, is too vague to distinguish what capitalists mean by “capitalism” from what they don’t.

Glad that’s cleared up.

* I not only see it as not inevitable but unlibertarian and thus precluded conceptually by the term “free market.”

A Force Much Fiercer

August 31, 2011

If an armed band of brigands is determined to take your land, or your crops, or your resources, or impress you and your friends and family into slavery, or establish some other kind of permanent control or direction over all of you, you can hardly prevent them from doing so just by ignoring them. You have to repel them and defeat them.

Now I suppose you can succeed here and there in repelling and defeating threats by adventitiously banding together temporarily into an organized, rule-governed unit for that limited purpose, and then dissolving back into a less organized form of existence. But the threats are persistent and many, and it’s both inefficient and ineffective to keep forming and dissolving units of organized power only when threats arise. For one thing, you will want to deter threats from acting against you in the first place, rather than continue paying the high price of only banding together and acting once threats have arisen, and have begun to do their damage. The practical thing to do is to preserve the band as an organized society; to debate, refine and improve the rules under which you live and organize your cooperative activity and common life; and to establish settled practices for keeping these rules and in place. And then you are a government.

Nope. This is the problem underpinning Dan Kervick’s whole line of thinking here (along with that of people like Gus diZerega and others in the state-as-self-organizing-network camp). He has convinced himself that anarchism is the lack of persistent institutions or organizations because he seemingly defines governments or states as any persistent institution or organization. Either that or he thinks this is the case in matters of large-scale defense. But why should we accept this? I find that to be a weird way to think of it.

If you’re going to tell an anarchist that they don’t really oppose the state if they support any kind of “organized, rule-governed unit” for defense (as Kervick suggests is prudent), then it probably helps to know what they mean by a “government” or “state”: Read the rest of this entry »

Eight Pounds Lighter

August 16, 2011

From the transcript of Ron Paul’s interview with Piers Morgan last night:

On abortion, I just recognition [sic] as a physician and scientist that life does exist prior to birth. There is a legal right to it and there is a biological definition of it. And most people don’t think about it, that if you say the woman has a right to do what she wants with her body and what is in her body, that means that an eight-pound baby a month before birth can be destroyed and the doctor be paid for it.*

There is something awfully bizarre about a society that says oh, that’s OK because it’s a woman’s body. And every argument for all abortion endorses the principle that you can take that life and abort it and kill it. And I had to witness this. It’s very, very disturbing.

So I think that somebody has to speak for the meek and the small. And they do have legal rights. If you’re in a car accident and a woman’s pregnant and her baby dies, you’re — this is homicide. You’ve committed a very serious crime. You killed a life.

So, this whole thing that is simple to woman’s right to do what she wants with her own body — no, you have to deal with the fact. You have to decide is there a real life there? And there is a real life there.

I’m liable as a physician. If a woman comes in and if she’s a week pregnant or 10 months, pregnant, or was eight, nine months pregnant — if I do something wrong, rightfully, so I can be liable for injuring the fetus. So, if I give her the wrong medication, I’m liable for this.

To pretend that life doesn’t exist, that’s like putting blinders on.

And I don’t talk a whole lot about it. But I’ve made the emphasis the other day that if you truly care about liberty, you have to understand life because how can I defend a woman’s or any individual’s right to lead their own life as they choose and even do dumb things and drink raw milk or whatever they want to do, at the same time say that life is not precious?

And we can throw away a life even if it weighs eight pounds because it’s within the woman’s body.

I believe in property rights. I believe that a baby in a crib deserves protection, even though I honor property. And a house is our castle.

But nobody, nobody would say oh, a woman after the baby’s born, we can kill it. And today, we have this — all these abortions. But if a young girl is in a desperate situation and she happens to deliver her baby and kills it, she is arrested immediately. But if she had done it a day before, there was no crime and the doctor gets paid money.

That — even if you divorce this all from the law and enforcement of law, but morality. Our society has to decide whether that’s morally right or wrong in dealing with this.

I have high respect for life. Therefore I have high respect for liberty. And it’s hard to separate the two.

I’m going to defer to Paul’s experience “as a physician and scientist that life does exist prior to birth” and then I’m going to explain why that doesn’t matter at all when it comes to whether or not women have the right to abort a pregnancy on demand and without apology. In fact, I’ll even raise the stakes and say that we know for a fact that the baby (yes, ‘baby’, since we’re accepting Paul’s premise for now) will grow up to cure cancer and bring about total world peace.

[TRIGGER WARNING for descriptions of hypothetical rape.] Read the rest of this entry »

Hard-wired to Choose

August 8, 2011

Seems like “the debate” is often structured so one has to either believe in some “exception” to cause and effect, or that that our preference for a Belgian triple ale with tonight’s dinner is merely fall-out from the big bang. I’m in the “hard-wired to choose” camp.

(Shawn P. Wilbur)

(University of Texas at Austin philosophy professor David Sosa talking in his office in the movie Waking Life)

Transcript (click here if you want to skip to the rest of the post): Read the rest of this entry »

FOFOFOA or EOFOFOA?

June 2, 2011

charley2u, over at the unique and intriguing Marxian blog Re: The People, wrote a post (which looks like it will be part of a series of posts) answering my call for eir perspective of FOFOA’s unique and intriguing hyperinflation prediction. Be sure to check it out, along with the rest of both blogs.

Here are two nearly identical “boardroom” scenes from the current season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. If sexism were still a problem, the reaction to Star Jones in the second clip would have been different from the reaction to John Rich in the first. We might expect Donald Trump to call it PC bullshit or for Meat Loaf to make a play about good intentions. But since women got the right to vote, like, a long-ass time ago, it doesn’t turn out that way, natch.

Scene 1: Episode 7 @ 01:16:54

Scene 2: Episode 10 @ 02:01:20

(The links will cue to the right spot after some ads. There are also captions below the video for those who can’t or don’t want to hear it.)

Waiting for Mubarak

February 10, 2011

Egyptians,

There is no need to wait for Mubarak to “step down.” If you have decided that your government is illegitimate (as all states invariably are) then, in the words of Charles Johnson, “you have already completed the revolution: no government on earth has any legitimate authority to bind you to any obligation that you did not already have on your own. It’s a mistake to think of the State as holding you under its authority while you struggle to escape; at the most, it has power, not authority over you. As far as your former government is concerned, you have the moral standing not of a subject, but of the head of a revolutionary state of one.” Don’t give any more legitimacy to Mubarak by acting like some declaration on his part means anything. What are you waiting for? Look around and start living free.

Furthermore, “declare [the uprising] as the new basis of social organization and…appeal to the oppressed of the world to join with it. The call for a transitional government, constitutional reform, new elections, etc., should be rejected. The January 25 uprising must avoid being defined as something of significance only to Egypt; it cannot win if it is confined to Egypt — it must strip off its national form. In response to the secret negotiations directed by Washington, the January 25 uprising will have to aggressively declare its intentions to go global.”

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