Saturday, March 30, 2013

complicity, consequences, intentions

I get by in a wealthy country, middle class sort of way because I'm American, though being white, male, and hetero has surely helped in less obvious ways. The reason there's a market for English in Japan is that English-speaking humans have been very proficient at using guns and missiles and social constructs and economic tomfoolery to take things in the past several centuries. The country I was born in, once upon a time, helped push industrialization on an agrarian Japanese society, and when that went in an inconvenient direction, bombed the shit out of the humans here and gave them a one-party nominal democracy like its own. Now the Japanese want English so they can get ahead in the Frankensteinian corporate ladder-climbing wage slave hell so kindly gift-wrapped for them by my nominal fellow countrypeople or because it's fashionable thanks to the propaganda factories in Hollywood or, whatever the details of a particular case, it's pretty clearly going to be an effect of empire. And I'm here to help. 

Getting back to yesterday's post, I want to say that while dominant group status means that you necessarily receive often unnoticed benefits at the expense of the dominated group, this doesn't mean that it's good to be a member of the dominant group, even as, materially, dominant group membership is clearly less bad. Less bad is not good and materiality, in the commonly understood sense, is not everything. 

You do not kill people you don't know if you're not a miserable wreck inside. You do not fantasize about other people doing it either. You do not invent two separate, opposed bad/good language systems entirely revolving around us (freedom fighters) and them (terrorists) to describe the same physical realities if you're a reasonably healthy human. You do these things because it resolves an immediate tension (while leaving the underlying long-term tension intact) by displacing it on a victim.  

This of course is not to excuse abusers. Speaking as a knowingly complicit person (not as an abuse victim), I'm concerned only with consequences and how best to avoid bad ones, specifically unnecessary harm to humans. That Stalin likely suffered through a profoundly depressing internal life from early childhood should have had no impact on the imperative to stop him dead. Even if it were true (it's not) that he couldn't have done anything differently or that he was dealt a particularly bad hand, that imperative would be unaffected.   

On the other side of the consequences coin is intentions, a necessary part of the story bound up with such complexities as our desire to consider ourselves good and the accidental and unpredictable effects of actions. When considering the harmfulness of actions, only the effects of intentions should matter. There are no good or bad intentions in themselves. As part of an I/us/here system, all intentions are ultimately good in some sense, taken in isolation. There are good or bad consequences, though. There are no good or bad people, there are only people who cause a lot of pain and people who cause a little (feel free to put a positive, pleasure-based spin on same). No one should feel bad (i.e., experience ego pain) about harm they caused accidentally. No one should feel bad about harm caused non-accidentally in the past if its roots have already been removed. If the problem is still in the abuser, I hope they feel bad, not because they're bad intentionally but because they're bad consequentially and because ego pain is what we, linguistically, have access to when we're talking to another brain system, a thing capable of changes that can lead to better consequences. 

Friday, March 29, 2013


It's true that every dude benefits from patriarchy just as it's true that every American benefits from empire but this doesn't mean that every member of the dominant group is a net beneficiary. Maybe your brother was killed in the war. Maybe every woman you meet wants you to be more of a man. And in the broadest sense of the word, no one, not even Obama, benefits from violence, anymore than the alcoholic benefits from alcohol.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

waiting till the tide turns

Hey, you guys, do you know where I can get a trendy political opinion that will go well with this meme?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

a priori

Being could not exist in human brains without non-Being. First, the split is required. Subjugation follows. Non-Being is the worst. The self to the other, the here to the there, the us to the them. Whatever's inside will win, inside, at least, and outside, where possible, even as it's all a construct.

This is the foundation of worldviews. Lifetimes of associations bound tight, "inside" bound up with "sanity" and every other positively tinted bit of verbiage. (Does "positive" even have a meaning that transcends the logic of inside and outside? Can the word signify anything other than inside?)

And when it breaks down, when the inside is shown to be the same as the outside, this is when apologetics happens, when irrelevant distinctions are invented to hold the line. A student today tried to explain how China is particularly imperialist. I said, "how about Okinawa?" He said China's history has been a roller coaster ride with one regime violently replacing the next. I asked him if there was any fighting in the transition from Edo to Meiji. It's different because of blah and blah. No, it's not, I said. We could back and forth forever without him giving up his foundational assumptions.

Speaking of holding the line, God retreated from the forest to Mount Olympus to the heavens to another dimension. He retreated but it worked. He stayed alive, though barely. Politicians and other abusers claim good results but, under pressure, retreat to good intentions, with some success.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I managed to get through the rest of that NYT Ten Years After bit here. If you saw yesterday's attempt, it's the same post, edited, so skip to the end of the sixth paragraph to pick up where that schizophrenic mess left off for five new, very painful paragraphs. Unrelatedly, here's the Cocteau Twins: 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NYT's "Ten Years After," revised

Ten Years After

Ten years after it began, the second Iraq war invasion, which we at the NYT promoted at the time by amplifying easily debunkable propaganda, still haunts the United States, poor us, in the nearly 4,500 troops who died there; the more than 30,000 American wounded who have come home; the more than $2 trillion spent on combat operations and reconstruction, which inflated the deficit; and in the lessons learned about the limits of American leadership and power, specifically, that entities outside the category "American leaders," such as normal people being brutalized by American depleted uranium, bullets, etc. are very hard to save. In fact, sometimes we think they don't want to be saved. But goddamnit, we try, all the time! Nothing is our fault, ever! Nothing! 
It haunts Iraq too, you know, in, like, a secondary way, after it haunts us that we tried but failed to save their sorry, self-destructive asses with terrorism, where the total number of casualties is believed to have surpassed 100,000 but has never been officially determined because we don't give a shit and, also, don't want anyone to know!; and where one strongman was traded for another, as was the plan all along, albeit under a more pluralistic system more amenable to U.S. interests, with a democratic veneer, which, what?, did we just admit it's a facade? The country is increasingly influenced by Iran, which is evil, wink, wink, because they're always invading countries on false pretenses, or...whatever and buffeted by the regional turmoil caused by the Arab Spring U.S. policy of destabilizing uncooperative regimes.   
In 2003, President George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and the media, with the NYT leading the way, used the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to wage pre post?-emptive aggressive war against Saddam Hussein the Iraqi people and a nuclear arsenal that did not exist. They We promised a “free and peaceful Iraq” that would be a model of democracy and stability in the Arab world. While no one laments Saddam’s passing and violence is down -- trust us, we wouldn't lie to you -- from peak war levels, the country's compliance is fragile, with grave tensions between Sunnis and Shiites and Arabs and Kurds that could yet erupt into civil war or tear the state apart, which would be fine, except that it might lead to non-compliance, which would be bad for certain fantasies, factions, propaganda efforts, and coffers.  
A State Department travel warning last month described Iraq as dangerous -- and obviously, the State Department has proven to be very reliable -- with numerous insurgents, i.e., people who actively threaten U.S. domination, including Al Qaeda in Iraq, still active, and said Americans were “at risk for kidnapping and non-U.S. terrorist violence.” On Tuesday, a wave of car bombings and other attacks in Baghdad killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 200, proving again how violent those bastards are
Yet none of the Bush administration’s war architects, or media cheerleaders, have been called to account for their mistakes, and even now, many are invited to speak on policy issues as if they were not responsible for one of the worst strategic blunders acts of terrorism in American foreign policy history. In a video posted recently by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Wolfowitz said he still believed the war was the right thing to do. Will he and his partners and us ever have the humility self-awareness to admit that it was wrong to prosecute this war we are the answer to the question "what is human evil and how does it happen?"  
President Obama opposed the Iraq war rhetorically, on occasion, obviously for cynical political reasons, while continually voting to fund it as a Congressman from the start and has been single-minded about ending keeping America in Iraq as long as possible in the face of resistance from Iraqis it, withdrawing the last combat troops in 2011, sort of. American influence in Iraq has greatly declined since then and Mr. Obama’s attention, unlike that of most Americans, who have found more interesting distractions, has shifted to other priorities imperial conquests, such as "stabilizing" other parts of the region. Iraqis are responsible for their own future, because murdering hundreds of thousands of them just didn't take and we can't go on doing it forever. Our patience is limited. There's only so much we can do. But the country is a front line in the conflict between moderate Islam inferiors who might be willing to serve us and inferiors who don't appreciate our generosity, such as Al Qaeda, not to mention its role as an oil producer, wink wink. It requires more sustained American involvement than we have recently seen. More! More?  
Iraq is a reminder of the need for political leaders to ask the right questions before allowing taking aggressive military action and to listen honestly do good things with good results by some vague process that runs counter to everything the establishment is about, rather than acting on ideological or political impulses doing their jobs as imperialists. Mr. Bush led the war, but Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress, as well as us, of course, endorsed it. Iraq also shows the limits of America’s influence in regions where sectarian enmity bad people remains strong resist our imperialist aggression and where democracy has no real history, either because we crushed it, as in Iran, or because we’re crushing it, as in Saudi Arabia. Nominal democracy, of course, as the U.S. proves year after year, is the most peaceful nominal government magic thing ever. 
That experience is informing American policy judgments on when to use force to gain access to and control of stuff, more generally. It has affected decisions about Syria, where President Obama has been right to move cautiously. For a long time the Syrian opposition was divided, and it was hard to know which group, if any, deserved help was most likely to serve our interests. It also made sense not to rush into another costly, for us, war in another Arab, i.e., too stupid and selfish to be turned into a peaceful democracy like the U.S. via high-tech violence, country that could fuel new anti-American animosities, cuz they’re silly, and embroil the United States, poor us, for another decade.  
But with the Syrian conflict in its third year, the fighting has already spilled over the borders, their fault of course, as we’re very careful to keep our violence within American borders, destabilizing its neighbors weakening the grip of U.S.-backed tyrants, even as Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels play a bigger role. The reasons for opposing direct American involvement in Syria remain strong, but the United States needs to calibrate its policies continually and should not allow the Iraq experience wanton, unprovoked slaughter of hundreds of thousands to paralyze its response to different circumstances prevent it from doing the same thing elsewhere, if it serves the interests of empire.  
The lessons of Iraq, however, seem to fade when it comes to Iran. Many of the conservatives internal scapegoats who strongly supported the charge into Iraq are fanning calls for United States military action calling for more mass murder to supposedly prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon we have no reason to think it is trying to acquire. President Obama has also been threatening “all options,” that is to say, genocide, if negotiations to curb Iran’s fabricated and amplified by us, then as now, ambitions are not successful, and many lawmakers servants of power seem ready to take action against murder Iranians soon, and in fact, have already engaged in acts of aggressive war in the form of economic sanctions against Iran for having a civilian nuclear program like Japan’s.  
The Iraq war was unnecessary, costly and damaging on every level to some U.S. interests, though it was clearly good for big oil and Blackwater and Lockheed and the unitarity of the executive, among many other powerful people. It was based on faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological psychopathic reasons, and then parroted by us. The terrible human and economic costs over the past 10 years show why that imperial adventures that don’t fill the bank and ego accounts of the right factions or line up with our nationalistic fantasies, or...ahh, fuck it, kill whoever you want and we'll say something that advances the cause must never happen again.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Strict determinism is mostly the same as the sort of strict freedom(ism?) I've been promoting. The important thing is that, in both, the distinction disappears and consciousness is cast as a non-transcendent bit of world operating on the same principles as everything else. Once the distinction is gone, that ontological discussion is pretty much over. The terms "freedom" and "determinism" reduce to "world" because whatever it is, it just is, whether you're aware of it or not, whether you like it or not, and it is that with or without you. Let me suggest that the terms are extracted from everyday human experience and then misapplied. When we talk about freedom in a political context, or an everyday personal context, we mean, or should mean, something different, something very real, and verifiably so -- (I suggest, tentatively) a consciousness's ability to control a locale. Alternatively, (and there's admittedly a huge gap between the two definitions) a human's ability to do that.

The questions that matter include: the range of possibilities available to consciousness, how that system works, how it interacts with other systems (especially bodily unconsciousness), what we mean by control, what kind of local control we have to lastingly change processes for the better (however defined), whether linguistic efforts like deconstruction or other fields of inquiry offer hope for lasting change, whether focusing on physically changing environments is wiser, how systemic resilience works in a political context, and so on. None of these hinge on the ontological question.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


This article, explaining "why Iran may be ready to deal," represents the dovish end of acceptable opinion. Mr. Let's Peace bases the whole piece on the mostly buried premise that Iran has a nuclear program that America has a "right" or "duty" or bootstrapped metaphysical wtf to try to stop. The argument completely falls apart if that's not true. Which it's not, in any sense, considering that:

There is neither evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program nor that it is moving in that direction.
There is neither evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program nor that it is moving in that direction.
There is neither evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program nor that it is moving in that direction.
There is neither evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program nor that it is moving in that direction.
And finally, there is neither evidence that Iran has a military nuclear program nor that it is moving in that direction.

It's tempting to say, "but even if it did, even if it was..." and so on, because the dove argument's flaws run far deeper (I haven't even touched on the real problems) but...the entire article has already been destroyed. And while it's certainly worthwhile to expose those flaws, and I have, elsewhere, this post is a lazy person's guide to debunking Iran war-mongering: whatever they say, just repeat the above until they stop talking.

(Look at me, kicking the ass of the "dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University." I'm sure Johns Hopkins will get a tenured professorship offer in the mail to me pronto when they see this.)

By the way, I didn't actually read the article unless taking 30 seconds or so to skim the first few paragraphs counts.

not the center of the world

I appreciate Object-Oriented-Thinking's attempt to get past correlationism but I object to the concept of objects, as in "objects in the world" with all the static countability and ironic centrality and overrating of human skills implied. Anyway, here's a song about how small we are:

At the center of the world
There's a statue of a girl.
She is standing near a well
With a bucket bare and dry.

I went and looked her in the eyes
And she turned me into sand.
This clumsy form that I despise
It scattered easy in her hand.

And came to rest upon a beach,
With a million others there.
We sat and waited for the sea
To stretch out so that we could disappear

Into the endlessness of blue,
Into the horror of the truth.
You see, we are far less than we knew.
Yeah, we are far less than we knew

But we knew what we could taste.
Girls found honey to drench our hands.
Men cut marble to mark our graves.
Said we'll need something to remind us of
All the sweetness that has passed through us
(fresh sangria and lemon tea).
The priests dressed children for a choir
(white-robed small voices praise Him)
But found no joy in what was sung.
The funeral had begun

In the middle of the day
When you drive home to your place
From that job that makes you sleep
Back to the thoughts that keep you awake

Long after night has come to claim
Any light that still remains
In the corner of the frame
That you put around her face.

Two pills just weren't enough.
The alarm clock's going off
But you're not waking up.
This isn't happening, happening, happening,
Happening, happening. It is.

And here's the (sort of, arguably) positive side of that story:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

new religionists

The humans living on this lovely archipelago, in spite of spending, I ballpark, less than an hour a year, on average, in official places of worship (though you could make the case for schools; on the other hand, that's my point) are every bit as religious as your southern baptist, your Catholic, your Jew, even as they, generally, have nothing at all to say about post-life existence or creationism or transcendent personal gods. The new atheists, though, who mock so-called institutional religionists while idolizing western-exceptionalist statists like Chris Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and mostly shielding, from what I've seen, the most powerful religious leader of our times, the Washington Pope, from rational analysis, have nothing to say about Japan. Their critique is aimed at their rivals, God religions, and nothing else, apparently. The new atheists have simply created a new, at best, slightly less awful religion that does little or nothing to challenge the worst forms of systematic domination and predation humans afflict on each other.

time on a line

I was trying to explain Darwin with a map and a drawing of time laid out on the dirt. "Will he be offended if I use a banana?," I wondered, before preaching aloud at him, "the past is on the left, the future's on the right!" He gave me a quizzical look and grabbed the avocado I'd been using to navigate my visual space. "And this here is now," I said, pointing with a banana. He leapt over the timeline, from left to right, and yanked the banana from my hand. "Well, that is a good question," I condescended. "How do you get through now? Now is nothing at all like a dot. There is only now, clearly -- what we're living" I said, struck by a revelation, and then, a banana peel, "and spatialized time is a uniquely human thing evolved because vision-based abstraction skills help dominate locales. And isn't it amazing," I continued, "how the human can reach back into a Shakespeare play written centuries ago and understand the word 'hair' to mean the same exact thing as the hair on their own head, in spite of the logically demonstrable impossibility of the existence of identical objects, and bring Shakespeare's hair into now, to keep it really alive for humans in a now, though it would, in any case, have been alive in some other sense, because there is no past or future, there is only change, only fading in and out in different forms?" My bonobo friend draped his arm over my shoulder. "I love you too," I said.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

determinism as apologetics

If I'm talking to someone about ethics, it means that two or more systems are in contact, communicating, each to some extent open to the other's influence. Even lecturers frame their speeches for an audience, while hermits frame their speeches for a superego. Ethics is process long before it can get to anything we'd consider principles and when we do get there, those principles are never anything more than process. So as long as we're talking ethics, we're necessarily capable of change. In fact, we're necessarily changing.

When determinism shows up as an ethical argument, on the other hand, it uses an imagined past, which appears fixed and sterile to these visual brains of ours, to make the case, in a present in which we're as free as it's possible to be, in favor of (ironically, freely) chaining ourselves to a misguided understanding of temporality that has the effect of favoring repetition of the same. When a determinist, in such a case, says that the system is (relatively) closed, they're saying, in a free, evolving conversation, that they want it to be closed. But it isn't closed at all, clearly, because they're involved in an ethical argument when they say it.

An example. Obama couldn't help being what he is. He was raised this way and that with this DNA and he met these and those people and certain ideas mechanistically influenced his brain and so he couldn't possibly be anything other than he currently is, and therefore, while you can complain about the consequences of his actions, you can't complain about his intentions. A weaker, more common, version that comes up is that, as President, Obama is subject to systemic constraints that prevent from doing all the groovy things you silly dreamers want him to do. If he calls for cutting military spending in half, he'll get assassinated, impeached, or otherwise dethroned. It's a closed system. His hands are tied. Therefore, goes the argument, you should stop acting as if you, I, and Obama are each perfectly free systems open to other perfectly free systems right now. You should, says one free system to another about another, act on a theory of determinism that is falsified by this conversation. You should act as if the repetition of the same is a foregone conclusion. Determinism, in this context, is an argument that urges you to refrain from your dissent against the status quo because neither you nor I are free and implores you to freely accept this and change your course of action! This is not in fact a war between determinism and freedom but between attempted repetition and attempted change.

The status quo is a choice. Pretending that it's a closed system is a choice. Using determinism as an excuse to support a psychopath is a choice. Refusing to withdraw support is a choice. I'm talking to you right now, apologist, and there's a fair chance you're choosing to try to repair the damage I've done to your system, though I hope you're choosing differently. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

donkey pyramid scheme

There's a girl in a tower, against her will. Half the townspeople, the bad ones, are glad to have her there. The other half, the good people, want to rescue her.

When the girl cries, diamonds fall from her eyes. She's attached to a device that causes her severe pain, and in doing so, produces diamonds, which are funneled down from the tower regularly and enjoyed by the bad people only. 

There's a button halfway up the tower. It's the one and only pain button, and the more it is pushed, the more the diamonds flow. If it's not pushed, there's no pain.

Logistical considerations permit only one way to produce the diamonds -- to form a human pyramid and have one person at the top push the button repeatedly. 

The pyramid itself is closed off from view with a black tarp. Sometimes the pyramiders come out and give speeches but there's no way to verify what exactly is happening. What can be seen is that the diamonds keep coming. 

Half of the pyramiders work on behalf of the good guys. The other half work for the bad guys.

The current button pusher is a good guy. But the diamonds keep coming at the same rate as before, when a bad guy was pushing the button. 

"If the diamonds keep coming, that means he's pushing the button!," cries the town lunatic. "That means he's a bad guy!"

"You fucking lunatic," says a good guy. "Of course the button pusher isn't perfect..." 

"My criticism is not that he's imperfect, it's that he's a bad guy," replies the lunatic.

"Whatever. He doesn't want to push the button but if he doesn't, worse things will happen. They'll kick him off the top of the pyramid and then a bad guy will push the button more."

"Do you have any concrete evidence to support that?," asks the lunatic. 

"He says he doesn't want to push the button. Well, he implies it, at least, sometimes."

"But judging from the flow of diamonds, he's pushing it as vigorously as the previous guy. That makes him a bad guy."

"No. Good guys can only push the pain button against their own will. Which means that the bad guy influence is strong in there, which means that the pragmatic, logical, sane approach is to try to get more good guys in the pyramid so our good guy button pusher will be able to get away with incrementally reducing his button pushing. Eventually, we'll have no button pushing and no diamonds."

"But you'll still have the pyramid? And anyway, there are already lots of 'good guys' in there. And you keep sending them in there and they keep holding up the pyramid so that a button pusher can push the button, which you admit is a bad thing to do."

"I don't know where you're going with this. I mean, OK, it's bad to push the button. But what else are we going to do? If we don't do it they'll do it worse."

"No, they won't. I thought we established that."

 "OK, smart guy. Do you have any better ideas?" 

"Yes, stop supporting bad guys."

"But I don't support bad guys' button pushing, I support their non-button pushing. By definition, I support good things."

The lunatic shook his head in disbelief. "OK, just for the sake of argument, let's say the current button pusher, who chose to be the guy who pushes the torture button, is somehow anti-button pushing. He's not, but let's say he is. Even in that case, instead of talking about how 'he can't help it,' if you really cared about the girl, you'd describe exactly how evil it is that he's pushing the button in spite of himself instead of making excuses for him. You'd actually make it more likely for him to stop if you'd just say 'button-pushing is evil and he's pushing the button.' Which makes me wonder..."

"Talking about him negatively would mess up our plan of getting more good guys in the pyramid so that he can get away with incrementally reducing his button pushing. And at least I have a plan."

"Your plan is to torture a little girl."

"What!? I'm offended. I want her not to be tortured." 

"Yes, you say that but...hey, is that a diamond necklace you're wearing?" 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

get out of my way, i've got a race to win

In a dualism born of the self-promoting insistence of locales -- that here, I, and this must persist because I'm attached to it -- the badness of the one implies the righteousness of the other, necessarily, as the localist, a pragmatic box-preserver, first closes the circle -- certainly in theory, to some extent in practice -- then harps incessantly about the evil of the circle's only other member (who is outside the small circle, inside the big circle). Your Democrats and Republicans fit the bill, to be sure, but the term foreigner will be applied everywhere to indicate those who are not us -- to the person indoctrinated on the archipelago called Japan, the American and the Iraqi (gaikokujin, foreigner) are more similar to each other (on this logic, the same, to be precise) than they are to the Japanese (nihonjin) -- so even the multi-party system is essentially dualistic.

So when I hear complaints about the (real, I think) pollution from China (called "PM," I assume for "particulate matter," pronounced "pee-emmu"), apart from the fact that the complainers wear Chinese-manufactured clothing and are themselves implicated, it's clearly driven by own-back-patting pro-Japanism, as opposed to a concern about human well-being. Because if it were the latter, the first response would be "what can we do to address this problem?" and the answer would involve consuming less, among possibly other things. Instead, the thinking jumps to China equals bad and the worse China is, the better Japan is, and the more the Chinese threat needs to be dealt with. The Japanese nationalist, who is pretty much everyone in Japan, opposes evils like Chinese pollution the way Republicans and Democrats oppose spying and torturing when the other is doing it.

For the localist, everything must be sacrificed to save the box. It's the only thing we've got.

thinking outside the box

Those who exhort you to think outside the box invariably want you to do the very opposite. They do not want you to escape its confines, limitations, demands. They want you to go outside only so that you can support it from out there. They want you to hold it up, increase the likelihood of its repetition with greater strength and size, send it into the future in better condition than it would otherwise be in. They want you to serve it.

And since the exhortation always emanates from those whose well-being is bound up with that of the box, "think outside the box" means nothing more or less than "serve me." So after you say "go to hell," or something perhaps more severe, I'd suggest rejecting the premises of the box and exposing it for the self-serving monstrosity it is, with the aim of making it disappear.

Instead of boxes, we should be blowing bubbles, appreciating their graceful, aimless dance, headed absolutely nowhere as they finally, predictably, happily fail to withstand the tension of their own absurdity.

Friday, March 8, 2013

the real social contract

A desert tribe finds an oasis. One tribesman says, "we need to manage the water supply properly," takes out a gun, and proceeds to confiscate it, promising that he'll distribute it wisely. He puts a fence around it and puts a tap on it. There's now a single point of access, which he controls. The water is distributed.*

A dissenter takes his share, but says "I object."

"You contradict yourself!," cries the bossman. "You complain, and yet you take the water."

The dissenter replies, "I did not agree to the original theft. It was you who created this choice between submission and death."

*unevenly, of course, but that's a secondary issue here

It's true that the above example of dissent is that in a pretty mild form and that there are other, better options, like open rebellion or finding another way to get water. But as long as I'm wearing factory-made clothing, I'm taking the water and in many cases, I'd be stupid not to. And it would be irresponsible not to speak against the original theft in the meantime.

Monday, March 4, 2013

advanced obamapologetics

From "The Other 98%" via "Truths2SetUsFree-from the lies of mis-leaders":

Each panel taken alone is accurate. Murder? Yes, and how many people are honest enough to call it that? Same for crimes against humanity. And together, the panels make a good point, as well. The contrast between "Bush murdered and is now, relatedly, free" and "Manning exposed murder and is now, as a result, unfree" is 99% of an excellent point. And yet, given the context, it's still a heaping pile of humanshit.

Where a beginner Obamapologist thinks "if Obama does it, it is good" and, so, turns Obama's ongoing assault on Manning into some kind of positive in itself (national security! strong leadership!), an advanced Obamapologist asks how they can use the evilness of something Obama has done to promote Obamaism, how they can use Obama's actions, by virtue of how evil they are, as an argument for Obama. So they wonder, specifically in the Manning case, "how can we reap political profits from our imprisonment and torture of a whistleblower; how can we milk Bradley Manning even more, so that we not only abuse him physically but also use him as a tool by which we give ourselves more power so that we can do the same sorts of things to future Bradley Mannings?"

I don't imagine they think it through so explicitly, at the clearest levels of consciousness, but how else could someone get to a juxtaposition of Bush and Bradley Manning, sans Obama than to act on such motives?

First, Clinton killed half a million civilians, mostly children, with sanctions and bombs. Then, the Iraq invasion of 2003. What a disaster, right? Right? Vote Republican!

Saturday, March 2, 2013