[Back to Main | Show Dates | Photos | Language Index]
In further defence of the anti-statist stance.
anchor this on the parent node --- agent orange's "ah, loki". i proceed point by point with an eye for efficiency and completeness of coverage. deferred commentary has been relegated to work in progress --- stay tuned. we begin at the top.
AO: First let me say, hey Lok, you're right Agent Orange isn't my name. Wow you are observant. But I doubt Loki is your real name so we can let that one go.
true enough. but i don't object to that. you are welcome to use agent orange as your handle in the present forum, as long as you are willing to accept responsibility for the beliefs of that persona --- at least within the context of the present forum. perhaps my message was obscured by the unnecessary use of strong language but it was actually this: if you are not willing to make the substance of your implicit beliefs explicit, then you are in no position to claim the moral validity of those beliefs. the specific belief which i have in mind is: "the use of unsubstantiated arrest and subsequent (or simultaneous) torture is an appropriate way to restrain the range of free expression." i don't want you to tell me who you are, but i do want agent orange to admit that this is the substance of the belief which he advocates here. i assure you that loki would do the same, or make every effort to point out why the explicit characterization of the belief is erroneous.
In one of your rants you talk about your using NAME brand products to draw attention to them. Not your words exactly but I believe that was the point you were trying to make. Doesn't the hypocrisy in this seem clear to you.
this is an extreme misrepresentation, so let me begin by resubmitting the actual text:
LOKI: ok orange, tell me which running shoe company and digi-phone manufacturer doesn't exploit third world workers. you've done a good deal of the work in proving our point --- which is that corporate globalism should be brought under the control of democratic constraints. or would it be better if we didn't know about the way in which what amounts to slave labor is used in producing our consumer goods? ignore it and it will go away.(?) hypocrisy is rooted in ones ability to remove the blinders of willfull ignorance and confront the injustices for what they truly are.(?) if both sides use the products but only one attempts to ensure the presence of conditions essential to (economic) human rights by confronting the institutions of production, then who can claim the moral high ground? you've gotta try harder than this, orange. admittedly, there are a few typos. the most obvious are the ones in which periods are used where question marks are intended --- the changes are noted in parens. i merely intend to point out that we are ALL citizens in a modern global economy and there are certain product types which are currently produced ONLY by inappropriate corporate strategies. i do not personally know the politics of shoes --- although i'm pretty clear on the stance taken by nike, which has led me to avoid their products for several years now --- but i'm pretty sure that nafta has made it impossible to find a responsibly produced digi-phone. does this mean that i should not use digi-phones? (i don't and hope to never have to but this is irrelevant to the present discussion on whether i SHOULD.) i'm not sure that this is the conclusion to be drawn, and i assert that the conclusion is not forced by the beleifs and goals of the present movement.
to be clear: it is not the PRODUCTS which are loathesome (although the present focus on production for conspicuous needs does provide some loathesome products), it is the MANNER in which they are produced and the DISTRIBUTION of the benifits brought about by their production. efforts to effect the character of global production do not imply an opposition to production itself. and it is not clear whether these products themselves can be provided with any moral weight --- except in the cases where a clear alternative is available whose production does not depend upon the exploitation of labor or of the planet. in this sense, then, the hypocrisy is not clear to me, orange. like i said: if both sides use the products but only one attempts to ensure the presence of conditions essential to (economic) human rights by confronting the institutions of production, then who can claim the moral high ground?
the insight of the movement --- which is introduced to me through the writings of fellow linguist (and the hero of generative grammar --- the father of the innateness hypothesis --- the distinguished philly native, penn alum, and mit professor) noam chomsky --- relates to a problem so firmly entrenched into the form of the present corporate-statist economy that our choice of products can only have a marginal effect on the dehumanization inherent in the system. i choose to engage the coporate culture where it hurts by not owning an automobile --- as philly is accessible by bike, foot and public transport. i'm not one of those "ban the combustion engine" types, but i do think that the car-culture has reached insisious proportions --- particularly in its current suv instantiation. middle class car owner symbology is grading its status in a frighteningly inverse relation to the fuel efficiency of the icon. and in a self-centered drive for "safety", these poseurs have put themselves behind the wheels of vehicles too large for THEM to operate safely (with their cell-phones and rear-seat child restraints providing ample distraction). i have never paid for the use of microsoft products nor will i --- which is of little import since there have been only rare cases in which i have felt compelled to use that buggy over-hyped excuse for an os. i could go on, but the effort would be pointless. the underlying message is that the complacency induced by the contralized corporate-statist media has allowed exploitation to take place with such prevalence that a moral influence in product choice has become nearly impossible.
the importance of cell-phones to the movement is evidenced by the ppd's willingness to cite their use as evidence of conspiracy in the various trumped-up offences that are being brought against activists present in philly during r2k. other communications devices were also used in the process of "profiling" engaged in by law enforcement during the convention. the need for good running shoes can been seen in the photos and video of the events in la on monday.
AO: How can you in way or means, support the usage of such products if you rail against it? I mean this is a totally hypocritical line here Loki. You can have it both ways here. Either you're against it and deplore it or you're for it and will use it. Which you do.
clearly an oversimplification. the world is gray. there are 260 million sides in the debate as it occurs within the borders of the present nation. i deplore the MANNER and EQUITY of the system, but i admire the genius of distributed economies. i demand that this distributed economy be guided more directly by the constraints of democratic consensus. i believe that the self-directed work of the various communities in a global network founded on the realization of the mutual benefit in cooperation for the fulfillment of needs that can only be satisfied at a societal level is the most dynamic and just system which is possible given contemporary means of production and distribution and given contemporary communications capabilities.
on a more directly responsive note, i have devised two means by which to explicate the underlying insight which orange has yet to grok. first, i will challenge the moral significance of being a hypocrite. and second, i will shift the perspective to that of a supply-side view from academia which makes an analogous point to the demand-side one provided above. my challenge to the illegitimacy of hypocrisy is brief and half-hearted. primarily i want to make the assertion that, if the behavior described above is to be termed "hypocrisy", then the position of "hypocrite" seems to be the one with greater moral insight --- given a simplified characterization of the two camps as: 1) those who use the products and, through complacency, legitimate the perpetuation of dehumanization by the corporate-statist machine; and 2) those who use the products but engage the corporate-statist machine for a redress of grievances and with a belief that dehumanization can be eliminated from the process. if the members of camp (2) are hypocrites, count me in.
on the second front, consider this. i am a linguist. pure and simple. that's what i do. now, my willingness to work for microsoft is clear. what options remain? the one which i have chosen is in the labs of an academic institution devoted to performing the nl-computational demands of the government and the private-sector. this is a series of sub-contract type stylos which inevitably result in some bulk of coded text being constructed for some exteral interest. i know that my work is being used by the nsa and military-industrial complex in pursuance of their goals in machine-translation and automated intrusive message-reading and will be auctioned to industry for proprietary demands. all paid for by the tax money collected by the us government and profited from by the finance-class. (this is democracy?) in this context, the question becomes: is my acceptance of this particular form of employment hypocritical, given my beliefs? is so, where can i find employment as a linguist where the demands imposed by my beliefs will not induce hypocrisy? and, should i change the trajectory of my career to accomodate the inability to find morally-acceptible work as a linguist in the contemporary corporate-statist environment? of course not. don't be rediculous. and close inspection reveals that this line of reasoning has an analogue in the demand-side critique offered in the original agent orange and repeated here.
AO: I've read numerous reports from your friendly supporters that yes indeed Anarchists and their ilk did in fact begin the melee on Monday night. The police responded to violence that was thrust at them.
ok, spider jerusalem deals with the source-related issues here so i will not be redundant. i do want to point out that the impetus for the problems has widely been taken to be the premature end of the "rage against the machine" set across from the staples center. now i can attest to the activist status of the members and even the collective enitity of ratm, but there is no clear evidence that all fans are activists. this is a matter of the peculiarities of pop-culture, and i suspect that much of their fan-base is not quite as bright as they are and largely misunderstand their messages. this is not the fault of the movement. and it is not an excuse for the tactics employed by lapd which looked eerily similar to those used in places like indonesia. the victims of this behavior were not the "anarchists" violating the law but innocent people engaged in peaceable assembly with dispesement options strategically limited by the tactical deployment of lapd cavalry with infantry support in full armor with chemical grenades and "non-lethal" shotguns. it may be inconvenient, but the constitution is still (not) in use as our governing document. i don't like that, but if you do then you better damn well defend my fourth, first, eighth and fifth (and, if all else fails, second) ammendment rights because they're yours, too.
AO: As for the arrests of "innocent" people as long as your movement continues to support and defend the actions of groups like that, you will all be considered accomplices.
which movement? how are we to determine membership? are you guilty for posting here? am i for taking the wrong stance? we need to be precise if we don't want to give the state the authority to indiscriminately arrest "dissidents" --- which typically begins with religious leaders and then proceeds to (gulp) academics at which point the winds of fear take the reigns and noone is safe. but hey, what do i care, i'll be dead long before the real fascism sets in and life is nothing more than fear and complicity.
AO: As for Jail/Prison, guess what, dems da breaks kid. Go to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200. Prison is a means by which to punish. It minor cases yes, it can be for correction. But it is for punishment.
i deal with the legitimacy of punishment as a control mechanism elsewhere (in an embedded commentary on michael l. price's "capital punishment: the ongoing debate" which can be found in the second "yup" link by loki there. as for the legitimacy as this mechanism in the constraint of free expression and political/economic activism, i again remind orange of the first, fourth, fifth and eighth ammendements to our founding document. you better demand proof before the full horror of state is let loose or, god help you micheal if you ever find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong clothes with communications equipment.
AO: Go to jail and you have forfeited your rights.
no! this is going to take some work, orange. if we take as foundational a respect for rights, we need to carefully justify their abridgement. i don't think that this is possible in the context of effective, less-intrusive alternatives, but it is not ruled out a priori. you're welcome to try, orange.
AO: For whatever reason as a criminal you have violated the rights of others therefore by violating another's rights you forfeit yours.
what about the "criminals" guilty of "drug use" who forfeit their homes (in a reversal of due-process considerations on the burden of proof)? whose rights do they violate? and what about the governors who have erroneously signed the death-warrants of innocent men? are they to forfeit their rights as well? be careful what you wish for, it's bound to come true.
AO: This goes for every manner ofperson, rich, poor, police, military, common citizen.
which only stands in relation to the theoretical accessibility of the system, not in relation to its actual equity in the execution of "justice". how many wealthy, white conformist (but nonetheless morally fucked-up) men sit on death row? how many have been executed?
It was once said by a great man, "there will be poor always, think of the good things you've got."
i'm at a loss with regard to the cogency of this statement. as a rebuttal i offer: "until no man is imprisoned, i cannot be free. until no man is poor, i cannot prosper." --- by some guy, who is undoubtedly smart but significantly less important than the message he presents. and then there's the trite --- but no less appropriate --- franklin jawn about the willingness to sacrifice liberty for security bieng pretty damn stupid, if you want some name-brand philosophizin'. but i'm willing to take YOUR word for it if you are willing to do the work to convince me --- knowing that my inviolable beliefs have that status and attempting to argue the point ON THE BASIS of those beliefs.
AO: Loki, I'm sorry about conditions, and your previous ailments, but fact of the matter, your movment draws the "majority" of its followers from easily impressionable youth, mostly from college campuses.
first of all, thank you, michael for your sympathetic words but they were not the response i was intending to provoke. i merely intended to illustrate that many of us have a first-hand knowledge of the effects of unconstrained corporate-statism and that there are examples of high-canser-risk, highly-motivated, employed, (ivy-league) educated citizens that have no access to the benefits of the most advanced system of medicine on the planet --- which he, furthermore, knows to be effective in the prevention and treatment of his particular risk. as is, i wonder on a daily basis when my next bout will begin and how long after that i will be able to get the necessary treatment. this is a clear counter-example to the typification of the uninsured as unmotivated or "intentionally self-marginalized" (i wish i were making the substance of this rhetoric up).
AO: Loki, I still believe that the true path to change lies in the present system.
the present system is designed to oppose change --- at least insofar as they meet the demands of the present movement --- and protect the privelege of those to whom it is currently granted. even the rights we have now were earned with blood and tears. even if we grant the advantage of institutionalized reform, it will not take place in the absence of vigilant, informed and empowered criticism. complacency has never been the route to reform. yada yada yada. you get the point, right michael. i'm only half serious when i say this, but i sometime assert that my beliefs are "moderate" and i only profess anarcho-syndicalism because the moderate perspective is the median of anarchism and the status quo. this is not true, but the structure of the assertion is illustrative of the degree to which our system has become removed from the hands of the populace.
AO: The communal society you rant about isn't ever going to happen. Unless all the protestors go to Montana or the likes of it. Point of the matter is this "Grand Experiement" for all its faults works.
yes, corporate-statism does work if the goals are: the overall preservation of status quo wealth distribution; the continuance of economic growth in the absence of informed dialogues on the appropriateness and/or necessity of said expansion; and the promotion of complacency on the artificially-empowered and legitimacy-bearing middle class. as for the success of enlightened, cooperative, distributed, responsive, democratically-constrained and consensually-codified experiments in anarcho-syndicalist econmics, i think that this is a matter for history to decide and i am more than happy to let history do the deciding but i'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees. at any rate, the elegance of the dialectic ensure the elimination of differntial wealth --- perhaps in this attempt we can avoid the blood-shed and egregious destruction and carry out the revolution "merely in the mind of men" through a societal gestalt in the legitimacy of authority.
AO: The vast majority of people would prefer the chance to obtain any form of wealth, then not.
which is precisely the human trait necessary to ensure the success of anarcho-syndicalism. the only insight necessary to see why is the one in which "wealth" is no longer equated with "differential wealth" but rather with "societal wealth", whose advancement can equally well serve as motivation to those engaged in and moved by the global dialectic. as we engage more effectively the process of inter-subjective verification in the various domains of verification (rigthness, truthfulness and appropriateness), the global interdependence of individual action will become more clearly understood and the capacity for enlightened self-guided activity in pursuance of societal ends becomes a real possibility. better medicine would be good for everyone. better --- more effective, less intrusive, more accurate, ... --- science is good for everyone. optimal --- both in terms of demand and effect --- production levels are good for everyone. and so on. the desire for wealth is not limited to societies with differential systems of privelege. progress is progress, and democratic distribution does a BETTER job of providing scientists access to their work --- ie the discussion above about nsf, etc. funding and the advance of private industry.
AO: The prospect is there for everyone. And don't tell me its not. As long as you are willing to apply yourself.
i will most certainly tell you that it is not. the availability of resources to schools in impovrished communities and the inability for students in those schools to be satisfied in their basic human needs are illustrative of why this is the case. the arguments of "rugged individualism" are inappropriate in the context of a system which applies stigmata to failures occuring largely before adulthood. dropping out is almost to be preferred to poor performance in a society which notices the quality of grades and test scores in its endowment of esteem --- at least then the ged can be achieved when the student is ready and the grades will be reflective of the attitudes necessary for academic achievement. and this is all indicative of problematics occurring prior to attempts by the marginalized to enter the mainstream. tell me orange, who would you hire between two "equally qualified" people, one of which was "well spoken" and extremely white, the other of which exhitied revealing speech stigmata and was: 1) gay?; 2) southern?; 3) foreign?; 4) african-american?; 5) latino?; 6) a woman?; 7) physically-impaired? be honest, you are the only one i expect will hear your answers.
AO: What happened if they threw a revolution and nobody came. Well you are going to find out. Your thousands will diminish as people become disenchanted. I say this not of fear, but of fact. You know its true. Eventually over time, you will eat yourselves from the inside out.
this is possible, but i yield to the dialectic. i think that devotion can go a long way and that enlightenment is irreversible. you, quite simply, cannot unsee what you have seen. i have seen to much to return to complacency. i imagine that this sentiment is profoundly widespread among contemporary activists relevant to the present discussion. again only history will tell and i am content to let it --- without simply allowing it to come to be.
AO: In some way though Loki, I wish I was wrong. I'd like to see some changes. But not all that you believe in.
then help us, for crissake. the best way you can involve yourself is the one in which you are currently engaged --- attempt to sway consensus toward the beliefs which you accept and thus open yourself to the vulnerability of being swayed yourself. i honestly believe that this is the only path to democracy. if you get involved, you can have a say. if you don't, you have no room to complain. the present system offers no room for citizen involvement.
AO: You see I believe in an individuals right to make a living any way they see fit. If it means that their fruits become the biggest company in the world so be it.
maybe. this is arguable but would occupy too much space in the present context (maybe later, eh orange). the point that i would like to make is that the real test is HOW these riches are acquired. as spider jerusalem points out, you would undoubtedly be reluctant to advocate the slave-trade as an appropriate source of wealth. this is roughly the same situation as one at issue in the present movement. the potential for labor abuses fascilitated by nafta (and the inevitable ftaa) has the potential to bring about a modern form of slavery far whose capacity for widespread dehumanization far surpasses any the world has yet to see. this is the problem i have with "big companies" and their practices --- it is not irrationally grounded in the "bigness" of those companies but rather in the consequent power and the way in which it is wielded against the potential constraints of nations, whose power is now circumvented by the global flexibility of corporate production. let's just get that straight.
AO: This country grew on such ingenuity. Would I like to see more products developed for the common good, yes. Technology is doing just that. I will not deprive any one individual from being the next Salk, Einstein or Bell.
beliefs indicative of my own. but i assure you that wealth is not the motivation which typically inspires scientists. einstein was not inspired to adduce relativity because of its profit-potential. the geniuses are in it for love of science --- the rest are in it for props (fame). the most prominent academic mind of the latter 20th century is that of noam chomsky (ask an academic --- it's definitely true if you throw on the adjective "american" but i do not intend to do that) and he is vocally opposed to status quo corporate-statism and vocally in favor of anarcho-syndicalist social revolution. the demands of genius can easily be satisfied by democratic society.
AO: I will not deprive the right to supreme justice. It has been since the beginning of man a hard fact of life. So be it.
i disagree. for more in depth commentary, see the discussions on capital punishment anchored by sbmissions made by myself and michael l. price. there are three in all and the argumentation there is insightful, extensive and more nearly approximating the full range of relevance each day.
AO: However, I would like to see a more concerted effort to get people off of welfare. I'd like to see equal opportunity for women as men. (I work for a very brilliant woman.)
good. work in your community and globally --- through your voice --- to insure their success. god bless you if you do. (bullshit if you don't).
AO: I still believe in the need for national security, for there will always be someone willing to test our resolve.
again debateable and space-sensitive (we have much to discuss). i will limit myself to the observation that this belief does not demand the perpetuation of corporate-statism. (remember militias, orange?)
AO: I believe a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her body, though personally I don't think I could ever consent, unless it were of life or death or rape. However, I will not throw my personal beliefs on another person.
word. roughly my own beliefs. are you a woman? if so, i was admittedly jaded by stereotypes into believing otherwise (for shame! --- i'm sorry bethx, these things penetrate deeply).
AO: Which is the right? Neither I'd think. True happiness probably lies somewhere in the middle of both our ideologies. I'm glad though that both of us are willing to speak out for our own beliefs. We just tend to be harsh about it, eh mate.
right on, superstar. i take this form of disourse to be the foudation of effective democratic consensus-building. true effectiveness entails universal participation. you, me, michael, bethx, spider jerusalem, cyanide9, dannette and the rest of the imc critics can serve as the first connections in this enormous network of discursive democracy --- the alternative to which is (literally, i mean "for us to do ...") nothing. thank you for your particpation. we're on our way, orange. how's it feel to be a revolutionary?
AO: Oh, by the way, before you assail me about my spelling, I'd check yours too.
my bad. all due apologies. but i think that your misuse was more than typographical --- you know the word now, right?
peace, solidarity and critical analysis.