To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. - Sun Tzu

Monday, February 08, 2010

Gift Economics and everything else: An Anarchist Manifesto

What I find most important about post-capitalist Gift Economics is that it works best when the giver expects to receive /nothing at all/ in return, not even increased social status. The closest you might get is a closer bond of friendship, but any quid pro quo transaction is barter, not giving. Even social status can be turned into a commodity, such as titles of nobility in feudal societies.

People don't operate merely as individuals, but also as communities. So gift economics is theoretically scalable based on communities giving to communities rather than just individuals giving to each other or giving between an individual and their community:

A cooperative or industrial/production collective, in my opinion, could also be considered a 'community' in that they share many important traits such as equality of members and a shared relation/experience/purpose (but also, a productive enterprise exists as part of a larger community); thus it is not inconceivable that a simple supply chain could be worked out using nothing but giving:

For example, suppose a hospital needs to be constructed; the construction management collective (perhaps members of the community benefiting from the hospital, perhaps people that just like building hospitals) issues a call for the necessary materials, such as steel I-beams; the call for I-beams is answered by a steel mill cooperative and production and transportation is arranged; the mill in turn announces that it needs Iron &etc in order to continue production, and so on.

The part that gets iffy is when a producer or supplier has insufficient resources to answer all the calls for its product; some propose a sort of resource-based pseudo-money to act as a mechanism to transmit 'price signals', but I think that's a mistake that would reproduce capitalism. There's no reason why a producer should have to provide for complete strangers. Instead, we should build networks of communicating communities so that demands are fulfilled by need and by strength of community ties.

This is a Gift Economy, remember! The giver receives /nothing/ for giving, except a stronger, healthier community (which in turn benefits them indirectly; or, in the case of something like a hospital, sometimes very directly), and the satisfaction of a job well done (which is far more motivating than capitalist economists care to admit). If something can't be found, or no one will provide it, then the community should build the means to produce it themselves. In that way, necessities will be prioritized, then amenities and entertainments as diminishing returns and available resources allow.

Sure, some hoarding will occur. But I think that's better than precarity and scarcity that naturally and inevitably result from a capitalist system in which means of production and a person's time itself can be turned into a commodity and bought and sold. Individuals and communities in a Gift Society can only hoard so much, and only what they themselves produce; in a Capitalist system, a person can hire other people to hoard for them, until they can build their own stinkin' space shuttle while half the planet's population can't even find enough to eat.

Also importantly, without any sort of profit motive, there would be no reason for marketing and other such forms of mass fraud. Without the need to get dehumanizing wage-work, jobs which don't need to be done won't be. But people won't be bums: Who would give food or other resources to someone who refuses to help or be productive? People would build communities of mutual aid and mutual respect.

The greatest challenge is that atomized individuals (people with no real community/tribe) can be exploited through enslavement (involuntary labor enforced with the threat of suffering, torture, or death). Their surplus labor-value (their product above what they consume) is taken by the exploiter(s) and used both to enrich themselves and leveraged to exploit others (for example: today's wage-workers are threatened with homelessness and prison as the only alternative, and atomized by what the Situationists called The Spectacle, which is basically the media/business/government image-management system. Wage-workers' surplus labor-value is then used, in part, to hire police, raise armies, and propagate the Spectacle; all of which are used to exploit the environment, conquer new people, and turn more communities into atomized individuals).

People are exploited in order to exploit others, which threatens even the most God-like Ayn-Randian Ubermensch. That means that in order to be successful as a species of free individuals and communities, we need to recognize that a threat to liberty anywhere is a threat to liberty everywhere- in short, Solidarity.

I understand that this is a thoroughly different worldview than that to which most people are accustomed; but just as a machine sometimes just won't do the job no matter how well it is repaired, I find the orthodox worldview wholly insufficient.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Christianist Movie Review

Lord of the Rings: Bad. It contains wizards and magic and witchcraft. There's no excuse for showing these things to the children.

Harry Potter: Bad. Wizards, magic, witchcraft. Won't someone think of the children?

Twilight: Good, because the vampires and werewolves are a metaphor for abstinence, and Jesus only loves you if you feel miserable for no good reason. I know I just said that magic and superstition are never acceptable, but it's okay to be a hypocrite if you go to church.

Chronicles of Narnia: Good, because... the um... the Lion is Jesus?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The incompatibility of Christianity and Social Change: On the failure of the Peace Martyrs during the Bush era

This is a series of thoughts, hypotheses, and semi-speculative ideas I have been mulling regarding the mismatch of words and deeds that seems to affect those peace and social justice advocates who apparently are such because of their Christianity. To be sure, they are, at the core, ineffective because to effect real change would threaten their class privilege; but I am interested in the specific mechanisms of their psychology and reasoning that cause them to appear to be the most dedicated activists while actually being some of the least-effective.

Christianity believes that the physical world is not the real world. In the face of infinity, what do a few decades of life matter?The actions of a person matter only in regards to their effect on the afterlife, with good actions rewarded with infinite bliss and bad actions punished with infinite torment. Tyranny and Christianity have been allies for over 1500 years because tyrants care only about rulership over the real world, which is of no concern to Christians; thus they divide up the real and the imaginary between them by tricking the masses into believing in an infinite afterlife instead of improving their lot in life by overthrowing tyranny. "Religion is the opiate of the masses"

Christianity believes that everything is the work of a magical sky wizard, although people have free will; however, Christians also illogically attribute purely human-caused events to divine intervention. Thus charity, which is expressely advocated in the Bible in the form of Jesus telling people to impoverish themselves helping others and to give /as an individual/ to other /individuals/ is advocated, but organizing for change that would eliminate the necessity of charity is not mentioned, and is probably futile since to them divine will is the only cause of change.

Peace- and social justice- activists who are activists because of their Christianity are motivated idologically by "mercy," the idea of empaty for those who suffer. That doesn't necessarily mean improving the economic and social conditions in order to alleviate suffering- it just means that if there's suffering, we should be upset. The ideological closeness to charity is obvious. Successfully ending suffering is not necessary; the highest activity of a Christian social justice activist is spending time in jail, suffering for the meek as Jesus suffered for humanity. And the more they suffer, the more humanity is redeemed! So in a great act of transubstantiation, what should be considered failure (namely suffering, imprisonment, and death) is turned into victory.

During the last decade, we witnessed the largest anti-war movement perhaps in world history fail to end the war to which it was opposed (although to its credit it may have reduced its length and severity, and may have prevented other wars). Peace Martyrs, those people who think that opposing suffering is sufficient regardless of whether or not that suffering continues, played no small part in that failure, because they are more concerned with self-flagellation and publicly weeping for those who suffer than they are with designing and implementing strategies that would actually end suffering. Thus the entire anti-war movement was, with authoritarian Communists at the helm, reduced almost entirely to symbolic marches and protests which the government could, and did, safely ignore.

In 2008 a president was elected on an image of progressiveness. It was always a sham, as could easily be seen by his lukewarm platform at any point during his campaign. But Christianity is an elitist religion, in that it believes that only action by those 'above' can affect the world- whether God, a Messiah, or over-empowered politicians- as opposed to a populist ideology, one that believes the general population is or should be in charge of its own destiny. Thanks in part to Chrisitan ideology, the anti-war movement became enraptured with electing another pro-war politician.

In 2009 a coup in the Central American country of Honduras was opposed, but not acted against, by Christian social justice activists. Despite the existence of long-standing, professional, and practically institutional Christian social justice organizations which have been doing solidarity with oppressed Central American people for decades, essentially no action was taken against the coup. A boycott of the Honduran textile and produce industries, which are largely owned by the oligarchical business class behind the coup, would likely have had a significant impact on the situation, and the strategy should be well-known because of its employment against the South African Apartheid regime. But no action to that, or any, effect was taken by these organizations or by these people as individuals. The culprit is likely Christianity, which does not mandate success, but only the appearance of being against suffering; and which, being elitist, does not believe that people can really change the world without the leadership of divinely-appointed heroes.

For people who are concerned with the real world instead of the imaginary, suffering can only be alleviated through radical change in the economic and social conditions of oppressed people, by organizing to take direct action without the interference of intermediaries such as self-appointed leaders, busybodies, and religious cults. Christianity, which only advocates charity, can only be an impediment to real change.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fascism, Cults, Militarism, and Consumerism: But I repeat myself

To get control over a person, you have to drive them just a little nuts.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Honduras

actually, article 239 of the Honduran constitution states:

"No citizen that has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President.
Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years. "

Zelaya wanted to call a constitutional convention, but does that necessarily mean he was doing it to increase his term limits? What are you people basing that claim on?

Look at the numbers: The June 28 poll was a nonbinding opinion poll to see if there should be a binding poll on November 29 2009 regarding a constitutional convention. Zelaya's term runs out in January 2010. How is he supposed to be elected president before a new constitution allowing that is written?

To put it another way- November 29, 2009, two relevant things are supposed to be determined- Who the next president is, and whether or not to change the constitution. Get it yet? Zelaya could not possibly be elected to another consecutive term; and if he refused to step down in January, THEN they could have arrested him!

Boycott:
Chiquita
Dole
The Gap?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Imminent Death of Moloch

Capitalism is fundamentally about profit: Those who make more profit are rewarded; those who make less or none are punished. People who are better at increasing profit are rewarded more. All this profit taken together is called Capital and I have named it Moloch because it is a superintelligence: The common view is that entrepeneurs are in charge of their destiny; but actually Capital gravitates toward the people who are best at making more Capital. Capital is like a virus or a fungus, with the sole purpose of expanding itself. Its agents have been called Bourgeoisie, Entrepeneurs, or Planners. It selects them based on the laws of economics, rather than the other way around. Think in terms of Game Theory.

Capital is generated in several ways. A new type or deposit of resources is found (Oil). A new technology is formed (The Internet). Resources are pillaged by a group that is not part of the dominant economic system (Imperialism). These are called Primitive Accumulations of Capital. Most recently, your retirement fund was taken.

In any closed system, infinite growth is impossible. Resources run out or an economy tends toward equilibrium. However, Moloch demands ever-increasing profit. When profit begins to stagnate He becomes unhappy and demands a Sacrifice: When the Capital generated by the previous Primitive Accumulation is used up, Capitalism has a Crisis that is only remedied with another Primitive Accumulation. If there is not an Accumulation, Capitalism collapses. A Primitive Accumulation is what keeps Capitalism from decaying in a closed system.

Today, there is nothing left to Accumulate. The Great Depression was cured by the Oil age, but that's nearly used up. The Oil Crisis of the 1970s was made up for with massive government and consumer debt, but now we're all tapped out. Computers and the Internet has made everything as efficient as it's going to get. The interesting thing about the Internet and Oil is that these Accumulations are not only resources in their own right, but they also increase the rate of resource consumption- so the more resources like this we acquire, the faster we'll use up resources... so much that Moloch might have lasted longer if they hadn't been found at all!

So today there are no more Primitive Accumulations possible. Everything has been stolen... actually, that's not true; there's one Accumulation left: Moloch can put the screws on American and European workers in the form of Structural Adjustment Programs (or whatever name they will come up with). So say goodbye to health care, education, infrastructure, rights, and freedom; they're not profitable enough!

Or, we can organize, raise the black flag, and scream, "DEATH TO MOLOCH!"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Socialism

The problem with Socialism is that it relies on a government bureaucracy and, correspondingly, Legalism (the interpretation and strict following of written laws to determine right and wrong); however, Legalism doesn't work because most meaning is conveyed in conversation nonverbally. They are always open to interpretation, and therefore there must be corruptable human arbitrators to determine exactly what a law "means" (lawyers, judges, commisars, city commissioners). It is not possible to write a comprehensive law system without loopholes, and loopholes are where corruption festers. The USSR failed because it WAS Socialism.

The other thing about Socialism is that it was never meant to be an 'end point'. It was an invention of Communists who needed a mechanism to get society from Point A (Capitalism) to Point B (Communism). After a Revolution (check), a Party was supposed to take control of the government and socialize all property (check), then give control of everything back to communities and Soviets and dissolve itself (which did not happen). The Bolsheviks established a bureaucracy, and the bureaucrats found they liked their jobs.

The first job of a State, like anything, is to maintain and perpetuate its own existence. Thus all efforts to "spread the Revolution" were only sanctioned by the USSR if they were under the control of the Russian bureaucracy; the most glaring example of this was in the Spanish Civil War when Spanish Communists under control of Russia kept supplies from the Anarchists who were doing most of the fighting and dying by the thousands; later they fought pitched battles against the Anarchist labor unions, imprisoned their leaders, and were themselves rounded up and killed when the Fascists won the war. The Socialist Bureaucracy prefered to lose a war rather than risk an affront to its authority.

That is the situation in Socialist-esque countries in Europe. It's true that there are more social services. But there is still poverty perpetuated by racism, petty bureaucrats, and capitalism; and for the rest there is no real control over their own lives. Worst of all, armed gangs of fascists ("police") still roam the streets terrorizing everyone. If you think the police are actually there to protect us, then you'd better take another look at your own privilege. They ARE there to protect you; you're white, middle-class, participate in capitalism; therefore the system serves you without you even realizing it. If you pay taxes, the police serve you; and the only people who pay taxes are privileged white people.