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no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Community, Not Government

November 4th, 2012

All of the things which we would look to community for, are predominately provided by government agencies.

Consider:

  • Governments “take care of the poor” so we don’t feel the responsibility to take care of ourselves.
  • Governments “protect us” so we don’t responsible for our own protection.
  • Governments give us “work” so we don’t need to be productive.
  • Governments teach us so that we don’t have to learn.

The divisiveness of winner-take-all politics relies on class warfare, pitting individual members of society against one another, communities against communities, interests against interests. And despite evidence to the contrary (it’s also widely known that Americans are among the most charitable in the world), they have convinced you that your neighbor is your enemy. So is it any wonder why this process destroys and divides rather than strengthens and unites?

We absolutely need more “community,” but this we are going to have to build on our own. Stop looking for government to solve your problems. If you look hard enough, you’ll probably find they’re responsible for them in the first place.

It’s all fun and games until you’re faced with the difficult proposition of martyring yourself for a cause

May 9th, 2012

Note: Deanna Aenead has set up a fundraising page where you can lend a hand to help those who have been arrested as a result of Stacy’s coerced police informant work. Because we should always be looking out for, and taking care of our own, I encourage you to donate whatever you can to assist in their defense. 

 

I don’t have a dog in this fight but I think it is important to flesh out the issues. William Gillis has a perfectly succinct synopsis to get you up to speed:

A prominent left market anarchist activist but dropped off the radar last year, just publicly admitted she got nabbed on some serious charges [dealing drugs] in September and collaborated with the state to bust several people on drug charges. Her account of fear and ignorance is harrowing, as they usually are, especially when people don’t have immediately accessible community and legal support (something we should really work on). She says she did what she did to minimize net damage to radicals by redirecting the feds. But snitching alters the landscape in an inescapably categorical way. You don’t get to be an activist after you snitch. You don’t get community support. Otherwise every single instance of collaboration would get hemmed and hawed over, leaving us even more riven with tension and divisiveness. …It’s infinitely easier and more efficient just to draw the obvious hard line. [She] is on her fucking own.

It’s all fun and games until you’re faced with the difficult proposition of martyring yourself for a cause… She made a conscious and calculated decision to get involved in the war on drugs the moment she decided to play Robin Hood (or the pot-dealing equivalent of Robin Hood whatever his name is…), which was an enormous tactical blunder.

As George Donnelly notes, “You can’t be a prominent and public anarchist activist and engage in illegal activities on a sustained and significant basis at the same time. The two roles just aren’t compatible in today’s political climate”  (you really should head over there and read the rest of George’s post).

Bad decisions have a way of compounding themselves

Ultimately it is this decision which allowed law enforcement to target her, apply leverage over her and turn her in to a tool for their own purposes.

Further, did she err, by not reaching out the broad network of likeminded individuals and fellow activists who may have been able to provide support (legal, financial, moral, or otherwise)? No question. Was she lied to and manipulated by law enforcement after she was nabbed? Absolutely. Under duress? You betcha, that is their MO. Was she given lousy legal advice by a barely competent attorney who was probably just looking to cash a retainer check for just-another-nobody who would never be any wiser? Almost without a doubt. Did she the sell out others in order to save her own ass? Yep.

It is disheartening to me that she made the bad decision of jeopardizing others’ lives in order to save her own ass. It is understandable even if not forgivable.  For the implications on others’ lives this would be the worst of it. But it’s not.

What saddens me the most is how she reationalizes this decision. Although she paints this as a matter of “survival”, it was in-fact only a matter of comfort. This wasn’t life-or-death and she did not have to roll over in order to “survive”. Perhaps this verbiage is a defense mechanism to assuage her own sense of guilt, or perhaps I have taken it somehow out of context but I read it like “This can’t happen to me because my life’s work is more important or more significant than others'” and/or “I can do more good for the cause/etc. if I am not stuck behind bars”, etc.

Of course, nobody is duty-bound to become a martyr, but it’s not like she didn’t know that, if she ever got caught, they’d apply leverage like this. There has to be some moral obligation not to drag other people down with you, otherwise we’ve already lost.

Although I am disappointed in some of her decisions, I appreciate her candor now. I am initially inclined to believe it was a lapse in judgment and hopefully not indicative of her character when she elected to throw others under the bus (although this point is contested by several close acquaintances, see Mike’s comment below, as well as Deana’s thorough synopsis). I am also in 100% agreement with Donnelly’s assessment: We all have a breaking point and it would not be very difficult for the long arm of the law to exercise similar leverage, with similar results, over most of us any time they want.

I want to also mention the vitriol I have seen in some comments, up to and including threats of physical violence. I get that, or at least I hope that, these reactions are simply the manifestation of disappointment, anger that one of “our own” could have been compromised in such a manner and that cooler heads will ultimately prevail. Although many are posturing moral superiority, I don’t think this is an appropriate response. I would of course prefer the course of events had taken a different turn, but we all have a breaking point; this is not a condemnation, a character assassination, or even moral judgment.

But what’s done can’t be undone, and so that’s why I also fully understand why others may have a very hard time putting their faith & trust in her again.

I can’t blame them.

Post Script

THIS is possibly the best piece I’ve read, to date, about why she was wrong to do what she did and remains wrong for trying to rationalize it and wronger still for blaming others for her terrible decision-making.

This is not about whether I think the actions she was nabbed for should be legal (I do, see here, here and here).

Further detail on this particular incident provided at the nominally anyonymous Drug War Victim blog.

 

Free Market Rhetoric

October 29th, 2011

There is a fundamental discord between people who are nominally for “free markets”, and those against, and because there is literally no common ground between them, indeed there is often a void where common ground should be, no forward progress is made.

Fortunately, both of these positions are wrong. 

  • On the one hand, the free market’s most vocal supporters tend to ignore the finer points of free market theory, like the part about how free markets tend towards a diminution of rents, and how profits accrue to all factors of production.
  • On the other hand, opponents imagine more “freedom” only for the exploiters. They believe that “free markets” means that you are justified to do whatever you want as long as you can get away with it, and unable to imagine any alternative to the status quo, they often conclude that a free market will be worse in every way (unless you’re among that 1%).

The opponents are right to believe in this Wild West caricature because it’s exactly what will happen if you start gutting the social safety net without doing anything to fix the underlying problems. Whether unknowingly, the free market advocates ‘rhetoric is ultimately perceived as either justifying, or apologizing for, the status quo: they talk plainly about gutting social safety nets, with nary a mention of the underlying inequalities that make them necessary!

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to show people what they can’t see.

Capitalism isn't working

Another world is possible

Opponents often point to the present, and say “Look at the free market failing…”. Except, it’s not a free market. And it doesn’t become one just because you call it that. Then again, the proponents usually don’t have a response to this, other than parroting some “invisible hand” argument about how the market will magically self-regulate if only you get rid of all the regulations, first. But it also doesn’t magically become a free market if you haphazardly start stripping away regulations, either.

So both parties are working on a flawed model of what constitutes a free market.

Discourse, not Dogma

And although there is something to the “invisible hand” argument, it kinda sorta presupposes a free market in the first place. It is not a trump card and you can’t just pull it out every time someone challenges your position.  If you don’t do anything to remedy the “too big to fail”, if you don’t do anything to remedy the “captured regulators” or the “lobbyists”, etc., you’ve created a free market in name only, which is NOT a free market.

wall street bull

these guys have no place in a truly free market

It’s not sufficient to just take away those things that interfere with a free market if you intend to leave in place all of the benefits (and handicaps) accrued under the old system of exploitation. You can’t leave untouched all of the institutional inefficiencies, corruptions, cronyism, all the accrued benefits from years or decades of favoritism & protectionism, etc., and expect the market to function at all like a truly free market.

An Example

I hope to demonstrate that the removal of the immediate condition is not sufficient to cure the accumulated injustices of centuries of abuse and subjugation. Sometimes it is easy to illustrate a point by way of example; consider the aftermath of the Civil War:

The institution of chattel slavery essentially dissolves overnight but the plantation owners keep their plantations, their fancy lifestyles, their estates, acres of land and livestock. Freed slaves were left with virtually nothing (since all that was theirs had previously been denied them). So the freed slaves end up as sharecroppers or very poorly paid workers — essentially slaves — having nothing with which to bargain but their labor, they are compelled by hunger to exchange their labor for whatever pittance their former masters will offer.  Thus, injustice continues in a slightly different form

See where I’m going with this?

It is indisputably wrong for someone to argue that this outcome is the fault of the free market.

It is also indisputably wrong for a free market advocate to suggest that this is the natural result of a free market.

Yet almost every discussion of “free markets” centers around these two obviously and irrevocably incorrect assumptions.

 

 

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics