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|Wednesday, June 18th, 2014|
"...In the two years Assange has spent cloistered in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the British extradition law under which he was ordered to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct has changed. With this change, the allegations that originally secured Assange's extradition order to Sweden would no longer suffice. Now, a decision to charge Assange with a crime is necessary for extradition, but Sweden has never made that decision..."http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/06/17/assange-wikileaks-espionage-ecuador-edward-snowden-column/10707289/
Quick Links (some redirect to other pages on this site)
Assange has not yet been charged with anything (it reached the equivalent stage in 2010)
Assange is only wanted for questioning (actually criminal proceedings)http://www.wikiwatch.org.uk/common-misconceptions/
The Antiwar Right has its counterpart on the Left
Reply to Filipe on the "anti-imperialist camp"
Michael KaradjisJun 16 9:21 PM
Thanks for your comments Filipe. That was quite a substantial post, so here’s a substantial answer.
First, my view can be summarised:
1. I’m differentiating between *anti-imperialism* which of course I support, and the concept of an “anti-imperialist *camp*” in the way it is usually used, so I apologise if my brief line rejecting the “camp” was unclear and caused confusion; and
2. I see the issue of *class* as much more fundamental than “anti-imperialism” in an abstract sense – of course, we always have, but I believe that in a great deal of left discussion, an abstract and mechanical “anti-imperialism” has replaced class, especially since 1991. When certain capitalist states are arbitrarily shoved into some ill-defined “anti-imperialist camp,” it is along these classless “anti-imperialist” lines.
Also, before going into specifics, I want to summarise the different versions of “anti-imperialist camp” you use inn your post, because they are often entirely different things:
1. You sometimes use it to mean alliances of progressive social movements that come into conflict with imperialist interests, rather than alliances of states. This is not my understanding of “camps” at all.
2. Examples like ALBA and Baku, where blocs are based around states undergoing a socialist revolutionary process, thus connected to *class*
3. Blocs of states covering the entire non-imperialist world (eg NAM, G77/133), or regional variations of it (eg CELAC), including every capitalist country there, no matter how regressive, repressive or even actively pro-imperialist they are
4. The more restrictive version which has been more in vogue since the collapse of the USSR, which is an entirely ill-defined lump of left and progressive, on one hand, and reactionary, repressive, fascist and even arguably rising imperialist states, on the other, which have nothing in common other than having one or another conjunctural issue at some time with imperialism. Thus a monstrous “camp” of Cuba, Venezuela, Putin’s Russia, China, Assad’s Syria (some years, not others, I guess), Iran’s theocracy (though I guess not when it was baying for Gaddafi’s blood – contradictions) , the hereditary monarchy in North Korea, Gaddafi’s Libya (some days, not others, I guess), the Sinhala chauvinist regime in Sri Lanka (not usually, just when it gets criticised for massive crimes against humanity), Belarus, probably the Islamic dictatorship in Sudan (though I guess not when it was baying for Gaddafi’s blood – contradictions), Maliki’s sectarian regime in Iraq (oops – wasn’t this Assad- and Iran-aligned regime installed by a US imperialist invasion? – contradictions).
So briefly, I’m all in favour of the first two, the third confuses *non-imperialist* with *anti-imperialist* but has some, very limited, uses, and the fourth is such anti-Marxist and anti-working class garbage that the entire European and American ultra-right can spout identical discourse.
ALBA, Baku and class
You begin with ALBA. First, you note that ALBA isn’t simply about states (my understanding of the “camp” concept), but about “a whole gamut of mostly new continental scope Indigenous, Black-Afro-descendant, campesino, labour, women's, environmental, cultural, youth, and sports movements.” So in my understanding, alliances of progressive social movements which come into conflict with imperialist interests (and inevitably also with local capitalist interests) are not the same thing as alliances of *states* who consider themselves some kind of anti-imperialist “camp.” So perhaps we mean different things.
Second, however, ALBA is of course also an alliance of states. But these are not any old states. Would ALBA exist without the ongoing Venezuelan revolution? Would it exist without Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador being the heart of it? Seems to me the obvious answer is no. But fundamentally what we support about these states is not some “anti-imperialism” in abstract terms, but, returning to *class*, the fact that these countries have been moving towards socialist revolution, regardless of the speed, the stage they are at etc. Their very concrete anti-imperialism flows from that.
(As an aside, I apologise for not knowing a great deal about Sandinista Nicaragua Mark II, and whether to include it in my list above of those moving towards socialism, or merely as one of the ring-ins that is only in ALBA because the others make it possible. Sandinista Mark I was very formative. My impression has been that Mark II is not much to write home about. If that’s wrong it’s wrong. But regarding what you say about criticism of slowness of the anti-capitalist process, if such a process is indeed happening, then I have no sectarian criticism of any slowness involved, in fact I strongly agree with your points about that issue).
Similarly, as with ALBA, I find the idea of the 1920 Baku conference difficult to envisage without the rather obvious fact that the new Soviet workers’ state was bang in the middle of it! Class in the lead, again. You note that at Baku “they embraced anti-colonial Muslim activists and endorsed the call for a jihad against British imperialism.” Yeh, so what? Who is arguing against struggle against imperialism? As I said, that is a distinct issue from that of “camp.”
Anti-colonial struggles, NAM and G-77
You also go into a lot of detail about the anti-colonial struggles of the mid to late 20th century, quite unnecessary detail. I am well aware of all this history, and can’t see how my reference to the “campist” concept would make you think I was opposed to all these anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-imperialist struggles.
Did states freed from colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s go on to “form alliances, movements, confederations, blocks, and/or communities” as you note? Of course they did. The Non-Aligned Movement might be an example. Specifically, at the time it reflected the fact that countries just recently freed from colonialism had their own interests which often clashed with those of their former colonial masters. Nothing wrong with that as far as it goes.
But what did NAM mean in practice beyond that? Often very little. Was Saudi Arabia, for example, really a “non-aligned” state when it was in NAM? And even if it had been, I just wonder what that would have meant for the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers with zero rights toiling in their oilfields, and in the rest of the Gulf? Did they benefit from the NAM label? Did the label mitigate the tyranny? Did Saudi women benefit? I just mention groups like workers, immigrants, women etc, because it seems to contradict your talk about “anti-imperialist” blocs of “indigenous, labour, women’s” and other social movements.
Indonesia’s Sukarno was one of the founders of NAM. At the time, while a capitalist state, we can say there were certain progressive features of a number of states ex-colonial states such as Sukarno’s Indonesia and Nasser’s Egypt which were supportable. In Nasser’s case, the nationalisation of the Suez canal was a very specific, concrete anti-imperialist *action* (in contrast to a lot of the purely rhetorical BS “anti-imperialism” we hear of these days).
A couple of points. First, would the degree of actual anti-imperialism of such regimes have been even possible without the existence of the Soviet Union, horribly deformed though it was, as a partial alternative powerhouse to imperialism, one having its origins in a *class*-based social overturn? My answer is no.
Second, when Sukarno was overthrown by Suharto, did Indonesia leave the NAM, or was it thrown out? No, in fact Suharto went on to host NAM in 1992 (just like that other great anti-imperialist leader, Mubarak (!), hosted it in Egypt in 2009. Yet when Suharto took power, surely Indonesia stopped being non-aligned or in any way in conflict with imperialism. And more importantly from my perspective, when Suharto took power the regime also killed a million people and began 35 years of anti-working class tyranny. Thus was NAM an “anti-imperialist camp”?
Maybe you weren’t referring to NAM as one of these “alliances, blocs” etc, but since you refer to the G77+China bloc, we are talking about the same countries, by and large. Both NAM and G77 (now in fact a G133) encompass virtually every country in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, the entire ‘third world’, or non-imperialist world. I certainly have nothing against the entire non-imperialist world aligning on specific issues of concern.
But I don’t understand bodies incorporating the entire non-imperialist world to be the same thing as the “anti-imperialist camp.” It is certainly a very different thing to the actual anti-imperialist, partially anti-capitalist ALBA bloc you referred to above. And it is also a very different thing to today’s conception of “anti-imperialist camp”, which is often a hotch-potch of progressive and reactionary regimes who might just happen to have some conjunctural issue with some imperialist power. But you raised G77.
CELAC and regional blocs
You also raised CELAC, which unlike ALBA incorporates every capitalist state of Latin America, ie, a regional version of NAM/G77. I will take your word for it that CELAC is becoming “more of a day-to-day factor in the lives of grassroots folks” and that therefore “the affinity of Latinos, Black Afro-descendants, and indigenous peoples will become stronger and a street thing”. I’m certain you would know more about LA realities than I would. But why would this be happening? Is it merely because of a bloc of every country in Latin America, even Mexico and Columbia? Does that automatically form this kind of popular, grassroots, progressive process you refer to?
Don’t get me wrong – I hope CELAC replaces OAmS and of course I support the right of the LA countries to exclude imperialist North America. In the same way as African countries might attempt to represent their common interests through the OAfS, Arab states through the Arab League, southeast Asian countries through ASEAN, AFTA etc. But I don’t see any of this kind of popular/progressive processes you claim for CELAC occurring anywhere else in the world, in these other blocs. Could it be, once again, something about active socialist revolutions being a core strength of the CELAC bloc, ie, does it again come down to the question of *class*?
Or since you define CELAC as an anti-imperialist camp (at least I assume you do, since that is the argument and that is your example), then are these other regional blocs of non-imperialist states also “anti-imperialist camps”? And all the states in all these blocs are therefore part of this “camp”? I’m genuinely not trying to be difficult. I just want to know where you draw the line, since a multi—state bloc of capitalist, non-imperialist, countries, seems to be one of your key examples.
OK, there may be some issues where most non-imperialist states have different interests to those of imperialist states, even though they are run by capitalist governments whose own interests often intersect with those of the imperialists, and are in conflict with those of their working peoples. You mention for example the question of unequal trade, and you also note the G77 (G133) which plays a certain role in pushing the economic interests of developing capitalist countries against those of the OECD-imperialist bloc. Yes, when countries bloc together on a concrete issue such as this we should of course support them. Whether such temporary blocs on particular issues lead to long-term “camps” is another thing. And of course, in reality, we understand how little they are likely to achieve, and how minimal are their goals, given the capitalist nature of most states in the world and therefore their ties to imperialism. But that doesn’t stop the issue from being one of minimal economic justice that we can fight around, and support such demands from the G77, the various regional trade blocs noted above etc.
However, even here there are problems. Many of the largest developing capitalist countries, including BRICS such as China, India and Brazil along with Argentina and others, are allied to countries like Australia as part of the “genuine free trade” group – they want to end the double standards of the US and EU who talk free trade but provide massive subsidies to their farmers to dump on the third world. So that these bigger countries, which are big exporters, can export more. Fair enough. But this playing into the capitalist, free trade, export-oriented game is potentially detrimental to the mass of poorer countries who are more import-dependent. With “anti-imperialist campers” often looking to the BRICS as some kind of vanguard, they ought to be looking at some of the literature produced by organisations like Focus on the Global South, Food First etc to get an idea of how contradictory to the interests of the world’s poor some of this BRICS’ push for fairer free trade really is.
“Anti-imperialist camp” and human liberation
And so these are many of the contradictions of this definition of anti-imperialist camp. But what you write just after you note the issue of “unequal trade concerns” only further highlights how meaningless both this meaning, and the narrower meaning, really are. Because you then led off on a long list of other concerns including “regarding global warming, agriculture and land-use issues, maritime, water and fishing issues, work place health and safety, labour solidarity, women’s liberation, solidarity with minority language groups, networks to defend political prisoners and their families, networks to defend an open, free access internet” and others. This sounds like a good list of issues concerning human liberation as a whole. Yes, I agree that genuine anti-imperialism should be connected to human liberation.
But I’m sorry, I find this utterly confusing in relation to your argument. If you are being specific about ALBA, well and good. But I’m afraid I struggle to see any “anti-imperialist camp” (of states) anywhere in the world that fights around these issues against imperialist states. I would suggest that the overwhelming majority of capitalist states in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America would be absolutely rotten on peasant land-use issues, labour solidarity, women’s liberation, political prisoners, workplace health and safety (!) etc. And so particularly are the majority within the more restrictive definition, if not often worse.
If anything, on many of these issues it is precisely First World-based liberal NGOs and humanitarian interventionists which at times promote an imperialist agenda by exploiting these issues against some capitalist regime that the West has some problem with. I oppose such imperialist interference; however, I also reject “anti-imperialist camp” type arguments of solidarity with capitalist dictatorships, fascist tyrannies etc when they assert their “right” to carry out “sovereign” massacres of workers, torture of political prisoners, misogynist policies and practices against women, evicting peasants from their land for “development”, violent suppression of national minorities etc.
So that paragraph to me does not make sense; it is precisely “anti-imperialist camp” discourse that regularly justifies the open and massive violation of all these principles you list, whereas because I see *class* as more important than abstract, rhetorical, BS “anti-imperialism,” I reject the “rights” of “anti-imperialist” (including the overnight version) capitalist rulers to carry out these anti-working class actions.
Tell me, where does the “anti-imperialist camp” (whether you mean the whole G77+China, or the more restrictive “camp”) stand on the question you raised of “open, free access internet”? I just ask because members (of both kinds of camp) China and North Korea have the most repressed Internet in the world. I think it is unlikely that the “camp” campaigns for China and North Korea to open up Internet access. More likely imperialist states do. I oppose imperialist interference, as well as these states’ suppression of the Internet, but once again your points leave me confused.
Where do “anti-imperialist camps” stand on “work place health and safety” in China, where most miners in the world die in industrial “accidents”? Where do such “camps” stand on the question of political prisoners in the absolute, hereditary monarchy of North Korea, a state presiding over starvation and gulag-style murder in vast prison camps?
My understanding of “anti-imperialist camp” politics is precisely that such politics does NOT promote justice around any of the issues you listed, but just the contrary, that it uses BS “anti-imperialist” arguments to defend reactionary and repressive regimes that actively violate every one of them.
The question today of Syria is only the most obvious. While Pinochet, Videla, Suharto, Marcos etc massacred their peoples like Assad does, I’m not aware that any of them turned every city in their countries to rubble using every conceivable means of “conventional” WMD to do so, just in order to keep a narrow mega-capitalist clique in power (I guess Somoza comes closest, but in those days anti-imperialists and anti-capitalists actually thought it was a bad thing when he bombed Managua with his air force, and didn’t blame the Sandinista rebels for Somoza’s reaction).
Yet many “anti-imperialists” have decided (wrongly, as well) that this regime, which collaborated with imperialism so many times, is part of an ill-defined “anti-imperialist camp”; unlike in the case of Somoza, therefore they blame the Syrian rebels for Assad’s Somoza-100-times-over reaction. To those holding such backward and reactionary views, I say, suit yourself, enjoy your alliance with Le Pen and his ilk, for me it’s about *class* - I’ll support the struggle of the Syrian working class while you support its class enemy using bogus labels.
Perhaps the Cuban and Venezuelan leaders feel some kind of diplomatic necessity to adopt the reactionary position they have adopted on Syria, possibly related to the economic and diplomatic importance to them of Russia; if so, I generally say little about this. They have their own problems to deal with the US breathing down their backs. Which doesn’t alter the fact that they are wrong and have done momentous damage to their standing in the Middle East.
We could go on. When China and Vietnam are in conflict in the South China Sea (also known as the East Sea), where does the “anti-imperialist camp” stand? Campists would generally like to have both states in that “camp.” So that is a concrete question. Does there ever come a point when ‘anti-imperialist campers” criticise Beijing’s blatant gunboat diplomacy, its Monroe Doctrine for the entire South China Sea, its brutal kidnapping for massive ransoms of thousands of Vietnamese fisherfolk? Not to mention the actual imperialist and highly exploitative nature of its investments in the third world? Or does inclusion of China in the “camp” mean that the camp has nothing to say?
My view is that such “campism” has no answers for questions such as this, or such as Syria, or for any other – because a view that stresses a very abstract, rhetorical “anti-imperialism” consisting of a certain bloc of capitalist states without reference to class is an anti-Marxist, anti-working class aberration.
In the late 1970s, the Argentine junta was one of the most vicious dictatorships on Earth. And its monstrous repression of Argentine workers was of course backed by imperialism. So I don’t think anyone viewed it as part of the “anti-imperialist camp” (at least by this more narrow definition – re your other definition, it was a member of NAM and G77). But in 1982 it entered into a very concrete conflict with British imperialism, over the Malvinas. I think our view was correct, to support Argentina in this specific, concrete, anti-imperialist action. But did this mean Argentina “swapped camps”? Because if it did, it shows how meaningless the concept is; but if it didn’t, then I see no concrete meaning for this alleged ‘camp” either. In most cases it is simply used to defend indefensible actions by regimes that are not carrying out any real, *concrete* actions against imperialist interests at all.
Another instance of bad “anti-imperialist camp” politics was the diplomatic support provided to the criminal Sri Lankan Sinhala-chauvinist regime, which has waged genocidal wars for decades against its oppressed Tamil minority, by Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia etc. The Sri Lanka regime, in any case, has no anti-imperialist history at all, not even rhetorical (unlike, for example, what one might have said about Gaddafi’s vicious anti-working class dictatorship in Libya). So why would these leftist governments even want to support it (not that such support would be better if the regime did have some anti-imperialist history in my view, just it would be easier to see where they were coming from)? Simple – western governments offered some mild criticism of the breathtaking level of violent repression in UN forums. “Anti-imperialist camp” politics therefore meant doing the opposite.
I could go on. Obviously the 1990s Balkan wars, when many “anti-imperialist campers” lined up with the Serbian chauvinist regime committing genocide against Bosnia’s Muslims. At least this divided the “anti-imperialist” capitalist regimes in the third world – so Iran, a key backer of Assad today, at least had a good position then, for its own reasons, of supporting Bosnia, along with the rest of the Muslim world. One case where “anti-imperialist”, capitalist Iran had a much better position than Cuba. Where it leaves whatever “camp” I have no idea.
Does “anti-imperialist camp” help us understand what is happening in Iraq now – when basically exactly the same bloc of Sunni organisations – nationalist, Islamist, Baathist and jihadist, warts and all – which were the Iraqi resistance to US occupation several years ago, are now once again fighting the regime US imperialism left in place, except that now this regime is a geopolitical/sectarian ally of Assad’s fascist tyranny and Iran’s theocratic tyranny, which “anti-imperialist campists” have adopted as their own?
Anyway, the point is: whichever version of “camp” theory you mean (except that of an alliance of social movements or of leftist, pro-socialist governments a la ALBA), I believe it should be junked, and the concept of anti-imperialism returned to its connection to class, human liberation and anti-capitalism.
|Tuesday, June 17th, 2014|
"...Why, you ask, will Assange not take his chances in Sweden? There's no arrest warrant out for him; he hasn't been accused of raping the women; there is not a court to face, in Stockholm or anywhere. ..."http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/william-j-furney/julian-assange-ecuador_b_5487885.html?utm_hp_ref=uk&ir=UK
“Mr Assange hasn’t been charged with anything”
This one is not so much false as very misleading, but is again frequently cited by wikileaks and many other sources. In the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service charge a suspect when police have gathered enough evidence to bring criminal proceedings. Sweden has a different process, which the High Court summarised quite clearly (see Ground 3):
Although it is clear a decision has not been taken to charge him, that is because, under Swedish procedure, that decision is taken at a late stage with the trial following quickly thereafter. In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced…. On this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange.
Thus, stating that Mr Assange has not been charged implies that criminal proceedings have not begun. This is absolutely not the case. It would be more accurate to say that Mr Assange has been avoiding being charged, or that he faces charges immediately upon his return to Sweden.http://www.wikiwatch.org.uk/common-misconceptions/#OnlyQuestioning
Secret Service Games
A dark turn in the pop-culture? (Part Nineteen)
By Mark Wegierski
web posted June 16, 2014
Roleplaying Systems (continued):
GURPS (Generic Universal Roleplaying System) CYBERPUNK: High-Tech Low-Life Roleplaying Sourcebook (Austin, TX: Steve Jackson Games, 1990) by Loyd Blankenship (128 b & w pages; color front/backcover; glossary; bibliography -- books and short stories, comic books and graphic novels, movies and television, magazines and electronic newsletters; index)
Despite the somewhat weaker graphics inside, this is in many ways a superlative product.
A prototype of the sourcebook and other Steve Jackson Games property was seized in 1990 by the U.S. Secret Service as part of an "anti-hacker crackdown." Steve Jackson Games was eventually vindicated in court, and gained a lot of publicity for its products. This raid was also one of the catalysts for the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defends online freedom of expression.
The sourcebook benefits from its generic nature, it does not have to take place in one specified cyberpunk background. Thus, the sourcebook can experiment with various alternative concepts, and alternative to alternatives, e.g. "Cross-Genre Cyberpunk", for example, occult-horror, or comic-book superheroes, mixed with cyberpunk. In what is probably a typical Steve Jackson GURPS trait, large amounts of information are offered in comparatively short amounts of text, e.g., in one sidebar, "Cyperpunk Soundtracks", there is a list of current music genres that can easily fit into the cyberpunk campaign. For example, New Age music is said to be evocative of floating through cyberspace.
The "Politics" section (pp. 106-109) in "World Design" is outstanding, considering its shortness. Among its clever points is a quick evaluation of the type of future world in terms of how many sovereign powers there exist. The 1-sovereignty model is a world-government, with no competing sovereignties. There are presumably large international armed forces and any local rebellions are quickly stamped out. The 10-sovereignty model presupposes regional blocs that could be in ferocious conflict with each other, or have minor conflicts among the blocs' small client states. The 100-sovereignty model (which resembles our own world) presupposes a number of larger states, and a fair number of smaller entities. The 1,000-sovereignty model could include megacorporations (such as Microsoft) as sovereign entities. It presupposes intense fragmentation of the world – and suggests that once such a course of events takes place, conflicts on the planet would probably become endemic, and it would be difficult to return to larger entities.
The booklet's "Glossary" and "Bibliography" are nice touches. The sourcebook would in many ways be useful to persons interested in the cyberpunk subgenre, as well as in broader futurological-type endeavors. One of the most striking themes is the "unnaturalism" of the cyberpunk future, with all manner of mechanical and electronic interfaces and grotesque interpenetrations of man and machine, as well as the ever-accelerating dying out of nature. Indeed, the booklet's brief look at the future of ecological movements is fairly derisory (suggesting, for example, that ecologists in the future may be reduced to calling to "save the tuna" – rather than to "save the whales") though this may not be surprising, given the dark premise.
1 hours ago | link
The idea's been percolating for a while - one of the major facets of blockchain technology is that it can be used to effect many kinds of transactions, where traditional finance is just the simplest one to conceive of. Simultaneously there's been a thread of philosophy arising from various sources(Singularity writers, cypherpunks, Anonymous) that advocates new governance forms that fully exploit digital technology.
My favorite book on this is Binding Chaos  - most of the material in it clarifies problems with existing governance structures and their inevitable tendency towards power inequality. The remainder suggests that a better system would contain two major concepts: stigmergy - essentially, "space-making" instead of our existing "leadership" model, where environmental changes can automatically direct the next action of the group - and epistemic user groups: Communities that are focused on a particular form of expert knowledge and its study.
We already have some models for this in open source projects, Wikipedia, etc. but the book is light on specific implementation ideas. What is really needed is software innovations on these concepts, and blockchain hacking is one way to go about it.
edit: forgot this isn't reddit
|Monday, June 16th, 2014|
Gamble on anarchy
Nxt Mania Games
June 15, 2014, 11:47:43 pm
Quote from: rdanneskjoldr on June 15, 2014, 11:18:57 pm
For me the greatness of this project is that it is the very first version of decentralized betting on an online competition. No limits to what you can bet online. First its tetris, then spaceinvaders, then sportsgames, then League of Legends/Counterstrike, sportsbetting, poker, fair versions of casino games, etc..
@rdanneskjoldr thank you for your positive response!
this is exactly where we see us in the future.
tip bots on a extra client. like leaguecoin.
but this part of NxtMania we dont promote so big at this time,
because this is still a long way to go.
|Sunday, June 15th, 2014|
Where are the revolutionary net-centric anarchists?
Well, like democracy, anarchism was not born perfect, from a virgin in a manger. During its 150 odd years hirstory several weaknesses in our praxis have clearly manifested themselves. Anarchists have struggled with core issues such as defense, finance & land-ownership. So with this hirstory, its no surprise we struggle to leverage the web.
Looked at from one viewpoint these are problems of success. Of 'growing up in public'. Of inexperience. However it remains the case that those repeating themselves and expecting different results are often regarded as crazy. Anarchists may forget about politics but politics won't forget about them.
Revolutionaries have always faced extreme marginalisation as a rule, and we're no different.
There is much profit to be gained from analysis of the 19th century but for this post I'll stick to the 20th as modernity, itself, mostly dates from the late 19th and early 20th century. The kind of modernity that led to the net.
The first major event of the 20th century was WW1, which itself hastened much progress in many areas, despite some of these - gas warfare for example - being pretty dreadful areas of exploration. The start of *WMD's*. Paradoxically, one of the later weapons of mass destruction would help ensure a long period of peace through the MAD doctrine of mutually assured destruction!
But getting back to WW1. You could say the Bonnot Gang anticipated the mass slaughter nicely and responded appropriately. However it seems uncontroversial to say most anarchists are pacifists - Proudhon was even against revolution - and Kropotkin was attacked by most anarchs for tilting to the defending side.
Kropotkin gets a lot of stick for this but I don't think anarchs can make pacifism a dogma. Were they to do so they would wind up like Ghandi 25 years later advising the British to surrender to Hitler.
Its worth opposing war as a general principal. A corrollary of this is to support politics ( war by other means) However, many anarchs want to reject both together. A nice ambit claim if you can sell it!
There is also another general principle many anarchs may also want to support - the right of any individual to defend themselves against aggressive violence.
The anarchists of Spain who refused to speak out against a militarists invasion of France could hardly expect any solidarity when it came for their turn.
The great war also led to the obscure *anti-war* Lenin becoming world famous after receiving millions in gold from the worst aggressor of that war!
Some anarchs originally supported the 'revolutionary' Lenin and were praised by him. This 'tilt' strongly influenced the anarchists for years with the Platformists episode and the ending of the Barcelona May Days both showing the strong lingering ill effects.
By 1936 the 'tilt' was running against Bolshevism and more in favour of Social - Democracy. Just in time for the Spanish social-democrats to hand Finance and Defense to the Communist Party!
Despite military genius displayed by the likes of Makhno and Durruti, anarchs still have some theoretical and practical work to do simply to keep up with the fast moving advances in this area.
Its no longer good enough for anarchs to defer to others in the key area of finance either. The USG has an effectively unlimited line of credit and so we need to counter that with ours - online, Blackcoins, Darkwallets, etc.
Then there is the land question. Anarchism today has such a worker oriented outlook its forgotten its peasant roots. By not showing enough 'brand differentiation' anarchists become indistinguishable from Western revolutionary Marxists in the free marketplace of ideas.
I've just painted some very broad strokes here to show why anarchists are failing to ' sieze-the-day " online and so poor substitute players like the oxymoronic 'anarchist-capitalists' are stealing a march on us.
Clearly many would simply prefer to carry on as they have before safe in their cosy niches.
However, future generations may judge us harshly if we fail to capitalise on the manifest golden opportunities opened out before us in the internet-of-things.
They might even call our general response " depraved indifference '. I implore youse not to let it come to that. Carpe diem!
|Saturday, June 14th, 2014|
|Friday, June 13th, 2014|
|The moral relativism of the lambs
The moral inversion of economic thinking begins early, in Mandeville’s scandalous and wicked book the Fable of the Bees, which aimed to show how private vices can lead to public benefits. Later, of course, Adam Smith would make a similar point in The Wealth of Nations with his metaphor of the invisible hand and his famous admonition that “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
The private vice, public virtue theme is not limited to self-interest and microeconomics. Keynes was an admirer of Mandeville as an early discover of the paradox of thrift. Namely, that in some situations the virtuous behavior of saving can lead to public ruin and the vice of consumption can lead to riches. Paul Krugman continues to make this point today with his admonition that economics is not a morality play. Krugman offends traditional morality when he writes:
As I’ve said repeatedly, this is a situation in which virtue becomes vice and prudence is folly; what we need above all is for someone to spend more, even if the spending isn’t particularly wise.
Economists understand composition fallacies: a sum of light feathers is not necessarily light, a sum of bad actions isn’t necessarily bad and a sum of good actions isn’t necessarily good. http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.k7VWl9SA.dpuf
|Oh the munificence!
Oh the munificence of our latter-day Medici!
prior_approval June 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm
An exception big enough to drive an electric truck through – ‘Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.’
In other words, a business will still rely on Tesla’s good faith in determine whether that business is meeting Tesla’s standard of good faith. The patents, of course, remain in Tesla’s hands.
Though if Tesla was truly acting in good faith, then the patents would end up in something like Open Invention Network – http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/
‘The Open Invention Network (OIN) is a company that acquires patents and licenses them royalty free to entities which, in turn, agree not to assert their own patents against Linux and Linux-related systems and applications.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Invention_Network
Z June 12, 2014 at 3:28 pm
My bet is you have to give to them your work and share with Tesla your plans for their patents. This is called a honey trap.
|Thursday, June 12th, 2014|
PoMo Pooty Poot
Putin’s War on Ukraine Intensifies
By John O'Sullivan
June 11, 2014
I have a lot of sympathy for people who are entirely perplexed by the crisis in Ukraine. Not only is the crisis complicated, but there seems to be even less correspondence between what people say and what they do than usual in such conflicts . . .
At present there are several sets of negotiations taking place between Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE (an unwieldy diplomatic talking shop that brings together Western and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia), the European Union, and the U.S., and maybe others I haven’t listed or noticed, to settle different aspects of the conflict. Poland’s foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, are meeting Russia’s Sergei Lavrov today in St. Petersburg to press him to stop fueling the conflict with men and material. President Putin gave Western leaders the impression that he would do just that when they met at the D-Day memorial.
Yet since then, the fighting in eastern Ukraine has been intensifying in the undeclared Russo–Ukrainian war. (That’s what it is, incidentally, and not a Ukrainian civil war as Moscow now repeats endlessly.). The new Ukrainian president, Peter Poroshenko, has just proposed a “civilian corridor” that would allow ordinary Ukrainians fleeing from the fighting to leave safely. Not a bad short-term response to a major humanitarian crisis, but will they be allowed back if the “pro-Russian” (i.e., Russian) forces prevail? Or will they form a new set of permanent refugees whose homes subsequently end up in the possession of the local thugs and non-Ukrainian mercenaries whom Moscow put together for its Potemkin revolution when a spontaneous uprising failed to occur?
Russia’s war on Ukraine is very much Putin’s war. It bears all the marks of what the Anglo-Russian journalist, Peter Pomerantsev, calls his “post-modern dictatorship” with shameless official lies, flashy media dissimulation, and a willingness to turn the geopolitical narrative on a dime if that’s what the needs of the Kremlin suggest.
I examine the impact of this post-modern approach to foreign policy in the London Spectator here.
“Thus, Putin announces the withdrawal of the same troops several times over and even gets credit for his willingness to compromise. Or . . . he assures the world that the troops in Crimea are nothing to do with him until some time later he cheerfully admits they are Russian. Or he publicly calls on the separatists to abandon their planned independence referendum while continuing to give practical military support to them after they ‘ignore’ him . . . Pomerantsev compares these exercises in political technology to the final scene in the Wizard of Oz. Another comparison might be the satirical film Wag the Dog, in which an American president gets re-elected by winning an entirely simulated war. In Putin’s case, of course, the war is real enough — a recent UN estimate was that 127 people have been killed in the recent unrest in eastern Ukraine — but the dialogue [with Ukraine and the West] is simulated.”
Quite a number of Westerners, including some conservatives, don’t want to look too closely at the shabby tactics and wholesale denial of truth employed in Putin’s war. They have a soft spot for him on various grounds — he’s a nationalist, he’s a conservative, he’s a Christian, he’s an opponent of the UN international system, he’s a good business partner. In fact he’s none of those things. He’s the kleptocratic head of a Chekist regime run by its intelligence service that happily puts on a good media show to please whatever Western audience it wants to flatter at any one time. Our willingness to be deceived by him is the most effective weapon in his armory.
His Ukrainian crisis is unlikely to be the last crisis he engineers. His conduct of it will reveal a great deal about his larger modus operandi. So we should watch it, and him like, ahem, a hawk.
Blacknet Two - This time its personal
AMIR Taaki doesn’t particularly mind that controversy. After all, he has a history of working on cryptoanarchist projects designed to enable untraceable currency and unseizable black markets. “Only the powerful have something to fear from information freedom,” he says. “You can always say there are good and bad secrets, but the reality is that there is information that people want and need to be public…However we can give incentives to people to liberate information in general is a positive thing.”
The concept of offering digital payments for black market data stretches back as early as 1993, when cypherpunk founder Tim May proposed a system called BlackNet that would let buyers pay for corporate and government leaks with “cryptocredits.” Though no such currency existed at the time, May’s thought experiment bounced around the Cypherpunks Mailing List, where Julian Assange was an active reader. It likely helped to inspire WikiLeaks a decade and a half later.
Now that bitcoin offers the financial tools that those early cypherpunks lacked, Taaki says he wants to take the leaking concept a step further. “I’m very much into WikiLeaks’ work, but I want to make a WikiLeaks with bitcoin bidding, that incentivizes leaking,” he says.
“Maybe you want to publish some data, but you need something to push you over the edge,” he adds. “Money can do that.”
|Wednesday, June 11th, 2014|
Fingering the digital like one hand Clapper
from Bitcoin's blockchain to Google's cars, and somehow we're supposed to be to be convinced in the process that a revolution is nigh.
As someone who has already largely accepted the picture Antonopoulos is painting, I find the article to be rather unsatisfying. Maybe I'm just a philosophy nerd, but I want to see the theoretical motivation for this picture worked out in detail. I want to see the technical reasoning for why decentralized networks can more successfully manage human populations than centralized hierarchies. I want to see a discussion of when the digital strategies work, and when they fail, and why, and how we might use the constraints to our advantage. I also want to see the systematic extension of these networked metaphysics into normative domains like epistemology and value theory.
Basically, I want to see someone present the fully worked out digital philosophy that I've been trying to develop myself for the last few years. Because this shit is hard, and I'd like to check my work
The works of Jean-Francois Lyotard are significantly contradictory to each other -- in itself a pm trait -- but also express a central postmodern theme: that society cannot and should not be understood as a whole. Lyotard is a prime example of anti-totalizing thought to the point that he has summed up postmodernism as "incredulity toward metanarratives" or overviews. The idea that it is unhealthy as well as impossible to grasp the whole is part of an enormous reaction in France since the '60s against marxist and Communist influences. While Lyotard's chief target is the marxist tradition, once so very strong in French political and intellectual life, he goes further and rejects social theory in toto. For example, he has come to believe that any concept of alienation -- the idea that an original unity, wholeness, or innocence is fractured by the fragmentation and indifference of capitalism -- ends up as a totalitarian attempt to unify society coercively. Characteristically, his mid-'70s Libidinal Economy denounces theory as terror.
One might say that this extreme reaction would be unlikely outside of a culture so dominated by the marxist left, but another look tells us that it fits perfectly with the wider, disillusioned postmodern condition. Lyotard's wholesale rejection of post-Kantian Enlightenment values does, after all, embody the realization that rational critique, at least in the form of the confident values and beliefs of Kantian, Hegelian and Marxist metanarrative theory, has been debunked by dismal historical reality. According to Lyotard, the pm era signifies that all consoling myths of intellectual mastery and truth are at an end, replaced by a plurality of `language-games', the Wittgensteinian notion of `truth' as provisionally shared and circulating without any kind of epistemological warrant or philosophical foundation. Language-games are a pragmatic, localized, tentative basis for knowledge; unlike the comprehensive views of theory or historical interpretation, they depend on the agreement of participants for their use-value. Lyotard's ideal is thus a multitude of "little narratives" instead of the "inherent dogmatism" of metanarratives or grand ideas. Unfortunately, such a pragmatic approach must accommodate to things as they are, and depends upon prevailing consensus virtually by definition. Thus Lyotard's approach is of limited value for creating a break from the everyday norms. Though his healthy, anti-authoritarian skepticism sees totalization as oppressive or coercive, what he overlooks is that the Foucaultian relativism of language-games, with their freely contracted agreement as to meaning, tends to hold that everything is of equal validity. As Gerard Raulet concluded, the resultant refusal of overview actually obeys the existing logic of homogeneity rather than somehow providing a haven for heterogeneity.
To find progress suspect is, of course, prerequisite to any critical approach, but the quest for heterogeneity must include awareness of its disappearance and a search for the reasons why it disappeared. Postmodern thought generally behaves as if in complete ignorance of the news that division of labor and commodification are eliminating the basis for cultural or social heterogeneity. Pm seeks to preserve what is virtually non-existent and rejects the wider thinking necessary to deal with impoverished reality. In this area it is of interest to look at the relationship between pm and technology, which happens to be of decisive importance to Lyotard.
Adorno found the way of contemporary totalitarianism prepared by the Enlightenment ideal of triumph over nature, also known as instrumental reason. Lyotard sees the fragmentation of knowledge as essential to combatting domination, which disallows the overview necessary to see that, to the contrary, the isolation that is fragmented knowledge forgets the social determination and purpose of that isolation. The celebrated `heterogeneity' is nothing much more than the splintering effect of an overbearing totality he would rather ignore. Critique is never more discarded than in Lyotard's postmodern positivism, resting as it does on the acceptance of a technical rationality that forgoes critique. Unsurprisingly, in the era of the decomposition of meaning and the renunciation of seeing what the ensemble of mere `facts' really add up to, Lyotard embraces the computerization of society. Rather like the Nietzschean Foucault, Lyotard believes that power is more and more the criterion of truth. He finds his companion in the post- modern pragmatist Richard Rorty who likewise welcomes modern technology and is deeply wedded to the hegemonic values of present-day industrial society.
In 1985 Lyotard put together a spectacular high-tech exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris, featuring the artificial realities and microcomputer work of such artists as Myron Krueger. At the opening, its planner declared, "We wanted...to indicate that the world is not evolving toward greater clarity and simplicity, but rather toward a new degree of complexity in which the individual may feel very lost but in which he can in fact become more free." Apparently overviews are permitted if they coincide with the plans of our masters for us and for nature. But the more specific point lies with `immateriality', the title of the exhibit and a Lyotardian term which he associates with the erosion of identity, the breaking down of stable barriers between the self and a world produced by our involvement in labyrinthine technological and social systems. Needless to say, he approves of this condition, celebrating, for instance, the `pluralizing' potential of new communications technology -- of the sort that de-sensualizes life, flattens experience and eradicates the natural world. Lyotard writes: "All peoples have a right to science," as if he has the very slightest understanding of what science means. He prescribes "public free access to the memory and data banks." A horrific view of liberation, somewhat captured by: "Data banks are the encyclopedia of tomorrow; they are `nature' for postmodern men and women."
|Monday, June 9th, 2014|
|First NAZBOLs of Spring
Bekier is a student of Political Science at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. Before he became the leader of Falanga, he was a member of the extreme right Oboz Narodowo Radykalny (National Radical Camp) in Mazovia, but was expelled from the organisation. His views are considered bizarre for most of the Polish extreme right, as he has cooperated with Maoists (Rewolucyjną Lewicę Komunistyczną [Revolutionary Communist Left]), National Bolsheviks and Eurasianists. (The links between fascism, Maoism and National Bolshevism as such are nothing strange obviously, especially if we consider organisations such as Parti Communautaire Européen or Jeune Europe, or individual right-wing extremists such as Claudio Mutti).
Bekier travelled to Donetsk in May 2014; he made a speech at a pro-Russian meeting condemning NATO and the "pro-Atlanticist" government in Poland, and interviewed Denis Pushilin, the self-declared Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic", for Falanga's website Xportal. FROMhttp://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/polish-fascists-are-joining-pro-russian.html
|Friday, June 6th, 2014|
|Five-Eyes manifest evil
Domestic espionage sharing controversy
In recent years, documents of the FVEY have shown that they are intentionally spying on one another's citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on spying. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the advocacy group Liberty, claimed that the FVEY alliance increases the ability of member states to "subcontract their dirty work" to each other. The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the FVEY as a "supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries".
As a result of Snowden's disclosures, the FVEY alliance has become the subject of a growing amount of controversy in parts of the world: FROMhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes
|Thursday, June 5th, 2014|
Baby we were born to come
In the day we sweat it out in the slums of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the streets of glory in freshly knocked-off machines
Sprung from cages on highway nine,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected,and steppin' out over the line
Oh, Baby this whip rips the flesh from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
Yes, girl we were
Won't you let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs 'round this motorbike
And strap your hands 'cross my engines
Together we could break this trap
We'll run till we drop, baby we'll never go back
H-Oh, Will you walk with me out on the wire
`Cause I'm just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta know how it feels
I want to know love is wild - I want to know love is real
Oh, can you show me
Beyond the square hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
Girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
On the beach in a mist its ignored by the local residents
I wanna ride with you baby on the street tonight
Assassinate all the presidents
One, two, three, four!
The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody's out on the run tonight
But there's no place left to hide
Together honey we can live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
H-Oh, Someday girl I don't know when
We're gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
Oh honey, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
Come on with me, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run
|Monday, June 2nd, 2014|
|Stig of the core-dump
The steady rise of Wikipedia and the Open Source software movement has been one of the big surprises of the 21st century, threatening stalwarts such as Microsoft and Britannica, while simultaneously offering insights into the emergence of large-scale peer production and the growth of gift economy.
Under the influence of stigmergy, new forms of governance would be based on systems, not land mass, and that governance would be generated by user groups, not elected officials. Stigmergy is the most effective way for those user groups to govern systems. Systems are currently primarily run by competitive organizations. Competition creates redundancy, is slow and wastes resources on idea protection, advertisement, and more. The alternative to competition has traditionally been collaboration. This is most effective only in groups of two to eight people. With stigmergy, an initial idea is freely given, and the project is driven by the idea, not by a personality or group of personalities. No individual needs permission (competitive) or consensus (collaborative) to propose an idea or initiate a project.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stigmergy