Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rebuilding New Orleans: Central Planning vs. DIY

Link found on the LJ community anarchists:

Three Years After Katrina: While Republicans and Democrats Gather and Celebrate, A City Still Searches for Recovery
By Jordan Flaherty
Published on: August 27, 2008

New Orleaners are not happy with the assistance they've gotten from government -- or with the opening the disaster has provided for central planners to step in and gentrify old neighborhoods, especially traditionally Black ones. Most of all, the people of NOLA are learning that old American lesson, "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourselves":
It's been community, not foundations or government, that has led this city's recovery at the grassroots. Bayou Road - a street of Black-owned, community-oriented, businesses in New Orleans' seventh ward – has rebuilt post-Katrina to more businesses than they had before the storm. It hasn't been government help that has enabled these businesses to come back, but the effort of community members coming together. It was also local support that brought back the membership of many cultural organizations, like the network of Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, the century-old Black community institutions who organize secondline parades nearly every weekend throughout the year, as well as benefits for causes such as school supplies for students.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vijay Prashad: Multiculturism vs. Polyculturism.

An very interesting interview with a writer with a unique perspective:

Interview with Vijay Prashad

A few passages of interest from a Micronational Anarchist point of view:

Seminary Co-op: Does the concept of polyculturalism dilute appeals to "authenticity?" What are some of the dangers for the quest towards culturalauthenticity?

Vijay Prashad: Polyculturalism, taken seriously, obliterates authenticity. The pose of authenticity offers the ruling elites of a "race" to attain demographic power vis-à-vis other "races," to argue that they represent a group of people and because of "race" can speak for them. Authenticity allows race to top all other social fractures, and thereby give entrenched elites of color the power to be representative when all they are is compradors. Fanon's diatribe on the "pitfalls of national consciousness" is an early smash at the idea of authenticity. By the way, the argument about the authentic (whose content is often colonial ethnology) allows white supremacy to adjudge who is a real native, to say that the rebellious Asian, for example, is doing a disservice to Asian culture.

Seminary Co-op: Can polyculturalism resist the seemingly very popular appeals to [state] nationalism?

Vijay Prashad: We'll have to see, won't we? This is one tough fight, but my own sense is that there are too many folk who are fed up with bourgeois nationalism and want to assert a different kind of sovereignty, one that is against the depredations of multinational capitalism but not then tied to national cultural cruelty.

Prashad also talks about popular movements for economic trade and exchange between Africa and Asia which bypass the multinational corporate system-- the basis of a genuine global free market.

Some of the text is tiny, so you may have to use a magnifier utility.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Democratic Fuhrerprinzip.

A couple of articles, one by a Democrat and one by a Republican, about Barack Obama's campaign and how Democrats idolize and idealize their leaders more than do Republicans:

Jon Swift, Barack Obama's Achilles' Heel.

J.R. Dunn, Obama as Liberal Messiah.

While I find the charisma disparity between the parties rather interesting, I think, nonetheless, it is more a matter of show and style than actual degree of dictatorial power. After all, it's Republicans like George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger who admit openly to wanting to be dictators.

J. R. Dunn, therefore, misses the point when zie asserts, "People will invade their neighbors, slaughter minorities, and march themselves right off the historical cliff on behalf of a duce, führer, or caudillo. They generally won't for a chief executive."

Don't look now, Dunn, but they already have.

Returning to the candidate of the hour:

Barack Obama hopes to follow in the shoes of JFK and MLK -- both of whom got shot, which is not such a good sign. If he becomes President, Obama will be torn between the horns of a dilemma, striving desperately to represent both his minority and the nation as a whole. His Black supporters expect him to stand up for their rights and interests, while his White supporters seek, in the words of film critic David Ehrenstein, a "Magic Negro", a gifted Black man who will miraculously resolve race disputes by his mere presence, without threatening White interests (or. for that matter, the power elite's interests.)

In the Fuhrerprinzip, the leader is meant to obey the will of the people, like a sleepwalker or a sockpuppet. But how can a leader do the will of the people when the people have no single will?

Friday, February 1, 2008

War: Not Just for Soldiers Anymore.

Collateral damage, the number of civilians dying in war, is increasing each time, until [after the Gulf War] 99.15% of the causalities are civilians, not military.
David M. Boje (Peace Aware) Sanctions: U.S. Violations of the Geneva Convention

Quote and link found on Finally, a Feminist 101 Blog.

This article, written by a Vietnam veteran, also includes several charts and graphs showing how civilian casualties were 10.74% in WWI and increased steadily throughout the twentieth century, before reaching the present level of what I can only call criminal absurdity.

One should note, too, that after seven years of American campaigning in Afghanistan and Iraq, Osama bin Laden is still at large -- a real case of blowing up the haystack and missing the needle.

When someone hits the wrong target over 99 times out of 100, one may conclude that their aim isn't very good.

The art of warfare has not progressed during the twentieth or early twenty-first centuries. Despite great material advances in weaponry and technology, war has not become more strategic, effective and efficient, but only more senselessly wasteful. If the goal of the armed forces is to locate and neutralize a military target in the minimum time with minimum losses, then, despite its immense firepower, the US's real military capacity has not increased over the last century. It has deteriorated. This can be seen in the fact that our huge military machine can be easily resisted by smaller, more focused forces, such as Iraqi guerilla fighters.

It is, I think, not coincidental that the burgeoning entropization of warfare has followed pace with the growth of the state. Just as bloated bureaucratic apparatus tends to be inefficient in the economic and social areas, so does it promote military inefficiency. When a government has an unlimited fount of tax dollars to spend, it doesn't care much about wasted bullets -- or wasted human lives.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out that the majority of de facto terrorism -- aggression against civilians -- is performed by states, and the United States government is currently the largest terrorist organization in the world. It's hard to say how much of this state terrorist action is the result of deliberate strategy, and how much sheer sloppiness; how many of the deaths are intentional war crimes, and how many criminal negligence.

Monday, January 21, 2008


This is my "yang" blog, devoted to commentary on the public world in its social, political and material aspects. (My companion "yin" blog, The Swan's Nest, deals with such topics as aesthetics, metaphysics, and spirituality.)

So, what might you expect to find here?

I wear what may seem a colorful coat of confusing and contradictory labels: Left-libertarian, market anarchist, anarcho-capitalist, anti-corporatist, Agorist, Transhumanist, Extropian, environmentalist, individualist, feminist, anti-racist, racial realist, (micro)nationalist, federalist, etc. I regard all such labels as provisional, relative ways of categorizing which can never capture the whole essence of a line of thought, or a way of life.

My overall approach is an evolutionary one. I view global human society, along with our genome and technome, as evolving towards higher and higher levels of extropy -- integrated complexity, quality and excellence. Therefore, I am a long-term optimist. But optimism for the ultimate future does not mean that one must be blind to the problems of the present. Evolution guarantees nothing except that failure will be punished and success rewarded. Human beings, through their free will, are active participants in this process, and as the 21st century moves along, people will, through the growth of knowledge, technology and communication, be taking a more and more conscious role in shaping their own individual and collective evolvement -- for good or ill.

My thesis is that the 10,000 year-long experiment in increasing social centralization, culminating in the last few hundred years with the rise of the nation-state, is coming to a close. Statism, because it is based on coercion or "power-over", the subjection of one will to another, contains inherent inefficiencies. When the regime of centralization has gone as far as it can, it will collapse under its own cracks, as did the Soviet Union in the 1990's. The current milieu of imperialist globalization under the aegis of state governments and multinational corporations represents this system in its late decadence, a bunch of rotten fruit ready to fall from the tree -- yet bearing the seeds of the new for those willing to pluck them. What the next stage of growth will be depends on what we choose now to plant.

As a left-libertarian, I believe that social issues are important; that, while the abolition of the state will go a long way toward dismantling hierarchies of oppressive power, which are largely held in place by the hidden hand of state coercion, attacking the state head-on is not the sole or sufficient approach, for the state itself is dependent upon such unquestioned social hierarchies. The relationship between the state and other structures of oppression is not that of a pyramid but a network of circular feedback loops: a sort of anti-catallaxy in which dispersed, local effects feed into and enable systems of top-down control. The system must be studied at all levels, and the ultimate level is the individual. Ultimately, the state cannot be abolished until people are free in their own minds.

Thus, I see a continuum between philosophical, psychological, social, cultural, and political issues, and my own specialty is exploring the intersections and interstices between different domains, the synthesis of opposite and multiple viewpoints. This is something I probably could not have learned to do in a university, and, unless I were extraordinarily lucky, could not have gained the opportunity to do professionally in an academic setting. So, perhaps I'm fortunate to be a freelance, freethinking autodidact. That's what the Blogosphere is for, isn't it?