Over the past two to three years, I've engaged in many conversations featuring the appeal to moral principles asserted to be held in common. Some who've known me for a while may notice that over this period I've begun to distance myself from appealing to these moral principles as a basis for my arguments. This has been a rule I've adhered to largely from both my own investigations of my beliefs as well as the influence of Max Stirner's "The Ego and Its Own" (or, as Shawn Wilbur correctly points out is a better translation of the title, "The Unique One and Its Property").
Stirner taught me that abstractions and concepts ("spooks") often rule us just as completely and arbitrarily as corporeal authorities, and that true freedom requires one to break free of all preconceived notions of propriety, convention, and duty. This philosophy is often called "egoism" and is treated by many as a form of nihilistic realism culminating in an almost Nietzschean "will to power". All constraints on the ego are to be discarded in order for the self to express itself fully through its property, its ideas.
This causes understandable concern in many. The search for perfect and complete freedom is framed in terms that are positively anti-social. If adhering to ethical codes or moral laws or legal statutes or social conventions should displease you, why not throw them all out? After all, what makes them all more valuable than your own happiness? And I find this a hard argument to reject without appealing to other spooks.
A friend gave the pamphlet The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand to a friend of his, passing along his reactions to me. This essay is an attempt to answer some of his concerns, which I am not publishing here. However, I think it stands reasonably well on its own as a meditation on genuine change and its propensity for resulting in some kind of suffering. The friend began by asking,
With whom, economically and culturally, should or does the contemporary poet or artist identify?
I appreciate the question. My personal opinion is that I see no difference between the answer to this question and the answer to the question, "With whom should anybody identify?" You either see an unjust system as acceptable or not. How honest you are with yourself about the actual decision you're making is the real matter, and I don't think anybody scores perfectly in that area.
Many people, including I, lost track of where the ALL logo svg files were when my blog software and domain changed. For the record, here they are:
You're free to use these images for the purposes of promoting the Alliance.
Apparently Richmond City Council wants to pay for the privilege of having my neighborhood hurt. Please come to the City Council meeting at 6:00 pm tonight to stop the council from using Federal stimulus dollars to pay taxes on a private developer's riverfront condo complex. It's such a good investment, the developer doesn't even want to risk all of his own money!
More at springhillrva.org.
There are many reasons to oppose this scheme. Governments like city council have too often used taxpayer-financed carrots to entice developers into making precisely the bad decisions that led to an oversupply and crash in the real estate market. If the project fails, will these City Council members be around to reimburse the taxpayers for either the stimulus money or the project tax revenue we lost by financing this? No, they'll be several years out of office by then, in all likelihood. Let's not insult citizen intelligence with pledges of accountability, now.
Hope everybody had a great New Years Eve! Tasha and I celebrated at an awesome performance by Brothers Past. The second set consisted of all the songs from their forthcoming album, most of which are brand spanking new. So that was exciting. We also had a great experience at the gorgeous Morris House Hotel, and we hope to stay longer the next time we're there.
Just wanted to throw some news items out there. As you may have noticed, commenting is now available via Disqus. I plan on importing the old posts and comments over the next month. Let me know if you experience any problems.
As for leftlibertarian.org, that project has proceeded splendidly. I'm now pretty sure that I've caught up with all the old, non-defunct feeds it was aggregating from before. Let me know if I've missed you. I will not be importing legacy content from the old site, since, well, it exists elsewhere. I will be continuing to tweak the site, with particular emphasis on truncating posts more cleanly and consistently. I also need to generate a list of all the blogs I aggregate; shouldn't be too difficult.
leftlibertarian.org is back! I've moved the site off WordPress, which was giving me too many problems. The site should be simple enough - there's no commenting, and the core functionality has nothing to do with creating content, only publishing it. So I started thinking about why I was going out and gathering / parsing feeds when Google Reader does it perfectly well, and has an API I can access.
The new site has a Google Reader account associated with it (leftlibertarian.org). Instead of going out to a list of feeds, downloading them, databasing posts, and generating web pages on requests, I just grab a JSON encoded version of my reading list as if my site were a Google Reader user and generate pages off of that! Super fast, super lightweight, super easy (once I figured out how I wanted to go about it).
The cool thing about this is that the API makes available just about all of the Google Reader features, including starring, comments, sharing, etc. The Google Reader web application is really just a front end for a rather powerful backend. Over the long run, I'd like to leverage these features to make the site more socially driven and dynamic but without needing a database or anything but a basic web server, cron, and ruby.
The site is very much beta right now. I'm using a HTML parsing library to truncate posts, so if you see anomalies there or have any other comments, let me know. admin atsign left libertarian period org
Everybody and their mother has invoked the old Mussolini quote (regardless of its accuracy) about renaming fascism to "corporatism". It always surprises me how many different political conclusions this point is used to augment. For some, it means private business is bad because it takes advantage of a vulnerable democratic political process. For others, it means firms are enlisted into the agendas of big bad politicians, restraining the so-called "free market" competition that benefits us all.
When considering each competing interpretation, it's most interesting and instructive to note which institution plays the victim and which the oppressor. After all, the quote is often used by people who assume the legitimacy of both big business and big government. The quibble lies solely with the relative power of one party relative to the other.
To my mind, the victim/oppressor dichotomy is positively self-reinforcing. In this case, the ontological dynamics serve to restrict what might be a broader conversation about not just the powers that be, but the powers we might have alternatively. Even radicals reinforce these established concepts: capitalists must have an articulable definition of the corporation and of the government to be able to ensure the victory of one over the other. Same for radical communists. If they didn't have set definitions of each institution, how would they understand the conditions of success towards which they strive?