Monthly Archives: February 2013

What is “the System”? Who are “They”?

Merlin

The main idea: the twin concepts of “the system” and “they” do not stand for any actual system or group, but are a simplification of the Extended Order by the unconscious mind.

1.Intro

1.1 Allow yours truly to abundantly quote from a great blog I follow. Writing of Django Unchained the author opines that:

[D]iCaprio asks a rhetorical question, a fundamental question, that has occurred to every 7th grade white boy and about 10% of 7th grade white girls[:] “Why don’t they just rise up?” […]

Why did Django rise up?  He went from whipped slave to stylish gunman in 15 minutes.  How come Django was so quickly freed not just from physical slavery, but from the 40 years of repeated psychological oppression that still keeps every other slave in self-check[?]

You should read this next sentence, get yourself a drink, and consider your own slavery: the system told Django that he was allowed to. He was given a document that said he was a bounty hunter, and as an agent of the system, he was allowed to kill white people.  That his new job happened to coincide with the trappings of power is 100% an accident, the system decided what he was worth and what he could do with his life.  His powers were on loan, he wasn’t even a vassal, he was a tool[…]

DiCaprio is a third generation slave owner, he doesn’t own slaves because he hates blacks, he owns them because that’s the system; so powerful is that system that he spends his free time not on coke or hookers but on researching scientific justifications for the slavery– trying to rationalize what he is doing.   That is not the behavior of a man at peace with himself, regardless of how much he thinks he likes white cake, it is the behavior of a man in conflict, who suspects he is not free; who realizes, somehow, that the fact that his job happens to coincide with the trappings of power is 100% an accident… do you see?

The Last Psychiatrist,

No Self-Respecting Woman Would Go Out Without Make Up (January 14th 2013)

1.2 I do indeed, but what I see is something else entirely.

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The Economy of Byzantium, State Intervention and Voluntary Exchange: Part Three-Trade

For part one go here

For part two go here

Trade, just like during the Late Roman Empire, was the lifeblood of the Byzantine Empire, and its importance kept on escalating with time.

Modern historiography identifies three different types of trade in Pre-Industrial Societies.
Local exchange is classified as short distances under 50km (30 miles) on land routes or one day sailing on sea routes.
Regional exchange is classified as trade on distances between 50 and 300km (30 to 185 miles) on land routes or between two and seven days sailing on sea routes.
Anything longer is classified as long distance trade.

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Shock TV: Pavlik Morozov Redux

Recently I once more found myself thinking about what was probably the most shocking moment in the history of television. It was after I stumbled on an article that wraps up the story of the Iraqi youth who was one of the main actors in that event. Here is what I mean.

Ages ago, in elementary school I was told the former Soviet Union had been a very bad place to live in. I was told the regime there had been so rotten it encouraged children to inform on their parents and report them to the authorities, if they suspected their guardians were plotting against the state. The authorities would praise the children for having done so in the press and handed them trinkets as a recognition for a job well done. Certainly I thought then, and since then, that any authority which engaged in something like that must had been beyond contempt and redemption.

Scroll forward to 2005 or 2006. I am seated in front of the TV set, flipping channels. There’s Oprah Winfrey Show — normally I would keep on going, but something makes me hesitate. There’s Oprah’s best therapist voice, and there are people in camo seated on her couch. This could be Iraq-related, which means I’m definitely interested.*

The TV has my undivided attention as Oprah ask a Middle Eastern-looking boy sitting next to the soldiers: “And when did you realize your father was involved with some very bad people?” I grow momentarily uneasy, and as I continue to follow the conversation I find myself sitting in disbelief, completely at a loss to assimilate what my ears are undoubtedly hearing. They are praising a boy for turning in his father to the occupational authorities, in the clear sight of hundreds of millions of people the world over. Have they gone completely mad??

Long story short, a 14-year old Iraqi youth, Jamil, sought out American troops and informed them on his father’s role in the Iraqi resistance. By his own claims his father was abusive, and reading between the lines it seems likely this was the reason he turned him in to his enemies. This led to the arrest of Jamil’s father by the Americans, and soon thereafter the murder of his mother and sister by vindicative guerrillas, after his father — having learned it was his own son who had turned him in — broke under interrogation and gave up the names of the people he had been fighting with.

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A Beverage for Everyone, A Drink for Anyone

This is a short story that I wrote last year. I would like to thank the VR staff for allowing me to publish it here, and please leave any constructive criticism that could potentially help me improve my writing.

A depressed look was pasted across the face of the individual whom not too many knew. He was mysterious, mystic, and held the atmosphere of a recluse, of an aloof man – and yet he was completely open, like a deep, deep swimming pool ready for business, ready to share his sorrows with anyone. Near the room he sat, the room of the metro driver, with a small white towel wrapped around his thick dark head, and a cooler filled with semi-refreshing beverages, ready to make any willing customer all-the-more thirsty. This was the young man who you will never know, but will always see, wherever you go on the metro. Continue reading

Democracy as crowdsourcing

Merlin

The main idea: representative democracy fails in producing unbiased crowdsourced answers to difficult problems, as do its direct and statistical offshoots.  Only unfettered trial by jury can be realistically considered a fair crowdsourcing mechanism.

Previously on Lost...

Previously on Lost…

My previous post tried to analyze the claim that mass (i.e. representative) democracy is the only realistic non-violent alternative to civil conflict and found it in need of severe qualifications, to put it mildly. Here I will try to deal with the other appealing argument made for mass democracy: that it provides an algorithm for crowd-sourcing difficult issues.  May democracy be in better luck this time?

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Pro-business or Pro-market?

[This is the second article in the left-leaning LBRT101 section of the Guided Study at Liberty HQ]

Big Business
paul bica / Amazing Photos / CC BY

One of the main concerns curious people have about libertarianism is that it is pro-business and pro-Big Business. If it ain’t multinational, it ain’t capitalism! But is being pro-market inherently the same as being pro-business? Do libertarians really love large corporations? These are questions that are often ignored, but are central to the discussion of economics.

So what do the questions mean? Isn’t being pro-market the same as being pro-business? In fact, the answer is a surprising “no.” To understand why this is the case, we need to understand the concept of corporatism as opposed to that of free markets. Free markets and libertarianism are about property rights and the freedom of choice that arises from those property rights. Corporatism, as we shall see, is the negation of both of these principles.

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The LAPD’s Rogue Killer

Chris Dorner believes that murdering the children of his enemy is an appropriate course of action in order to exact revenge on his enemy – after all, killing someone’s child is probably the greatest emotional trauma you can inflict on them. This is the mentality of violence, the mentality of war, the mentality of the political means. “I have been offended. Thus, I am entitled to exact revenge at all costs.”

He espouses positive rights. He has no right to be employed by anybody, let alone the Navy or LAPD. And even if he did have such a right, this would not justify murder. But here again we see the logic of entitlement. After all, if we assert that he is entitled to a job, then unjustly taking that job away is conceptually no different than stealing any other kind of property… something which most people acknowledge may justify the use of deadly force under certain circumstances.

He sees the world in wholly racial and sexual divisions. He is the very thing he claims to be opposed to. He even identifies Asian police officers who are non-racist but who say “I … just don’t want conflict” to explain their non-interference with the abuses of the public by fellow officers as “high-value targets”… that is, that he will be targeting them in these announced killings.

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