28 November 2014

About the new ClubOfINFO blog service

. #increasetraffic. #bloggerswanted. #support. #changetheworld.

ClubOfINFO is offering a generous new service that can propel your blog or site into all new halls of fame. Simply supply your blog address or RSS feed, and receive a widget in return. Not just any widget... a self-updating widget that will appear on all four of our websites to direct visitors to your latest eye-gripping blog posts.

Already, ClubOfINFO encompasses four beautifully-designed newsletters seeking a rich variety of columns to feature in its web spaces:

  • ClubOfINFO (you are here!)
  • Maquis Books (a book publisher and book promotion support service)
  • CISpiritual (a web magazine with a spiritual and religious focus)
  • CI Breaking (a news service bringing daily updates and breakdowns)

You may have a website or blog with commercial aims, such as advertising products. If so, the ClubOfINFO newsletters would be a very efficient way of obtaining the quality traffic you can transform into sales. You handle the sales, and we'll handle the flow of visitors from our four corners of the web.

And to show we're not all talk and no action, we've already plugged the award-winning blog Zoe's Secret Style into ClubOfINFO's channels, and the results have been astounding. See for yourself by browsing the widgets on our channels, and give some serious thought to whether a similar service might be useful for your own blog!

If you are interested in this service, the best place to seek further information is via our Submissions form.

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Meet CI Breaking, our own news service

. @CIBreaking. #new. #analysis. #alternative. #alternativemedia.

@CIBreaking, the breaking news blog from ClubOfINFO Circulation, has been established. This is part of an effort to broaden ClubOfINFO's reach and audience by breaking up ClubOfINFO into multiple channels, each with a different focus. Follow for radical #news #breakdowns, recommended #channels, embedded #tweets and alternative angles every day.

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25 November 2014

Free-Market Socialism

. @SheldonRichman. #stateless. #antistatism. #libertarianism. #freedom.

Libertarians are individualists. But since individualist has many senses, that statement isn’t terribly informative.

Does it mean that libertarians are social nonconformists on principle? Not at all. Some few libertarians may aspire to be, but most would see that as undesirable because it would obstruct their most important objectives. Lots of libertarian men have no problem wearing a jacket and tie, or shoes, socks, and a shirt, on occasions when that attire is generally expected.

Virtually all libertarians observe the common customs of their societies, just as they conform to language conventions if for no other reason than they wish to be understood. I don’t know a libertarian who would regard this as tyranny. In fact, as one’s appreciation of the libertarian philosophy deepens, so does one’s understanding of the crucial behavior-shaping role played by the evolution of customs and rules—the true law—that have nothing whatever to do with the state. Indeed, these help form our very idea of society.

Libertarians are individualists in other respects, however. They are methodological individualists, which means that when they think about social and economic processes, they begin with the fact that only individuals act. That’s shorthand for: only individuals have preferences, values, intentions, purposes, aspirations, expectations, and a raft of other related things. In truth these words don’t actually refer to things we have, but rather to things we do. Strictly speaking, we don’t have preferences; we prefer. We don’t have values; we value. We don’t have purposes; we act purposively. And so on. I’m reminded here of Thomas Szasz’s statement that mind isn’t essentially a noun but a verb. (It follows that one cannot lose it.) A favorite book of mine on this and related matters is Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind.

From here, it’s a short step to the principle that the unit of morality is the individual person. Morality concerns what individuals should and should not do, and what sort of life is proper for human beings. Interpersonal morality addresses, among other things, when the use of force is permissible (if ever), and this leads into the ideas of rights, entitlements, and enforceable obligations, also attributes of individuals.

None of this disparages the importance of groups, ranging in size from two persons to great societies. But it does implicitly remind us that the dynamics of groups cannot be understood without first understanding their components. It is certainly reasonable to talk about a college class doing things. But misunderstanding will plague anyone who fails to realize that class here simply indicates a group of individuals in a certain relationship with one another, with a professor, with a particular institution, and with society at large. When we say, “The class left the room,” we don’t mean that some blob flowed through the door, but rather that the individuals who count as members of the class left the room.

That’s an easy case which no one is apt to misunderstand. But other statements shroud, perhaps intentionally, basic methodological and moral individualism. When the news media attribute preferences and actions to “the United States” or “the U.S. government,” clarity would be served by keeping in mind that specific individuals with interests, preferences, and the rest—individuals whose legitimate claim to act on our behalf may be dubious—perform the actions. Collective nouns are unproblematic as long as we remember what we are talking about.

Nothing about libertarianism commits its adherents to what critics call “atomistic individualism.” That would be a curious descriptor for people who love the ideas of trade and the division of labor, even among perfect strangers at great distances. That’s why I long ago proposed an alternative: molecular individualism. Libertarians agree with the ancient Greek philosophers who emphasized the fundamental social nature of human beings. Baked into this concept is the idea that persons inescapably are reason- and language-using beings. An atomistic individual would be less than fully human because fundamental potentialities would be left unactualized, owing to the absence of contact with other reason- and language-using beings. Our ability to think beyond the most primitive level depends on language, which is by nature social.

The progressives’ caricature of the libertarian as a rugged, self-sufficient, antisocial off-the-grid inhabitant of a mountain shack—a Ted Kaczynski sans the letter bombs—is ludicrous.

Libertarians, to the extent that they grasp the fundamentals of their philosophy, care about social dynamics, which accounts for their fascination with economics, especially the Austrian school.

I don’t mean to downplay anything I’ve just said when I point out that, in an important sense, the social whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Economies are not machines; they are people exchanging things. We are the economy the statists wish to control. Yet our continuing interaction spontaneously generates—in a bottom-up way—a vast and complex order of interrelated institutions that no individual or group could possibly grasp in any detail, much less design.

The mundane price system is a perfect if unappreciated example. Prices are critical to our well-being because they enable us to plan our day-to-day lives. They do so by providing signals to us not only as consumers but also as producers. Prices guide our decisions about what to produce for exchange, how much to produce, and by what means. The resulting profits and losses reveal successes and failures at serving consumers. Without prices we’d fly blind, as Ludwig von Mises famously showed in his demolition of central economic planning. This is the upshot of the famous socialist-calculation debate.

Mises had other interesting things to say about the market process that go toward debunking the progressives’ critique of libertarianism as hyperindividualist. For example, we meaningfully if metaphorically speak of the freed market’s channeling resources from those who serve consumers poorly to those with the potential to do a better job at it. This is no reification of the economy, which in itself has no purposes—only people have purposes. An analysis of this channeling would refer to consumers’ decisions to buy or abstain from buying goods offered on the market.

But no individual decided to put, say, the bookseller Borders, out of business. In an important sense, we did it collectively, but not at a mass meeting with people giving speeches and voting on whether the principals of Borders should keep control of the company’s assets. Rather, the demise of Borders and the transfer of its assets to others were the outcome of many individual decisions, most of which were not consciously coordinated. It’s just that enough people had preferences inconsistent with the company’s business plan. So the people who ran Borders were out, however much they objected.

Think about it: When the marketplace is really free and competitive (rather than constricted by the state to protect privileged interests), it is we collectively who decide who controls the means of production. We don’t do this in the legal sense, for example, by literally expropriating the assets of some people and transferring them to others. Yet that’s the effect of free competition and individual liberty.

In other words, the freed market would give traditional leftists what they say they want: a society in which free, voluntary, and peaceful cooperation ultimately controls the means of production for the good of all people.

What well-wisher of humanity could ask for anything more?

By Sheldon Richman - More articles by Sheldon Richman

Originally published at the Center for a Stateless Society on 14 November 2014 and the Future of Freedom Foundation on 14 November 2014

Image via anarchistart.com.

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American Foreign Policy Rogue Edition

. @WaveChronicle. #US. #politics. #foreignpolicy. #Ukraine. #Syria.

I have been looking to do a new American foreign policy article for easily a year. Sadly, the US administration has made this impossible. Currently, I cannot figure out exactly what the American foreign policy game plan is, other than simply delving into conspiracy theory madness. I am not saying that the conspiracy theory madness is wrong, just that I do not plan at this time to address those items until I have more information.

This is the Rogue Edition,which mean, the policies below are in opposition to current US warmonger elite positions.

This is going to be addressed by the two main crisis regions:

Middle East:

  • Sabotage the Islamist organizations that the US and friends are currently supplying. Please watch the video below from Storm Clouds Gathering for more info:
  • Aid the Iran – Syria – Kurdish Factions.
  • It would be an unholy alliance, especially for the Kurds. Iran & Syria need the Kurds to hold the Saudi backed Islamists at bay. Without the Kurds, the entire region is going to become one giant Islamist region of hate and murde.
  • Iran needs to be provided with technology and intelligence. We need to build a future and the people of Iran want to be part of Western Society. I know our current administration and political mind think does not honor those words but we must build a world for the future and the people of Iran have a place in that future.
  • The civil war in Syria was never the business of the West. It needs to be abandoned and we need to make a turn around. You have no good guys in the region except the Kurds, ISIS and other US / Saudi based terrorist groups will only doom the future of that region.
  • Give Assad enough aid to take back a portion of his country. If necessary let the Russian Federation do it, at least it would not cost the American taxpayer any money.
  • Provide the bulk of the aid to the Kurds, give them weapons, personnel, technology and intelligence. It is time for a Kurdish State and I say make it happen with reckless abandon.
  • Once the American / Saudi Islamist terrorist groups have been wiped out, send in the Egyptians or Arab League into Syria to start the political process of peace in the territory that Assad and Non-Islamist forces hold. This process will not include the Kurds, they will have their own nation and will address their own territory concerns.
  • Aid moderates within Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. We do not need more war or weapons in this part of the region. We need independent social operations within each of these regions providing a message of peace and unity. We need to encourage more peace mongers in this region to come forward and lead these nations.
  • Aid the Egyptian military in the campaign of removing Islamists from their nation. The Egyptian people have a place in the future world and that needs to be cultivated going forward.

Russian Federation / Ukraine:

  • The Ukraine crisis has to be the greatest blunder to ever happen in American foreign policy history.
  • The warmonger elite make a decision to support National Socialist extremists in Ukraine, breaking a UN resolution. This decision causes the democratically elected Ukraine government to fall. This leads the Crimea region of Ukraine to defect and the Russian Federation takes that region without firing a gunshot.
  • The National Socialist thugs in Kiev decide to force their will on Novorossia, which leads to a bloody civil war. Which turns the southern portion of Ukraine into a war zone on women and children.
  • To add to this drama you have a Malaysian airliner shot down over the war zone.
  • To fix this epic blunder in Ukraine, it is time to get all US forces both public and private out of that nation. It is important to disengage from conflict either political ,militarily and economically with the Russian Federation.
  • This engagement with the Russian Federation has strengthened Vladimir Putin, who is riding an approval rating higher than god and even then, god may be a second class amateur.
  • The Russian people, who prior to this engagement hated being Russian and hated anything that was, is, or was going to be Russian, have changed utterly and completely. They love Mother Russia more today than Mother Russia ever did and this is all do to this engagement over the Ukraine.
  • The US Sanctions are a sick joke on everyone. The Russians are laughing at the sanctions and cannot wait for more of them. All these sanctions accomplish is to further strengthen the Putin base and force Russian funds that have been leaving that nation back home. These US policies only add to Putin’s strength.

It is important to reenact the Monroe Doctrine and take back South America. We have abandoned our own southern hemisphere in the quest for sand and oil. The BRIC Nations have a foothold in that area of the world and that is a direct threat to the future of the United States of America. It is important for the future of the United States to reclaim our own southern hemisphere, these people should be our allies and not our future enemies.

Strive to do more while you still can

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21 November 2014

'My Favorite Apps' : Zoe's Secret Style

. @ZoesSecretStyle. @PicsArtMobile. @SurfCityApps #app. #blog. #pic.

From our partner blog, Zoe's Secret Style.

Hello lovelies! These are my favorite apps (all free of course - at least on iPhones). I have a lot more but figured they aren't as interesting.

1) Bloglovin - I swear I read blogs during every single spare second I have. The down side to that is that I always run out of blogs to read, and its very rare that I like the "popular" ones.. Please comment your Bloglovin URLs - I'm desperate!

2) Twitter - when I'm not on Bloglovin, this is where I am: tweeting, RTing and reading tweets (and finding more blogs to read).

3) Pinterest - I'm usually only here early in the morning before everyones tweeting and Twitter is dead. (I live in Israel which is GMT+2), so usually only on my school bus.

4) Depression by Surf City Apps - they have a lot of hypnosis apps that I love listening to. They're about 30 minutes each, and make me feel better instantly while I'm feeling depressed. I also have their Sleep Well app that helps me fall asleep.

5) 8Tracks - I love discovering new music. If you're new to 8tracks, basically how it works is that people create playlists and you listen to them. You can also 'like' playlists so the app knows what kind of playlists to recommend.

6) PicsArt - my favorite editing app! Offers lots of different services, filters, fonts etc.

I also love WhatsApp, but didn't know where to put it as its an essential for me and not for fun (well.. also).

Do you use any of these? What do you think of them and what are your favorite apps?

Zoe xx

By Zoe - More articles by Zoe

Zoe is one of our guest bloggers. Try our new guest blog, The Dark Side of Fandom:

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The Libertarian Road to Egalitarianism

. @dsdamato. #liberty. #equality. #occupy. #wearethepeople.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman finds that “the top 0.1% of [American] families now own roughly the same share of wealth as the bottom 90%.” Furthermore, the study shows that the “recovery” we keep hearing about hasn’t reached the middle class, with only those atop the economic pyramid seeing its benefits.

With a narrow sliver of the populace hoarding so much of the country’s wealth, policy wonks and academics busy themselves pointing fingers and proffering solutions. Predictably, free markets come under fire as the source of widening inequalities of wealth and income. As exponents of deregulation and free markets, libertarians frequently find ourselves charged with living in a fantasy world, tuning out problems of inequality.

We libertarians do it to ourselves: When the subject inevitably comes up, too many of us become palpably uneasy, defensively insisting that inequality just isn’t a problem, that what we ought to look at is standard of living or some other metric. “Capitalism is great for the poor — we swear it!” Libertarians must accept the cold fact that inequality is a very big problem indeed.

But we needn’t regard inequality as a weak point in our arguments for economic freedom, or as an issue on which we simply cannot win. Existing economic relations are not the product of freedom of exchange or legitimate private property. Libertarians actually hold the high ground on the inequality issue. Liberty and equality in fact complement and reinforce one another, the former naturally resulting in the latter.

Individualist anarchists like Lysander Spooner held that “extremes in both wealth and poverty” resulted from “positive legislation,” substituting arbitrary laws for natural laws and “establish[ing] monopolies and privileges.” In capitalism, Spooner argued, the owners of capital receive special power in the economy — power having nothing to do with simple freedom of production, exchange, and competition. Considered holistically, state intervention redounds to the benefit of the rich and politically connected, economic elites with special access to those who write and implement the rules we are all forced to live by.

These interventions are not perfect, and certainly the country’s system of monopoly capitalism is overlaid with a veneer of measures ostensibly intended to protect workers, consumers, and the poor. But no such measure ever compromises the fundamental purpose of state intervention — to dispossess rightful owners, putting the multitudes at the mercy of employers. The historical purpose of the state, in short, is permanent class war, the use of state power to insulate a socioeconomic nobility.

The political left is thus quite right about inequality, even while tending to be quite wrong about freedom, individual rights, and markets. Market anarchists favor both freedom and equality, espousing a stateless society in which the ultimate law is equality of freedom and authority.

Genuine open competition is a dissolving and dispersive force. Libertarians should stop making apologies for today’s staggering inequalities as if we arrived at this place via laissez faire and sovereignty of the individual.

By David S. D'AmatoMore articles by David S. D'Amato

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18 November 2014

An Introduction to Techno-Liberation

. @hjbentham. #catalyst. #futurism. #transhumanism. #liberation.

The following as an extract from my 2013 pamphlet, Catalyst: A Techno-Liberation Thesis, available in print and Kindle at Amazon.

“The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology”
George W. Bush
The gravest danger to hegemony and oppression lies at the transformational crossroads of liberation and technology. An emerging technology, when allowed to cause an unguided explosion of benefits, has the greatest potential of all things to emancipate oppressed and deprived groups in the world and defeat injustices.

“BioLuddites”, as they are interrogated by James Hughes in his 2004 book Citizen Cyborg, believe the vital emerging technologies of the near future will only increase inequality and deprivation in the world. This thesis makes a raw argument for the exact opposite outcome, by greeting a maximally free and unregulated explosion of radical emerging technologies in the world as the only solution to world inequality. By promoting a long-term historical understanding of the democratization of technology, current global social trends and the democratic possibilities of several emerging technologies, the liberating potential of technology and the opportunity to resist oppression with technology become undeniable. The case argued here is that some of the various technology explosions, already in their formative state now, can be predicted to reduce inequality between states and sections of society rather than worsening it.

The prediction argued in this thesis, namely that a few great world-transforming technologies in coming decades will potentially liberate and empower people who are disadvantaged, is inspired by the democratic success of the internet, which outgrew the ambitions of its creators. The internet is now the main front for giving voices to the voiceless, and offers new subtle means of empowerment and resistance to the weak. It is time to recognize how technology is starting to play an undeniable role in liberating and empowering people and is not simply a transitory weapon that can be borrowed by the liberators. It may be time for all breeds of progressives to take a more enthusiastic stance on emerging technologies set to shake society in fundamental ways. Let us at least add to the progressive narrative a consideration of how various other imminent tech explosions, unguided, could be massively liberating like the internet.

Emerging technologies are reaching the point at which their potential can radically exceed the expectations of their creators and owners, and no longer serve elite interests even if they are created to benefit elites. Key technologies, even if they are hiding with little publicity as yet, could be set to become the prime instruments of liberation in coming decades. If so, then adopting a view that favors the relevant technological developments and rejects constraints and ethical controls over them will benefit progressive interests tremendously. This book is not advocating a techno-centric worldview or techno-utopia, nor is it part of an existing program or utopian sect. It merely posits “liberation technologies” as big arena of impending global liberation, especially now that the internet has already shown its capacity to empower people. The internet is not a blip in technology that just happened to accidentally empower people. It is part of a real trend of technology progressing fast enough to outgrow its creators’ initial goals and then work to spontaneously liberate the common man.

This book contains a thesis in four chapters, the first two looking at “is” questions about techno-liberation and the second two looking at “ought” questions. The thesis is structured to add increased detail and academic backup to support arguments I have already presented in articles aimed at a variety of progressive and futurist readers. In the first chapter of the argument, “Equal Technology”, I assert that the overwhelming consequence of the present emerging technologies shall be the empowerment, not disempowerment, of the common man and a tremendous volume of the impoverished people residing in disadvantaged countries. No matter how elitist and monopolistic the creators of an easily circulated technology are, the ease with which it can be circulated will result in it becoming widely available and empowering a vast majority of people, decisively advantaging the poor and deprived sections of the world. In such a situation, ethicists and others who wish to constrain this chaotic empowerment for whatever reasons could risk being dismissed as ideologues for oligopoly and the further deprivation of mankind.

In the second chapter of the argument, I look at what I call “open-borders technology”, that is, existing technologies that delegitimize the current idea of the state and allow people to reach out and form values that transcend the state. This is the present greatest trend of techno-liberation that is visible in the world today, and which will and should be imitated in other leaps of techno-liberation. While I do not postulate a new form of global governance emerging from media advances, I do accept that the political geography for alternate forms of governance to be tested is emerging.

Third, looking at global social trends and impending technological opportunities that will intersect those trends, I advise some emerging targets for technology-powered liberation. The most significant of these, and unavoidable in the near future, is something I call “hard-leaks”; leaks not of information as a result of the information explosion gained by the internet, but leaks of technology as a result of miniaturization and moves towards making technology user-friendly. This will include the leaking of formerly guarded production processes and equipment to disadvantaged groups and states in the world, eliminating the root cause of the worsening global wealth disparity.

The fourth chapter of the argument focuses on the justification for taking any involved risks by endorsing trends of techno-liberation. Massive risks are certainly involved in techno-liberation, but none are greater than the risk to the advantaged and oppressive parties in the world who will seek to contain and control all the technology for themselves. Massive corporations and bully-states, prone to wage war on weaker parties, are the main ones to be seriously threatened by trends of techno-liberation. This is good news for anyone disadvantaged or impoverished in the world. A level playing field between the rich and poor parties in the world makes global equality more possible. Further, the risk is not “ours” to take: it should be up to the most disadvantaged people in the world to decide for themselves if they are ready to take the risks of techno-liberation. “We”, the people engorged on technological advantages, have no paternal role to deny them anything for any reason.

In short, decisive unchecked explosions in emerging technologies should not be feared by people who favor the emancipation and empowerment of weak groups and nations in the present global regime. In fact, such explosions should automatically be embraced for being the only media with which we can empower and liberate the weak in an age increasingly dominated by the unpredictable consequences of technology. Unpredictability and chaos upset only the incumbent powers and regimes in the world, and people who have a stake in them surviving. Further, unpredictability and chaos work in favor of disempowered and oppressed groups, and this makes any unpredicted outcomes spelled by unrestrained advancements tolerable.

By Harry J. Bentham – More articles by Harry J. Bentham

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The Liquid Mind – Humanity Uploading

. @wavechronicle. #transhumanism. #humanityplus. #uploading.

This is a top level article, you are not going to find a “how to” anywhere within this article. It is a way to start a discussion in moving thinking in a different direction.

The mentality of uploading a human brain to a mainframe and believing that this is mind uploading is a concept I simply do not believe in. Uploading in that manner is not improving humanity or saving humanity.  My goal is an attempt to move transhumanists and futurists into a different direction and hopefully in a direction that may actually work in Humanity Uploading which should be the real goal, it is not just saving the information within the human mind but also saving the special individual within that mind.

We need to move past old thinking and scifi movies. We need to be more realistic on all the inputs and outputs of the human brain. This image below is a map of the human mind from Buzzle.com Human Brain Diagram.

This is a very simplistic image of the brain which should help folks understand that a hard wired computer cannot handle all the inputs and outputs of the human mind. A number of people will point out that the human brain does send out electrical pulses but they forget the chemical reactions that happen to help to create those electrical pulses and it is those chemicals that we need to duplicate so we can achieve the real goal of Humanity Uploading.

We need to focus on how we can incorporate or mimic chemicals within the human mind. The information I am going to be covering is from the following website: Humanillnesses.com Brain Chemistry

What we need to find is a computerized neurotransmifter that lets computerized brain cells communicate with each other and therefore allows the computerized brain to function properly. The reason why I listed the humanillnesses.com website and article is that we will have the same issues that human beings have, if we are able to succeed in Human Uploading. You cannot ignore the fact that humans have mental disorders and those disorders are not going to go away in a computerized form. To succeed in Human Uploading we must be able to manage all of the inputs and outputs to prevent the computerized mind from going insane or becoming out of balance.
I believe the only way to successfully perform Humanity Uploading is a move to liquid computing. The concept of liquid computing has existed for at least a decade if not more. When I was doing my research for this article, the oldest article that I found was from Harvard Magazine circa 2001.
The next item I came across is labeled liquid computing but is more liquid cooling, from Inventor Spot Liquid Computing circa 2005.

Credit: Austin Bowler: John Campbell’s first liquid computer

The next article that I came across is from BBC News IBM Brain Chips circa 2011. The overall goal stated in the article is:
The system is capable of “rewiring” its connections as it encounters new information, similar to the way biological synapses work. Researchers believe that by replicating that feature, the technology could start to learn. Cognitive computers may eventually be used for understanding human behaviour as well as environmental monitoring.

IBM Brain Chip

The last article I found is again from  BBC News IBM Unveils Computer Fed By Electronic Blood. This is computing going in the right direction.

Is liquid fuel the key to zettascale computing? Dr Patrick Ruch with IBM’s test kit

One of the main quotes from the article that I like is:

The human brain packs phenomenal computing power into a tiny space and uses only 20 watts of energy – an efficiency IBM is keen to match.

A liquid computer is a perfectly good solution to Humanity Uploading.

Sources Cited

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14 November 2014

Drug War 'Isn't About Drugs'

@kevincarson1. #silkroad. #silkroadbust. #LegalizeIt.

On the morning of November 6 the US Federal Bureau of Investigation trumpeted its takedown of the Silk Road 2.0 website and the arrest of alleged operator Blake Benthall.

In so doing the FBI demonstrated, once again, that the War on Drugs has nothing to do with anything its propagandists claim it’s about. If drug criminalization is a public safety issue — about fighting violent crime and gangs, or preventing overdoses and poisoning — shutting down Silk Road is one of the dumbest things the feds can do. Silk Road was a secure, anonymous marketplace in which buyers and sellers could do business withou the risk of violence associated with street trade. And the seller reputational system meant that drugs sold on Silk Road were far purer and safer than their street counterparts.

This is true of all the other selling points for the Drug War. Hillary Clinton, in possibly one of the stupidest remarks ever uttered by a human being, says legalizing narcotics is a bad idea “because there’s too much money in it” — referring, presumably, to the lucrative drug trade and the cartels fighting over it.

But there’s so much money in it, and the cartels fight to control it, only because it’s illegal. That’s what happens when you criminalize stuff people want to buy: You create black markets with much higher prices, which organized crime gangs fight to control. Alcohol prohibition created the gangster culture of the 1920s. It’s been with us ever since. When Prohibition was repealed, organized crime just shifted to fighting over other illegal markets. The more consensual, non-violent activities are made illegal, the larger the portion of the economy that’s turned into black markets for gangs to fight over.

In related news, the Mexican drug cartels are reportedly making less money since the legalization or decriminalization of pot in several American states. I wonder why.

Perhaps the biggest joke is that the War on Drugs is fought to reduce drug use. No doubt many people involved in the domestic enforcement side of the Drug War actually believe this, but the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing. The narcotics trade is an enormous source of money for the criminal gangs that control it, and guess what? The US intelligence community is one of the biggest criminal drug gangs in the world, and the global drug trade is a great way for it to raise money to do morally repugnant stuff it can’t get openly funded by Congress. It’s been twenty years since journalist Gary Webb revealed the Reagan cabinet’s collusion with drug cartels in marketing cocaine inside the United States, to raise money for the right-wing Contra death squads in Nicaragua — a revelation he was gaslighted and driven to suicide for by the US intelligence community and mainstream press.

Now we hear that the US is “losing the drug war in Afghanistan.” Well, obviously — it’s a war that’s designed to be lost. The Taliban were so easy to overthrown in the fall of 2001 because they really did try to stamp out opium poppy cultivation, and with a fair degree of success. This didn’t sit well with the Afghan populace, which traditionally makes a lot of money growing poppies. But the Northern Alliance — which the United States turned into the national government of Afghanistan — was quite friendly to poppy cultivation in its territory. When the Taliban was overthrown, poppy and heroin cultivation resumed normal levels. Putting the US in charge of a “war on drugs in Afghanistan” is like putting Al Capone in charge of alcohol prohibition.

Besides, actually “winning” the drug war would mean ending it. And who in US domestic law enforcement wants to cut off the source of billions in federal aid and military equipment, militarized SWAT teams and unprecedented surveillance and civil forfeiture powers? This is a war meant to go on forever, just like the so-called War on Terror.

The state always encourages moral panic and “wars” on one thing or another in order to keep us afraid, so we’ll give it more power over our lives. Don’t believe its lies.

By Kevin Carson - More articles by Kevin Carson

Originally published at the Center for a Stateless Society on 7 November 2014

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World Inequality, Digital Life & the State

. @hjbentham. @TheVenusProject. #futurism. #equality. #antistatism. #moneyfree.

The creeping social inequality in Britain has become a source of growing concern to many.  When strikes and despair over the income disparity within a single country or locale feature often in our politics, do we unjustly forget the scale of global wealth inequality?

I am not writing this article to belie the social calamity of income inequality in Britain, nor to argue for more urgency in remedial foreign policies such as development assistance.  This is purely an analysis of the long-term crisis represented by global disparities of wealth, and the historical choices it will force on many actors in the world-system, from states to activists.

In a talk I heard in my studies at Lancaster University in 2012, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke gave his predictions on the greatest threats to global security in the short-term and long-term future.  One of his predictions struck me as the most important: the ease with which modern media allows different strata of the world to see one another’s vastly different lifestyles, thus threatening to turn global inequality into an ever greater spectacle.  This spectacle has the potential to inspire global rage, perhaps justifiable in the same sense as encountered in the years preceding the French Revolution.  Indeed, the present world order resembles France’s Ancien Régime in many ways.

Interestingly, the term “Third World”, used to denote less “developed” states, comes from the term “Third Estate”, which referred to “commoners” in France’s Ancien Régime – the subjects who rose up and turned their kingdom into a republic.  Famously, Alfred Sauvy coined the term when he presented an analogy between exploited colonial states under the European powers and exploited subjects living under absolute monarchy, in an article for L’Observateur in 1952.

Since Sauvy coined the term, decolonization has achieved its popular ends, but an exploitative structure remains in place.  At least that is the view of dependency theorists, world-systems theorists and other structuralist critics of the international system.  The most eminent of these analysts is Immanuel Wallerstein, possibly the greatest sociologist alive.

In Wallerstein’s analysis, the modern thesis of “development” supported by the United Nations and other intergovernmental institutions is as much to blame for world inequality as Europe’s colonial “civilizing” thesis that came before it.  In his widely taught theory of the world-system, the world can be socially and geographically broken down into three strata based on the kind of production processes occurring in different states and geographic regions.

Immanuel Wallerstein sees world inequality not as something proceeding from countries lagging behind others as a result of historic oppression and debt, but as something proceeding from the existence of “countries” altogether.  In his assessment, the division of the world into distinct nation-states is founded on arbitrary distinctions among the human race, and this gives rise to world inequality.  Taking up such logic, it is hard for one to deny that the dissolution of the nation-state model itself would be a core part of any long-term political designs for remedying world inequality.

If the abandonment of the nation-state model seems too radical for you at this stage, it is not too radical for Wallerstein.  In Utopistics (1998) he predicts that a crisis that could occur as early as the coming half-century will create real opportunities to seriously challenge the nation-state model.  He does not say what alternative system this crisis entails, but argues that there will be a unique opportunity to construct something far more egalitarian than anything previously known.  If a more equitable order is indeed gained, this would involve borders ceasing to be necessary or recognized, and authoritarian state norms becoming unsustainable.

We can already see antagonisms that are directly tied to the transnational wealth inequalities on which this article is focused.  Often misleadingly framed as issues between two states, they are actually issues between opposing strata of the world-system itself.  Such issues include crises on the land, like migration to the United States through its brutally enforced border with Mexico, and the inhumane occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli State.  They include crises on the water, such as migration from North Africa to Spain and Italy.

The crises tied to the enforcement of borders are part of the larger crisis gripping what Wallerstein calls the “interstate system”.  This interstate system is the “political superstructure” of a global division of labor predicated on the historic industrial inequality persisting between entire continents and so-called nations.  Strong states possess advanced factories and skills, while weak states are left to mine arduously.  Wallerstein describes this exploitative situation in terms of a “core-periphery” relationship, in which the industrialized powers represent the “core”.

Another side to this crisis of the state is the alarming spread of internecine conflict and the growing perception of law enforcers as illegitimate, arbitrary and cruel (the 2014 Ferguson Riots are a compelling example of this and demonstrate that the US is not exempt).  Such trends point inexorably towards the view that the nation-state may eventually be fated to be abandoned – not just in a particular country, but everywhere.

In my view, Wallerstein’s analysis is compelling.  However, it lacks emphasis on the dawn of digital life, which has added a whole new dimension to the crisis of the world-system by literally turning the world into a community of individuals interacting on an unprecedented supranational level.  This is historically important and bound to change global politics for very profound and complex reasons.

Another key historian of the world-system, Benedict Anderson, says something insightful about our modern nation-states in his book, Imagined Communities (1982).  His analysis differs from Wallerstein’s, mainly due to his greater emphasis on technology and language.  He gives the example of Bismarck’s Germany as the first modern nation-state, which differs from Wallerstein’s preoccupation with revolutionary France.  In Imagined Communities, Anderson explains that the telegraph and rail systems allowed Germany to become a unified nation, by developing a sense of national consciousness.

If telegraph led to the formation of national consciousness through an illusory sense of community enough to give rise to a nation, surely it follows that the internet – with its profound revolution in our lives – will give rise to something equally significant.  The champion of today’s rebel “cypherpunk” elite, Julian Assange, has said something very approximate to this in his own rhetoric, arguing that a “new body politic” is rising to challenge government authority through the internet.  He also describes digital life as borderless and free, in such a way that can only become more and more real as digital technology continues its exponential growth.  It is no accident that this sounds like the egalitarian post-state future leaned towards by Wallerstein as humanity’s noblest alternative.

Modern political legitimacy is founded on the doctrine of popular sovereignty, as Immanuel Wallerstein repeatedly points out in his works.  One may be the citizen of a “nation” by having certain arbitrary qualities or place of birth, and as such may be treated equally and defended by a given state.  This is what we call being part of a nation, whether it is the United States or a highly contested “state” like Palestine or Abkhazia.  However, the basis of such an institution is very much in question, and in the future it will become increasingly weakened by the growing transnational consciousness brought about by weakening borders and exponential digital communication.

Where does this lead us?  Shall we reject popular sovereignty as obsolete?  Impossible.  It is the sacrosanct foundation of all modern democracy and civil rights, and the only reliable metric of social progress.  Self-determination of nations has been part of the doctrine of popular sovereignty, as is the idea that regimes must be legitimately elected to power by their constituent nations.  However, if the nation is to become obsolete, as predicted in Wallerstein’s analysis of the crisis of the world-system, self-determination still stands because human rights are sacrosanct.  The self-recognition of transnational humanity as sovereign must follow, and global lines of transport and communication make that feasible.  The hard part is educating people that their dear “nation” no longer exists, and that is why speech and writing to sustain a global social narrative are so vital.

Perhaps the end result of the self-determination of humanity is not necessarily “global citizenship” as predicted by some (redundant, since citizenship is designed to exclude others and serves no purpose if it lacks this proscriptive power).  Nor is it necessarily “world government”.  However, we can know that human rights like self-determination will outlive the existence of the nation-state, and the alternative regime will then be designed and elected by the whole of transnational humanity rather than a particular group.

A new form of network-centric governance, authoritative but not authoritarian, based on scientific methods of evaluation, and tolerating no disparities in wealth or information, is a model that could supersede all the nations and make world inequality obsolete.  Such a revised politics would be intellectually consistent with and assist to usher in a Global Resource-Based Economy.

By Harry J. Bentham – More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published in Issue 13 of The Venus Project Magazine

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11 November 2014

Five Targets for Techno-Social Change

. @hjbentham. #antistatism. #nationalism. #remembrance. #patriot.

Acting On Transition

This essay aims to discuss decisive points of technological significance in five realms of social change posited by Yale sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein in a 1996 essay, “The Global Possibilities, 1990-2025”. [1] This particular essay has been isolated for attention due to its ability to summarize specific trends of unprecedented change. In some earlier essays at Dissident Voice, I focused on how Immanuel Wallerstein’s ideas strongly indicate a path of liberation in various arenas that are in fact influenced by the nature of current technology. For example, advancements in cross-borders communication and transport are eroding the social cohesion of states. Also notable is how the anticipated ease of manufacturing as a result of various emerging technologies could foreseeably weaken the capitalist division of labor between the rich minority and poor majority of the world population. These are possibilities explored in this essay, posited among other targets for techno-progressive striving.

Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems approach posits that the world is a single interconnected social system, [2] and capitalism is dependent on a large division of labor between the oppressed majority who gain nothing from participation and the oppressive minority who gain everything. [3] Unlike other “orthodox” forms of Marxism, the Wallersteinian approach makes clear that the theories trying to define some form of oppressed proletariat inside each state are less useful than the theories defining a geographically distinct bloc of oppressed countries and groups like the Global South. [4] This puts the Wallersteinian approach in conflict with older Marxist ideas, and dramatically alters the implications of what changes might be entailed in the overthrow of current regimes.

The Twenty-First Century can be called a century of transition. If its outcome is a substantively rational world, the transition will allow us to depart from five hundred years of oppressive global economic structural necessities. [5] Transition is a term applicable to the period of the crisis that is marking the end of the current world system, as the end of the present world system is the end of capitalism. [6] Based on Wallerstein’s analysis, such an end entails the elimination of the unjust capitalist division of labor splitting the world into the profitable North and the exploited South.

Nothing is guaranteed without our agency, and our agency can be said to offer us two different sets of directions. On the reactionary side, the world system can be anticipated to survive and continue functioning in its oppressive manner, based upon an axial division of labor between the poor majority of humanity and the privileged few. Wallerstein projects this as a possibility if the present exploitative world economy showed an indication that it will be surviving post-2025. [7] On the progressive side, there is a chaotic period of structural global crisis, perhaps unfortunately “hell on earth”, [8] and such a phase entails the evolution of the world order into its next form through the demise of the capitalist division of labor. If evolution of historical systems demands an evolutionary pressure, and evolutionary pressure requires crisis, then such crisis is endurable in the long run even if the costs become terrible in the present. Those of us who are rational progressives, and understand the technological side of change, must help the chaotic transition to occur and actively channel the chaos in a productive direction towards the world’s socialist alternative.

Chaos is not something we would like to encourage normally, because it requires giving in to the ruthless winds of uncertainty, and rushing to build new structures without the oppressive historical origins of the old structures. But, in view of the many doors to the “uncertain alternative” [9] ahead, perhaps we must be prepared to give up our apparent moral and cultural foundations for the sake of a better alternative adhering to the character of modernity. We must submit to chaos, if we want to allow the oppressive order of the present to fall, so that we can build anew when the crisis has birthed the next civilization. No-one can predict the outcome of our civilization’s evolution, for the craftsman is crisis itself, but we can rest assured that a new order will emerge out of chaos. [10] Wallerstein drew attention to six vectors of the structural crisis of the current world system. [11] But, still relevant today, there were five specified arenas of social change [12] that can be used to suggest techno-progressive targets in the attempt to push aspects of the transition through.

Target 1: Delegitimize “Nations”

 “Gemeinschaften”, or groups, represent an arena best expressed in the continued need to perpetuate some notion of citizenship in the world. The concept of citizenship has given rise to the prevailing fictive narrative for binding human “groups” and offering more rights to some than others. The concept has been identified with states, guaranteed by states and used by states to legitimize their sovereignty. For two centuries, each person in the world system has been a citizen of some country, and this normally means one country. The question is whether citizenship will remain dominant when it comes to group loyalty and affinity. Chaos arises in the assertion of new groups to replace the old Nineteenth Century idea of national identity as this falls apart. [13] For those of us who understand the transition at work, the choice that we are offered provides three routes. We can either regress to the status quo ante of citizenship to protect the group we have known, we can seek self-protection and aggrandizement of the group in the manner of ethno-nationalist narratives, or we can appeal to new group ideas as a way of promoting democratization and equality. [14] Knowing the third option to be the progressive target, we can say that the old idea of citizenship must be discarded and undermined, but we must also thwart the emergence of new identity narratives that do not accommodate the search for equality. In sum, “communities” or “identities” of various kinds, be they religious, ethnic, and so on, should be accepted as rhetorical, transitory vehicles for democratic and egalitarian purposes. However, in the long term, the identity narratives should be shed upon the stabilization of a more rational world order consisting of only one greater human community.

The greatest obstacle is the prevailing notion of citizenship, and so the delegitimization of nations and citizenship is a worthy target for techno-progressive action. This can be achieved by thwarting the divisions among nations. Language is a significant barrier. If technologies can be developed that allow for greater communication across borders, for example technologies that enhance what the Internet is already doing and allow language barriers to be eroded, such technologies will help to break the social cohesion of states. In turn, this will force people to re-examine their identities in a more rational way, so they may delegitimize and question the concepts of nation and citizen.

Target 2: Circumvent State Dominance

 “Police order” or “stateness” has been “guaranteed by the states, who use force, reward and faith to enforce order”. [15] The richer minority states have always been best at this type of control, due to their greater available technology and other aspects of their power. [16] The world system’s axial division of labor has provided a stable global production process, due to the projection of a form of global police order from the rich countries out towards the poor countries.  Stateness is oppressive in nature and ought to be eliminated, as it offers support to the prevailing structures of knowledge. [17]

Techno-progressives should embrace a dramatic and precipitous decline in stateness, [18] which they can seek out by empowering normal citizens against their governments to overcome the sustainability of various regimes based on brutal police order. If state power can be subverted by the common inhabitants of states, the world is taking a step towards eliminating a brutal and violent basis of power.

Target 3: Subvert Military Supremacy

 “Military order” is an important pillar of the current international system.  Wars are now mainly interventional, by the rich countries against poor countries, with oppressive purposes to sustain the axial division of labor. On the other hand, there could conceivably be retaliatory transnational wars by South against North. [19]

The aim of techno-progressives should be to subvert the military supremacy of the North and all hegemonic exercise of military power. This entails promoting the democratization of technological means of resistance, so that the South is more capable of resistance to the North’s wars of conquest and plunder. [20]

Target 4: Sustain Global Welfare

 “Welfare” can include food and healthcare. [21] However, it is obvious that this arena can also be extended to include energy security. Ideologues of the present world system congratulate themselves on the triumphs of the technology derived from global production dependent on the axial division of labor, but the triumphs are unsustainable. Structural collapses, based on the issues already discussed in the previous three targets, will unfortunately eliminate this sole redeeming attribute of the world order. [22]

The techno-progressive emancipatory move would focus on somehow sustaining and keeping global welfare intact, even if this requires acts considered illegal according to intellectual property laws. Aspects of the world order that appear calculated to preserve the production process by keeping industrial secrets in the hands of the few are actually aimed at keeping the production process maximally profitable. As technology races forward in terms of medicine, energy and agriculture, it should be leaked, democratized and made available to the worst-off elements of the world population through techno-progressive campaigns.

Target 5: Reform Religious Institutions

 “Stability of religious institutions” is the fifth arena specified by Immanuel Wallerstein, and we can note that there is said to be a religious revival. [23] In fact, in all ways, the various religious revivals are minor in comparison with the ultimately secular debates that have been handed down to religious institutions from the political sphere. This proves that religion is actually turning towards the progressive as a result of social commentary, accommodating such things as equality for women. [24]

An unfortunate direction would be to maintain the religious institutions as reactionary fortresses, preventing their negotiations with rational social issues of equality, on the grounds that such progressive narratives threaten to corrode the institution’s own foundations until it loses legitimacy. There is nothing inherently bad about religious institutions. As specified in the discussion of the first target, religious identity is more preferable for encouragement than national identity, because at least religious identity can be transnational. This allows it to be used as a cultural clothing to criticize some of the worst and most oppressive aspects of the world system. Religious symbolism and argument can be justified if it leads towards egalitarian ends, which it achieves more effectively than Nineteenth Century nation-state rhetoric.

Technology can help to meet the target of religious reform by changing minds and delegitimizing the nation, as specified in the discussion of the first target.

In sum, techno-progressives can approach the throes of transition to a new world system optimistically if they consider the kind of technological opportunities that exist and support their options. As I have argued in other essays, large amounts of the structural oppression in the world can be delegitimized and overpowered through a primarily technological form of progress and empowerment.

[1] Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Global Possibilities, 1990-2025”, p.226-243 in Thomas Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, et al., The Age of Transition (Zed Books Ltd, London, 1996)
[2] Id., “The Rise and Future Demise of the Capitalist World System”, p. 71-105 in The Essential Wallerstein (The New York Press, New York, 2000), p. 71-74.
[3] Id., “Class Formation in the Capitalist World-Economy”, p. 315-323 in The Essential Wallerstein (The New York Press, New York, 2000), p. 316.
[4] Id., World-Systems Analysis: An introduction (Duke University Press, Durham, 2004), p. 28.
[5] Ibid. p. 23.
[6] Id., “Modernization: Requiescat in Pace”, p. 106-111 in The Essential Wallerstein (The New York Press, New York, 2000), p. 111.
[7] Id., “The Global Possibilities, 1990-2025”, p.226-243 in Thomas Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, et al., The Age of Transition (Zed Books Ltd, London, 1996) p. 226.
[8] Id., Utopistics (The New Press, New York, 1998) p. 35.
[9] Id., “Social Science and the Quest for a Just Society”, p. 185-203 in The Essential Wallerstein (The New York Press, New York, 2000), p. 203.
[10] Id., “The Agonies of Liberalism: What Hope Progress?” p. 416-434 in The Essential Wallerstein (The New York Press, New York, 2000), p. 431.
[11] Thomas Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, et al., The Age of Transition (Zed Books Ltd, London, 1996) p. 2.
[12] Ibid. p. 239.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid. p. 240.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid. p. 241.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid. p. 241-242.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid. p. 242.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid. p. 242-243.
[24] Ibid.

By Harry J. Bentham – More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published at Dissident Voice on 8 May 2013

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