marjaerwin: (Default)
I’ve been thinking about how my experiences with disabilities have shaped my perception of anarchism.

Throughout western culture, there’s the tension between the idea that our value is innate in our humanity, and the idea that our value is dependent on our utility to others. But utility doesn’t exist in itself, it exists in its time and place and for people, and it exists in this whole complex social system. Someone who holds a key bottleneck in the social system [such as a key patent, or a telecom monopoly], can open it, can close it, can extract payment for it [even if it is only force that creates the bottleneck or keeps others from creating alternatives and working around the bottleneck]. In fact, they may contribute utility from a neoliberal perspective, for opening the bottleneck when paid, and disutility from an anarchist perspective, for creating the damn bottleneck and demanding payment. Someone who holds no such position in the social system cannot. Someone who society has enabled is more able to do good or ill. Someone who society has disabled is less able to.

It is important to understand that disability is not purely medical, it is also social. Our societies systematically enable certain people, with certain conditions, and disable other people, with other conditions. I think some disabilities are almost entirely medical problems, for example, my having asthma poses medical problems, and secondarily social problems such as how to avoid allergies; by way of contrast, my being autistic poses social problems, such as how to avoid strobing lights, eye contact, and high-pitched beeps, without posing medical problems.

If our society normalizes demands for eye contact, normalizes the use of stairs instead of ramps, and so on, it has the effect of enabling some people while disabling others. It allows some people to create more utility and allows other people to create less, and then uses the difference to justify favoring some people while marginalizing others. If our society demands bright lighting everywhere, that helps people with certain visual conditions, and hurts people with other visual conditions, if it demands flashing lights as safety features, it allows some people to avoid the lights and incapacitates other people with these lights.

For all these reasons, I cannot trust any economic system which embodies ‘to each according to their work,’ because we are not given the same opportunity to usefully work. But at the same time, I cannot trust any economic system which embodies ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs,’ because I cannot trust anyone else to understand my abilities and disabilities or to understand my needs. I am ultimately the expert on my own experience, even if others may be better experts on my medical issues. And if an anarcho-communist community were to allow me to take whatever I needed from communal services, I have no guarantee that the services would be accessible or my needs would be available there. In fact there might be political objections to my treatment for my endocrine conditions, as well as practical problems finding ear protectors, a quiet computer, or other unusual specialized requirements. I would need to obtain these things through mutual exchange.

It would seem that neither communism on its own, nor exchange, on its own, fully includes those of us with disabilities. I have to ask anarchists and other leftists and other libertarians how they propose to solve this problem.

I believe that society as a whole has an obligation to include everyone, and certain community institutions will have an obligation to include everyone. I suppose a basic income might be a first answer, both as a means of including everyone, and as a means of compensation for excluding anyone. In effect, just as geoism proposes to compensate those excluded from land, this would compensate those excluded from social institutions, and also help counter exclusion. But this would pose its own problems. Who would administer it? Why would they be any more responsible to those society has disabled than all the other institutions have? or any less corruptible by those society has most enabled? I do not think it is the best answer. (a)

Further Credit: [I think] I first encountered the social model of disability, referred to and extensively used above, at a workshop by AndreaA Newman Mascis [my notes are mixed up, and I initially confused this with another workshop]. I suggest that people interested in sensory sensitivities look at the work of Sharon Heller and/or Olga Bogdashina.

previously posted on tumblr:

(a) I have rewritten this paragraph. An earlier version read: A basic income, since the land belongs to all, and the benefits society provides to those it enables could arguably belong to all, and especially to those it disables, might be a first answer, but it poses its own problems. Who would administer it? Why would they be any more responsible to those society has disabled than all the other institutions have? or any less corruptible by those society has most enabled? I do not think it is the best answer.
marjaerwin: (Default)
First, I’m ethically opposed to violence.

Second, the ruling systems of today are based on violence: the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, capitalism, and torture.

Third. violent resistance is in no way comparable to the violent system.

Fourth, violent resistance is ill-suited to ending the violent system.

Fifth, violent means are more easily bent to oppressive ends, and non-violent means are more easily bent towards liberatory ends; violent means are also prone to futility. A decisive military victory, like Breitenfeld, Blenheim, Leuthen, or Austerlitz usually turns out completely irrelevant within five or ten years.

Sixth, non-violent means are means, and to turn non-violence into an end in itself risks tolerating violent systems. The point isn’t to speak truth to power. At times it’s to speak truth to those who don’t have power or can’t see their power. At times it’s to disarm power. And in the end it is to abolish power as we know it and build a world for equality and humanity.

Seventh, know your enemy - or set out to know one part of it. Tolstoy isn’t just remembered as a great pacifist and a great novelist, he is also remembered as a historian of the Napoleonic wars.

Cross-posted from my tumblr:
marjaerwin: (Default)
Well, a lot of the problem is how to create community institutions, and all institutions, which are constitutionally egalitarian, which protect minority rights without compromise, are responsible to the community, and aren’t vulnerable to takeover by those who are most manipulative, rent-seeking, or hateful.

I don’t think the state is how to do it. Every state gets taken over, and just about every state violates its own constitutional principles, written or unwritten, is inegalitarian, fails to protect minority rights, and/or is unresponsive to the community.

I think one of the differences between anarchism and panarchism is that anarchism draws on shared principles encompassing liberal values and moving beyond liberal values into socialist values, while panarchism rejects shared principles and all too often means cooperating with nasties and neo-Nazis who want the right to create a white cis hetero male supremacist dystopia in their county. (I take comfort in the knowledge that it can’t last if there’s enough egalitarians in the next county over. The Confederates knew it was rule or ruin for their system, they couldn’t enforce slavery in the south without federal support and the fugitive slave act in the north, and that was when people had to travel hundreds of miles to reach freedom. The whole thing falls apart when someone can walk ten miles to reach freedom, but it’s hell for kids and people with disabilities and people who are locked up.)

I guess in my local context, I want the Bill of Rights and the Reconstruction Amendments to outlast the state. I see them as being at odds with the state in its present form. I see them as too weak but a good start. I want a world where the state isn’t replaced by private organizations with no such responsibilities - see the intelligence-sharing that the FBI and DHS use to get around legal restrictions on surveillance against Occupy - but is replaced with community organizations which inherit these responsibilities and more, and can be held to these responsibilities.

Of course, that takes building a movement and a culture which respects and values these responsibilities.
marjaerwin: (Default)
So on the Guardian, another commenter has suggested that fascism acquired its rationales for political violence from anarchism, here and in later posts:

The extremes of fascist political violence included wars, police states, and genocide. How many wars have anarchists started? None. How many police states have anarchists run? None. How many genocides have anarchists conducted? None.

The acceptance of wars, police states, violence against the poor, and violence against minorities is hardly unique to fascism. It's the systematic, deliberate, industrialized genocide which is unique to fascism. But the closest parallels are with other right-wing political ideologies, such as other forms of nationalism and other forms of racism.

But wars, and violence against the poor, and violence against minorities are too often taken for granted, and accepted, if not embraced, by almost every non-anarchist political ideology. They aren't seen as political violence. As long as it's the powerful killing the powerless, it's invisible, unless it reaches the extremes of war and genocide. Only when it's the powerless hurting the powerful is it visible as violence.

If someone dies from preventable disease, it's not considered violence. If policies force her into unemployment and/or poverty, it's not considered violence. If policies price medical care out of her reach, it's not considered violence.

If someone is killed crossing the street, it's not considered violence. If road maintenance ignores pedestrian safety it's not considered violence.

If someone is bullied to death, it's only recently recognized as violence.

If a head of state is assassinated, it's immediately recognized as violence, and usually blamed on anarchists. I've read other essays claiming that the assassinations of Alexander Romanov, William McKinley, and Franz Ferdinand were by anarchists, but the first was by a Narodnik, the second is disputed, and the third was by a nationalist. May as well mention the assassination of Frank Steunenburg, by union-busters who tried to frame union organizers who were sympathetic to anarchism.

Of course, it's often impossible to conceal the violence of war and genocide, except against the smallest minorities.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Conventional femininity injures, mutilates, and sometimes kills.

Jill, at I Blame the Patriarchy ( ) considers who is to blame for the death of Carolin Berger, a German porn actress.

It is only too easy for defenders of the status quo to blame those who die of plastic surgery. All too many people believe the world is just. Devout believers in the American Dream believe that work will make them rich and free; that the rich have earned their wealth and the poor have squandered their opportunities. Drawing from the same world-view, they tend to believe whoever has been tortured must be guilty, whoever has been raped must have led their attackers on, and whoever has fallen ill must have neglected their health. Of course they will also believe that whoever has been injured or killed in surgery must have neglected the risks.

It is only too easy for cultural critics to blame the plastic surgery and porn industries. There is plenty of guilt among them. Surgery has its dangers. When some surgeons push extra procedures, or dismiss the risks, they betray their patients. When some practitioners use silicone injections, they mutilate, and often murder their patients. Rape culture depends on certain myths. When some porn producers imply that love doesn't matter, when they imply that consent doesn't matter, they encourage rape. When they normativize one body type and exoticize another, they encourage body-image problems, and racist and transphobic stereotypes. And the critics can do as much harm as good. When cultural critics turn aside, to mock trans people as Germaine Greer or Suzanne Moore have done, they create scapegoats while invisibilizing deeper problems.

I blame the plutocracy.

The ruling class has taken more and more wealth for itself. The other classes are faced with increasing precarity, the destruction of unions and communities, the growth of the prison-industrial complex, and the criminalization of poverty. The ruling class has taken more and more spending-power for itself, while destroying more and more of the bargaining power of the other classes. The ruling class is creating a harem economy. It is creating an economy where the best option for many lower-class individuals is to become concubines for higher-class ones. It is one of the few forms of class mobility left.

Individual tastes will vary, but the institution reinforces certain styles: ones which imply that the concubine is high-status, and still lower-status than their partner. Conspicuous consumption, expensive, and time-consuming styles can express high status; the combination of submissive-signifiers and dominant-signifiers can express unequal status between the concubine and their partner.

Foot-binding was an extreme example of both tendencies. It crippled its victims. It made it far harder for Chinese womyn to work, and the lost labor-power was conspicuously consumed. It made it far harder for Chinese womyn to assert independence, and enforced submission. Expensive surgeries, crippling footwear, fragile clothing and time-consuming cosmetics are not as extreme as foot binding, but they are status-signifiers and often submission-signifiers.

Under these circumstances, the status-signifiers, if not the submission-signifiers, of concubinage set beauty standards in other aspects of society. The plastic surgery industry cannot introduce new beauty standards. The porn industry can introduce its own beauty standards, but it will most often adopt the wider culture's beauty standards, and enforce them on its actresses and actors.
marjaerwin: (Default)
1. A government can't solve systemic unemployment through stimulus. It can create temporary boosts which *mask* systemic unemployment; it may even have significant effects depending how easily it responds to spending and how slowly the unemployment rate approaches its normal level relative to the economic system.

2. A functioning economy has an unemployment rate arbitrarily close to zero. It translates increased productivity into more ownlife - better pay and shorter hours, improved quality of life, including greater social/cultural freedom.

3. The present economy translates increased productivity into increased profits for the ruling class, but not more ownlife for everyone. It isn't functioning for everyone. It is only functioning for the ruling class.

4. Systemic unemployment and systemic poverty are two of the symptoms of the fact that the economy serves the ruling class at the expense of the rest of society.

5. I'm sick of arguments over whether more stimulus will repair the economy. In the short run, it may well help people. In the long run, it can't repair the economy, and the political apparatus exists to rig the economy, so we can't trust it to repair the economy.

6. A voluntary, decentralized, and egalitarian economy may not work perfectly, but it's likely to work better for more people than the present economy. I don't think that necessarily requires market-oriented mutualism; I suspect that such an economy is likely to adjust its balance between cash-based and non-cash-based structures, in response to the needs of various members, the range of calculational issues, etc.

P.S. Getting into the slightly-less-obvious:

7. A functioning economy means, among other things, that anyone can support herself, and no oligopoly controls access to work. As such, it has no underclass. And it is no longer possible to use someone's race, sex, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. to force anyone into a nonexistent underclass. Being able to flee discrimination is good, but with the borders closing shut, it's harder and harder. Being able to demand equality is better.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Some of these ideas are controversial, but they should be food for thought:

1. Consent is a relationship between equals.

2. Consent cannot exist between ruler and ruled; the people cannot consent to the state or be bound by any obligation to it, and there are similar limits for more limited subordination.

3. Consent requires more than mere legal equality.

4. Consent in matters of the self is distinct from consent in matters of one's possessions.

5. One can never consent to what one cannot perform. One cannot consent to withdraw the right to withdraw consent. One cannot consent to give up one's conscience. One cannot consent to harm another.

6. One can consent in advance; one can withdraw consent at any time; in the most personal matters, one can withdraw consent at any time, and no one can demand any penalty; in non-personal matters, one can withdraw consent after reaching an agreement, but the other parties may be able to ask for compensation. In no case can they demand specific performance.

7. If one withdraws consent, others must immediately stop any act which would require one's consent.

The biggest question, in my opinion, is how equal must relationships be to be equal enough for consent. All I can say at this point is that as relationships are less equal, the obligations of the more powerful people should be tightened, and those of the less powerful should be loosened or voided altogether.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I used to be a Marxist.

Besides the flaws of Marxism as a historical theory and a political program, it also encouraged a blindness to cultural considerations (such as misogyny, racism, or heterosexism) in its focus on economic ones (there's something *weird* about the idea that if we can get beyond capitalism, then every other form of oppression will go away). Even worse, it encouraged me to ignore anyone's needs and feelings, and internalize an ethic of self-sacrifice.

I slowly untangled the problems and turned toward anarchism.


I am now considering whether some of my other ideas have involved similar errors. Marxism encouraged me to put principles before people. Has pacifism encouraged me to do the same? Has non-aggression? Have I gone too far with these ideas? I need to think about this.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Through bullying, through high workloads, and through indifference to the needs of different children. Classrooms may be a good teaching environment for some kids, mediocre for other, and downright destructive for some. Bullying was an epidemic when I was in school, and I understand it has grown worse yet. Calling for more discipline will only deepen the problems - some teachers and some administrators are bullies, and they target the same victims, for the same reasons, as those students who are bullies:

Too short.

Too weak.

Too weird.

Too geeky.

Too queer.

Too nonconformist.

Too much of a problem with positional authority.

Calling for kids to be sent to the same schools earlier in their lives, and confined there - exposed to the abuses of bullies - for longer, is only going to mean more kids killing themselves, and sooner, and more kids scarred for life. Essays like Legend's are asinine at best and callous at worse. To link:

Let's remember that positional authority is false authority. Authority does not come from positions, and morality does no come from laws. Bakunin said it well:

"In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism censure. I do not content myself with consulting authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest."

I may disagree with much of the remainder of the essay. It does not matter. I agree with the above passage, among others, not because of Bakunin's authority, but because of that of my own reason and experience. To link:
marjaerwin: (Default)
An economy that requires ever-greater consumption is part of the problem, and breaking it up has to be part of the solution.

An economy that requires ever-greater demand *can't* let anyone satisfy demand: it has to find ways to charge more for the same things, or to charge money for what was once free. In practice, politically-connected businesses find ways to inflate the costs of their services and/or disservices: thus the banking, intellectual robbery,* and prison industries do well.

An economy that requires ever-greater consumption is also destroying the environment. That should be obvious ...

*'Cause we all know which kind of *property* intellectual property is. It sure isn't freedom. And until we make it impossible, it will continue to be robbery.
marjaerwin: (Default)

And, as we learned before the Iraq War, the press repeats the government's stories without taking the time to separate fact from fiction.

You can't have a free society without a free press. You can't have a free press unless it is independent of the power structures. In America, the press is only too eager to report state and corporate propaganda for its stories, and too reluctant to question the official story.


Oct. 2nd, 2010 05:57 pm
marjaerwin: (Default)
I am a pacifist.

I don't really want to discuss all my reasons for pacifism. Suffice to say, some are because I seek nonviolence and some are because I have noticed that the logic of violence and escalation draws people into terrible acts, sometimes the very acts they tried to oppose. The means we use shape our ends, for good or ill. Good means will draw us to better ends, and bad means will draw us to worse ends.

I just want to say that I think institutionalized violence is worse than human violence. And institutionalized violence is everywhere. I am trying to figure out how to untangle myself from it. In terms of the political institutions, being non-violent comes close to being a non-person. It means not voting within any violent institution. It means not using the courts against any other person. It means not asking others to use violence and not encouraging others to use such institutions. I had hoped to be able to counsel other trauma survivors, but I can't compromise my moral ideals to meet the legal expectations of such positions. So after months of soul-searching I decided to avoid that. I sometimes feel helpless. A good case can be made that we live in a state of atrocity. I mean, war, poverty, murder, rape: what else would you call it? But the logic of violence is the same in any condition. I think we need counter-institutions which are non-violent and support non-violence. Now how do we get there from here?

I tend to pursue feminist projects because I can sometimes make progress. Something more tangible than marching against war, getting beaten up, and getting told I should fracking vote...


marjaerwin: (Default)

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