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)
I am not really a market anarchist any more, but I feel I need to explain and defend a few points.

I think it’s important to have a system where people can communicate what they need, and what they want, and what they don’t need, and what they can do to help, and I think it’s important to have systems where people can work things among themselves, if for some reason they can’t work things out through the community or union or federation orgs. Like if left-pterfs are running the community health center, I’ve got to go somewhere else for my medical needs, and if ableists are ignoring my disabilities, I’ve got to find some alternative to a ‘balanced job complex’ that’s not balanced for me. I think markets are an imperfect solution, because of unbalanced information, unbalanced bargaining power, unbalanced buying power, and externalities, among other problems, but I think they contain the seeds of a solution.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I think it's misleading to portray mutualism and geoism as two opposing philosophies. One ca be either or both. I think it makes more sense to portray occupancy and use and land-tax/compensation as two alternative modes of land ownership, with mutualists most often undecided, and geoists most often favoring land-tax/compensation.

Now as far as I understand it, geoism is a natural rights theory that defends each individual’s access-right to the commons, points out the social costs of the seizure or destruction of the commons, pnd proposes taxes on land value, pollution, and/or resource destruction as a way to defend each individual’s access-right to the commons. Many mutualists and geoists will agree on the first two principles, but may disagree on the last.

1. First of all, that this solution is justified and is immediately practical.

2. Second, that this solution is justified and is not immediately practical. Objections include how to prevent corruption/abuse of land tax and pollution tax assessment, collection, and distribution powers, how to calculate land tax, how to calculate land value differences between continents, how to calculate pollution fines, how to distribute pollution fines when the effects are regional rather than global, etc. Alternatives are that breaking up the larger landholdings would solve most of the problems with the present unjust distribution. Ingalls pointed out that land values changed completely in the Finger Lakes region with the introduction of wine-growing.

3. Third, that this solution is unjust, regardless of whether it is practical. Objections include the [false] idea that it taxes agriculture to benefit industry [price increases cancel this out, though it taxes resource-intensive agriculture relative to resource-conserving agriculture], that it is an instrument of dispossession of indigenous peoples with extensive land-use practices, and that it taxes environmental conservation programs hich cannot or do not monetize themselves [of course, occupancy and use fails the same test, unless modified; one needs to assume that any of these systems can be modified]. Proudhon argued that it taxes agriculture.
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)
One thing about surviving trauma is that you can get a little wiser about the world. Another thing about surviving trauma is that you can get broken.

That feeling of constant vulnerability? That sense that you need to get away from the danger and find safety, and that knowledge that you can't get away from the danger and there is no safety and there is no truly safe space? It's true. It's true and most people flinch away because they know they can't function if they know this truth. But some of us don't get to flinch away. And we can't function any more. Not unless we change the world and change its truths. Not unless we change the world so there is safe space.
marjaerwin: (Default)
I don't know what happened here. I don't know how the individual involved identifies, but I do know that the media mis-identifies many trans womyn as cross-dressing men. And there is a serious frakking power imbalance here:

Most of the comments, of course, make fun of the situation, and ignore the fact that (1) this society gives police officers a great deal of power over civilians (2) it gives cis people power over trans people and (3) it gives certain people a great deal of power over sex workers. For all I know, the officer involved may have *perceived* the relationship as consensual, and the sex worker involved may have *feared* extortion at the same time; it is easier to see power from below than from above.

On the same topic, I'm going to link to one of Darian Worden's essays:

*I am using cis in the narrower sense, to refer to people who agree with their assigned sex-identity and conform to its assigned sex-roles.

**I can't really say how much horizontal oppression is involved in the oppression of sex workers; in this case, horizontal oppression doesn't appear to be involved.
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.


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