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 will run out of estrogen this week. The endo won’t renew the prescription without a new appointment. The clinic screwed up my last appointment. I went through hours of pain on the bus and in the waiting room to find out they had cancelled my appointment while I was waiting there for my appointment. I don’t have the mental energy to try again, and will have even less energy when my estrogen runs out. I can’t deal with the hours of pain and I can’t be sure that they won’t cancel my appointment again.

If we as trans people had better access to health care, this wouldn’t be so hard.

If we as autistic people had better access to health care and public accommodations, this wouldn’t be so hard.

If you consider yourself a cis or neurotypical ally, ask yourself and us how innaccessible such things are, and ask yourself and us what you can do to change things.
marjaerwin: (Default)
My arm injuries are getting worse.

I’m planning to get a new desktop computer with better ergonomics and install either Mint with Mate or another accessible version of Linux on it. Obviously it’s hard to test Linux compatibility and accessibility in store.

I am clumsy, and often hit the wrong key, or select the wrong item from a menu, or miss the button or link I’m trying to select. I can type with my right hand, but am too clumsy to type with my left hand, let alone both at once. I am sensitive to bright lights and high-pitched noises. My previous computer, before I traded it for this one, was a Toshiba. It had a painfully bright screen, and high-pitched processor noise. I tried using it at the minimum screen brightness, with a piece of paper in front of the screen, and wearing sunglasses, but it was still painfully bright. I also took it in for repairs for the noise, and eventually sent it in for factory refurb, but it came back with the same noise.
marjaerwin: (Default)
Right now I’m using an unsupported version of Ubuntu and Gnome 2. I’m considering Linux Mint Debian Edition and Mate.

Right now I can use the keyboard, touchpad, mouse, and joystick. I have a buggy touchpad and it’s very important to be able to install the needed patches and be able to disable tapping. If I can’t disable tapping, then nothing works and everything goes haywire. I would prefer to be able to use a joystick, since it doesn’t require the same arm-twisting, but it doesn’t offer enough point control. I cannot use a scrollwheel or a trackball or the like. Cannot.

I’m not exactly satisfied with Gnome 2. It’s a strain on my arms and hands. I need wider scrollbars and bigger on-screen buttons so I can use the scrollbars and buttons, and I need more smaller menus so I can use them menus without the submenus collapsing. But it’s the best I’ve seen so far.

I’ve tried Unity.

I’ve tried Xfce. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support touchpad settings.

I’ve tried KDE. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support touchpad settings, and it keeps resetting the screen to maximum brightness which makes my eyes bleed.


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