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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ιδεολογία

Is a smile for happiness
when it's for sale?
Or is it real when the mind is for sale
too?
Do the prayers we pray
reach the heavens
or do they wind us more as we
do?
When Truth comes to your hands
does it burn brightly?
Or does it melt and fall all the way
through?

Does your weeping matter
when you don't know why you weep?

How could anyone be so alone
when moving images provide such company?

Do you know it's real, when real isn't real itself?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Brief Message to the (Radical) Women I Know

If you date men, steer clear of dating someone who desires to convert you to his political or religious views. This has happened to me before on multiple occasions, and it will certainly cause you a lot of pain. It's not just that men who assume they're entitled to fuck with your mind don't appreciate you for who you are in the present, it's also that their acts most certainly amount to gaslighting.

If you find that the Lefty dude whom you're dating acts like this, it's a sign that he may very well desire some kind of mental control over you. I made the mistake of not realizing it sooner and it fucked me up a lot.

Tell him to fuck off as he isn't entitled to your mind.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Free Markets Will Not Abolish Work - Stop Dreaming

This post is a response to this and this.

Recently, I've seen a growing presence of "anti-work" ideology within the online free market libertarian community. Sites like C4SS are beginning to promote this view, and do so in ways that should come across as eye-wincing. The main arguments put forth are similar to Bob Black's essay The Abolition of Work but with a free market twist. Much of it also rejoicing in the idea of being a "slacker" and argues that individuals should seek to build a culture of slack where such a way of life is celebrated, albeit within the context of a free market.

Several of the criticisms put forth by the anti-work crowd seem legitimate on the surface: the prevalence of work has destroyed individual freedoms, negated our ability to live authentically, prevents self-discovery insofar that it controls our lives, and so on. Work is also seen not as a natural condition of existence, but the result of something outside basic human society. Hence, work is not conceptualized as putting effort into your existence, but as "compulsory labor", and, in some cases, "strenuous activity". The antidote to this culture of work is to create an economy of free markets. Open competition, as is claimed, will make the need for work obsolete and will also shed society of the bosses and other oligarchs who create the society where such action is demanded from individuals.

Of course, this idealism is not without serious problems, not just of the ideological sort but also in regards to its pragmatism. Free market libertarians promoting this view outright ignore the common criticisms of markets and the inevitable connection between markets, work, and consumerism. Usually, it's brushed off with the ever-parroted statement: "that's not a true free market", immediately shifting the discussion into an argument about what should constitute a real free market that ignores common elements found in all markets, taxed and regulated or not. In this view, it is the State that creates the need for work through the subsidization of certain industries and the regulation of others. When pressed on this, free marketeers will more than likely point to dubious examples in history and will, once again, go off on an endless debate about what a real free market is.

When reducing all blame to the State fails, they turn to the next best thing: scapegoating culture. It is "the culture" which has created and preserves the work-centric society, they say. This narrative points to the Protestant Work Ethic as the main culprit, completely overlooking the origins of this code, why it manifested the way it did, or how much of a motivator it was compared to other social factors. The goal is, then, to shake off this Puritan idealism about the necessity and honor of work and adopt a new ideology of slackerism (again, within the context of a free market).

Though this presents a very obvious problem. Ideology and culture cannot be looked at in a vacuum. Much of the dominant ideology in society - any society - stems from multiple causes, but predominantly, is determined by relations of production. The need for work is inherent to capitalism, there is no doubt about that, but capitalism also necessitates an ideology of work that individuals within the system internalize. This would include the idea that the boss' claim to property is justified, the contracts made between the boss and workers are justified, the wage system whereby workers are paid less than the value of their labor is justified, the division of labor which creates an atmosphere of domination is justified, the market mechanisms of production and exchange are justified, and so on. With this, ideology plays a key role in the reproduction process of the mode and relations of production. This is understood as constituting a large part of class struggle against workers and lower classes.

We must also remember that ideology cannot be adequately thought of as a mere "false consciousness" but as the means we go about understanding our everyday lives. Much of ideology is reproduced outside the workplace through the other institutions and practices within the institutions we interact with, such as families, schools, religious institutions, the medical establishment, the media, arts, clubs, and whatnot. Even if an individual manages to escape the workplace, they will still be active within a culture that promotes work as a desirable way to live. This brings up another point: ideology manifests itself autonomously. Individuals go about their lives thinking that the choices they adopt are of their own autonomous personhood, however, every decision they make is bound by social structures.

Though the need for an ideology of work is not unique to modern capitalism; any market system will ultimately require compulsory labor and will ultimately sprout a dominant ideology that justifies it and furthers it. Markets themselves, whether capitalist or market socialist, are heavily ideological. The market would still need to be kept alive by a constant flow of production and consumption, hence the need to preserve the elements of the "big capital" consumer culture. As well, the ideology of work would still persist. The need for labor to be productive to ensure the creation of commodities would entail the idea of work emerge in the minds of laborers. Even self-employed artisans (such as many agorists) become immersed in the notion of work being a favorable element of life; work becomes associated with productivity, success, and prestige. One will find that the market in any form causes individuals to be subordinated to their roles within it: your identity in society is based on your role within the market, as the market is the most visible and tangible element of daily life in which we interact. You must give yourself over to the market in order to survive. This is true even of people with a fluidity of jobs/careers who are still living under the boot of market forces.

Ideology also spontaneously emerges from the commodity form. A very good example of this would be found in consumer society and advertising, where businesses and advertisers create a demand for shit you don't need by breeding an artificial but attention-grabbing meaning into commodities (i.e. the commodity is attractive to you, not because of what it is, but what it represents in the larger societal context). Not only does this keep the flow of capital moving, as markets need steady consumption, but it also furthers the idea of the market and frivolous consumerism as rituals of everyday life. Would the consumer-based society not compel someone to engage in work? This appears to be no different in a market of open competition that was entirely made up of small producers, as the major elements are still there.

And let's not forget how a highly competitive marketplace would lead to intense competition in other institutions, such as schools. There is no doubt that the curriculum of most schools are heavily based in the preparation of students for the workplace, both skill-wise and ideology-wise. In a very competitive free market, there is no doubt parents would be more incentivized to put their children through rigorous schooling in order to prepare them for the market. Yes, schoolwork is comparable to workplace labor, very much so. Now, within an environment so competition-driven, would there even be space to challenge the dominant paradigm of work on a large scale? How would a culture of slackerism manifest in that kind of society? This is a question that never seems to get an answer.

Now let's understand the anti-work free market from a pragmatic view. Is it truly practical to assume a market would allow for a culture of slack to exist, and if so, would the market function and keep functioning if an anti-work mentality were widespread amongst people? It is already understood why an ideology of work is needed and comes about in a market system, but it is also important to understand why work as compulsory labor is necessary. An oversimplified version of things can be explained like this: in a market, a firm - whether large or small, hierarchical or democratic - invests in order to produce, those articles of consumption are later sold on the market, and the money generated from their sale goes back into production. It is important to understand that "the market" is not merely a string of individual firms exchanging bread for gold for fish; like ideology, political economy cannot be well understood in such a reductionist manner. Rather, markets are very much a social relation that bind individuals to one another through commodity exchange. As was stated before, markets require certain elements of reproduction as part of the larger relations of production and exchange. A prevalent slacker culture would ultimately cause a disturbance this, setting the way for crisis.

This view is countered with the idea of mass technological unemployment. It is argued that machines would replace humans on a large enough scale to ensure work - as well as the need for a reproduction process - becomes obsolete. With machines completely replacing human labor, no one would have to engage in compulsory labor in order to produce food, housing, cars, clothing, electronics, or any other consumer products. This would allow free markets and a slacker way of life to become possible when this new technology leads the world to post-scarcity.

It should be no surprise as to the amount of problems this sort of free market technophilia would bring. First, it is important that a distinction made between authoritarian vs. anti-authoritarian technology. Authoritarian technology is the technology that ends up dominating the lives of individuals within the society in which it functions. It is very difficult to opt-out of. Anti-authoritarian technology, on the other hand, refers to technology that humans control on their own terms, and that serves to make human lives easier and more comfortable. The relationship people have with this form of technology is mutual.

Now let's return to the economy. In a market system, people are compelled to exchange money for commodities. If one does not have a means of making money, then they cannot afford to purchase the items they need, and are thus denied a means of subsistence. Technological unemployment in a market, especially one where hierarchical property relations are present, doesn't entail that everyone become a self-sufficient survivalist; it entails that individuals are left without livelihood as the use of machines has made their skills unnecessary and too expensive (after all, one major reason capitalists embrace new technologies is due to their desire to increase profits by saving money on wages to workers). With this, comes less consumption, as individuals will not have the means of consuming all that much, thus problems within the market arise. Firms running these machines will also face huge problems with under-consumption: how would they make enough to reinvest in production if a much smaller number of people have the ability to consume the products produced? For the individual unemployed by technology, obscure alternatives such as bargaining or running off to the countryside with the dreams of establishing a self-sufficient farm seem far-fetched (at least, for the majority), and fail to solve the major problems caused by a market-dominated economy. In fact, self-sufficiency on a large scale would increase underconsumption, as individuals would not be as compelled to turn to other businesses for needed goods.

On the other side, there is also the fact that the technological society has increased society's need for hard, compulsory labor. In the contemporary world, society has become heavily dominated by computers, television, cell phones, and their the mechanical reproduction of images and feelings (such as advertising which appeals to certain symbolic ideas, and acts as a means of reproduction for capitalism through consumer culture). In many ways, this has caused a demand for more technological experts who work in such fields. A good example would be the high demand for individuals with knowledge of computer skills, which has replaced much of the demand for manual labor in the First World. This is where the distinction between authoritarian and non-authoritarian technology comes in: the subjugation of people to technology vs. the subjugation of technology to people. In a hypothetical scenario where technology becomes so efficient that it offsets the need for individuals to labor compulsively in order to produce, there may very well be an end result of total technological dominance. This also brings in the question of technocracy: would a system dependent on technology in this regard require a specific social hierarchy of tech-savvy people in order to create and run it, and would this new society eventually be centered around the authority of this new social class? It may seem like a work of science fiction today, but no one should underestimate or deliberately downplay the social effects of technology when the prevalence of technology in daily life has been so dominating.

Likewise, attempts to portray a future technological society as one where each household contains its own personal 3D printer (often showcased as a model for efficient, decentralized means of production) cannot get around the major problems of technology within a market. The issue of obtaining raw materials to put inside the printer will still exist, as would the fact that larger firms in the market would have far more resources to invest and would likely outproduce small individuals. Then there is the question of post-scarcity. Post-scarcity is often envisioned as the ideal for proponents of anti-work, as it means the need for compulsory labor has been completely unneeded forever onward. Though, post-scarcity would also entail that the need for market relations are also completely unneeded. If it is assumed that every household possesses a 3D printer which efficiently prints out commodities for individual use and, on top of it, ensures that individuals are self-sufficient in most other ways of life (such as food, medicine, and repairs) why would a market continue to be the dominant form of exchange? After all, one major justification given by economists and pro-market ideologues for the existence of the market is scarcity. A market regulates the consumption of scarce goods; without this scarcity, what reason is there for maintaining the market? As was said before, a scenario where most individuals create the bulk of the items they need from their own home would entail a huge disturbance in the circulation of capital. This is where a move towards anarcho-communism from market anarchism would be far more pragmatic. If there is to be no or very little work, and a high degree of self-sufficiency, maintaining the market would be disastrous.

What ought to be concluded from this is, anti-work is not a compatible idea with a market economy. When market anarchists advocate technological unemployment or small-scale enterprise ("microindustry") as an alternative to work, they neglect an understanding of work and the ideology of work as crucial to the market system. Even if the contemporary market is not understood as a "true free market", it is foolish to assume a market without the taxes, regulations, and subsidies would be without the need for work. In the case of microindustry or agorism, production and consumption are still needed, as is a reproduction process. It seems as though the free market alternative to work is - work. If one were to truly advocate an anti-work position, they would throw out market ideology and advocate a form of economic and social organization closer to communism or anarcho-primitivism. It is only in those conditions when a culture of slacking will be able to prevail.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

USA Continuing Its Imperialist Wars

From RT:

American jets hit targets in Syria on Tuesday in the US-led fight against Islamic State. Although the US has not declared war since 1942, this is the seventh country that Barack Obama, the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, has bombed in as many years.

Syria has become the latest country to have been openly targeted by the US, with Washington predictably not seeking the approval of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Read the full article here.

This should put down the myth that Obama and the Democrats are the "lesser evil" or "doves" to the Republican Party's "hawks". The USA runs on imperialist exploits. An outright bombing campaign of Syria seems like a clear start for a future US occupation - assuming the US has the ability to do so.

Here is the statement by anarchists in Syria against the US bombing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

True Believers

There are some other things that have been on my mind lately.

The people who have been reading my blog since the beginning will know this. When I first became interested in Marxism-Leninism, it was not a "cool" thing thing to be. This was around 2007-2008 in a time when Ron Paul and his brand of free market libertarianism (or just his persona, more generally) were starting to become the big alternative to mainstream politics. Marxism had been virtually dead in the academy for fifteen years; it wasn't until right after the financial crisis hit that being a Marxist became fashionable again.

Now, when I worked primarily with these Marxist-Leninist groups, there were two kinds of people that I observed. The first were the Marxists who were openly authoritarian and power-hungry. These were the people who knew Marxist theory very well, and who would make their entire case for socialism based on Historical Materialism - the science of history - rather than what they continually denounced as "bourgeois morality". They desired an extremely hardline socialism complete with total control of the superstructure, reproducing the dominant communist ideology in order to interpellate us into good little revolutionary communist subjects.

Then there were the people who just wanted communism to hold their hand. These were the humanists, the Trotskyists, Luxemburgists, and "left communists" who read lots and lots of Marxist humanist authors and who made their entire case for socialism on ethical principles or Enlightenment ideas. This was the kind of socialism that would make its case based on human rights and international law and similar things. It was obvious that this was a rather touchy-feely conception of socialism, where the socialist state would act as something akin to a security blanket, protecting humanity from all the evil things in the world.

I will say this: I actually like the first group a lot better. This isn't because I agree with their authoritarianism, but because something about them makes me believe they are much more sincere. They practice what they preach. This may sound pretty facetious, but looking back, I find it very telling when leftists proclaim they understand theory but then resort to making their case for communism solely on wishy-washy ideas of ethics.

As well, I'm finding more and more anarcho-syndicalist/chomskyite types who start taking an interest in Frankfurt School writings. It surprises me, since most of these chomskyites tend to follow Chomsky's line on philosophy: dialectics are hard, psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience, Marx was a fraud, Hegel was a fraud, Freud was a fraud, anything from continental tradition is a gateway drug to fascism, and so on (granted, this is a bit of a hyperbole, but you get the point); on the other hand, the Frankfurt School were highly Freudian and took most of their Marxism from Marx's early writings, which were still pretty Hegelian. Then again, it's obvious that these people aren't reading that stuff for the Hegelianism or the Freudianism; they're reading it for the straight-up humanism.

Now, there were these socialists who took up a soft approach to things, and then there was another group that we thought was even worse: sociology undergrads. I didn't like most sociology majors - they were either some of my best friends at McDaniel or I couldn't stand listening to them. The primary reason for this was, they would do exactly what all good philosophers do not do: make profound statements about things they know very little about. Sure, they have all the statistics, but when you ask them about why certain societal phenomena happens, they always respond with: "It's just poverty! It's just divorce! It's just privileged people not checking their privilege enough!" These kinds of statements further my assertion about science never ever being able to replace philosophy - ever. And these are usually the same people who make statements about how communism has "never been tried" and were very quick to apologize for the horrible shit the Soviet Union did, i.e. "Leninism isn't real Marxism!". I actually find statements like that to be far more insulting to actual dedicated Marxists than the statements about Marxism being authoritarian.

Hell, I remember one time when I was in the Hoover Library reading through The German Ideology when I was approached by an acquaintance for a small conversation. When I asked her what she knew about Marxism, she admitted she didn't know all that much aside from the theory of alienation and whatnot. And I was thinking, trying to understand Marxism primarily through Marx's early works would be like trying to understand Christianity simply by reading the Gospel of Matthew. I know I shouldn't be making these kinds of judgements about how the field of sociology is taught at my alma mater when I've never taken a sociology course there, but still. I never liked the amount of super-sappy liberals I saw at my college.

Perhaps I should mention: up until my last semester at McDaniel (fall 2012) when I seriously began diving into Critical Theory, I actually had no problem with the views of many of these people. In fact, I would say all that theory lead me to destroy the market anarchist views I had once and for all.

I'll give another example that's much more telling. Last spring, I was sent a private message on reddit by a user who told me her life story (obviously this was before my account was shadowbanned). I'll just call her "Xanthippe" (a nice Ancient Greek name) to protect her identity. She messaged me because she saw my posts critiquing "anarcho"-capitalist ideology using many of those points from Critical Theory. Anyway, she told me that she grew up in a very right-wing household in the Midwestern US (Indiana I think, or maybe Michigan, I don't remember) with strict Evangelical parents who sent her and her siblings to private religious school. When she was in the 9th grade she was a free market libertarian who worked on the first Ron Paul campaign, and when she was in the 10th grade she became a full-fledged ancap. She said she was so overwhelmed by the ideology that she would spend days alone in her bedroom reading Rothbard, Mises, Hazlitt, all those people. As well, she would frequently debate other conservatives and right-libertarians whom she saw as being unprincipled. Xanthi, who was always pressured by her fanatical right-wing parents, felt the need to go above and beyond anything she did. After she graduated from her private Christian high school, she went to George Mason University in DC in order to dual-major in economics and history (as GMU's economics faculty is entirely Austrian Schooler and/or ancap). She said she wanted to be either an economist, or a historian who wrote world history through an ancap narrative, and use her position to take in lots of power within the academy. She got to know some of the more well-known professors in the Econ department, namely Caplan and Boettke, whom she admired at the time.

It was during her second semester at GMU when she had her nervous breakdown. What happened was, she was growing far more confused in her beliefs and values, like everything she had been conditioned to believe was slipping through her fingers. She felt as though her fellow Econ classmates - most of whom were also self-proclaimed ancappers - were very half-assed in their principles. She said she absolutely hated the "voluntaryists" who upheld the idea that a tyrannical state would be okay so as long as everyone voluntarily agreed to have one. To her, as someone who based her free market views on deontological ethics, that was a completely unprincipled position. But she kept seeing it again and again. She would show people from her Econ classes passages in Rothbard's writings about privatizing all sidewalks and businesspeople using private police to get rid of the homeless, and these other students would react in a very wishy-washy way. All of this lead Xanthi to seriously question what she had been taught. She felt so ill and confused that she withdrew from all of her classes and dropped out of the university, choosing to stay at her new boyfriend's apartment right outside of DC for the rest of the spring.

Her boyfriend, who, at the time, was a junior philosophy and religious studies major at GMU, was very much into postmodernism, of all things. During those spring and summer months, Xanthi read through some of the PoMo texts on his bookshelf, in particular, stuff by Foucault, Lyotard, and Baudrillard. Over time, she said, reading these texts was a giant breath of fresh air that cleared up a lot of the things lingering in her mind. She knew for certain she could never go back to the "Gods and markets" way of thinking in which she had been stuck. Contrary to what her GMU Econ professors were saying, it's not just the Federal Reserve manipulating the interest rate that's the problem, it's this whole damn culture that's the problem, as she now understood. These classical liberal values championed by most ancappers were fully and utterly obsolete. In the West, we had the Enlightenment where we destroyed the power of the king, destroyed the power of the Church, decided we would have private property, free markets, and free minds that would now be ruled by Reason and Logic rather than the superstitions of the past. Now that we've had the Enlightenment, we have a whole new set of problems we have to deal with that we're still dealing with (for the record, this is exactly what Critical Theory talks about).

Xanthippe told me she still lives in the DC area with her boyfriend and plans on returning to GMU as a history or psychology major. She frequently goes back to the campus, where she occasionally meets freshmen enrolled in GMU's economics courses. For her, it's very strange to see young people fresh out of high school who are just getting interested in free market dogmas. She told me she tells them something along the lines of: "You know, that according to Rothbard, landlords who own entire roads and sidewalks in an 'anarcho'-capitalist utopia have the power to forcefully remove homeless people from those sidewalks, right? And they can create racially-segregated communities just fine, right? And ocean privatization is a-okay, right? And this isn't from one of those more obscure theorists, but one of your primary authors, right?" Now she's convinced that many of these students don't really believe in anything, but are merely attracted to this ideology because it seems edgy and "cool" and is a nice way to freak out their parents and come across as intellectual (albeit, a pseudo-intellectualism full of buzzwords and poor understanding of social theory) at the same time. If they were serious about it, she thinks, they wouldn't be trying to sugar-coat everything. In fact, she related her experience with these "edgy" GMU students back to what read in Baudrillard: nothing has meaning anymore; the horribly commodified society has made it impossible to be truly original or authentic, because the market and other ideological apparatuses have already dictated our lives and our way of thinking. Everything is a simulation, and in this case, it's no different. These university students are really just hipsters who have taken on a warped way of thinking because it resembles a paradigm shift, but in actuality, it merely reinforces the same paradigms that brought us to where we are now.

Who Xanthippe really is, or whether she's an allegory for multiple people whose stories all share similar elements, doesn't matter. Her story is not something hard to understand.

What I mean to say with all of this is, there's a lot of people who are politically active who really do mean what they preach. Philosophy isn't some harmless thing that no one really gives a shit about, and the people I know who understand this don't need others trying to explain things away. This may rustle more than a few people's jimmies but, I want to give a big middle finger to all the whiny college kids who try to apologize for individuals taking philosophy seriously. If you don't adhere to the science of history, if you make essentialist and teleological statements about "the working class" or "the oppressed" having some natural impulse to rise up and demand their self-management and are therefore alarmed by ideology which denies it, and if you're terrified of the fact that authoritarian Marxist-Leninists would actually practice what they preach, start fucking fighting all of this shit. Just sitting on the fence like this...

But I digress.

Monday, August 25, 2014

αὐτοκτόνος

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about the topic of suicide. With everything that's been in the news about Robin Williams and suicide prevention and whatnot, she mentioned her anger at the way this topic is presented in public discourse. Mainly, she expressed a real contempt for all the quasi-hysteria that the media tends to engender. She had dealt with suicide several times in her life: her father killed himself when she was very young, and her high school dealt with several student suicides (one of them being her best friend's boyfriend) during her years of attendance. Now, she grew up in a rural part of Pennsylvania where unemployment, drug use, and suicide are quite high compared to the rest of the country, and all have become normalized in a way. Though she did mention, the way suicide is talked about always appears either as condemnation ("you're so selfish") or as the topic of hysteria. And I agree with her: suicide causes a rupture in society. For a moment, people see how life doesn't always have a happy ending. Then, there is the drive to understand why the person in question did this, hence the hysteria aspect; people demand to know what creates a suicidal individual, and attempt to shoehorn the details of that person's existence into a logical framework aptly explaining why they chose to take their own life.

Now, my friend's field is English literature and mine is philosophy, so the two of us were exposed to many of the same paradigms while in college. Both of us spoke of the dramatic suicides found in Classical Greek drama (as a classical civilizations minor, I can tell you Ancient Greece was very much a shame-culture, and individuals would often kill themselves when they lost their honor). In this, there is the image of the fallen hero, a formerly noble individual who falls from grace and ends up dead by their own hands to escape the shame. My friend related it to literature and popular culture today, where suicide has become romanticized in a sense. All the time, you see the trope of the troubled genius who kills themselves in order to escape the same pain that inspires them. Even writers, philosophers, musicians, and other public figures who killed themselves, like Virginia Woolf, Walter Benjamin, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, Guy Debord, etc., are given this martyr status. Hipster subculture, in particular, tends to heavily glamourizing suicide and death in this way. (Mind you, it should be understood that hipsterdom isn't just a fashion statement but a cultural phenomenon, arguably created from the ashes of meaning and purpose that market forces have been destroying for over 30 years.)

I would argue, both the hysteria surrounding suicide as well as its romanticization by hipsters are very much the result of the way our culture talks about death. I personally don't feel as though we talk about death in the right way; it's either outright fear and hatred of death, or silence on the topic (after all, silence is discourse). Suicide, in particular, is rarely mentioned at all. From what I've witnessed myself, the ethical debate surrounding suicide is almost always based on those same abstract ideas of rights and bodily autonomy ("Do you have the right to take your own life?"). One immediately sees how the discussion is framed, with the all-autonomous individual who bases their decision on logic, and if they do end up taking their own life, their decision must come with a reason that can be shoehorned into the mold of logic. I must ask if this is truly the best way to talk about the subject. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of any discussion on suicide is the realization that, regardless of ethic judgements and arbitrary ideas of rights, one can opt-out of their existence entirely. What does that say about our culture's views on death - and life?







Thursday, August 14, 2014

Video: Cops Use Teargas on PEACEFUL Protesters (Ferguson, MO)



Unarmed Black teen shot dead, city takes action against the pigs, city faces marshal law: welcome to 2014's Amerika.

Here are a few infographics on how to deal with tear gas.





Sunday, August 10, 2014

Budapest and Some Others


I spent almost a week in Hungary, namely the cities of Budapest and Dunaújváros.

Many McDaniel students want to attend and end up attending the college's European campus in Budapest. Several of my friends from the school told me of their semesters there with all the partying, drinking, and being lost in remote parts of the city where few people understood English. Indeed, Budapest today appears to be a hipster city, where young, 20-something expatriates go to live when they want to escape the US. After all, the city is cheap, as are most places in Eastern Europe.

Dunaújváros, on the other hand, would be classified as "Rust Belt": it was established as a city during the early socialist period in Hungary (my friend Kristof, whom I stayed with, told me its original name literally translated to "Stalin City") and its economy was primarily based on the giant steel mill in the middle of town. Work was, for the most part, sex-segregated, with men working in steel and women in clothing and shoes. With the fall of communism, Dunaújváros went to hell. A large amount of workers lost their jobs and pensions. Today, much of the remaining industry is owned by Ukrainian oligarchs. As well, there's a shopping mall in the center of town (something I learned was, shopping malls are often seen by Hungarians as hated symbols of Western capitalism overtaking the fallen Eastern Bloc). Unsurprising, the people tend to be very nostalgic for the Kadar era.

Staying in Hungary for a few days, I also learned of modern Hungarian politics. Yes, there is a fascist political party with a decent amount of popular support. Yes, the Hungarian prime minister is a crypto-fascist, going so far as to call for the end of "Western democracy". Yes, the fascist party has links to Golden Dawn and other far-right parties throughout Europe.


In Budapest, I was taken to see all the sights downtown: the parliament, the riverside, Blaha. Daniel and I even ventured into the anarchist neighborhood, which lies in an older part of of the city. In that area you see the perfect metaphor for the city: old buildings on one side, new "modern" style apartment buildings made for the wealthy and a shopping mall on the other. The new capitalists seem eager to do away with Hungary's socialist past, as everything in the city is transitioning to a new era of Western capitalism and nationalism.

 I don't have much more to say except for the delicious food and kind people I met during my stay.
 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quick Thought: Coffee

In France, when you get a coffee at a cafe, you receive it in a small ceramic cup and drink it at the cafe, where you read and speak to others as you finish it.

In the United States, on the other hand, you usually buy a coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or a similar fast food chain, and bring it with you as you head to work. It's commonplace to see people hauling around extra large iced coffees at work.

Caffeine is the perfect drug for the workplace: it keeps workers stimulated to keep them productive. I wonder to what extent French vs. American coffee customs correlate to their attitudes on work. American culture is driven by the constant need to be productive, at any time, in any context. Even young children are brought to "play with a purpose" as they're subordinated and molded into this culture (just look at how children are started on technology from earlier and earlier ages in hopes that they'll "grow with the tech" as an example). We caffeine addicts drink with a purpose.