Monday, May 26, 2014

Criticism of the "Right to be Forgotten" in the United States shows our hypocrisy on these issues

Because though we say we're all for individual liberty and such, we're also conditioned by the Puritan ethic that believes that you really don't have any expectation of privacy if you're doing something society doesn't like. Good old collectivist Europe, that realizes social rights, also respects the right of the individual to their own acts and beliefs much more than we do here. Perhaps it's because they fought massive civil wars over religion that lead to a huge amount of deaths over the issue.

To see our contradictions, just take the patriotic jamboree that took place after 9/11. In the defense of individual freedom many people declared that it was necessary to implement things like the USA-PATRIOT ACT (it's an acronym), that allowed massive spying, all the while waving flags and declaring how lucky we were to be in America.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One of the prime problems with the Left today, particularly the Anarchists...

Because it seems we're having a resurgence of folks who are more ideological than most Progressives used to be.

One of the prime problems is that they've forgotten some of the base line values contained in classical liberalism that Marx and others were well aware of and supported. For example the notion that people should be rewarded, and recognized, for hard work, and that such things should be encouraged. One of the reasons that socialism started as a force was because it was recognized that capitalism was not rewarding people in line with what their actual contributions were, but rewarding some far more than others. The goal was to equalize things so that this disparity could be corrected, but, of course, that meant recognizing the underlying principle as well. Most of the socialists, or Social Democrats, and even folks who are further left, in Europe, recognize this, however our home grown people look at the equality but forget the principle of effort that is supposed to be behind it.

Instead of rewarding hard work, they seem to not even realize that something that an individual could be responsible for on their own could make a difference. If someone comes from a well off background, that person is bad and the things they do aren't as good. If they come from a less well off background the opposite is true. The same goes for race. Underlying all the qualifiers are the characteristics of the individual....and someone with the right mix of hyphenations, from the right background, can be lazy and inept, while someone from all the wrong ones of those can be hard working and smart. At the end of the day, if you want to get something done, as opposed to letting abstract categories rule things, do you want the person who is lazy or the one who isn't?

A scientific formula or invention produced by someone who comes from a well off background and the rest doesn't work any less effectively because of it.

All of this can be accommodated within a socialist system. The people who cite these arguments and then use them as a basis for a kind of free market fundamentalism go too far, and quite frankly ignore the real conditions that an unregulated market produces.  However, it's equally true that those who don't even realize that there's a problem with evaluating people completely because of the categories of characteristics that they carry with them as opposed to their own talents and character would take us back to a society ruled by brutality and idiocy, where those who were most willing to take advantage of belonging to the right background, which is a semi-criminal mindset, would exploit the situation to their own advantage.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Anarchists are more of an obstacle than an enabler to positive change

Because of their complete dislike of anything involving the State, including common sense social benefits that virtually every other industrialized country has. Instead of fighting for things like universal health care, or other benefits, anarchists are content to organize small collectives for making art and march every now and again. The same goes for virtually any social democratic policy. What's the anarchist solution to higher education being too expensive? Well, why do you want to go to college and be a sellout anyways... Similarly, and most shamefully, anarchists at times have even sided with anti-labor forces against unions because they feel that they're too bureaucratic....deciding not to support any unions that people actually belong to and instead going for the purity of the IWW, which is mainly populated by anarchists themselves as opposed to the working class.

All of this energy could be devoted to causing positive, tangible, change and improvement in our society, but instead it's wasted on bike collectives, because bikes and gardening are where the revolution is at, as opposed to keeping people from starving via government benefits...oh, I'm sorry, Food not Bombs can replace food stamps, how silly of me.

Blaming Obamacare, by Jen Sorenson

Blaming Obamacare

This is really good. One of the the things that our lack of a social safety net does, I believe intentionally, is to make it so that people have a harder time doing creative jobs as well as fighting back against having to take bad ones. If you need health insurance, you're not as likely to raise issues about the job that gives you it, even if it's bad. Likewise with student loans. If you're paying them off, and have to pay them off, are you going to be as likely to try to change things at work that are bad? 

Social safety nets allow for a better civil society where people can actually challenge abuses instead of being trapped in situations where they can't because of economic necessity. 

Christian Parenti has actually written about this, about how at least some of the attack on the safety net in the late '70s was motivated by concerns that it gave labor a better position. 

Sunday, May 04, 2014

One of the best responses I've seen to partisanship on the Left came from a union rep

Who, when asked why his positions weren't more radical, said that in the unit he represented there was a guy who was a minister outside of work, there were people who were conservatives, and he had to represent them all, not just some of them. If you want popular democracy, that's what it has to be: popular, and that means that certain things take time to convince people of. Otherwise, you're just putting your own position out there and expecting everyone to fall in line behind it, which isn't democracy but another form of oligarchical, undemocratic, politics.