Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rothbard: "We" are not the government

"We must, therefore, emphasize that 'we' are not the government; the government is not 'us'.  The government does not in any accurate sense 'represent' the majority of the people.  But, even if it did, even if 70 percent of the people decided to murder the remaining 30 percent, this would still be murder and would not be voluntary suicide on the part of the slaughtered minority.  No organicist metaphor, no irrelevant bromide that 'we are all part of one another,' must be permitted to obscure the basic fact."

"If, then, the State is not 'us,' if it is not 'the human family' getting together to decide mutual problems, if it is not a lodge meeting or country club, what is it?  Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment of services rendered buy by coercion.  While other individuals or institutions obtain their income by production of goods and services and by the peaceful and voluntary sale of these goods and services to other, the State obtains its revenue by the use of compulsion; that is, by the use and threat of the jailhouse and the bayonet.  Having used forces and violence to obtain its revenue, the State generally goes on to regulate and dictate the other action of its individual subjects.  One would think that simple observation of all States through history and over the globe would be proof enough of this assertion; but the miasma of myth has lain so long over State activities that elaboration is necessary."

~Murrary Rothbard

Rothbard: The Nature of Agency and "Representatives"

"Suffice it to say here that an individual's true agent or 'representative' is always subject to that individual's orders, can be dismissed at any time and cannot act contrary to the interests or wishes of his principal.  Clearly, the 'representative' in a democracy can never fulfill such agency functions, the only ones consonant with a libertarian society." ~Murray Rothbard

The essential feature of agent or representative, is the agency of the agent for that agent's principal; if the agent acts contrary to the intentions/purposes/interests of her principal, then she is not an agent or representative at all, but a fraud, acting upon her own behalf.  Therefore, if any person so "represented" by a political-agent, disagrees with the actions or "agency" of that "representative", that representative is automatically recalled on the grounds of having violated her fiduciary responsibility.  All alleged "representatives", therefore in practice, have a indefinite number of conflicts of fiduciary interest, and are therefore, acting only upon their own consciences, and are representing no-one in their actions (the only exception to this, would be if every principal was in unanimous agreement and the agent's acts were in concordance to that unanimous interest).

Krishnamurti: Secret of Life

"The secret of life is three words; change through relationship." ~J. Krishnamurti

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Maslow: Growth and Fear

"One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again." ~Abraham Maslow, Psychologist

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Haim Ginott: Responsibility and Children

"Responsibility is fostered by allowing children a voice and wherever indicated a choice in matters that affect them."~Haim Ginott

Thomas Pynchon: The Problem with Asking the Wrong Questions

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." ~Thomas Pynchon

James Donald: The Usual Road to Slavery

"The usual road to slavery is that first they take away your guns, then they take away your property, then last of all they tell you to shut up and say you are enjoying it." - James Donald

The Art of Self Discovery: The Child Within

"In order to be a competent parent and to understand the emotions and needs of a child, we must be in contact with the child within us, the child we once were. If the child within is a stranger to us, so will be any child we may encounter. If we are alienated from our own capacity for love, or our own need for love, we will not understand the emotion of love in another. If we are cut off from our own excitement, the excitement of others will bewilder or annoy us. " -The Art of Self Discovery

Peggy O'Mara: Children and Dependency

"It is the nature of the child to be dependent, and it is the nature of dependence to be outgrown. Begrudging dependency because it is not independence is like begrudging winter because it is not yet spring. Dependency blossoms into independence in its own time." Peggy O'Mara

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Evidence of childhood trauma leading to irreversible brain damage

Psychology Today: Evidence of childhood trauma leading to irreversible brain damage

The Non-Aggression Principle and Violence

“A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.” ~Desmond Tutu

I hope to make this a quick entry, as typing on a mobile device does not meet my needs for expedient communication and I've developed this argument in detail else where.

Some very critically astute observers have noted that while they have philosophical sympathy for the principle of non-initiation of aggression, they also note that it seems some-what contradictory to condemn aggression/violence/coercion/theft when it is initiated, but to defend/uphold the very same actions when they are employed to defend one's self from the initiation of aggression.

How can violence be "wrong" when it is initiated but "ok" when used in defense?

I argue the difference, is not a change in the essence of the actions, but as a result in a qualitative change in the actors.

Rothbard argues (I think correctly) that Natural Law proceeds from reason/rationality itself. That any concept of ethics is only possible between rational/reasonable persons (I also argue that sociability is also a necessary requirement, but I'll leave this thought alone for now).

Ethics is not possible between the lion and her prey; between the insect and the fish, no application of ethical theory is relevant.

Human beings experience (live within) a kind of co-existence between two modes of being, which are somewhat distinct and yet inextricable from one another; of at one time possessing rational-consciousness (mind) and in the other mode of being, as a material-organisms.

Just as we do not call it an act of violence, if a woman was to protect/defend herself from the "fury" of a raging storm; it is neither a violent act for a woman to defend herself from an aggressive feral hog, or a hostile pack of dogs.  I contend, that it is not, strictly speaking, "violence" to defend one's-self from the threats of any ravaging beast of nature; when confronted with such a threat, one acts in the justification of the the gazelle that kicks the lion; where reason is absent, then ethics is irrelevant.

It is not possible to negotiate with a storm, nor a feral hog, nor a pack of dogs; the lion and the gazelle are past any possibility for negotiations; they strive to live, to survive, as the organisms they are.

If a man determines that he will act, so as to initiate violence upon a woman, the woman who responds with "violence" in defense, is acting as one, set upon by the wild beast of nature; she might prefer to negotiate this conflict in some other manner, but as it happens, the man in his choice/determination/commitment to initiate an act of aggression, chose to preclude the possibility for rational negotiation with the woman, he has chosen to assault.

The woman who defends herself from such man who would initiate aggression, is truly, no more "violent" than she would be if she were attacked by a pack of vicious dogs and defended herself with the same means/actions.

It is the man who would initiate aggression, who has given-in/surrendered to his baser existence as mere organism, and temporarily decided to suspend his use of reason.  The choice to initiate aggression, is an act which is a denial of either or both of a person's rationality (rational-existence) or their sociability (social-existence).  In the moment that the man attacks, he, by the very act, either denies his own rationality and by so doing, he betrays himself as having the appearance of one in control of his rationality/consciousness/mind, but he is not a rational-man at all, and has revealed himself to be, in the moment of aggression, as a beast of nature; and one of the most cunning and most deadly variety, or else, if he does not deny his own rational-consciousness, he has, by his act, declared that he denies the rational-existence of his victim; and in either case, if his victim wishes to lay-claim to her right to live, she will defend herself by whatever means necessary to defend against this beast-of-nature.

Therefore, I argue, that the class of acts, which are referred to generally as "self-defense" is not truly violence at all, it is not force, in any other sense, other than in the sense in which a physicist would use the term; it is the manipulation of one's environment to protect one's physical body from physical dangers; it is a rational response to protect one's self from those forces of nature that are a danger to one's well-being.  Because we exist as both rational minds and as physical organisms; ethics is only a relevant category when two rational minds are each willing to respect their common dignity.

Mead: ethical implications of eternal punishment

"It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly." ~Margaret Meas

Nelsen: Helping people to DO better

"Where did we get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse?"~Jane Nelsen {government?}

Saturday, April 21, 2012

NVC Partially Deconstructed

I like to explode (in the technical manual, sort of way) philosophical constructions in order to see what's going on "under the hood". "Why?" do you ask? I am not completely certain, but I think that I enjoy it as a diversion or thought-play.

Regardless, I have recently had some thoughts about the theory of Non-Violent Communication and I desire to understand what's going on "under the hood" of NVC.I do not want to explain what NVC is here, but Wikipedia is often a good resource:

And of course, the "official" site for NVC is:

So in the theory of NVC, if we identify our own "feelings" and the "feelings" of others, then we can then connect those feelings, both positive and negative, to corresponding met and unmet universal "needs", respectively, and then individuals will be much more in-touch/connected with what is most "alive in them" or connected with what is authentic/genuine/human within themselves.

The identification of feelings and the connection of those feelings to needs, should/will invoke empathy/connection between persons; personal conflict arises when strategies are chosen which do not meet everyone's needs.  Therefore, if people can connect their authentic feelings with their universal needs, as separate from the specific strategies they would prefer to employ to meet their needs, then the empathy/connection that arises out of an understanding of mutual unmet needs would promote a rethinking of the possible strategies, that could meet EVERYONE'S needs.

 At least that's my take on NVC at a theoretical level.

Now, for the explosion.

For the sake of discussion, let us adopt the mind-set of the philosophical skeptic as she might react to NVC.

The first component necessary for the process of NVC to proceed, is a willingness of both parties to communicate. If one party, is committed to a policy of non-communication, then the process of NVC cannot even begin. Why is the willingness of both parties to communicate so essential? Because, if one party will not communicate, even non-verbally, with the other party, then even the party committed to a NVC process, cannot even guess as to the feelings of the other party, and cannot therefore even begin a process of trying to connect those feelings, to the universal human needs and begin to empathize.

Fortunately, there are few people so committed to non-communication; the act of communication of itself, has so few costs associated with it for most people, that most are willing to communicate to some degree.  But I think it is clear/obvious, that is truly not possible to communicate with inanimate objects, corpses, statutes and the like; while it may seem simplistic to have to call attention to this kind of observation, when dealing with philosophical theory, all of these small necessities, however implausible to actually have to contend with in practice, may have have important ramifications at the level of the theoretical, and can have practical applications if we are aware of theoretical implications or limitations.

 The second component necessary for the NVC process, is "feelings".    I know, I know, this probably feels quite obtuse to most people.   I regard it as a given that I have feelings, and you likely regard it as obvious that you have feelings, but remember, we are taking NVC apart, piece by piece to explore the theory "under the hood" to see how this car runs, and we can only do that by taking it step-by-step, by thinking as would a philosophical skeptic.

Clearly, if the theory of NVC requires the identification of "feelings" both parties need to have feelings, for an empathic connection to be established.   If we happen to be talking to a Vulcan, or an Android or Suri on the iPhone, we are not going to be able to identify feelings, neither positive nor negative.  NVC as a process of empathy/connection/conflict-resolution requires that both parties are willing to communicate, and that both parties have feelings.

Now, as I've said, I take it as a given that I experience feelings; so, even while we are thinking like philosophical skeptics, does not mean we have to end up with a complete philosophical skepticism as a conclusion; it is that knowing, WHERE we are making philosophical choices, which would diverge from philosophical skepticism, that shows us where we are making assumptions, where certainty is not absolute.  I experience feelings, my guess is that you do as well, and therefore I believe we are on safe-philosophical ground to assume that nearly all human-beings have feelings; the fact that you and I, EXPERIENCE them, is an awfully strong proof, that at least for us, they are present.

 The third necessary component for the NVC process is "needs".  In the theory of NVC, "needs" function is something of a sticking point for me, for while I personally am willing accept these universalized abstractions of desires/preferences as a useful conceptual framework, I do not experience "needs" the same way I experience feelings... I may directly experience a sense of loneliness, but I do not directly experience a "need for connection"; the "need for connection" or the "need for meaning" or "need for safety", or even "need for food/water" are not what I am experiencing directly, but are themselves universalized abstractions. There is a sense in which "feelings" might also be a universalized experience, as "feelings" as the term has been used, assumed that my "feeling" of fear, is roughly equivalent, or universal, to your feeling of fear; but I am not interested pursuing this pedantic line of examination; I accept, in as much as language is useful to describe our experience/perceptions/sensations and in as much as our experiences may be similar given commonalities of biological similarities (and of course, if there are difference in biological makeup, such as if someone is born blind, they might not be able to find experiential reference to a concept and then expression of color) we may be able to safely assume that "feelings" are a common experiential currency that can differ in intensity, certainly, but that are roughly equivalent, in sensation/experience.
But "needs", "needs" are different; I experience hunger as a sensation, I experience frustration as an affect of consciousness, I experience preferences and desires, but I do not have direct experience of "needs".  For instance: I may experience hunger, it is an unpleasant sensation, I very much prefer to relieve this sensation, I make a guess as to how I might relieve this sensation, and then I act according to my conception as the best preferred strategy of how to relieve my desire for hunger.  Another example: I experience frustration, the sense of frustration is an unpleasant feeling, it is very much an unpleasant angst of non-success in achieving desired outcome, I want/desire/prefer to clearly explain my thoughts regarding something but the person listening to me does not seem to understand my meaning; I am frustrated in my attempts to explain my ideas sufficiently that the other person would have an understanding that I would prefer.

 I present these examples to show how the "needs" feature in NVC, could be dispensed with; there is no necessity of experience or of language that requires that a framework of "needs" be present.
So then why add it, if it is not necessary? Well, perhaps the conceptual abstraction of "needs" does some useful conceptual work, in the framework of NVC.  This is the reason we USE abstractions in the first place! They abstract from the concrete and phenomenological to explain complex ideas outside of those qualities/concepts residing or represented by particulars.

What kind of conceptual work does the abstraction of "needs" do? It abstracts from all of the particular strategies/techniques one might employ to satisfy desires, and abstracts an essential meaning from those particular strategies/techniques.   Just as we have assumed that "feelings" between persons are roughly equivalent, because to deny the universalization of feelings, would be to imply that each person's experience of "feelings" are so unique, that each experience of these "feelings" would defy all attempts at linguistic expression; we would in a sense, all be born blind to the feelings of others.  Therefore, we abstract that strategies/techniques all have a common core that they wish to satisfy.  Rather than say, "I began to feel angry, and therefore I chose to act to satisfy my anger by writing her a scathing letter", I can remove the specifics of the particular strategy chosen and abstract from it a "need", "I began to feel angry, and I reflect that my needs to be heard and understood were not being met, and therefore I employed a strategy to satisfy/meet my needs to be heard and be understood."

How does abstracting a "need" from the particular strategies chosen help in the process of communication? Well, the listener might be the person who received the "scathing letter", and they may have some negative feelings in response to, and associated with, the "scathing letter"; when the receiver of the letter, hears the first part of the expression, "I began to feel angry, and therefore I chose to act to satisfy my anger by writing you a scathing letter", the receiver of the letter, may be able to empathize/connection to the other person (because of assumed universal feelings), right at the point of "by writing you a scathing letter", at this point, the person listening is provoked/triggered by the reminder of the letter which is associated with negative feelings, which may easily, reignite the conflict. In the second expression, "I began to feel angry, and I reflect that my needs to be heard and understood were not being met, and therefore I employed a strategy to satisfy/meet my needs to be heard and be understood." In this expression, the listener can connect to the feelings, as feelings that the receiver of the letter also feels (anger), and can also connect with the desire to "meet needs", as the receiver of the letter would also like the sender of the letter to recognize their desire to "meet needs". (Here, "meet needs" might be expressed as an abstraction of a successful satisfaction of desires, apart from the particular strategies employed to meet the needs.) So using the NVC expression, one can connect/empathize with the "feelings" which are assumed to be universal/roughly-equivalent and can also connect/empathize with the abstraction of the strategies to satisfy desires/preferences/preferred-outcomes.

 So this is my explosion of the theory supporting NVC.  Why is this significant?

Well, I think it is significant, because it means that, as we begin the process of NVC, we are making three requests of the other person, that we may not have realized because they are so integral to the process of NVC itself. We are (1.) asking the other person to communicate with us; we are (2.) asking the other person to accept that our feelings are universal/roughly-equivalent/interchangeable with their feelings, with the implicit offer to reciprocate that acceptance; and lastly we are (3.) asking the other person to accept a framework for the abstraction of strategies for satisfaction of preferred-outcomes ("needs").
I am not going to venture too far into this thought right now, but I think it is significant, that there is an implied request written into the code/theory of the three we've just mentioned... it is a request to CONTINUE to communicate until an agreement can be reached to satisfactorily meet everyone's needs... this is why NVC is truly NON-violent! Because there is an implicit request to continue communications (indefinitely), you may necessarily be agreeing to forgo action/violence until a peaceful/agreeable resolution can arise.

The magic of NVC happens as a function of breaking the barriers to connection, by bringing what is alien/separate to the self, to an understanding/acceptance of a common humanity.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Masters of War

Masters of War

Boetie: three kinds of tyrants

"There are three kinds of tyrants; some receive their proud position through elections by the people, others by force of arms, others by inheritance. Those who have acquired power by means of war act in such wise that it is evident they rule over a conquered country. Those who are born to kingship are scarcely any better, because they are nourished on the breast of tyranny, suck in with their milk the instincts of the tyrant, and consider the people under them as their inherited serfs; and according to their individual disposition, miserly or prodigal, they treat their kingdom as their property. He who has received the state from the people, however, ought to be, it seems to me, more bearable and would be so, I think, were it not for the fact that as soon as he sees himself higher than the others, flattered by that quality which we call grandeur, he plans never to relinquish his position. Such a man usually determines to pass on to his children the authority that the people have conferred upon him; and once his heirs have taken this attitude, strange it is how far they surpass other tyrants in all sorts of vices, and especially in cruelty, because they find no other means to impose this new tyranny than by tightening control and removing their subjects so far from any notion of liberty that even if the memory of it is fresh it will soon be eradicated. Yet, to speak accurately, I do perceive that there is some difference among these three types of tyranny, but as for stating a preference, I cannot grant there is any. For although the means of coming into power differ, still the method of ruling is practically the same; those who are elected act as if they were breaking in bullocks; those who are conquerors make the people their prey; those who are heirs plan to treat them as if they were their natural slaves." ~E. Boetie

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On the theory of Proudhon:

One of the more notable thinkers that deny the legitimacy of 'property' is Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; Proudhon argued for a theory of justice, which would deny the legitimacy of certain kinds of private property, as Proudhon felt that it necessitated the result of material inequality (and hence, for Proudhon, an injustice).
For Proudhon, the goods that one produces with one's own labor, is properly the possession of that person but those goods/resources which are the result of corporate labor, are corporate goods and cannot be owned by particular individuals as a 'possession'.
Prouhon distinguishes between:
“Property pure and simple, the dominant and seigniorial power over a thing; or, as they term it, naked property” [for Proudhon, an illegitimate form of property] and a, “Possession. ... The tenant, the farmer, the commandité, the usufructuary, are possessors" [a legitimate form of property]; "the owner who lets and lends for use, the heir who is to come into possession on the death of a usufructuary, are proprietors." [illegitimate] "... This double definition of property -- domain and possession -- is of the highest importance; and it must be clearly understood...”147
In Proudhon's formulation of property, the farmer and artisan could 'possess' the results and production of her own labor, which she properly and legitimately owns but such a formulation would not permit the ownership of capital goods and resources (like factories), which Proudhon identifies as an illegitimate acquisition of the productive power of labor.148
Proudhon's ideas demonstrates just one of the possible demarcations between the bifurcation of the more common sense of property, into a concept of 'property'
Pierre Joseph Proudhon, “What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government” (New York NY: Humboldt Publishing Company, 1890) 43. Accessed 11-10-2011 at id=ProProp.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part= all Proudhon quotes Dranton and Toullier in this same passage: “Possession,' says Duranton, 'is a matter of fact, not of right.' Toullier: 'Property is a right, a legal power; possession is a fact.'”
"Under the law of association, transmission of wealth does not apply to the instruments of labour, so cannot become a cause of inequality... We are socialists... under universal association, ownership of the land and of the instruments of labour is social ownership... We want the mines, canals, railways handed over to democratically organised workers' associations... We want these associations to be models for agriculture, industry and trade, the pioneering core of that vast federation of companies and societies, joined together in the common bond of the democratic and social Republic." -Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. 'Oeuvres Complètes' (Lacroix edition), volume 17, pages 188-9.
which is legitimate (property as 'possession'), and one which is not (property as 'domain'). While Proudhon's bifurcation of property, is not untenable, the philosophic anchor to what is legitimate property (possession), being located in the personal expenditure of labor to produce it (labor theory of value), would be economically conducive to fairly primitive economic organizations, where self-sufficiency is of primary necessity, but Proudhon's theory would be fairly limiting to more complex economic organization, in which the specialization of labor permits exponentially greater efficiency in the satisfaction of human wants/desires.149 In as much as I do not perceive the actions of trade between persons, as illegitimate, and the complex economic organization, such as in factories, are differences in the measure of the complexity of trade between persons and not a difference in kind, I would reject the contention that, the meaning of property as the material resources, acquired through the mixture of labor with natural resources (home-steading) and through voluntary/consensual trade between persons, for private and exclusive use, is thence circumscribed or restricted. This rejection of Proudhon's theory is hardly a foregone conclusion, and it expresses more of a subjective preference of theoretical insight on
Certainly Proudhon thought that his theory allowed for complex economic organization, as he would would have the laborers of a factory, its owners; preserving the idea that one only legitimately owns, on what one labors. A thorough account of why this allocation of property right would result in sever reductions in production may be found in Ludwig von Mises' “Fallacies of Syndicalism”. Essentially, Mises identifies that in free-market scenario, the entrepreneur is forced to anticipate and respond to the market-forces of consumer demand, in order to compete and remain solvent. This control that the consumer demand has over the entrepreneur owner of a factory, Mises identifies and consumer-sovereignty. The replacement of the entrepreneur, with a federation of workers in collective ownership, would have the economic tendency to respond less to market-forces of consumer demand and more on individual apportionment of the collective ownership, tending to an unsustainable producer sovereignty (tragedy of the commons). A workers collective then, would neither have the same motivation, the same willingness to accept the risk of new market-ventures, nor the same skill, as the entrepreneur, in the anticipation and response to market-forces. Ludwig von Mises (1963) Human Action (San Francisco CA: Fox & Wilkes) 813- 14.
my own part, than a substantive refutation; Proudhon's theory of property remains tenable for anyone advocating a more or less self-sufficient life, suppling all of their needs by means of their own labor. As Ludwig von Mises has written:
It is obvious that this controversy cannot be settled by appeal to historical experience. With regard to the establishment of the facts there is no disagreement between the two groups. Their antagonism concerns the interpretation of events, and this interpretation must be guided by the theory chosen. The epistemological and logical considerations which determine the correctness or incorrectness of a theory are logically and temporally antecedent to the elucidation of the historical problem involved. The historical facts as such neither prove nor disprove any theory. They need to be interpreted in the light of theoretical insight.150
Therefore, these three initial premises, defended as modestly as they are here, if accepted, concludes that rational individuals are by their very nature, ethical entities (free-will), that have the locus of their rights intrinsic to their status as ethical beings, and that among their rights, is the ownership or domain to their own body (life) and to their property, acquired through nature (home-steading), or trade. The right, ownership or domain to use one's property (whether one's own body or external property) as one sees proper, as long as the action does not conflict with another person's rights (liberty), is the philosophic essence of Locke's theory of Natural Rights, “life, liberty and property”.
150 151
[E]very man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, an left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men.151

CBlackTX: Spooner paraphrase

"Either the Constitution has authorized our present tyranny, or it has been impotent to prevent it, in either case, the Constitution is unfit to exist." ~Spooner (paraphrase)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Silver, Gasoline and Taxes

In 1961, gas prices were $ 0.30 per gallon. In 1961, a dime was 90% silver. It took three dimes to pay for one gallon of gas in 1961. Today, one of those 1961 silver dimes, are approximately worth $2.40. So if, the amount of silver, contained in a dime, will today, buy you 50% more gasoline today, than it would have in 1961, did gas prices really go up? Or did the government print so much money, that your money is just worth a lot less? There are the taxes you see... and there are the taxes they don't want you to see...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gary North: How To Gum Up Any Institution

How To Gum Up Any Institution

by Gary North

Recently by Gary North: North American Command: U.S., Canada, Mexico

Four words: "Follow the rules exactly."

That's it? That's it.

Any system? Any system.

There are reasons for this. These reasons are universal.

First, every institution assumes voluntary compliance in at least 95% of all cases. This may be a low-ball estimate. Most people comply, either out of fear or lack of concern or strong belief in the system and its goals.

Second, every institution has more rules than it can follow, let alone enforce. Some of these rules are self-contradictory. The more rules, the larger the number of contradictions. (There is probably a statistical pattern here – some variant of Parkinson's law.)

Third, every institution is built on this assumption: partial compliance. Not everyone will comply with any given procedural rule. There are negative sanctions to enforce compliance on the few who resist. They serve as examples to force compliance. Conversely, very few people under the institution's jurisdiction will attempt to force the institution to comply exactly with any procedural rule.

These three laws of institutions – and they really are laws – offer any resistance movement an opportunity to shut down any system.


When we think of institutional tyrannies, few come close to matching the system of concentration camps in the Soviet Union: the Gulag. They operated from 1918 until after the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991. It took time to close them in 1992.

In his book, To Build a Castle, Vladimir Bukovsky provides one of the finest descriptions of institution-jamming ever recorded. He organized it.

What you are about to read is like nothing you have ever read. I have spent over 45 years studying bureaucracies in theory and practice. I have seen nothing to match it.

Bukovsky spent well over a decade in the Soviet gulag concentration camp system in the 1960s and 1970s. He was arrested and sentenced in spite of specific civil rights protections provided by the Soviet Constitution – a document which was never respected by the Soviet bureaucracy. But once in prison, he learned to make life miserable for the director of his camp.

He learned that written complaints had to be responded to officially within a month. This administrative rule governing the camps was for "Western consumption," but it was nevertheless a rule. Any camp administrator who failed to honor it risked the possibility of punishment, should a superior (or ambitious subordinate) decide to pressure him for any reason. In short, any failure to "do it by the book" could be used against him later on.

Bukovsky became an assembly-line producer of official protests. By the end of his career as a "zek," he had taught hundreds of other inmates to follow his lead. By following certain procedures that were specified by the complaint system, Bukovsky's protesting army began to disrupt the whole Soviet bureaucracy. His camp clogged the entire system with protests – hundreds of them per day. He estimates that eventually the number of formal complaints exceeded 75,000. To achieve such a phenomenal output, the protestors had to adopt the division of labor. Bukovsky describes the process: "At the height of our war, each of us wrote from ten to thirty complaints a day. Composing thirty complaints in one day is not easy, so we usually divided up the subjects among ourselves and each man wrote on his own subject before handing it around for copying by all the others. If there are five men in a cell and each man takes six subjects, each of them has the chance to write thirty complaints while composing only six himself."

The complaints were addressed to prominent individuals and organizations: the deputies of the Supreme Soviet, the regional directors, astronauts, actors, generals, admirals, the secretaries of the Central Committee, shepherds, sportsmen, and so forth. "In the Soviet Union, all well-known individuals are state functionaries."

Each complaint had to be responded to. The camp administrators grew frantic. They threatened punishments, and often imposed them, but it did no good; the ocean of protests grew. Bukovsky's description is incomparable.

The next thing that happens is that the prison office, inundated with complaints, is unable to dispatch them within the three-day deadline. For overrunning the deadline they are bound to be reprimanded and to lose any bonuses they might have won. When our war was at its hottest the prison governor summoned every last employee to help out at the office with this work-librarians, bookkeepers, censors, political instructors, security officers. It went even further. All the students at the next-door Ministry of the Interior training college were pressed into helping out as well.
All answers to and dispatches of complaints have. to be registered in a special book, and strict attention has to be paid to observing the correct deadlines. Since complaints follow a complex route and have to be registered every step of the way, they spawn dossiers and records of their own. In the end they all land in one of two places: the local prosecutor's office or the local department of the Interior Ministry. These offices can't keep up with the flood either and also break their deadlines, for which they too are reprimanded and lose their bonuses. The bureaucratic machine is thus obliged to work at full stretch, and you transfer the paper avalanche from one office to another, sowing panic in the ranks of the enemy. Bureaucrats are bureaucrats, always at loggerheads with one another, and often enough your complaints become weapons in internecine wars between bureaucrat and bureaucrat, department and department. This goes on for months and months, until, at last, the most powerful factor of all in Soviet life enters the fray – statistics.

As the 75,000 complaints became part of the statistical record, the statistical record of the prison camp and the regional camps was spoiled. All bureaucrats suffered. There went the prizes, pennants, and other benefits. "The workers start seething with discontent, there is panic in the regional Party headquarters, and a senior commission of inquiry is dispatched to the prison."

The commission then discovered a mass of shortcomings with the work of the prison's administration, although the commission would seldom aid specific prisoners. The prisoners knew this in advance. But the flood of protests continued for two years.
The entire bureaucratic system of the Soviet Union found itself drawn into this war. There was virtually no government department or institution, no region or republic, from which we weren't getting answers. Eventually we had even drawn the criminal cons into our game, and the complaints disease began to spread throughout the prison – in which there were twelve hundred men altogether. I think that if the business had continued a little longer and involved everyone in the prison, the Soviet bureaucratic machine would have simply ground to a halt: all Soviet institutions would have had to stop work and busy themselves with writing replies to US.

Finally, in 1977, they capitulated to several specific demands of the prisoners to improve the conditions of the camps. The governor of the prison was removed and pensioned off. Their ability to inflict death-producing punishments did them little good, once the prisoners learned of the Achilles' heel of the bureaucracy: paperwork.. The leaders of the Soviet Union could bear it no longer: they deported Bukovsky.

Read the whole article here:

Jefferson: Taxation violates free association...

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” —

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

Asimov: Cult of Ignorance

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
― Isaac Asimov

Alice Miller: Taking Children seriously as persons

"We don't yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as persons."
~Alice Miller

Cicero: Economic Disequilibrium Caused by Statism by

"The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
Cicero, 55 BC
Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Alice Miller: Maltreatment of Children

"...that people subjected to maltreatment in childhood may go on insisting all their lives that beatings are harmless although there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Can a person who still supports corporal punishment of children be considered as somebody who has overcome his or her abuse? He may still remain a blind victim who refuses to face his history and to work on it. Instead he will give destructive advice until his death and continue to ignore the child's pain, because his view of reality is severely distorted by early unconscious experience. On the other hand, a child protected, loved and cherished from the outset will thrive on that experience for a lifetime and develop empathy for others." Alice Miller

Language that denies choice by Scott Swain

Language that denies choice
by Scott Swain
[republished with permission]

Accessed at:

Language That Denies Choice

Moral Judgment
Moralistic judgments are when we judge another person [often as wrong or bad] when they do things that are not in agreement with our values. If you say
"You are selfish,"
"He is a lazy bum,"
"You are neurotic,"
"She did wrong,"
"You are too fat,"
you are making a moralistic judgment. For efficiency-sake, I'm going to call them "moral judgments".

Insults, put downs, labels, name calling, criticisms, comparisons, and diagnoses are all forms of moral judgments.

So how do I express disgust or distrust or many other valid feelings? We use value judgments.
Instead of "You are selfish," we say, "my value for sharing is different than yours."
"He is a lazy bum" becomes "His values for comfort and security are different than mine."

When we practice shifting moral judgment to value judgment, there are numerous benefits, including:

We are practicing and getting better at identifying our own values, feelings, and needs. This leads to a greater understanding of self, which is the key to understanding others.

We are practicing being more authentic and courageous. This leads to increased trust, deeper interactions, and getting more of what you want in life.
We are practicing (and spreading) acceptance of people having different values! This leads to more peace in your life.

Every time you pronounce a value judgment, you are increasing your sense of personal responsibility by saying, "I have a personal taste or distaste for blah blah" instead of "Blah blah is wrong because other people think so." A byproduct of taking responsibility is that you are increasing your power potential.

We are going to be "right" more often. Moral judgments are the same as pronouncing a "universal truth". For example: "You are evil!" and the response, "Oh? You obviously didn't know I contributed a year of my life building a school in Nigeria. The kids in that village would disagree with you." There is always another point of view. No man or group of men is qualified to judge you. Only you truly know your worth.

How did moralistic judgments become so widespread? It started out with our being taught to classify. In Nisbett's book, The Geography of Thought, there is an illustration: a drawing of a chicken which is labeled A, and a drawing of grass which is labeled B. Underneath the two drawings is a drawing of a cow, and the question asked is: "What goes with this: A or B. Researchers found that American children linked cow with chicken since they were both classifiable objects belonging to the same "taxonomic" category. The Chinese children said the cow and grass go together because "the cow eats the grass." In the Western tradition traceable back to the ancient Greeks, children are taught to classify objects according to rules, while in the Eastern tradition, children are taught that everything is connected to everything else, and so they look for relationships. The Orang Asli, a nonviolent aboriginal people of the Malay peninsula, do not have the word "to be" in their language and so they cannot even perform the classification act itself!

Alfred Korzybski also thought certain uses of the verb "to be" lead to errors in thought. His most famous line is "the map is not the territory," from Gregory Bateson's Mind and Nature.

E-Prime, developed in 1965 by Dr. David Bourland, Jr., also excludes all forms of the verb "to be". Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing. For example, the sentence "the movie was good" could translate into E-Prime as "I liked the movie" or as "the movie made me laugh". The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker's experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader to confuse opinion with fact.

Once you view the world in terms of categories, then labeling everything in that category as being bad is a short step away. Labeling by the dominant members of society is a form of oppression. For example, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has all sorts of categories of mental illness, and the psychiatrist who makes the diagnosis, ie, the judgment, has the power to determine your fate. The generally accepted view of mental illness is that it is a biochemical imbalance in the brain, treatable with drugs. The psychiatrists in power in concert with the pharmaceutical companies, like this interpretation. But there is another viewpoint. After psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, wrote the book The Myth of Mental Illness, he was marginalized by the psychiatric establishment, as recounted in an essay by Ronald Liefer. According to Liefer: "The psychiatric repression of Thomas Szasz is a symptom of the rise of the State-Science Alliance--the ascendance of the ethics and technology for managing and controlling people and the simultaneous decline of the ethics of individual freedom, dignity, and responsibility."

According to Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication: "All diagnoses are tragic expressions of an unmet need."

Jan Hunt has also argued in Subjective vs. Objective Labels that the use of subjective labels, as all psychiatric diagnoses are, leads to the unfortunate consequence of self-fulfilling prophesies. More on diagnoses.

Bureaucratic language or language denying choice: When Adolph Eichmann was asked, "Was it difficult for you to send these tens of thousands of people their death?" Eichmann replied, "To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our language made it easy." Asked to explain, Eichmann said, "My fellow officers and I coined our own name for our language. We called it amtssprache -- 'office talk.'" In office talk "you deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody says, 'Why did you do it?' you say, 'I had to.' 'Why did you have to?' 'Superiors' orders. Company policy. It's the law.'"

If you say to yourself, "I drink because I am an alcoholic," your self-talk is a combination of Amtssprache and a moralistic judgment because you are denying responsibility for your choices by labeling yourself as an alcoholic; a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy.

I value freedom. This statement is a value judgment, and a statement of a need, to be distinguished from a moralistic judgment which implies right or wrong. Freedom means I take responsibility for my choices because I choose to do the things I do. The problem is we are taught from an early age, out of awareness, that we are not free, despite words to the contrary. Domination systems want to fool you and trick you into believing you are free, yet have you all the while serving them. In actuality, "You are free, but you just don't know it!"

"Deserve" assumes a universal rule (God, law, or "Everyone agrees").

A common use of "deserve" that may not serve us: "I deserve to be happy."

This would serve a person better if reworded with empowering phrases like, "I want to be happy," "I can be happy," "I intend to be happy," and "I will be happy."

When one says, "I deserve to be happy," one is abrogating responsibility. It begs the questions, "Says who?" and "Who is going to give this to you?"

We all have a choice to be happy.

Here is what Stephen Covey, said about "deserve" in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

A man once told Dr. Covey that he was no longer "in love" with his wife and asked what to do.

Dr. Covey responded "Love her".

The man said that he no longer felt love.

Dr. Covey explained that love is a verb, not a noun.

Waiting and hoping for love to bestow itself upon us and wondering why it never does is no different than believing we deserve to be happy and wondering why happiness never arrives.

People have far more control over their happiness than they realize.

More on deserve: "I worked all weekend so I deserve gold stars." A statement combining a moralistic judgment and deserve thinking is typical in our present retributive justice system: "He did something wrong and deserves to be punished," in contrast to restorative justice. Domination systems believe that the people in positions of judgment, power, and authority have the right to punish or hurt others because they believe they "deserve" it, but really, it is just their way of using their positions of power and authority for their own benefit.

Deserve thinking also leads to the language of demand and coercion as in "I demand to be paid." When someone in a position of authority over you, like your supervisor, asks you do to do something, invariably, it is interpreted as a demand. Saying "no" risks the charge against you of insubordination, which would elevate your chances of being fired, a frightening experience to contemplate.

The language we are taught prepares us to live in a domination system where a few people (largely hidden from view) will control the large majority. I am not satisfied living in such a system. It does not meet my need for fairness. To change the system, we need to first change ourselves and the way we think about things. If the language just described leads to violence, then I suggest that learning to speak in the opposite manner will lead to the opposite result. In other words, using nonjudgmental language that reveals our feelings and needs, and making clear requests to fulfill those needs.

We all learn to speak this language from birth, and in so doing, our alienation from each other happens completely out of awareness. We accept our loneliness as being the natural state, when it really is not. But this insight regarding language may only be the tip of an iceberg. Imagine this: that we are not aware of and may never be aware of the extent to which our language limits and constrains our very way of thinking.

While yes, the first book I would recommend is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, as a tool for practicing what I think of as "the language of liberation", I also recommend as inspiration Stranger In a Strange Land by Heinlein:


Foucault, Michel (1975) Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. (transl. Alan Sheridan) (1995) 2nd ed NY:Vintage books.selections:torture,panopticon

Chomsky, Noam (1994) On violence and youth

Diamond, Jared (1997) Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies...

Korten, David C. (2001) When Corporations rule the world. 2nd Ed., Kumarian Press.

Nisbett, Richard E. (2003) The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why (NY:Freepress) pg 141.

McCormack, Win (2001) Deconstructing the Election in The Nation

Liefer, Ronald (1998) The Psychiatric Repression of Thomas Szasz: Its Social and Political Significance

Marshall Rosenberg (1999) Anger and Domination Systems and (2003) Nonviolent Communication

Smith, Adam (1776) Wealth of Nations

Szasz, Thomas (1961) The Myth of Mental Illness

Wink, Walter (1992) Engaging the Powers:Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Wink, Walter (1999) The Myth of Redemptive Violence, in The Bible in Transmission.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The history of domination as represented by one conversation

What if you could condense thousands of years of the history of domination into one conversation?

John Maynard Keynes: DEFUNCT ECONOMIST

“...the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

-John Maynard Keynes
[the irony is, that John Maynard Keynes would BECOME THAT DEFUNCT ECONOMIST]

Poverty is a subjective perspective

Why do social "scientists" assume that "poverty" is an adverse condition? Whether "poverty" is adverse or not, would appear, by all counts, to be a subjective perception, of how one reflects that their needs/values are met.

What is the price of a commodity in the market, other than the aggregation of demand in regard to the aggregation of the supply in the vicinity of where the exchange is desired to take place?

The price of any good therefore, is a result of an aggregation of all of the market decisions by individuals in the market place, and thus, the "price" of a good, comes about as what most people are willing to sacrifice in exchange to obtain the good; this exchange of goods presumes each party approves of the exchange at the time of exchange and believes they will be able to better meet-their-needs/satisfy-their-desires than if the exchange were not to take place.

Ipso facto, the "value" to one party from an exchange is a subjective affectation/value of the party. The value of a material good is subjective/relative to the valuing individual, who desires the good, more than that which they would exchange for the good.

Therefore, an aggregation of material abundance necessary to satisfy the individuals wants/needs is subjective/relative to that individual.

Therefore the accumulated value of a person's personal possessions as represented by their market "price" are in no way measures of how the individual values her possessions or how those material goods meets her needs.

A woman in the wildness could be meeting all of her needs; she could have perfect satisfaction living in isolation, owning nothing more than a few hand tools. She could prefer this lifestyle to all others and therefore, could in no way be said to live in "poverty" in any meaningful sense.

Yet a man with a "wealth" of gold in the same wilderness could be very unsatisfied with his condition. Though he carries with him great wealth of other items, his hunger, thirst, and isolation could be very unsatisfactory to him, such that he would, if given the opportunity, exchange all of his gold, to be taken out of the wilderness and taken back to London where he would be more satisfied.

Therefore, IF "poverty" is to be more than an arbitrarily assigned value of possessions, it must be considered as a subjective perspective of the satisfaction of the individual's needs, and therefore "material equality" as a standard of justice, is necessarily, an irrational premise.

“...the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

-John Maynard Keynes
[the irony is, that John Maynard Keynes would BECOME THAT DEFUNCT ECONOMIST]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Huber: Giving to ourselves

"instead of punishing our children by sending them into isolation, let's offer ourselves time-out to discover our own needs, our own true selves. You cannot give to your child until you give to yourself." -Cheri Huber

Molyneux: governments as ridiculous, bloody, and evil hangovers from the primitive and drunken adolescence of our species

"...It only looks impossible because a truly free and peaceful society has yet to be achieved. But once we get there, and we will, people will look back at governments as ridiculous, bloody, and evil hangovers from the primitive and drunken adolescence of our species. Your government cannot protect your property by stealing half of it first. It cannot protect your life by threatening you with endless violent edicts. It cannot protect your currency by forcing you to use a currency that it counterfeits at will. It cannot protect your children by sealing them up in 18th century mental prisons for years, while selling their futures off to the highest bidder."
~Stefan Molyneux

Jefferson: Have we found angels in the form of kings to govern men?

"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him?" ~Thomas Jefferson

[In response to Madison's famous:]

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." ~James Madison (Federalist 51)

War, Miltarism and Autonomy

"The soldier must be so trained that he becomes a mere automaton, he must be so trained that it will destroy his initiative; he must be so trained that he is turned into a machine. The soldier must be forced into the military noose; he must be jacked up; he must be ruled by his superiors with a pistol in his hand."
~Major General John F. O’Ryan

"You cannot conduct war with equals; you cannot have militarism with free born men; you must have slaves, automatons, machines, obedient disciplined creatures, who will move, act, shoot and kill at the command of their superiors."
~Emma Goldman

Images of parenting commentary

Some interesting pictures making commentary regarding parenting...

Lew Rockwell: American Fascism

This is a "video" I cobbled together from an mp3 put out by Lew Rockwell on iTunes. I wish I knew how to embed the original source of the mp3 but failing that, I put a picture of Lew as the 'video' and put in his talk on the American Fascism as the audio. It was really an excellent talk/speech and I wanted to be able to share it with you. So it's really audio only, but I hope you find this of value.

Intro to Voluntaryism: by AnCapChase

Some thoughts on alienation and other-ness: A conversation with Stephanie Murphy

Conversation with Stephanie Murphy:

Darjeelingzen: Apr 5, 2012

@Stephanie_Murphy PorcTherapy show prep?

Stephanie Murphy:  Wow, thanks. Added both to my show prep. Both very depressing, though. :(
Apr 6, 2012

Darjeelingzen: -Yeah... A lot of tragic expressions of unmet needs there... A lot of perceptions of certain groups of people, as something 'other' (probably akin to enemy-imagery), an 'other-ness' imagery; that some how the rules of ethics are different for the 'other-ness'; an 'other-ness' that resists empathy (connection) through alienation.

An overlooked theoretical assumption of NVC, is that the virtue of seeking empathy/connection with others, makes the philosophic/ethical assumption of an universalization of ethics, which denies the alienation of arbitrary categories of persons; denies the alienability of persons as something 'other'...

Apr 6, 2012

Stephanie Murphy: - Wow, I am grateful to you for highlighting that point. If you don't mind I'll read it on the air because I think it's a helpful intro for framing these articles.
Apr 6, 2012

Darjeelingzen: Sure. I am pleased to contribute. :-)
Apr 6, 2012

Darjeelinzen: -I was thinking of this aspect of otherness-ization... creating an imagery of other-ness in particular categories of persons, and it occurs to me, that such a conceptual alienation creates, through its divisiveness, various dynamics of domination, hierarchies of power, that those who seek power, may use to control people. I think of the historian Howard Zinn's interpretation of the beginnings of the peculiar form of racism in the United States, as attributed to a one-time, growing solidarity of the poor whites and the black slaves, such that the plantation owners and other political elites, fearing the potential for loss of their power, gave more recognition/privilege to the poor whites, in order that the political elite would create divisiveness between the growing solidarity between the two groups, who naturally had many common interests in resisting the political elites...

Similarly, by a political elite, granting special privileges to a particular gender, helps the elite to control the populace, as the privileged gender grows to expect & depend on the privileges granted by the political elite, which the political-elite wishes to maintain, creating a vested interest in a sub-set of the populace to maintain the status quo in an essentially conservative function, and that furthermore, this privileged class helps to maintain and check the liberties of the subordinated class. Again, all through a process of 'other-ness' or alienation...

A similar dynamic is commonly observed in large social groups of adolescents (such as in public high schools); adolescents, having been dominated by some set of adult 'authorities', are impelled, in order to maintain their egos/self-esteem, to create dynamics of domination within the already dominated groups of adolescents; creating mock-elite social groups striving after privilege (cliques); treating others poorly, to establish within this own egos, a hierarchy where they are not always the dominated, but they may also dominate.... Just a tragic mess of unmet needs that ripples further alienation outward from the initial institution of domination...

Politic privileges, necessitating some violation of the universalization of ethics, necessarily creates an alienation of one group to oppose/oppress another group; this granting of political privilege fails to meet human needs, resulting in the transference of those unmet needs into tragic expressions of still further unmet needs, usually expressing themselves as further alienation in either lesser political spheres or social spheres ... does a lot for the understanding of class/group conflict...

Darjeelingzen: - As I find myself playing with these ideas, I am reminded of Nhat Hanh: for Nhat Hanh, violence begins in the mind, when we divide reality in our minds into two camps, a good-guy/bad-guy dichotomy, (and of course, we have a tendency to place ourselves, in the good guys category).

“If we work for peace out of anger, then we will never succeed. Peace is not [just] an end. It can never come about through non-peaceful [non-empathetic/non-connected] means.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jung: Changing ourselves

"If there is anything that we wish to change in our children, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves."

~Carl G. Jung

Monday, April 9, 2012

Children and schooling

Today, some people will naturally question the thinking of some of those who lived during the days of slavery, "How could they ever have thought that was right?"

It seems so obvious to us today that such an institution of domination and oppression is an anathema to the conscientious; so much so, as to be unthinkably justifiable.

I propose that we think carefully of other groups of persons, that we have a tendency to treat as less than, autonomous human beings, worthy of the full dignity of humanity.

For some day, I would submit, they may possibly ask of us, how could we possibly have subjected young children and adolescents to compulsory schooling.

Will history be so kind to us for our use of domination?

They may someday, marvel agast, that we might subject children and adolescents to a place where they were separated into age-cohorts, and thereby separated them from the natural scaffolding of skills (Vygotsky), from socializing with different age-cohorts, from learning from their elders and from being able to assist and teach those younger.

Furthermore, they may someday cringe to hear, that under compulsion, those children and adolescents were compelled by orders given by designated authorities figures, to present themselves in specific rooms/places for the obstenive purpose to learn a specified lesson, designed by some other adult in a position of authority, and they were under further coercion to stay in that room, and obey the instructions of that authority figure, until a Pavlovian bell was to ring, then they would transfer themselves to the next room and the next authority figure, like so many ants scurrying around the ant-farm.

Those in the future, looking at our time, may mutter in horror when they are told that, sometime the children were coerced into obedience of rules, such as raising their hand to ask permission to speak or even go to the bathroom!

They will gasp when those of the future will be told that a place supposedly for learning, had 'experts' decide for entire masses of children, what they were to learn (curriculum), and that only a small portion of students had a customized curriculum, and even that would usually be nothing more than a modification of the standardized curriculum.

They may wonder in disbelief, that having subjected the children and adolescents to all this, we then tested them on their obedient diligence to learn what we have told them to learn (standardized testing) and where much social approval of the authorities comes from successful obedience.

There are, of course some children who take readily to such a system; they barely feel the yoke around their necks compelling them to follow instruction dutifully. For some, such a system may do little damage... But for so many, it would seem to create great harm.

The child who succeeds in such a system in order to receive the approbation of the authorities/adults is unknowingly scarred by the process; such a child never learns to value herself, for the sake of herself and is rather taught to look externally for the approval of others for her needs of recognition/respect.

Where the implicit goal of such a system, must be the transformation of children into soldiers and factory- workers; obedient, diligent ... but dull-witted.

The implicit purpose of such a system, as it has been designed, could only be to teach children that, for the most part, "education" and "learning" is tedious, dull, and unpleasant.

The terrible & tragic result of such an institution of domination that compulsory schooling must be, by its very nature, is to drive out as much curiosity from children and adolescents as possible and to replace it with obedience to authority figures.

Will history be so kind to us?

Some tweets that I put out that inspired this little diatribe:

To be instructed, is not education, nor is it learning; to be successfully instructed you must be obedient; to learn is to question & inherently, to disobey...

A school is not a place of learning; actually a school is the anti-thesis of education; a school is where curiosity & ideas goes to die.

Compulsory education is a contradiction in terms; if it is compulsory it is an oppression; if it is freely sought, it is an education.

Orwell: totalitarianism

"But on the other hand it was of the utmost importance to me that people in western Europe should see the Soviet regime for what it really was. Since 1930 I had seen little evidence that the USSR was progressing towards anything that one could truly call Socialism. On the contrary, I was struck by clear signs of its transformation into a hierarchical society, in which the rulers have no more reason to give up their power than any other ruling class. Moreover, the workers and intelligentsia in a country like England cannot understand that the USSR of today is altogether different from what it was in 1917. It is partly that they do not want to understand (i.e. they want to believe that, somewhere, a really Socialist country does actually exist), and partly that, being accustomed to comparative freedom and moderation in public life, totalitarianism is completely incomprehensible to them."

George Orwell, in the original preface to Animal Farm; as published in George Orwell : Some Materials for a Bibliography (1953) by Ian R. Willison

Sunday, April 8, 2012

C P Snow: Crimes of Obediance

"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion." ~C.P. Snow

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Penn Jillette: immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

"…. It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint….". ~Penn Jillette

Jan Hunt: children raised with love and compassion

"Children raised with love and compassion will be free to use their time as adults in meaningful and creative ways, rather than expressing their childhood hurts in ways that harm themselves or others. If adults have no need to deal with the past, they can live fully in the present." ~Jan Hunt

Twitter Feed: Deadly Force, Self-defense, & NAP

@VereSapiens @marketanarchy It is not that the home invasion itself would justify deadly force in self-defense, it is the reasonable assumption that the home invader intends to commit a more serious harm; the home owner is not obligated to wait until the home invader actually attempts to use deadly force himself, the act of home invasion is a sufficiently provocative and clear act of hostility, that the home-owner could reasonably assume that the home invader intends to do such harm that deadly force in self-defense of that clear potential harm is warranted. Therefore, I believe it is reasonable to argue, that it is the reasonable expectation that a deadly threat is impending that justifies the deadly force in self-defense, and not the trespass alone.

I make this distinction, as the determination of a justifiable use of self-defense must be based on the reasonableness of the circumstances; are we talking about a man in his twenties, dressed in black, who in the dead of night, breaks a window and enters the home? Or are we talking about a five-year old, in the daytime, opening an unlocked door and walking into the threshold of the doorway asking if anyone is home? It is not the home invasion itself that justifies deadly force in self-defense as the home invasion alone is only trespass, with possible property damage.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Zinn: Civil Obedience

"Our problem is not civil disobedience; our problem is civil obedience. Our
problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the
leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty." ~Howard Zinn, Historian

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Zappa : The Illusion of Freedom

United States of America: Terrorist Identification Chart

United States of America: Terrorist Identification Chart

Mises: Disparagers of Capitalism

"All people, however fanatical they may be in their zeal to disparage and to fight capitalism, implicitly pay homage to it by passionately clamoring for the products it turns out."

Dewey: Article 3 of My Pedagogic Creed

I believe that the social life of the child is the basis of concentration or correlation, in all is training or growth. The social life gives the unconscious unity and the background of all his efforts and of all his attainments.

I believe that the subject-matter of the school curriculum should mark a gradual differentiation out of the primitive unconscious unity of social life.

I believe that we violate the child's nature and render difficult the best ethical results, by introducing the child too abruptly to a number of special studies, of reading, writing, geography, but the child's own social activities.

I believe that education cannot be unified in the study of science, or so called nature study, because apart from human activity, nature itself is not a unity; nature in itself is a number of diverse objects in space and time, and to attempt to make it the center of work by itself, is to introduce a principle of radiation rather than one of concentration.

I believe that literature is the reflex expression and interpretation of social experience; that hence it must follow upon and not precede such experience. It, therefore, cannot be made the basis, although it may be made the summary of unification.

I believe once more that history is of educative value in so far as it presents phases of social life and growth. It must be controlled by reference to social life. When taken simply as history it is thrown into the distant past and becomes dead and inert. Taken as the record of man's social life and progress it becomes full of meaning. I believe, however, that it cannot be so taken excepting as the child is also introduced directly into social life.

I believe accordingly that the primary basis of education is in the child's powers at work along the same general constructive lines as those which had brought civilization into being.

I believe that the only way to make the child conscious of his social heritage is to enable him to perform those fundamental types of activity which makes civilization what it is.

I believe, therefore, in the so-called expressive or constructive activities as the center of correlation.

I believe that this gives the standard for the place of cooking, sewing, manual training, etc., in the school.

I believe that they are not special studies which are to be introduced over and above a lot of others in the way of relaxation or relief, or as additional accomplishments. I believe rather that they represent, as types, fundamental forms of social activity; and that it is possible and desirable that the child's introduction into the more formal subjects of the curriculum be through the medium of these activities.

I believe that the study of science is educational in so far as it brings out the materials and processes which make social life what it is.

I believe that one of the greatest difficulties in the present teaching of science is that the material is presented in purely objective form, or is treated as a new peculiar kind of experience which the child can add to that which he has already had. In reality, science is of value because it gives the ability to interpret and control the experience already had. It should be introduced, not as so much new subject-matter, but as showing the factors already involved in previous experience can be more easily and effectively regulated.

I believe that at present we lose much of the value of literature and language studies because of our elimination of the social element. Language is almost always treated in the books of pedagogy simply as the expression of thought. It is true that language is a logical instrument, bit it is fundamentally and primarily a social instrument. Language is the device for communication; it is the tool through which one individual comes to share the ideas and feelings of others. When treated simply as a way of getting individual information, or as a means of showing off what one has learned, it loses its social motive and end.

I believe that there is, therefore, so succession of studies in the ideal school curriculum. If education is life, all life has, from the outset, a scientific aspect; an aspect of art and culture and an aspect of communication. It cannot, therefore, be true that the proper studies for one grade are mere reading and writing, and that at a later grade, reading, or literature, or science, may be introduced. The progress is not in the succession of studies but in the development of new attitudes towards, and new interests in, experience.

I believe firmly, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing.

I believe that to set up any end outside of education, as furnishing its goal and standard, is to deprive the educational process of much of its meaning and tends to make us rely upon false and external stimuli in dealing with the child.

Mencken: lies & truth

“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
― H.L. Mencken

You think you are always right!

Steve: "You know what your problem is, don't you? You always think you are right!"

Adam: "Hmmm... I would submit, that every time that you disagree with me, you think you are right in your disagreement..."

I had this thought, and I'm still playing with this idea in my mind and I wonder what others may make of it: Everyone, always, think they are 'correct' or 'right' at the time that they check to see if they are 'correct'. Certainly, we naturally admit that, in the past, we have been in error, but is it possible to think that we are in error in present? It would seem to think that you are in error in the present, is to admit contradiction, for the moment one acknowledges their error, they no longer can be said to confirm their own error; we can only think ourselves wrong in the past.

Therefore, does the confidence that is required for direct/deliberate action or for the belief in a particular proposition, have a kind of prejudice for thinking that one is in a better position, in the moment, to rule the lives of others, unless one accepts a proposition in direct contradiction to this unconscious prejudice (such as: the Misesian theory of subjective value and exchange) ?

Explanatory theory of prevalence of Keynesianism

Steve: "That's just ridiculous! If Keynesianism is as flawed as you say that it is, then why are most economists either Keynesians or post-Keynesians?"

Josh: "Well, to argue that a theory or proposition is correct, because most experts agree to a theory or proposition, seems to be a fallacious appeal to authority as well as an appeal to the majority, simultaneously. However, if you are looking for a possible explanatory theory on why such would be the case, I might submit, that Keynesianism, as an economic theory, has conclusions which are of the interest to both the politicians/agents-of-the-State, as well as the economists themselves. Keynesianism tells the politicians and agents of the State, that the economy would be spurred by gratuitous borrowing and spending, which benefits the politicians, as they can procure political power by spending money that need not be taxed in the present-time; and the economists are benefited because Keynesianism would require that a group of specialized economic experts, operate the delicate controls of the economy, thus benefiting a host of economists in State employ."

Rule of Law

Rule of Law: A condition in which, they who claim to make, enforce and interpret the 'law' rule everyone; the words on paper are irrelevant, unless you are the one who writes them, interprets them, and enforces them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oppenheimer: Origins of the State

"The transition between prehistoric and historic times is the age of migration and conquest. At this stage the clans have become larger, and have either developed or combined so as to form tribes, and in many cases even associated groups of tribes. Here and there their own territory becomes too small for their primitive methods of cultivation, and a tendency to expansion arises. A more numerous or better armed tribe, or one which is capable of better tactical co-operation or more perfect discipline, attacks and conquers another tribe. This, in all parts of the world, is the origin of the State. The active factors in the formation of the State are in the Old World the pastoral peoples and the sea-faring peoples which proceed from them; in the New World the active factors are the more highly-developed hunting peoples. The passive factors are as a general rule the less highly developed cultivators, those who still cultivate their land by hoeing it by hand. The use of the plough for cultivation only begins in the State, when the draught animals introduced by the pastoral peoples - horses, oxen or camels - are harnessed to the instrument used for tilling. The object of conquest and the subjection of other clans is everywhere the same: it is exploitation. The conquered are compelled to work for their conquerors without recompense, or to pay them tribute. The form assumed by exploitation is mastership, which must [p. 15] not be confused with the leadership of earlier times, which did not involve any kind of exploitation. Mastership is leadership combined with exploitation."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


It is often the case, that those who complain that they have, "been doing all of the heavy-lifting" in an intellectual discussion, confuse the intensity of their strain, with the weight of their ideas.

Learning Assessment

A teacher on Twitter, asked for recommendations to go with a book on learning assessments; I have been thinking about the pedagogical theory informing learning assessments for quite some time, and I am becoming increasingly convinced that, the only meaningful learning assessment, is the assessment of the student herself, as to her satisfaction of the learning experience. If the student's assessment of her own learning experience is not the measure of our learning assessment, then what is our assessment telling us, what is its meaning? Its meaning can only be a measure of the teacher's satisfaction of the students learning experience.

If the student satisfies the teacher's learning assessment criteria, but the student remains unsatisfied by the learning experience; if the student satisfied all 'learning objectives' created by the the teacher, but the student had little opportunity to satisfy their own self-generated inquiries, our learning assessments will have indicated that the 'learning objectives' have been met, yet in no way can it be said that meaningful education or learning taken place.

Teacher generated learning objectives, only indicate if the student has complied with instructions, not whether authentic inquiry as been explored.

What do teacher-generated learning objectives teach students? They teach students that their curiosity is not part of 'education'; that their learning needs are not important to 'education'; teacher-generated learning objectives teach students, that someone else is to determine *what* you are to learn, and your duty is to comply with instructions, and if you do, you will receive praise, little stickers, and a positive
letter grade.

Is this the lesson that we want to teach?

Educators need to re-think the pedagogical models that are based on hierarchical structures which have implicit tension with uneven power-dynamics.

We should permit students to be free to learn; free to generate their own inquiries, and assess for themselves, whether their curiosity and need to explore, has been satisfied.

Other-wise, what are we really teaching?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

George Mason: Standing Armies & Militias

"No man has a greater regard for the military gentlemen than I have. I admire their intrepidity, perseverance, and valour. But when once a standing army is established, in any country, the people lose their liberty. When against a regular and disciplined army, yeomanry are the only defence — yeomanry, unskillful & unarmed, what chance is there for preserving freedom? Give me leave to recur to the page of history, to warn you of your present danger. Recollect the history of most nations of the world. What havock, desolation, and destruction, have been perpetrated by standing armies? An instance within the memory of some of this house, — will shew us how our militia may be destroyed. Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British parliament was advised by an artful man, [Sir William Keith] who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people. That it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them. But that they should not do it openly; but to weaken them and let them sink gradually, by totally difusing and neglecting the militia. [Here MR. MASON quoted sundry passages to this effect.] This was a most iniquitous project. Why should we not provide against the danger of having our militia, our real and natural strength, destroyed?"

"Mr. Chairman — A worthy member has asked, who are the militia, if they be not the people, of this country, and if we are not to be protected from the fate of the Germans, Prussians, &c. by our representation? I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people. If we should ever see that day, the most ignominious punishments and heavy fines may be expected. Under the present government all ranks of people are subject to militia duty."

George Mason: Slavery

"Slavery discourages arts and manufactures."
August 22

"The poor despise labor when performed by slaves."
August 22

"Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven on a Country. As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes & effects providence punishes national sins, by national calamities."
August 22

The Brain as a Computer

The computer as a kind of brain: A metaphor

If you may permit the metaphor, the brain has similarities to a computer

Violence, Coercion, and theft are the installation of malware

This malware has buggy code; it creates computational conflicts with the operating system

If enough malware is successfully installed, the operating system can be corrupted (anti-social)

Brandeis: The Right to be Left Alone

The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.

~Louis Brandeis
Dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928).

If you do not consent to obey, then you should leave!

Because I am interested in ethical arguments, and because I argue that the universality of ethics, denies the possibility for exceptions, I will often hear the statement, "Well, if someone does not consent to obey the laws, and pay their taxes, then they are free to leave!"

I want to emphasize with those who would feel this way; it appears to me, to be a statement of exasperation, a statement of power-less-ness to confront the ideas. What's more, it is also a kind of request, "I am tiring of being confronted with these ethical arguments, they make me feel uncomfortable, because I am invested in the system as it currently exists, and it scares me to think of the implications of an argument that reveals that all actions of the State are unethical. Therefore, I would like to request that everyone who would make these arguments, that make me uncomfortable, to please leave me alone, so that I can once again, blissfully ignore these ideas, and my conscience may once again proceed with unfettered support of the State, which makes me feel safe."

I really do want to emphaize with someone who says, "If you don't like it, then get out" or "America, love it, or leave it!". These people are revealing an unmet need, which is being expressed by a feeling of fear; afraid that arguments revealing the State as merely instituionalized violence, is *inconsistent with their own apprehension of ethics*, yet, afraid that without the State, their own livelihoods or safety could be compromised.

However, their argument can be paraphrased as, "If you do not consent to the State as it is, then please leave!". This request of course, denies to the person, who would withhold their consent from the State, to also deny their consent to their forced removal. If Bob were to say to his neighbor, "I want you to mow your lawn." and his neighbor replies, "I appreciate, that you would make this request of me, but I do not consent to mow my lawn as I prefer the natural look of native grasses" and then Bob says to his neighbor, "Look, you HAVE to mow your lawn, those are the rules; I acknowledge that you are perfectly free to do as you please, but, discomfort at looking at your yard provokes such a powerful negative emotion in me, that I threaten you with this ultimatum, you are either free to mow your lawn, or you are free to leave and live somewhere else, but if you do not consent to mow your lawn, then that means you do not consent to live in this neighborhood."

In this case, Bob denies to his neighbor a free, uncoerced choice. His neighbor, in light of this demand for obedience, in either the one case, OR in the other case, is a coerced choice; a choice given to the victim under duress. The victim presented with such a 'choice' is not permitted to deny, or withhold consent from either horn of the threatened dilema. The choice that Bob has been presented to his neighbor, is the exact same coerced choice of the man who would rob people on the street at gun point. The robber may give to you the 'choice', "Give me your wallet, or I'll shoot you dead!" but the fact that you have this 'choice' available to you, this does not mean that your rights have not been violated. While you have a 'choice', this is in no way a free choice.

Normally, we would not ask the victim of crime to make yet further concessions to her perpetrator; we do not say to the woman who has been raped, "Well, if you do not consent to be raped, then you should really need to move somewhere else, because around here, George and Barak like to rape women and children all the time.". To ask the victims to make further concessions to their perpetrators is the height of ethical callousness; if ANYONE should be threatened to withdraw, it is the perptraitors! It is George and Barak, who would initate aggression against others, who should have demands placed upon them! It is they who should make concessions of restitution to their victims and to refrain from further aggressions!

It is not the victim of abuse that should be required to move somewhere else, in order to live peaceably, rather the perpetrators of aggression, violence, coercion and theft should be required to make amends, and failing that, perhaps it is they who should be required to live apart from civilized society.