Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who Draws the Lines?

The state of Arizona just passed a draconian illegal immigration enforcement law in which cops are required to stop and question anyone who even looks like they might be illegal.  The controversy surrounding the law has elicited the usual complaints about the need to control US borders.  I am afraid to enter into conversation about this issue with any but my closest friends and colleagues because to do so would “out” me as an anarchist (the only group hated as much or more than atheists—and I am a card-carrying member of both!). 

My contribution to the conversation would be: what’s a border? Who decides which people can go where?  The idea that countries are the possession of the people who live within the lines drawn on a map is ludicrous.  It is not supported by any sort of natural law.  Rather, it is supported and enforced through violence and the direct threat of violence.  Why can’t somebody simply move into my back yard and call it their home?  Because I have access to professionals with guns who will in fact kill them if they don’t acknowledge and fully comply with laws based on the unnatural idea of property ownership.  It's all about who is capable of the most violence, who can be most lethal, who has access to the most weapons.  Of course, this ugly fact is obscured by a thin veneer of “patriotism” and buried under lies of entitlement.  The truth is the dirt under my feet no more belongs to me than it does a thirteen year old Guatemalan factory worker. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Kinder Gentler Anarcho-primitivism

Sending mail bombs has its place, I’m sure, but I’m not sure where that place is.  I have to admit that there is a certain satisfaction in imagining the brains of powerful heads of industry splattered across the interior of their designer office spaces.  It plays into a delicious sense of karma, a small bit of retribution for the victims of world wide corporate oppression.

The problem with blowing up corporate CEOs and other evil corporate scum is that for every one you pop there are 500 clawing up the rungs of the corporate ladder to take his or her place.  I suppose with unlimited pyrotechnic resources, you could eventually start to make a difference.  If you continually pick the leaves off a weed, the roots will eventually run out of reserve and the plant will die.  But wouldn’t it make more sense to target the roots to begin with?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Real Holocaust?

Nazis researchers collected an enormous amount of human data in their extermination camps, most of which has never been utilized.  It is unthinkable to many people that we should make use of data that was collected through such horrific means.  The fact that it might help us to treat or cure the suffering of existing persons is not sufficient justification for mining the Nazis’ experimental results.  What the Nazis did in terms of the sheer magnitude of human exploitation and torture renders any potential positive outcome null and void.

Curious.  We don’t have a problem using cell phones or automobiles or flat screen digital televisions or any other product of modern industrial civilization. 

You don’t get cell phones (or cars or television, etc.) without the support of a global corporate infrastructure that immiserates a billion people.  You don’t get cell phones without bloody wars for oil and drone attacks on children.  You don’t get cell phones without an environment laced with toxins that kill millions in slow and torturous ways.  You don’t get cell phones without the industrial revolution which impoverished half the world and consigned millions to premature death and a life of quiet anguish as wage slaves—and the industrial revolution itself is historically seated on thousands of years of the blood of uncountable actual slaves.

Cell phones derive from a history of exploitation and torture on a level incomparably more horrendous than the holocaust, and their use is supported by an existing global infrastructure that, in terms of its raw human impact, eclipses the holocaust many thousands of times over.

Fuel for the Machine

I’m not a Luddite.  Nor am I a technophobe.   Nor do I harbor any romantic notions about some mythical time in the past when life was simpler and more meaningful. 

OK. So, maybe I am a romantic to some extent. 

At some point we crossed a line with our technology.  Maybe it was more of a blurred gray interface than an actual line, a transition zone between two mutually exclusive conditions—like the boundary between plant hardiness zones: on one side, the plant thrives and on the other it fails, but in the area along the border its fate becomes a matter of varying probability.  Whatever the case, we are no longer in the borderlands, and are clearly beyond any probabilistic considerations: humans are technology-dependent animals.  That is perhaps our only clear distinction in the animal world.  Other animals use tools, but we humans cannot survive without them.  That in itself is not a problem; it’s just a fact, a fundamental truth about our condition.  The problem is that our relationship with our technology has changed.  Our tools are no longer employed in the service of our freely chosen ends.  Instead, the natural order of things has been inverted.  We are now operating in service of our tools.  We, our daily activity, our lives, are designed to satisfy the “goals” and requirements of our technology.  We are “tools” in service of our own technology.

There is one tool in particular, more so than any other, that has usurped our position as its master.  It is a simple tool designed to organize our economic world, originally designed to facilitate the temporary concentration of wealth for the achievement of large-scale tasks that would be beyond the means of a single individual.  We call this tool the corporation.   

People no longer use corporations—and haven’t for many decades.   Rather, corporations use people.  It has gotten to the point now where flesh and blood human beings have meaning only with respect to their relationship to corporations.  To be an American citizen means to be living in the service of USA, Inc.  The gold standard has been replaced with a human-labor standard.  Our currency is now based on the future labor of US citizens, reflecting the speculative value of their labor in the form of income tax revenue (and revenue from other less obvious forms of taxation).
We are, in a non-metaphorical sense, fuel for the machine.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…