Tuesday, November 20, 2012

P Esquire A

One thing I can take away from recent nonsense.

Parents, talk to your kids about law school.  Because if you don't, someone else will.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Or Maybe Just Good Luck

This week I had to grapple with a couple local bureaucracies.  I should add that I'm in one of those states in which small-statism is shrinking the staff while herding people through the system more than ever.  In any case, I expected a nightmare.

It wasn't easy, and I don't want to ignore that the slight stability I've found in my life always makes acting calmly a bit easier, but I steeled myself to deal with the individuals I met as individuals.  On two interactions with unholy state institutions and in one with a local business I found myself treated in return as an individual.  I won't say I caused their kindness--I didn't--but I certainly didn't try to dissuade them.  I explained my situation.  I expected nothing.  I just did my best to get through.  And people helped me.

This is simply anecdotal, but it felt good to be cut a little slack.  There are plenty of people in this world who need to be cut a bit more than I do, but anyway, I emerged from a few transactions with impersonal powers with my faith in individuals affirmed.  If you see my former posts as bleak, it's because I intended them to be.  I remain confident of the flaws in mass society and the intrinsically mixed bag of human behavior.  But that mixed bag means that hope also never vanishes, and that compassion and collaboration is just an individual choice away.  This perhaps makes the dark darker, when you realize how much difference some individuals can make in cases of extreme injustice and brutality--autonomy means greater guilt falls on the wicked or their servants--but it is also cause for hope.  I believe in exceptions.  We all have need of them on occasion.

Friday, November 16, 2012

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eternal Recurrence

Man will always (I don't speak for women) seek power enough to express himself and this will always suffice to persecute, dominate, and manipulate others.

In this I am a conservative, for I do believe human nature is fixed.  What can go wrong, I assert, will go wrong.  One need only wait.  One need only watch families to see that persecution is cultivated young and no political, cultural, or belief system will ever remedy this completely.  And so in enough time you will have people with the charisma enough, and others with the affection/neediness/desperation enough to devote themselves to others.

This is bombastic and stupid, but it is correct--if you want to see demagoguery and control and ruthlessness, it is important to look at the pathologies of millions, but I say to you that very little is expressed there that is absent from a smaller scale.  Violence, orchestration, cruelty, internalized control...  All society's maladies are present in families.  We were not corrupted by the state.  We gave birth to it and replicate it every day.  We don't even need to play it out; it would die without our assistance and the truth is that it is maintained daily by us.

And so I advocate resistance and upheaval and destruction when we assert it is necessary.  Will these efforts go wrong?  Yes.  Inevitably.  But still we try.  Still we do our best.  Still we seek freedom for ourselves and freedom for others.  And this is a very subjective concept, I grant.  Freedom ain't rational and never will be.  You can't draw the line at control through overt violence or political systems.  Anyone who has seen individual violence knows that you can have the best system in the world and yet, in the moment, you can still be enslaved or corrupted or crushed or co-opted, finding yourself your own jailer.

This will never go away.

But nevertheless I believe in finding a way to liberate ourselves and help others liberate themselves.  I just don't know what form it needs to take, now or ever.

I am happy to fumble through this until my ideas get better.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Generally, I'd support a system where small communities--less than 50 thousand, maybe?--were able to pass laws that superseded larger jurisdictions.  Naturally, we might draw the line at murder, but I'd like to see this kind of shift take place everywhere.  It doesn't happen, but give us the option.

And if we want to assist those who move elsewhere, just fine.  The system can be voluntarized as much as we like.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Yeah, I know.  And you can hate me too.  I actually voted for the guy.  You want a defense?  I'd actually try if you're interested, but I don't need to waste time if you'll chalk it up to me being a betrayer of liberty.  Fact is that's exactly what I was yesterday.  I soothed the state.  But there--I've admitted it and now I'd like to move on to my main point, politician-style.

Reach out to the sad.  Find out why.

Talk to the ecstatic.  Find out why.

This is very simple.  But you see, election or no election, our first responsibility is to politically explore our fellows.  Actually talk--not on the Internet, or not only--but actually talk to the disgruntled co-worker who rolls her eyes at all the "I Voted" stickers.  She has her reasons, unless she actually is an idiot like the voterprop tells us to expect.  Apathy can be easy, but principled avoidance is another thing.  There's fucking wisdom there, even if you won't or can't share it.

In short, Obama won because a whole bunch of people said so.  We can debate the particulars, we can say this is good or this is bad.  But the fact is that from Bush to Obama to whoever the citizenry (or a portion of them) selects or ratifies of whatever, the most I want to see from us critics is a shrug, because the people are still the only hope for those who would limit or push back or reinvent or extinguish or kill the state.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

History Student Angst

I'll just keep writing until more of you come back.  Things are better now in some ways, but I have lapsed into some kind of bourgie intellectual laziness.  Was my ambition sharpened by that morass of disappointment and recrimination?

Anyway, I like to read books about really powerful people (I wanted to say "great men") and ask myself if I'd do better.  Would I be me, were I some minor noble artillerist from Corsica?  Would I be me, were my father a king?  Would I be me, were I some horny young man with an attractive classmate conveniently drunk?

In short, I return to this--am I my assumed inclination or am I no more virtuous than my opportunity will allow?  I can't point to my restraint in this--abusers do it all the time, highlight their hesitance to offset their indulgence of brutal instincts.  I want to show you the times I've been kind to the weak and the useless, the patience I show with my boys, the time I've spent listening to those who are clearly lonely.  I was born low and I'm low in rank.  Of course this means that I see more utility in kindness, collaboration, and kindred spirit.  But what if I really didn't need anyone?  What if I stood atop a tower of bodies, others holding me up while many lie stilled by the hands of my servants?  What if I were born, as I am born, to a heritage of conquest and possession, only I occupied a rank far above any I can imagine?  What if I, an American in the greatest age of diffusion of responsibility, a man who lives under spectacle and remote drones, really stood in a place of total culpability, a place where my decisions mattered not to handfuls but millions?

Who am I to say I'd do better than the butchers?  Can the answer be anything other than assertion, opinion, speculation?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gone Native

What's the difference between a schizophrenic and a normal man?
The schizophrenic tries to make sense of the madness around him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Learning Precedes Intelligence

I read an article today on how lemon sharks learn from observing each other feed.

And then I remembered that the definition and measure of intelligence in our culture seems to have always been rooted in one key trait: the capacity for training.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rusty Exercise

There is no substitute for using your power deftly to elevate others, seek their opinion, and treat them fairly (as you see fit, of course, since there really is no "fair").  You can try to apologize for your power, or act like it doesn't exist, or give it away, but these emphasize rather than erase the sin of hierarchy.

That principle, a bit of moral fluff, is going to be true both here and in the Anarchist Utopia, since there will always be some forms of power or--a better term perhaps--advantage that renders others dependent on or observant of you.  Natural advantage is a lovely thing, and present in all spontaneous, undirected order, but can it ossify, in time, and become privilege?  Of course it can.  Humans make habits of everything.

Now it's starting to be my opinion that I have been considering two rather distinct anarchist ideas.  One is a process of collaboration and ally-making with others, not as roles or offices but people.  The second is the classic political project of assaulting and questioning concentrated power.  There is structure and there is also culture.  They interplay and each feeds the other; sapping a poison from one pool will only buy time before the other feeds the one.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What, is this f-ing LiveJournal?

One career step ahead, a car expense back.
Read inspiring passage in a book, get paranoid and bitter e-mail.
Talk to the ex maturely.  Read her get passive-aggressive same day.

See the boys.  Nothing's going to keep me from being a father.
Think about the threats she's made to me and others.

Friend makes a comment about legal process favoring women.  I protest weakly, drift off.  His fiancée finishes my words.  She was wrecked in her own split.  I smile sadly.  Keep quiet.  Don't want my issues with this one woman to affect my feelings toward more of them.

Day upon day of riding high, doing what I need to, helping others, impressing others.  Rise in petty politics, work well with others.  In harmony as much as possible.  Protect those under my eye.  Serve those in power above me.  Liberal dream.

Flip out, feel miserable, sob for hours for the first time in months.  Get told that this kind of thing doesn't go away in weeks or months or even the better part of a year.  Get treated compassionately.  Peer with tunnel vision at the cruel and the treacherous and the vengeful.  Want to scream at her, When did you become so coercive?  When did our love yield to the fixtures and trappings, and when were you the type to prefer us chained together than free, if apart?  Why do you host house party after party now when it was an effort to get you out of that goddamned recliner and away from the fucking Facebook browser games for nearly a decade?  I didn't hate you, though you're trying hard now.  I hated that you lived like a ninety-year-old at thirty-five, and I hate that you'd use words like socialist to describe yourself with me and now you're nothing more than a vindictive bourgeois hausfrau.  Vote for Obama like that makes you different, but a woman who expects others to validate her social blueprint is the same as any other social repressive.

But I know her better than she ever knew me, and I know that to shout at the traumatized and the victimized achieves nothing.  We had our chance to learn from each other voluntarily, and I surely learned from you.

I'm surviving, and I thank anyone who asks or cares.  I teach new staff now, and it is wonderfully cathartic to find a position of both power and raising others to my level--or beyond, depending on their gifts.  I write.  I father.  I hope to return here, but I'm low on the pyramid right now.

I can't wait to not be scared anymore.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Confusion of Tongues

Is there anything as a political system, independent of its cultural context?

"Feudalism" has been used for a variety of ancient political systems, from Northern Europe where it was born to the Mediterranean agricultural estates to even East Asian contexts.  But a closer look, even a cursory glance at that great repository Wikipedia, will show that "feudalism" is but one kind of agricultural-military-political exchange.  There are myriad differences between Roman politics, German politics, the Anglo-Saxon system, the Norman system of land tenure and so on.  Can we really use one name to define these?

Where does power flow?  Power flows from people first and foremost, from the ability to make others do what you want, from the ability to do what you want from the land and resources you hold.  But no one man can work the land by himself.  Others breed the draft animals, others provide the seeds and the fertilizer (whether it's pig shit or synthesized concoction), others provide the defense of fields...  So power is, must be, seen as relational, as a thing that is wielded between people.

But the organization of power is what blocks us from changing things.  Kings can do what they want, right?  But not if their rights are stripped away by nobles and their assemblies, if soldiers swear fealty to subordinates or cities first, which in turn swear allegiance to the king.  And who names a king?  In some countries it was a noble council.  In other places, it was the priests who anointed kings the representative of God or some other divine force.

What we have now is the republic, and the republic is as diverse as any other set of conditions that use a common name.  If Syria calls itself a republic, if China calls itself so, how are we to say that we are more so and they are less?  What do any of these names mean?  Have we lost the ability to describe political systems, or did we ever have the ability to begin with?

This is why leftists are so critical of private wealth.  It is all very well to believe that we have our little bit in accordance with the same law that preserves the right of the rich to their very much.  We "have," but do we really have in the same way?  Is the owner of a factory enriched by the same flow of property and power that modestly enriches his employees?  I don't see it if there is.

Likewise, with our rhetoric that states are all the same, that a president is a king is a pope is an emperor and so on, perhaps we blind ourselves to the ways that all these people are empowered and enriched.  Perhaps we are as blind as those who believed that kings' power stemmed from bloodline and destiny, until we come up with a real mechanic that can explain all of human circumstances--at least in the political dimension.  What we need, what I need to understand things, is a political physics, an understanding and a diagram of how people become more powerful than others.  It is a joint interest to find that kind of understanding between both reformers and dismantlers.  At the present, each is as blind as the true believer in the systems' justness.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Coercive Love

Now that things are a little better, I remember the good times. I'm less scared. I think about the relationship and I can't say that any of the development over the last six months is due to being out of it.

Improvement, save from the most glaringly obvious conditions, is unquantifiable to the point of being imaginary.

And yet, if the future (whatever that is) needs to be rational, then it is held to a standard unreached by any past and all present.

Anyway, I can miss my ex now. Now that it seems she's not going for my throat. Was she ever? Was it all just fog of war? I don't know.

I went from having to know what she was thinking--and I think she felt the same way, for whatever reason--to deciding that I must never try to predict her feelings and thoughts. That was what really led to the end-of-relationship shakes. That was what really pissed her off after the split. I didn't infer. I listened to what she said and that was it. I tried not to be painfully logical--men do that a lot, I hear, and boy, did she do it well too, self-hating masculinized arch-Anglo that her family raised her to be. Anyway.

Now I can see her well, and I hope she can see my positive traits. Even now, I'm desperate for her approval, and I have to give up on that. Ten years didn't get her to see me as I wanted to be seen. Ten years and she still saw me as someone either to tiptoe around or dismiss, the same way her mother treats her father, as bumpkin/dominator.

Okay, so there's still rage there. But what I wanted to say is that the old pack of once-mutual friends, with rare exception, had an interesting way of encouraging compliance with the relationship. Most peer groups don't want what's best. They want status quo. Bros will denounce a marriage or engagement; couples friends will need to see a break-up in terms of betrayal.

One friend who should have known better--they all should have known better, I think, which is to say that I thought them better than they turned out to be--told me that I'd lose the love of my children. I regarded and regard that as an utterly stupid thing to say. A father who loses the love of his children following a divorce probably never had that love to begin with, or suffered an especially vicious smear campaign--which may yet, in time, be undone. I never suspected my wife of being the type to commit the latter, though she has played a bit with actions of the sort. In any case, I wondered what kind of man I would be to present my children with a marriage of coercion. A marriage of fear.

Other "help" appeared in the form of other threats. A marriage counselor--no shit--threatened me with never seeing the kids, living in a tiny apartment, and paying my wife all my money. He was an ugly stereotype, I suppose, down to the assumptions about our relative income and involvement with the children. Then again, when I said I didn't know who I was, his first question was "Are you gay?" I'm still not sure if I forgive him for knowing the bulk of the market or if I'm derisive that I never really felt heard. I prefer female counselors anyway.

As I've said to a few people, I felt myself looking down a path of coercion. We all know or should know what lies down that path. It's monkeys in cages, alcoholism, chronic masturbation, deadening of impulses, resentment of partners, misery being taught to children. It's domestication in the ugliest sense.

I still can't imagine ever being in a long-term relationship again. I pine for some kind of affection, some kind of romantic attachment. But I prefer being alone to being miserable, to being beholden to the choices I made at 19 and 21.

And when I've been called a coward by people who once called me friend, I scoff. Yeah, I really chose the easy way out. I leapt from one branch without so much as holding another. I had no home, a new job, no girl waiting in the wings, nothing. I was honest the entire time, explaining in painful detail how I felt and where I was mentally. If bravery is what I've seen of other people's "relationships," then call me a coward. I loved my wife, but I couldn't anymore. And I didn't believe in the institution surviving the spirit that animated and founded it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Upshot of Apoliticality

You know, I can scoff at a libertarian with appreciation for Trotsky, or at the transgendered with praise for Eurosocialism and a love of Ayn Rand, for their ideological impurity, or I can see them as a good start.

I still believe in political philosophy. Affiliations don't matter so much as a coherent whole that makes sense to you. That said, I grow amazed at the buffet philosophers of our world. Soundbites abide. I'm not saying you need to be utterly consistent; nobody is. But that said, at least account for the other things people said. I mean, give a nod to Proudhon's nationalism, Lenin's use of terror, Guevara's tenure in economic ministry, Jefferson's catalogue of human acquisitions, and so on, and so on.

But... such rigor can go too far. And if I meet people who seem almost childlike in their surprise to find that Rand thought homosexuality, Beethoven, and facial hair were irrational, or in their enthused mixing of any image, aesthetic, or style that strikes their pre-political fancy, maybe I should be content to say they'll get there. Good luck, all you crazy kids.

Except for Ron Paul fans in the military (be your own rebel--leave!) and Democrats for interventionism. They hurt my head.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Authoritarian Alternative to Authoritarianism

I heard the tale end of NPR's "On Point" tonight. Tom Ashbrook was interviewing Clay Christensen, a religious and business leader.

He recited an anecdote about a Chinese Marxist and economist who studied with him at Harvard. You can find a similar retelling here. The main thrust was that in order to create a stable and prosperous culture, there were two ways about it. You could go the way of Singapore, and have clear rules and clear ramifications for those who broke them, or you could go the way of democracy, which Christensen sweetly stated through the mouth of his Marxist friend was far harder.

But in democracy, the only way people would behave in a just way was that they believed they would be punished or rewarded according to a higher power. The PDF I link to makes the religiosity much clearer, though even the radio statement (toward the last 10 minutes) was blunt as a hammer.

Personally, I am not surprised that an economist from the PRC would believe that people are weak and require some kind of authority to "hold them accountable"--or, in other words, make them do what is "right." I am sure Christensen saw this as some incredible validation--"Look, even the Marxist thinks we need rules, and that democracy needs religion!" But for me, this is no surprise. An authoritarian and an authoritarian will likely agree on the people; it's the nature of authority on which they differ. It is no surprise that authoritarian socialism gave way to monarchy, state religion, and cults of personality. It is no surprise that Juche and Maoism resemble ancient despotisms, complete with supernaturally gifted leaders. It is no surprise that Guevara became a Castroist Jesus and Stalin was painted with happy children in the same tacky style I see in Adventist portraiture. Man as he is is unimportant to these doctrines. Man is to be molded, recreated, and perfected. They are all Procrustean exercises, all self-demeaning faiths. As valuable as Marx is to deconstructing capitalist economy, he despised anarchists and believed in a rule by elite. He and his heirs ushered in a new priesthood and a new liturgy which has only given way to new Marxian philosophy with great effort and the fall of the Soviet Union.

This is the same as Democrats being trotted out by Republicans when they personally agree. I am not impressed that Lieberman agreed with Bush, no more than I am that Republicans voted for Obama in droves. What is presented as an alternative is not often that significant a difference. Those who are presented as opposites may share great similarities in many areas, especially when the range of discussion is so very small.

In the past, it was much easier to spot this kind of false choice, though people were still ignorant and distracted. Have you ever seen the faces of the Kings of Great Britain, Germany, and Russia at the eve of the First World War? The inbred fools could be practically brothers. Now the appearances are greater among our options, but we still have much the same choice as then: this empire or that, this thug or that, this master or that. And yet we have not improved on the Marxists of a hundred years ago. We do not reach outside to the rest of the world. For all our technology, we have dwindled to myriad disparate homebodies and provincialists. I am all for home rule, and yet I do not believe in being divided and being conquered. And if it is not obvious right now, despotism is as strong as ever it has been. After all, the Mormons and the Maoists talk when they are at the highest levels of power. We commoners cannot say the same. We libertarians and anarchists and resisters have yet to answer the authoritarians. And as a result they continue to choose our alternatives, and control our fates.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


It must be a miserable existence to mistrust and punish each new acquaintance for the sins of past others.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What are others for?

Other people start out as housing and food source.
Then they basically provide the same thing, only with more apparent labor.
Then they're masters, sometimes kind ones, sometimes bewildering ones, sometimes cruel.
And they are also playmates. And rivals.
They're too close and need to get away.
They're too far away; please don't leave!
They teach us. They teach us some things that make sense and some things that are very, very wrong.
They hurt us.
They soothe us.
They ignore us.
Others come.
Others leave. Some come back. Others never come back.
Peers, entertainment, necessary collaborators, enemies, brutalizers, allies....

What are others for?
Themselves? Sure, we believe it sometimes. We know that their interests are theirs. But sometimes it's so hard to extend to them our own desire for autonomy and we want to see them in some manipulative, Stirnerite way. They are for me and my interest.
But let's be honest. It's so hard for us to even get to a point where we can be earnestly egoist. Most of the time we don't know where they end and we begin. Most of the time we have no idea when to please others or revolt or stand alone or accept the wisdom of others. When do we accept logic or agree and when do we knuckle under?

I'd say most people don't know the difference between agreement and acquiescence. And that's a real problem.

I interact with others and the more "professional" the interaction, the better. All the rules. And if I know you very well, then good, too. I can be honest. And then between them is a vast sea of individual interactions in which I have neither title nor familiarity and I freeze. My work has made me very good at talking to anyone, so long as I do not offer too much of myself. The disintegration of my marriage has made me very, very scared, however. Every interaction brings peril if I say anything about my personal life. I don't know who to trust, I don't know what to say, how much is oversharing, how much will bring quiet resentment. In short, I've had four and a half months of education that have told me not to be so open, not to be forthcoming. I've had multiple instances where I have learned that others will use your information against you, even if you speak freely and with no distress.

So what are others for? I want to play and talk and speak boldly and be very open, very blunt, and very forgiving with others. But I am learning that I must regard every other as a potential threat. The thought sickens me, is foreign to me, but there it is. Right now I am realizing that threats come from all directions. It is a lonely thing to realize. It drives me a little mad, which is to say deeper into my mind, farther away from tangible experience. I am out of touch with my instincts to associate and trust. In my current environment, those impulses appear rather stupid.

What are others for? I don't know. I look forward to the time when I interact with new people. Now I operate in isolation. My greatest goal is to continue until the danger has passed. It feels autistic. I don't know if it's healthy or if it's necessary.

Maybe the question I really want to ask is "What am I for?" Because there are times right now I feel like an empty skin, a husk, a hull of a man.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Basic Ideas: Housing

Back to a real post. It's been too long.

I have been troubled by hearing anarcho-libertariany people pick up the meme of bemoaning the last few decades' policy of ostensibly encouraging home-ownership. Don't get me wrong--I have a lot of contempt for convoluted liberal statism that works through banks and employers and tax revenue and the housing industry* to basically create conditions that, for me anyway, could be imposed in much easier ways (that probably require greater forms of despotism).

* Still puzzled that this has become the thing that it has, but I don't know economics. Anyway.

So anyway, I think the housing scheme, with Johnsonian governmental orgs and business exploiters and I guess a few people who ended up with homes, is eminently questionable. But that's not where it stops. There seems to be a degree of offense to the idea that everyone who wants one ought to have a house, like one they quasi-own. And we deviate into a lot of classism and other -ism that some people ought to just rent. And let me say how I understand renting.

Renting is fine, I suppose. There've been times in my life I've done it, no doubt. But basically it's paying money to stay in a place, and once the money ends, you're out. You haven't gained anything but the time you had. You maybe take your furniture unless you, God forbid, rented that too. But basically you're just paying money to somebody else who owns it.

In the last way, it's the same as a mortgage. Banks own it and you say that you do, but again, in our convoluted system, there are things like equity that you do take with you and there's also something you can sell potentially, at least in part. At least owning it becomes an option. Straight-up renting is nothing but a fee for living space. It's a penalty that some of us are willing to soak and some of us even able to. But it's inherently inferior.

So anyway, if you don't support our system of housing, fine, but if you reject an owned or one day ownable home for all who want it, I wonder what alternative there is. I mean, if you're a small state conservative, this appears to be the renter way, which makes sense, because the bourgeois love renting out houses to pay the mortgages on them so that they can own two or more homes when they retire from their jobs looking busy. And... what else is there?

I have come to the position that even if I don't support the current housing schemes, I believe that everyone--everyone--is entitled to some room that is just theirs. I don't know if these should be block housing or what. I think everyone should have a place that is reasonably fire-proofed, with a locking door, where they can rest or pass out or spend time without fear of rape, assault, or murder. If we can say that the state is overly complex in its housing schemes then I would add that this is true and that I see the idea of expending time and effort in order to earn coupons that can be used in exchange for temporary housing is workable but no less complex and morally questionable. I do not see why my service to wealthier citizens is required for housing, and I think that state housing is abysmal and purposefully miserable.

Obviously constructing this or reassigning space for this is a very hard thing to achieve. Call it a pipe dream. But while I consider tactics, I believe I have the ethics right. Housing is the first means of production, for it houses and allows the ongoing construction of the self. It is as fundamental as food, its lack as detrimental as any other. When you see the behavior of individuals who have lacked for individual space, it is not entirely upbringing or mentality or situation or choice that can be credited. It is a curious combination of vigilance and carelessness, lack of boundaries and potential for aggression. People suffer when they do not have space. That so many manage in the system we have is to their credit, not to the system itself.

Seeing What We Want to See

I say:
"Context helps make them worse, but context doesn't always make a good action bad or vice versa. I think a Falwell encouraging casual violence is bad; that the hypothetical encourages it against women may be considered worse because it combines with larger power differentials."

High Arka responds:
"That's an interesting point. If someone is the current underdog, then, we should excuse them violent speech directed against the current overlord?"

At first I responded to what he clearly wants to say, but I should have been annoyingly logical. The above is not a response at all. Where did I excuse violent speech? The initial statement condemned it. You know, the Crow hate goes on just fine at Crow's blog. I can't very well defend the man because I never intended to. I have agreed with him, but I don't share his beliefs. Even if I did, I'd defend them differently.

Christ, if I wanted straw men and intentional exaggeration of my arguments, I'd have stayed in Kentucky or kept talking to my ex-father-in-law. If you've got an issue with Crow's comment about castration, go tell him yourself. I've critiqued his ideas of revolutionary justice aplenty. What I am saying is relatively clear. Genitals and skintone have a little bit of historical baggage around here. If you want to be all pedantic, then say "Well, I don't know why Wollstonecraft needed to vindicate woman's rights. She should have just vindicated people's rights." Yeah. The future starts now. We're all enlightened. Queers need to settle down. Women are uppity. I know plenty of blacks who love Ron Paul. This is where this is going, right?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Seriously, though, this is actually one more argument for the irrationality of action and life.

Sometimes you only know what you're leaving after you've left it.

I think the human perspective is so easily warped, so subjective, so limited in scope if potentially grand in accuracy, detail, and understanding, that sometimes you only perceive by retreating, abandoning, moving away...

And the sayings go that you'll only miss it when it's gone, but I think another case is true. Sometimes only in thrashing to get away do you realize precisely how necessary your escape was.

Some quantum mechanical part of my brain says that I've changed what I left, but I really don't think we change things fundamentally. The attacker does not get to say "you made me do this!" as he holds down a throat or pins a knee. Because all of us have the option to let others go.

Anyway, the first line was the only part I saw clearly of all this. Break free, friends. Sometimes that's the only way you'll see it clearly.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


One man critiques many males using femaleness as a put down. Others see that one man as slurring against all men.

Why is it so easy to say that the critic impugns all when he observes a culture of many impugning many? Why is it so hard to observe that culture is formed by many hands making cruel work?

I think women have much to answer for when it comes to sexism. Against men, in some share, and certainly against women. But what of us men? Do we not have a responsibility to recognize our social power, be we European or Asian or African in descent, when most of our ancestors defeated and brutalized women? Is this to be a self-soothing performance of guilt and false humility? No, but we can still recognize our inherited, unearned power, and act accordingly.

And does this prevent us from seeing tyrantesses and confronting them as well? I don't really think so.

I'm a feminist. I believe in women's equality with men, at least as a whole, while individuals of all groups will surpass others in multiple forms of quality. I don't see manhood as something to apologize for, and I don't think Crow does either. I just think it can be--in many if not all venues--a power differential for which to account.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anarchy Readings for This Guy: April 2012

I would recommend Alamut, by Vladimir Bartol. I hate recommending works, because I think most people find things so differently. I've seen enough people sleep through films to realize that we have our times for works. After all, I slept through Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, and a number of other works as an adolescent.

But-- My point is that Bartol is interesting where he has Hassan-i-Sabbah, leader of the Assassin cult, ponder his own weakness in the world. In a few brief paragraphs, he muses how easily his servants might kill him. And then Hassan moves on, sprinting toward his plan's end. I like the book. Its questioning of lies and truth, illusion and faith, love and heartlessness, makes it timeless. I'd recommend it. It was a sad read in parts, puzzling in parts, frustrating at others. A little bit of Near East knowledge helps, I suppose.

And I also read The World that Never Was. And it was good, as well, if just as fantastic and a little sad. Some readers complained about his strong use of narrative to thread the story together, but I think Butterworth succeeded in tone and story as much as he could have. He tracks dozens of figures through four decades of political history and comes to the round point of the defeat of the first generation of anarchism after infighting, betrayal from the left, and infiltration of its ranks by agents provocateurs of the established powers. He shows their refuges dry up and their foes claiming their very names, in the case of the Soviet Union and the Maoists, who view themselves as successors or supercessionists of the Communard/anarchist cause. It ends sadly, but there is a sequel, of course, in Anarchist Catalonia. I've already read Orwell's history of that time--and everyone who claims to think about politics should--and I'm looking forward to reading more.

And from IOZ I have a new thought to read Rand. Haven't touched her in a decade. Maybe it's time for me to finally quit my bigotry and get around to reading her. A free or used copy of Atlas Shrugged is in my future. God help me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We All Want to Change the World

It works for me.

But, but, but..!

It works for me.

But don't you see? Don't you see how you depend upon-- Don't you see how there's still the-- Don't you see?

Works for me!

But, but, but--

Sometimes "works for me" is all you've got. Maybe some see it as all there'll ever be, but sometimes it's all you've got.

So let the world rest 'til tomorrow. Let the world alliance of the people who till the land and watch the babies and fish the waters rise.

But until then--

Act as if tomorrow's now. Act as if you're a brother or sister of all others. Act as if--no, live like it. Because it's true. Or if nothing is true, then live like it because it's a pleasant way to be. Infinitely better to be deceived and lied about and hurt and wounded than to do the same first. No need to be some penitent or some sacrifice. Defy, grit your teeth, growl. And refuse to join in their game.

Maybe in this world we'll first appear as fools, outmaneuvered at times, surprised at others. Maybe we'll grow tough and defend ourselves in new ways. Maybe we'll still be hurt. Maybe we'll be killed, maybe they'll take our babies away through deceit and law, maybe they'll denude us and rob us and say we're monsters but that doesn't mean we'd be any less guilty were we to behave like others, were we to play at petty Caesars and treat our fellows like subjects, shaking the weak to their knees so that bigger men than us can keep sweeping up.

I've been lied about, and I've been attacked, and it's gotten dirty, and it's gotten sad, but I have only to tell myself and hear my dear ones tell me that the truth will out and the right will win. And I whisper to myself that they may be wrong and I may be wrong and the evil of the punitive will win, that the cruelty of the self-righteous will see me broken and weeping, having lost everything.

But I will not lie. And I will not cudgel or persecute. I will not do what's been done to me. I vowed that long ago about my father, and I never thought I'd have to swear it again. But like I've said, the state springs eternal, and it's in us, and the one who shares your bed can be your tyrant in a month. And you'll wonder if you shouldn't treat them like you've been treated.

But you decide to play it smart but play it right. Right, wrong... I don't even believe in these in the cosmic sense. But what works for me works for me. I want to go back to singing of the world. I want to go back to talking about the fraternity of man. But right now, all I've got is what works for me. It's not honor. It's not justice. It's not benignity, either. It's just what makes me able to face me, what makes me feel that our children will still be able to face me, year after year. It's all I've got, and it's hard to keep it. I'd like to act like a dog, but this works for me, and that's it. No truth bigger than that.

I hope I never judge a man for the smallness of his vision again. I've not known until now exactly how small are the traps through which some of us have squeezed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pope Springs Eternal

IOZ sez:

Even those of us adhering to the view that this would be a welcome and desirable end tend to wax modestly apocalyptic about the period of transition. And yet, one wonders: would it actually be so? What if all the congresscritters in the world, the generals and general secretaries and unpaid unofficial advisers and MPs and CEOs and chiefs of police got ganked up in some kind of reverse rapture tomorrow? How long would it take the rest of humanity to notice that it was supposed to be helpless without the offices they all occupy

It is my thought, as I said there, that statelessness is not the problem. It is the preservation of statelessness that is the problem. Leadership is in us. Rule is in us. All it takes is one bad harvest, one angry leader, one whatever-the-fuck in the next village, to make people consider theft of the idyllic fishing town. After all, there is no morality. Why not take what one does not want to make, or cannot make, for oneself? Consider human history. Have we really changed?

So the village gets dominated or fights off its enemies. And what of the defensive fighters? Say, in a generation or in ten minutes, they decide to levy tax in order to feed themselves? After all, they say, we are focused on preserving the lives and livelihoods of others.

Anarchists better think about this shit. Otherwise we're amateurs, pipe-dreamers, and fools.

The state is not a static thing. It is a process. It is born through human interaction.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Silly Little Saying

It rhymes in Turkish, my grandfather told me, but it'll have to do in English. He never taught us his mother tongue.

"Call the bear 'uncle' until you have crossed the bridge."


Friday, March 30, 2012

Reality you make, reality you don't.

Everything is socialized in that you perceive things the way you're told. Menstruation or puberty are facts. They just are. But they get bundled with a number of stories, narratives of shoulds and shouldn'ts, which is to say morals and values. The physical will go on no matter what you do. The valuation is where the anarchist strikes, unless it's made by the individual.

So you happen to live in an area. That just is, unless you move. And the movement is, and the notion of emigration/immigration are, but one is a material act. The other is one that lives in fiction.

I am a citizen because I accept the fiction, play the game, of fealty or affiliation or whatever. You can do this with knowledge or you can accept it passively. Assuming it's true in the way gravity is, or genetics.

But we ought to think about what we can change, and there's so much. In my opinion, racism is infinitely more impactful than the nature and origin of your blood. In my opinion, I can't unmake the cripple and the ill, but I sure as hell can ask why buildings don't allow entrance to people who are maimed or deformed or somehow different in their physicality.

Nature is not the enemy anymore. We live as if we are cavemen, frightened of brush fires and predatory beasts. But we are the deluge, we are the storm, we are the predators and the prey.

I'm tired of us forgetting what we made and what we haven't. I'm tired of the confusion. I'm tired of people saying that this or that are the way things are when they plainly are not. If you take away human effort, the buildings will crumble and the pests will breed. That's nature. If you remove the hands that maintain the way things "are," how much of it will fall away?

We are truly our own gods now. It is our will, your will, that we see all around us. We live in artifice that was made. What is so hard to understand about the fact that it is maintained by effort and, with one good hobby or a fuck, those hands will find other activities and we can, quite literally, remake the world over night? Humanity is self-made and refuses to admit it. Better to chalk it up to God or nature or history or fate. Anything but accept responsibility that we have made this hell, and remade it many times.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Out of Wisdom

I don't have much to say to the world. I've been whittled down to the basic individual interactions. Is that where I'm supposed to be? No such thing. That's just where I am at the moment.

I've known enough people that younger people sometimes find me funnily, almost spookily knowledgeable. "Stop being so insightful!" my friend's sister--both are roommates--says with a laugh. She's 21. I find it funny in that grim, poker-faced way. I'm not insightful. I've just read this book too many times.

But others have lived more, outlived me by decades. Have they just not paid attention, or been too deep in the bottle, to notice what I observe about their ancient cycle of pain, indulgence, guilt, and oblivion? This isn't insight. Wisdom's all around me, in the moves people make, in the ways their lives play out in such familiar patterns. What intelligence is behind me knowing that her mother will speak Urdu, but a Hindi speaker will do? That's knowledge. I don't feel smart. I don't feel witty. It's all replay. I know my brain too well. You don't act surprised at the player producing music from its files--or, for antiques like me, a disc (let alone a cassette or cartridge!). You don't act surprised at the gun firing bullets concealed in its clip. That's all I'm doing. Spitting out. It's not intelligence.

Dealing with authorities makes me familiar with them, their needs for respect, flattery, and obeisance. Dealing with the weak makes me familiar with the way to walk, the way to talk, the way that at the end of a session you can throw out a curse and they'll think you're an okay guy, not this little stuff-shirt shit. I pretend to be way more composed than I am.

"You! Are you white?"
"Mostly, sir."
"You must be some kind of Native American. You don't look prejudiced to me."
"No, sir. My people are all invaders. Mostly white, and Turk."
"Ottoman Turks! Like Genghis Khan, now he was some fighter."
"Some of my people followed him, yes. But if you'll excuse me..."
"Oh, I'm sorry about that--"
"Nothing to apologize for, sir. We're all here to talk."

Didn't know his story at the time. Came off as grandiose, but then a lot checked out. I've let myself be surprised quite a bit. It's good to let others have some space to define themselves. But that's not decency or intellect. That's just experience.

And I still find myself out of my league when it comes to certain fields. Like dealing with people I don't know but want to, and people I thought I knew who have become very, very different, or simply changed their presentation. Dropped their masks.

Best I've come up with is the mask of a calm face. I had a genuinely blissful, round face when I was a baby. Then came the desperate eyes of the clever, rail-thin teen. Now I'm a slightly narrow-eyed white with a beard and the face like some monk. My brow furrows at times, but I try to let my eyes go cool. Pictures of my old country grandfather, sitting there, open to the world but inscrutable if you lacked the comfort to ask him his thoughts. I can really appear profound and still like a calm, deep lake. There is no conclusion to any of this. Stillness, solitude, has become natural to me. It is an attempt to balance out the change in my life, I rationalize. But a part of me is realizing that I'm becoming more me everyday. There are some parts of my life that will only return, however, when I'm past the attacks and the danger and the crisis. I don't know where this is going. I'm trying to be okay with that. Looking forward to a life that's not so full of calming self-talk. I'm tired of soothing myself like I've had to do for my children, like I had to do for my brother after the beatings my father would give him. I want to cheer, but there is no joy. Shit is too serious to laugh, too dangerous still to cry.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One Death, a Hundred Thousand

President Obama expressed sadness that a person could kill a young man on nothing more than suspicion and, maybe, a little too much eagerness to use force.

Um, but that's the president's foreign policy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Facebook Action!

I read what I wrote, my son sleeping a few feet away from me, and I don't know what to think. I am buoyed and then I sink with the waves. I am trying very hard to float. I will be cast along by the tsunami, but I will not be crushed. Right?

Anyway, what I want to say today is that, while I abhor the missionary impulse, I hate the "let's get together with likeminded people and bitch" mentality even more.

I want to articulate this, even if it's just in my own little echo chamber here.

I do not want to hear you talk about Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum and how sexist they are, how cruel they are, how they don't like darkies or A-rabs or whomever, while you practice polite with your friends who talk of welfare queens and queers and knuckle under when Granddad booms at the table.

On one hand, yes, the Mitt and the Rick and the scary men, be they Repub or Dem or Paulite or whatever, are so much stronger than your Demjanjuk of a father. They can do a lot of great harm. So yeah, act against them, but don't rail against them. Don't make it psychological. Don't make them the scapegoat of your unease in this unjust world. Because the thing is that this shit is imposed from above and below. This stuff grows up through the family, through the neighborhood, through the Bible study daycare as sure as from some priesthood from on high.

So yeah, if it's just about evil men in high places, I can dig that. But the amount of energy you invest in between stints of Farmville appears odd. What about the one teaching your kids that blacks are uppity? What about the one who treats you like shit and devalues you because of what's between your legs? No, no, let's talk about Washington. Tell me about what the Christianists say. Because nobody wants to talk about their old sick bastard mother or their lout of a husband on Facebook. I mean, your friends might. Who knows?

We always like to other what we tolerate in our lives. Let evil thugocracies and despotisms be dressed up like Arabs or blacks or Republicans or Catholics or whomever. And meanwhile, what have you done to make your household or your street better? If you are so arrogant as me that you believe in imposing your will upon the universe, if you are that vain that you say "I say this is wrong and I will make it different and hope it turns out better," then what exactly have you done? And as unlikely as it is that you will change the mind of that bitter, entitled old fool, do you really think that one more Facebook re-post idealizing Obama or denigrating some little clerical fascist shit candidate is going to do one goddamn thing? Fuck, you could fly a black flag on your car antenna and do more.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Protracted Conflict

Today, for the second time in seventy-five days, I slept in the same house as my son.

Things got worse. Far worse. Like violence worse. Like aggression in front of our children's eyes worse.

I am glad that I am a man who chooses not to answer violence with violence. Even as I am attacked, I don't turn the other cheek, but I keep my eyes wide open.

Think of me, and (this sounds so pathetically slogan-y) think of the children exposed to violence, anger, and injustice.

Be willing to suffer any blow while keeping your soul. Love the aggressors, or at least love the part of them that feels, as you do, that injustice is warranted in order to serve their needs--

And do what you must. But do any of us know what we must do? It took me a long time, serving without distinction in a relationship, to distinguish needs from wants. Everything used to be a want. I was like Nietzsche's donkey, gaining dignity through what I could deal with. And then I was like his lion, roaring and aggressing if I wanted.

Today I was like a child. I wept before my mother and son. And I stepped on, played, played parent and told the boy to clean up his toys and brush his teeth, etc. And I made him laugh and he made me laugh and I dreamed of a world being born right now, a world where I and my loved ones are kings and queens of their own....

If you can be conflicted without hate, then you understand more than most of us, for the world is conflict, but you need not debase yourself while struggling with others. I am a wrestler in a grand arena and I can say "I oppose you" without saying "you are wrong." It is a good place. I must remember it often.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Non-Pacifists Need Consider

Thirty seconds ago, she was a slave. Her ownership was not formed in law but in bodily fact. He had no deed to her and yet he fed her. He controlled her movements, limited her world to three rooms in an apartment. She did not speak the language, was not protected by the country's enforcers. Was not sought by a family. Received no mail. Received no money. And he was her companion and her master. He allowed her some property. Through him she encountered the world in pieces. In his implied anger, in the familiar manner that followed, in his soft-seeming touches and the kind-sounding words, she was owned and he owned her. He had everything and she had nothing.

But that was one minute ago, and now he was nothing and she everything, or at least all of what little remained in the apartment. Perhaps soon the gravity of a power-ful world would crush in on her too and soon she would be nothing, but she had made herself, in the pool of his blood and the absence of breath, a conqueror, however small. A revolution, however small.

It is an option for all of us to forsake violence in every form. I will not preach that path here. I am a parent and a family member. I will defend my loved ones against violence by taking up violent means, the same as I pull a dog off another's throat, the same as I have shoved and struck others. If I prevent it otherwise, I have often done this too. To prevent violence through nonviolence is a good. But to prevent violence or cease it through the use of voluntary and conscious violence is justifiable to me.

Is it not also for the soldier? Is it not also for the policewoman? Is it not also for all of us who see violence in our lives as ambiguous, for all of us who have not yet renounced all violence? Let us be plain about it--to consider it in a moment or a bar conversation can be much the same as considering it in training or discipline. We tell ourselves, civilians and state enforcers alike--that if it comes to certain conditions, we will pull the trigger or hold the throat. We will cut into life, and we cannot assign this responsibility to instinct or morality or approval from others. We consider the thought of justifiable homicide when we consider robberies and rapes and reprisals. We make the choice that we would or we wouldn't and delude ourselves that we are not saying that terrible, much more certain thing:

That if it comes to that, we will or we won't.

Perhaps I would take more seriously the threat of violence around me, from bodyguards to military orders, from gun owners to knife owners to martial artists to anyone with the strength of their arm intact and the willingness to, perhaps, use that strength--if they had written out their commitments ahead of time, looked at them on a page. Perhaps police departments could post signs.

And if it's scary out in the open, maybe we should look down at our hands and ask ourselves a few things.

Accidental Learning

On the way to the ex's house I noticed the boy's school with its usual academic message out front.

Only this week it was curiously ambiguous.

I always loved seeing alternative interpretations.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oaths for the Oathbreakers

Does an anarchist need to honor his word?

Of course, the answer is "no," because no human needs to honor her word. And yeah, categories are notional and labels don't blah blah blah.

But let's just say that things change or feelings shift. You know, like they do with pretty much any person. Of what importance to the individual is their consistency, their dependability? Is this manners or this there something political to the way we speak with others?

Are we justified in lying to the powerful? I know plenty of folks who believe that. Where does that run out? With mightier individual peers? With acquaintances or close friends? Or do you base this on institutions, and their sources of power? Can you justify forging a license agreement but not lying on your taxes--or vice versa?

What about fucking somebody who's not your husband?

Most people I know today would consider that "a private matter," which is American for "I'd rather not stake out a policy opinion on that" or "pass the potatoes," depending on your dialect. But you know, a few people have considered that a very philosophical issue. A very political issue. Anarchists, rightists, socialists all. At one point people cared about this, instead of relegating it to Maury and mental health.

And this goes way past Goldman or Engels or the hedonistic tendencies of, oh, every man in power other than Hitler. It's relevant to consider that more than ten years before she'd decry the hippies as moochers, pinkos, and altruists, Ayn Rand was nailing a man half her age. In a right-libertarian counterpoint infinitely more disgusting than Lennon-Ono's showdown with Cynthia Lennon (which I'm sure Rand would consider irrational and thus immoral), Rand and her lover, Branden, actually confronted their spouses and impressed upon them the rationality of their new arrangement.

What is that Nietzsche observed frequently? That philosophy serves action, and is often an afterthought or apology more than a motivation or incitement? Yeah... Rationalism is a joke. Rand's philosophy fails and Nietzsche's succeeds when her reason is incapable of explaining what his thought sees all too well: man as monstrous as he is heroic, irrational and spirited and resentful of even his own self-imposed rules.

But anyway, back to the question. What about fucking around?

Who is injured here, if anyone, and who crosses the line here, and if there's a line, and so on--these are all major questions. Do we adopt the indifference of the modern day, a practiced ignorance posing as enlightened cosmopolitanism? If so, is there any surprise when we recoil upon hearing what people actually do, just as when we learn what they actually believe? "You drank his piss?" "You actually believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old?" "You watch Fox and Friends?" (One of these I can deal with.)

I have no great respect for philosophy. Everyone has one or a collection of philosophical parts. As a result, I find it easy to believe that some anarchism may be found among the criminals, as a few continental cranks believed. And I find it easy that there is also a Sadian anarchism of transgression elsewhere. Within my marriage I found it in secluded though public sex, this time along a wooded path, another in a parked car. I am not being flippant. There is something to a moment's zeal, even if it takes place in intoxication or animal excitement. There is something powerful there, a moral sentiment as much as the physical urge. But is it enough? What if it breaks agreements or expectations from other people?

Do other individuals matter? Maybe you feel they do. Maybe you feel they do not. And if they do not there is still the matter of whether your words need to relate in any way to your actions, or your past promises to current reality.

I am talking to people who find conflict between their self-definitions. It's common. It's identity creation. You differ with yourself until you bridge it consciously or hack off pieces or accept the dissonance or reconcile them in some other way. We are an assembly of different input, expectations, messages, role-plays, and so on. It makes sense that we are often confused as children and youths because, in short, society's messages do not make sense. Very few of our parents devote themselves to their own philosophy of being, their own relationships to self. Most of us, as with most of us before, merely struggle to manage with very arcane and arbitrary expectations.

I should know. I just spent a few years on stage, with each act becoming less improvised until some segments became formalized. It would be an insult to invoke kabuki but it comes to mind. To everyone else I would extoll the falsehood and emptiness of the bourgeois moral fantasy, the life ending upon breeding and becoming legally lashed to a woman I no longer recognize and who, and this breaks my heart, lacked the ability or willingness to tell me that she was unhappy, too.

So like I say, I should know. And I do fucking know, because my life progressed in ways I never expected. I know how personal truths get confused and twisted by social conditioning. It's scary.

But I tell others they'd better weigh their options when they cheat. I am not one of those moral harpies who leaps upon the object of desire. Nobody, outside of rape, makes a man run around, or a woman run around. Nor am I a believe in marriage, if that's not obvious, as a Platonic ideal. Every marriage is based upon those married. This is simple. People think they know my marriage because I use the same words as them? Fuck them. Marriage, love? They do not exist. I've seen enough "love" and I neither recognize it as my own nor do I presume to tell others that it's not love. You can still love a man who beats you. Makes me sick, but I've lived it. I've seen it. You can still love a person who cheats on you, breaks you down... My grandmother taught me that you can't just say you love somebody. You've got to act like it. I don't say that's what love is. I say that's what love ought to be.

Because none of us own love, and none of us own marriage. Save those we make ourselves. So it's all random, named so we feel we can get along. But some of your marriages and some of your loves seem less attractive to me than biting on a gun barrel, world.

No, what I say is that some people are comfortable with lying and some people aren't. And the romantics who get the urge the worst don't usually want to hide away, at least not for long. And that's what I talk to the would-be criminal about. What he defines as right or wrong, what she agreed to, what she values, and what the contradictions are. Because even if you have a world where the individual is paramount, she won't know what to do until she figures out the things she believes. We primates, in grasping, often knock over what we would also like to keep. And now I am as one more chattering, and what was an elegant thought on the ride home has become a gross ramble. So much for the clarity that comes with being in exile.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Odds and Ends, Personal Note

I operate at pretty high and pretty low levels. I can explain things to a child (hard to do this honestly, and simply, and kindly) but I can't talk to some adults, even as I can understand their language. Well, that makes me sound like a weirdo. I talk to adults all the time, but I find it hard to move from our professional jargon and court language to, you know, real discussion. Well, except when I do. Some people put me at ease, so maybe this is all in my head.

Left the ex's house in tears a few days ago. Had no problems looking at pathetic as I felt. No posturing. I've bared my teeth enough. She knows. She ought to know. But she has recently been under institutional pressure and there are bigger things than our disagreements. And so I'm kind.

We have a discussion, earlier. She wants to use the formula. I ask her if, in our political and personal opinions, an economic formula has ever been able to quantify human need or moral desert. She tells me that it's supposed to incorporate all the things--time with kids, income, and so on--and I ask her what she'll think if it says she deserves less than she demands.

I tell her as I've told her before that I just want to hear what she wants from me. If she out-earns me, fine, but if I don't have a house yet or a bigger place where I can keep the kids, then she'll of course shoulder more of the burden.

I tell her that if the formula doesn't fit, then legal authorities will tell us to change our lives to fit the formula. I echo what our pro-marriage counselor told me with a sense of black humor: if I don't make enough according to the formula, I'll be told to get a job. And that means how much more time with the kids? Oh. Formula don't care about that. Economic formulae are like that. Inhuman. I'd rather a woman scream demands at me.

We didn't get too far. She said she'd had trouble with voicing her demands. Counselor in me and the ex-husband in me bump shoulders, each wanting to cut that apart. They both show discretion; I say nothing. I'm still furious she could never tell me what she wanted. I'm still furious that she's powerful and acts like a victim. Acts like I treated her like her... family treats itself. What kind of monster was I that she's still scared of herself?

Doesn't matter anymore. I don't say anything. And the formula, and the fact that she's never asked me to come back once, the fact that all she had for me in weeks was bile and now she's being just reasonable enough, just kind enough. I feel rejected. It's a laugh, because I walked away. But I still feel there was something mutual. I diagnosed the relationship with cancer, but we both smoked. Maybe that makes sense.

But I weep, weep for the time with my boys coming to an end, weep for the fact that even if some part of her wants me she'll never say. I'd tell her I miss her if it wouldn't fuck her up. Maybe she's protecting me? Doubtful. You don't change the locks and claim the joint accounts on a man you want to protect. No, she's treated me as a contaminant. Now, though, things are slightly better. And I've felt the loneliest I've felt in a long time--lonely in solitude is better than loneliness in marriage, but it's still shitty.

So we talk for another thirty minutes on the front lawn. No missteps. I'm just more and more emotional.

I drive home and wipe the tears from my eyes. Buy a couple of large beers. Buy a pack of cigarettes; I've been sucking down cloves since I went into flight. Make some joke to the overly helpful clerk. Turns out to be a good guy. Does he see the reddened eyes and the irritated lids? I could be drunk for all he knows, or even worse--a man who's recently wept. But I act normal, for me anyway. Good guy. He bums me a clove, explains his taste for the menthol sort. I give it another try, see his point. Discuss pastimes. He helps a couple of other customers. Gives me some advice on upgrading my computer, something which has gone by the wayside since my checking account became a legal defense fund. But who knows? He knows a guy who's good at cheap assembly. It's a round conversation with professional, getting-to-know-you, and bullshit components. I feel less like a social cripple. When I leave, I laugh at the randomness of my life. This is, after all, something I wanted--spontaneity.

When I return home, the entire house is asleep. I slept a few hours in order to see my children, but my roommates had stayed up the previous night, following a birthday party that had fallen to insane levels of drama. Something else I handled with aplomb. I mingle well, and dealt with everything from inappropriate sexual suggestion on the part of very important people's new partners about whom everyone had a weird feeling to near fights to guilt to longing to old shit to new shit... It was exciting, in its way. But now the house is asleep... I read some, drink a pint, and sleep. Something I'm learning to do more often--force myself to tend to myself, even when I don't want to.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Odds and Ends

Got praised for my honesty last week, so don't be surprised if that's the plant that grows.

When you end a relationship, you find yourself changed in many ways, contextually and individually. In a certain, very basic economic sense, you find yourself producing what you no longer have the means to export.

Honesty. Tons of fucking markets for that shit. Nobody tells the whole truth, and definitely not at once. But if you're a talker, like me, and you're a thinker (and we are all thinkers, make no mistake), you got a lot of things to export in addition to that hunter-gatherer sense of body, energy, material.

Some men are really going to bristle at the production of trash, waste, and corrective labor. We rip seams, produce soiled laundry and linens... All this has its reflection in what we consume. Some men really don't know how to feed themselves. They're like babies.

I'm not like that. I get around to cleaning my own shit. I travel light in terms of trash anyway (at least by my very spoiled Western mode of consumption; I know I don't act the pauper on a global scale). No, it's the other goods and services that I produce that have no real meaning any more. Out of context, I continue to manufacture body energy, semen, dead skin cells that flake off in vigorous movement against other people and things, coy looks I imagine are sly, less coy looks that immediately convey need, hunger, desire to cling.

There are ways to satisfy these and all the rest, I know. I can go running, feel a cold wind against my skin and through my hair. I scratch upon waking, like many men, but I end up rubbing my arms and my elbows, my shoulders and my legs. Only fingers that feel me anymore. That sounded self-pitying, but it was intended more neutral. Even my wife, whom I remember at certain points of our relationship showed more affection to the cats upon returning home than she did to me, had been more physical than loneliness. And she got better. You tell people you're physical, and they get a little bit more out of their depressed distances and their Northern Anglo body space patterns, or rather they become different if they're willing to and feel you're worth it.

But then you walk away and you've got scratch your own itches. Or learn to deal with those itches you don't like to scratch for yourself.

Arranging to get those scratched is where I get into influence and persuasion, which I've discussed before. As far as having those needs, some will say we're socialized to depend on others. Some say we can satisfy all our needs and that it's merely a matter of figuring out or learning how.

I say I do not see anything more natural in self-reliance or mustering others to our service, mutual or otherwise. There are healthy solitudes and poisoned ones. There is mutual coexistence and tyrannical modes and passive-aggressive, furtive, diseased, confused, erratic, and unpredictable modes.

And I have many, many positive relationships. And I have a few healthy ways of solitude. And then there are somethings I find myself with: a voracious intellect that wants to be tested; a sexual appetite that seems to have survived all the furtiveness, negotiation, doubt, self-disgust, and desperate resignation; and a social personality that wants every type of thing from others. In the meantime, in reality, away from the bullshit of words, I have a few empty seats. A few parts of me that still tingle in memory of amputation. I wait. For what? Not merely for replacement of old function. Not simply a placeholder. None will ever equal my wife in good or ill. I promise myself I will never be a fool and find another to do what she did. In the meantime, I keep my brain limber enough to imagine new friends, new dear ones, new people to understand and by which I might be understood.

In short, I am waiting. Waiting for what I don't know. I am simply a creature with appetites, some filled and others which I have long learned to hide.

God, I'm alone. And now I'm done with an intellectualizing distraction. Back to the day where my labor is my own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Men and Women and Power

So IOZ was pretty damning the other day.

If this most ancient and unyielding form of human inequity is of no interest to your philosophy of the destruction of all authority, then your ersatz philosophy is mere affectation, and your protests to the contrary are lies. If you find yourself confronting the word feminism with questions about how there can be a feminism if masculine and feminine are false categories, and if you are impressed with your cleverness in this regard, then I invite you to consider your own anarchy, wherein the whole object of your obsession, the State, is a metaphor and an abstraction.

I can't say much on the same level of his broadside, which I find pretty fucking challenging. If you want change, then you have to undergo change. The individual is not unanimous. We have a lot of fragments of other thoughts, a lot of expectations that have come from subtle social encouragement... In short, we are a kludge. Why should we not undergo the process we seek to impose?

And so why do we not look for imperialisms inside?

I find this process hard because I want to remain powerful. I have barked and I have pushed and I have tried to defend myself against a woman who was herself brought up to be passive-aggressive, furtive, dreamless, self-sacrificing, and subtle. I desperately want to avoid repeating the crimes I saw in my childhood. I don't want to relate to her the way her filthy, domineering, humiliating tyrant of a father did and does.

But I have to fight with her as my class superior, as my former partner, as a woman who has possession of my child. A woman with rights. A woman with power to harm me. A woman with power that she ought to have in helping to raise my boys. It is conflict and collaboration. It is complex.

I don't know how far along I am in the whole anarchy thing. I try to yield power to others. I am learning to talk to others without implying rape or ownership or threat. But it's hard to project confidence without falling to machismo. I don't think most people would call me macho, but I do think I project my personality and maybe that's reflection of class or sex or ethnic privilege. I don't know. As far as my relationship to the woman in my life, my soon to be former wife, I am trying to recognize her as a human being who I want to treat well but from whom I also want to protect myself.

Is there an anarchy and a feminism there? Perhaps. It is the best I have been able to do at present.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Admitting You Have a Problem

If you want some light intellectual exercise for the day, just ask yourself what kind of political flips it would take for the United States, for one day, to not have a "war footing," to not patrol neutral and foreign territory, to not send men out on military maneuvers.

In short, how hard would it be, with what effort might we be at peace for a single fucking day?

Oh sure, we say, we can do it whenever we want. But I don't think there's a single American who can really, deep down, imagine what it would be like.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Qualification, That War You're In

Nobody needs to remind me that life is as much about compromise and collaboration as it is about conflict and competition.

You see animals helping each other, or at least not fucking with each other, all the time in the woods. And the notion that social animals learn true assistance from humans keeping them in cages is absurd. Let me put it this way: every time a mother gorilla doesn't eat her baby in a zoo, I figure that as a triumph of compassion and decency (albeit motivated by selfishness) in a cruel world.

This is a war of all against all. It can also be a struggle among all, and some of the way we cope is to collaborate, to communicate, to trust.

Just because we're on a field with no rules doesn't mean we set rules.

Just because the universe doesn't care doesn't mean we can't.

I can talk about morality, just don't talk about it without an unspoken or spoken "my." Because that's all there is. Personal morality.

And if you think that anarchy's going to bring about a goddamned Ewok celebration, you're a fucking idiot. Plain and simple.

I'm not saying it couldn't bring about far more peace. It may. My concern is freedom. My concern is bringing things back within our control, to the extent you can ever control anything in your own life. If it is peaceful, so be it. But when I talk about devolution and home rule, I prepare for the dark side, because promising anything better is a fucking sales pitch unless you can tell me how we make things free and peaceful. "People are basically good, so..." BULLSHIT! People are basically animals! That's not an insult. It's a moral neutral. But I don't go expecting a wolf to respect my imaginary rights. And I don't expect other people to unless they have a reason.

Life is suffering, but there's no escape from samsara. Life is anarchic and chaotic but the Leviathan doesn't cure a goddamned bit of it. This is what there is. Anybody who thinks the rebellion ends in song and peace for a thousand years is a fucking moral criminal for ignoring the role of the imperial citizen in creating the nightmare in the first place.

Wait--you don't think this tyranny fell from the sky, did you? Well, I'm no dualist, as I've recently said, so maybe that's why I can see the utility even in empire and I see soot smudging the surface of the beautiful white utopia some like to imagine. And I think people do a hell of a lot to maintain the suffering they, from time to time, dare to critique and foreign and other and alien. That's just self-serving moral distance, and that's not a problem with the external political landscape. It's a problem with psyche and personal style.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Little More about That War You're In

See the hierarchies and domination swiftly forming and being undone all around you. If you don't see them, walk a couple feet.

Man puts pavement down. Grass breaks it up. Tree roots are frustrated. Can't you tell? Furtive little buggers pushing up like passive aggressive plant jerks steadily putting the stones out of place.

Branches spread, shading plants that might replace them. Elsewhere parent trees make it impossible for their children to grow around them.

Strong get viruses and die. Weak get eaten. Strong run too fast, fuck up, fall, unable to feed self. Go mad. Die. Strong finds place where she becomes weak. Slow and dumb moves to water; now he looks pretty damn strong.

Strong's only as strong as the last victory.

And nobody ends on a victory. All assured at least one fall.

Except institutions, but they're only theoretically immortal.

Nothing pure. All adulterated. Chaos contains within it order and organization, because people collude and collide and even for an hour we can forget we hate each other. Even for a moment, especially with a loose tongue, we can forget we love each other too. And order? HA. It's men playing God, and we come damn close. For a hundred years and more we can play musical chairs and trade faces keeping the same drabby antique alive but the fact is that it will fall, too. All of order possesses in it chaos, because you have subgroups. Individuals are the magic here. We're the mix, so all we make reflects it.

So when I talk about a state of nature, it's not to praise or damn anything. It's just that we ought not let ourselves think we're really so much more than growth and fallback, mold and worms, pavement and tree trunks, native bacteria bubbling in your belly, local staph that could overwhelm you if other organelles weren't so numerous or functional or strong. Even your body fights against itself. Muscles growing, pushing others out of alignment if you're not balanced in your activities.

See how even the individual is a multitude! An institution of changing staff and cells and further subparts, each of which have their own story, their own narrative, apart from what it forms with billions of others!

It's a motherfucking fractal, and you doubt that you are and will always be in a state of nature? Morals exist only in the mind! The fox with heartworms doesn't take time to argue Hobbes! War of all against all is not my opinion, folks. It is natural law. The existence of truces and alliance do not change that you are on a goddamned battlefield.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Power's Cures, Anarchy's Cures

I remember, a while ago, I argued with Jack Crow about the tyranny of violence. I argued that all wars became tyrannical once someone started to win. What began as a contest ends as rule. After all, are not all states merely the successors of campaigns?

Well, no shit! No wonder this introduction seems eerily significant--it's the point on which I started this meager weblog last July. If you'd like to see a couple of posts on the matter, head back to the wild world of 2011.

"The Tipping Point" and "On the Violence in Norway"

Anyway, what brings me to this question again, of anarchy's response to violence, is a post Crow linked to on his page. On From Wine to Water, Ivan writes rather more eloquently than I recognized in my immediate response, over on Crow's weblog.

I encourage you to read the entire post, because its thoughts stand on its own. It poses questions any should be willing to answer.

Let me first glibly reply, in bold, to the rhetorical questions.

Is there some serious projection being done by anarchists? Yes. Are folks considering their own habits, desires, values, etc.; Yes. and the roles that government does and does not play in their own lives; Yes. and concluding from this that we’d all be better off without government—but failing to adequately consider the full diversity of people being governed? God, yes. Are violent criminals and street thugs, for example, out of sight and out of mind?

I can't speak for the anarchists whose comments Ivan has read, but the anarchish, libertarianisch folks I've known, absolutely are motivated by psychology and aesthetics. (Does this mark them as different from other people in terms of political affiliation? Not really.) Failing to consider the people being governed! Fuck that! There are heroes and there are scavengers, paragons and parasites. There's Mad Max, that's me, and then there are the pitiless ones who refuse to support themselves. And as far as violent criminals? Ivan, Ivan, Ivan. Libertarianish, anarchish folks think they're Mal Reynolds. They believe the best men win in gunfights. Maybe there are still some utopian anarchists. I've definitely seen a lot of that streak. But I also see the anti-heroic pretenders, who quaintly believe that lawlessness will be as respectful to their tender bodies as this grand veal crate we call society. Maybe some ignore the violent, the thugs. Others believe they will be swiftly swept away by the new order. I think both ignorance and swift dismissal are foolish, so that still leaves Ivan's point. What do we do about all the bastards?

Ivan goes on to grant the very important realities that violent crime is often unreasonably feared, and that fear of crime is often used by the powerful. He grants that economic circumstances, political history, and local culture all play their part. But he comes back to the question of how we deal with these individuals.

I’m just thinking about how violent crime is, in fact, a reality. And some violent criminals can only be stopped by force. And I’m glad that I don’t have to try to marshal that force myself.

Then I don't think you'd like anarchism, because that's what anarchism means, at least as I understand it. The modern, industrial or post-industrial state relies on division of labor. What is the cost of you not having to be a soldier part of the time? That someone is a soldier all of the time, for part or all of their lives. And this is not a response to Ivan but once again a response to others, friends or otherwise, who believe that their goodness must be pure: if you believe that anarchy will bring about a shortage of violence, then I want to see your math. All evil does not flow from the state. Much of it does, but much more may simply move through the state.

The state is a very efficient means of violence, but it is not the only means. And it is certainly predated by the individual tyrannies of rape, theft, assault, murder... Will they survive the state? Of course they will.

So let us say that we get to the point where anarchy is in hand, and we can no longer fault violence on economy and policy and the larger systemic woes of the state. I will say we have already won a great deal, but let's say we get there and we find that some people are still bastards. This will, of course, be the case, for there will always be someone who stops to ask, "Why shouldn't I take hers?" This isn't the poverty-as-envy shtick you hear from Republican uncles or the poverty-as-indolence you hear from same. This is actually a rather basic question but one which troubles all philosophies. All things being equal, why shouldn't we do as we please to others? After all, the war-of-all-against-all used as a cudgel by Hobbes is just as logically consistent as Kant's categorical dialect. Consistency works both for considerate people and for total bastards. So why the fuck can't I, under anarchy as well as law, do what I please and take what I like? Under anarchy especially, who's going to tell me "no"?

Whoever pleases. Whoever contests it. And whether fair or not, it'll either be respected, or it'll lead to revenge killings. It might lead to a war. Or it might not. You'll have some individuals form cooperative communities, some individuals handing their rights over to others, all in the name of security. This will happen again, because it has happened before. Or do you think we've really progressed since we lived in caves?

If you don't want to work in a field a little or split rails a little or slaughter chickens a little or practice your aim a little, then don't become an anarchist. But if you want Farmville excellence, unhireable specialization, styrofoam-backed meat, and to never smell cordite or blood while you wage war, then stay where you are.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Canvas

Sometimes you fuck up and you don't just fuck up for yourself. You drag others into it, or you explode so completely that others get your brains and blood sprayed across them.

I don't know if I'm trying to be funny there. Came out like one of my weird little remarks.

I'm contemplating how I'm perceived. It's simultaneously a nothing and an everything. Depending on the eyes, your appearance and reception can be the sum of actions and instinct. You can be weighed in their terms and judged in a number of ways.

Or it could just be associations and assumptions. Same set of eyes, maybe. Maybe different chemicals in the brain. Maybe different events occur. Maybe it's timing. Maybe it's chance. Some people see you one way all the time. Some people change their receptions of you. And you can also do things to change their impression.

But that's really beyond me. I am a fantastic performer in a number of ways. I can be a lot of things to a lot of people. Little of it, much of it, feels native. I'm better at understanding others. I wonder about my own interactions at times.

This is nothing political in a classical or modern sense. I do not know how to apply this, make it have sharp edges. Make it neat. I don't know.

I am one of the smartest men I know, and I find myself stuck in contemplating. I have made many errors.

This is wandering I need to do in a tidy little paper book because most of it will be rubbish, meaningful only to my particular brain. It is lonely. I am needing to get more comfortable with being alone.

I don't like messing things up for other people.

I think I need to keep some of my thoughts to myself. The counselor in me will redraft all of this later. The narrative will be edited. I will replace the "need"s with "choose"s. But until then, I need to control myself. I am in the woods. This is not the damn farm. How it is free and how it is not clash with the ways I was once free and not. I am not making sense of it yet. I am newborn.

I think I need to keep some of my thoughts to myself. I hate them up here, and they poison me, but I will pay this cost and pretend a little longer. Maybe one day I'll stop pretending, or be somebody who doesn't shit all over others in the course of being.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Overly Broad Condemnation

I hate dualistic thinking. I am aware of how middle school that sounds. I know that it's been said a lot, and usually with the amusingly absolute tone of "No Dualism!"

I guess some things have dualities and some do not. I am tired of political and interpersonal dualism. I am tired of moral dualism being taken for a decisive factor.

I listen to commenters and the moment they see an ultimate battle between weak and strong, good and evil, or even good and bad, that will either settle everything forever or for a while, I know I must let this go and get the hell out of there.

The world's too complex. The winners dispute, the losers grow numerous, the weak find power, the undefeated die.

We murder unknown brothers in war. We sleep with others, forgetting their essential strangeness.

Perhaps the especially kind will recognize in themselves an inhumanity whose match is found in monsters.

And all that I say merely points out the impurity in duality. The fact is that things are far more ornate, ornate to a degree which I find myself currently powerless to illustrate.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anxiety Kills (Another Dead Drunk Post)

If you have the power to coerce others, maybe you will use it. After all, that's how we see structures, right?

So maybe you need to try, when you are without might, to experience the most basic interaction with others.

Maybe you need to try to let others upset you.

It's so easy to try to control. It's so easy to see others as deliverers of what we need. We find ways physically and psychologically to extract these things.

Sometimes they want us to.

We must try to let others not like us. It is their right.

Is charm an invitation or a command?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why You Have to Be Deconstructive

There's a nice trans-Atlantic meme about how you can't buy an election.

Why no, not if you're a candidate. People still lose when they outspend their supposed competitors. But isn't it apparent that candidates are the product, not the purchaser?

Just as it has been long observed that the true target of television and other programming are the advertisers, with audiences as the product and the producers the salesmen, we can see that in electoral campaigns that the real winners are out of the spectacle with which we are presented.

And some people say that elections mean nothing. IOZ usually touts a line like this, and if he doesn't, let me trot him out as a straw man. I hope he'll pardon me.

So what about the fact that elections mean nothing? I can't agree. Elections may mean nothing to the supposed voters, but while I feel that representative democracy is simply some strange, Azadian game in which the old campaigns of civil war and factional strife are abstractly represented, I feel that it may well be significant--so long as we're being clear about which players, pieces, and outcomes we discuss.

In short, all this shit about the primaries and the lever pulling? It's a minigame at best.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Where Others' Power, Addendum

This is what I get for posting when drunk. Again.

When I get some business taken care of, I want to try again to say something about the self-sacrificial, self-censoring, self-concealing shit that people do "for" others, or more accurately with them. I'm sure there's all kind of articulation about influence that covers this, but I'll reinvent the wheel as I usually do. After all, I know that other men have made chairs and written books about love, but that doesn't mean I can't take up furniture-making and creative writing. I do not believe I need to become alienated from philosophy any further.

Motherfucker, does man need a cell phone? This one has made a life in which he does, so I'm gone to lash myself to a different company and then I'll make financial amends to the state which currently holds me on a probationary list, the members of which are subject to further coercive measures. Simple!

Where Others' Power Comes From

It's true. We grant to others the power to control us.

But it is so very hard not to grant it to them.

Look at the family. See injustice there so you can see it in grander things.

We love others. Can they hurt us as we love them? Yes we can. We wish we could not love through damage, but many of us do and we pay dearly as we nevertheless continue to love.

Some of us leave. Some are left. We then seek again or find those who can hurt us again, control us, tell us what to do.

Where do you dominate, or are you dominated? Is it the same as with others who cudgel and herd you?

Does this make it different? Does this make it better, that you are so free to be with others? Does it not make it worse, for we can so much more easily leave. There are many ready bosses in the world. Some protect us; all injure us.