I want to ride my bicycle

8 12 2014

The next time I whine-think Ehhhn, I don’ wanna take the train the gym and I don’ wanna sit on a stationary bike at the gym and It’s really not that cold out and I’ll just bundle up when I ride. . .

. . . I will remember this 30s-degree-gusty-winds day, with my dead-cold toes and quivering thighs and pissed-off tits and I will grab my fuckin’ MetroCard and a book for the bike and take the goddamned train to the gym.





Everybody knows it’s coming apart, 15

8 12 2014

Ironically, in seeking to curb the individual will to power in favor of equality, leftists invest their own subterranean desires for freedom-as-power in the activist state. In my view, the revival of the left depends on relinquishing this investment. We need to recognize that despite appearances the state is not our friend, that in the long run its erosion is an opportunity and a challenge, not a disaster. I don’t want to be misunderstood: I’m not suggesting that we stop supporting social security or national health insurance or public schools or antidiscrimination laws. If my immediate choices are the barbarism of unleashed capital or a state-funded public sector, the tyranny of uninhibited private bigotry or state-enforced civil rights, I choose the state. Or rather, I choose the social goods and civil liberties that are available under state auspices.The distinction is important, because the idea that the state gives us these benefits is a mystification. Basically [Charles] Murray is right: government does not cause social improvement. In actual historical fact, every economic and social right that we’ve achieved since the nineteenth century has been hard-won by organized, militant, and often radical social movements: the labor movement; the socialist, communist, and anarchist movements; the new left student movement; the black and feminist and gay liberation movements; the ecology movement. . . . The role of the state from the New Deal and the postwar compact till the start of its present no-more-Mr.-Nice-Guy phase was to manage potentially destabilizing social conflict by offering carefully limited concessions to the troublemakers.

. . . The government’s current rush to abandon any pretense of social responsibility ought to make this painfully clear: what the state supposedly giveth it promptly taketh away as soon as the balance of power shifts. In this case, of course, social power is shifting away from the national state itself; liberals and social democrats are still trying to board a train that’s already left the station.

In parallel fashion, the statism of the cultural left does not further equality so much as it reinforces law and order. . . . Insofar as the demand is to outlaw overt, provable discriminatory acts by employers, landlords, store, owners, and so on, it simply aims for public recognition that (pace [David] Boaz and Murray) discrimination is a coercive act as unacceptable as violence or theft. But the problem, from the social movements’ point of view, is that overt, deliberate discrimination is only the crudest expression of a deeply rooted culture of inequality. For many opponents of that culture, it has seemed a logical next step to invoke state power against patterns of behavior that reinforce white male dominance and exclude, marginalize, or intimidate vulnerable groups.

Actually, it’s a plunge into a dangerous illusion. The ingrained behavior and attitudes that support the dominant culture are by definition widespread, reflexive, and experienced as normal and reasonable by the people who uphold them. They are also often unconscious or ambiguous. A serious effort to crush racism and sexism with the blunt instrument of the law would be a project of totalitarian dimensions—and still it would fail. Transforming a culture and its consciousness requires a different kind of politics, a movement of people who consistently and publicly confront oppressive social patterns, explain what’s wrong with them, and refuse to live by them. . . .

It’s time for the left to become a movement again. That means, first of all, depending on no one’s power but our own. . . .

Ellen Willis, Their Libertarianism—and Ours, 1997

There is much which is provocative—in the best sense of the word—in Willis’s work, and much of her left-libertarianism with which I agree.

But she doesn’t confront the contradiction in her own essay: the gains of past movements, gains which she wouldn’t give up, were accomplished through the actions of that compromised, unfriendly, authoritarian state. She criticizes the right-libertarians for not recognizing the coercive power of the marketplace and warns leftists of the coercive power of the state, but merely criticizing parallel coercions does not in an of itself offer an escape from them.

Yes, by all means, we need a new, new-left movement (NL x.0?), a new vision of freedom and equality in which we live in “voluntary cooperation” with one another. But we can’t get their simply by dismissing either the state or the market as coercive—and not only because coercion (or, if you prefer, power) itself may be inescapable.

It’s nice to say we ought to rely on no one’s power but our own, but is that enough? And what if it isn’t? That is the dilemma, and the work.





Every day I write the book

7 12 2014

According to the Free Thought Project, the 15-year-old girl was a runaway who the police officer was attempting to apprehend.

As a witness filmed, the officer walked up to the girl and punched her, knocking her down. She then put the girl in a chokehold — even after the teen’s mother begged her and a second officer to stop, saying that the girl is asthmatic and has emotional issues.

“She just punched her in the face!” said the woman holding the camera.

As her legs kicked and flailed, the girl told the officers she couldn’t breathe, screaming, “Stop!” over and over, but they continued to pin her against the pavement.

The second officer said that everything his comrade did was according to police procedure and that if she’d wanted to the officer “could have shot her dead.”

And from the top. . . if doing things by the book would allow you to shoot an unarmed teenaged runaway, maybe you need a different book.

Source: David Ferguson, RawStory





Oh, God, please leave us something to breathe!

3 12 2014

h/t Carmiah Townes, Think Progress





Jean Béliveau, 1931-2014

3 12 2014

The most fair-weather of hockey fans (of which I am, sadly, one) and the most ardent fans of Montréal (of which I am, gladly, one) knows of the great Jean Béliveau.

Does it matter that I was introduced to him through a Jane Siberry song?

M. Béliveau, who sounds like he was in every way a great and good man, likely would not have minded.

He was 83.





Knights in white satin

2 12 2014

Racism just ain’t what it used to be.

Oh, sure, it’s evolved from “savages” and “primitives”, from “nigger nigger nigger” to “we need to cut this”, from Jim Crow to the Southern strategy to voter ID, and, of late, to “race realism” and “human biodiversity” and James-Watson-not-a-racist-in-the-conventional-way, but even the folk who hide behind economic populism and biological science would admit that there are racists in the USA:

They’re called Klan members.

Thus, as long as those race realists (and James Watson) aren’t marchin’ around in white robes or burning crosses on colored folks’ lawns, they’re not racists (at least not in the conventional way).

So what to do when someone posts a picture of a Klan member to his Facebook page and captions it “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”—and then insists he’s not racist?!

I mean, the KKK is the white-gold standard of racism in America! If the HBD-ers (and James Watson) aren’t able to point to their non-membership in the Klan as evidence of their non-racism, however will they convince people of their good faith and disinterested interpretation of evidence?

The horror.

Or maybe I’ve been wrong all along, and this new KKK≠racism equation proves once and for all that racism no longer exists in America.

At least among white people.