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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.  –  Mao Zedong

I’ve written on many occasions about how government is at best a necessary evil, and how modern governments of large countries are so powerful that they couldn’t help harming people by the millions even if they wanted to, which they don’t.  The reason they don’t is quite simple, yet somehow most people are either unable or unwilling to see it:  the only actual power government has is to inflict violence.  Government is a non-producer; like any parasite it is wholly dependent on its host for sustenance.  And so the only way it can accomplish anything is to force others to do it by the threat of violence.  Every government operative is paid with money extracted from individuals or corporations, and the reason those individuals pay up is that government threatens to inflict violence on their persons (and/or extract the money by direct robbery) if they don’t.  An ever-increasing army of thugs and petty functionaries provides the muscle, and these operatives are paid with stolen money; like any criminals, their demands for loot inevitably increase over time, and because the government was foolish and/or uncaring enough to allow these thugs to form public sector unions (ie, unconstitutional organs of government not answerable to the subject population even by the charade of elections), they are able to demand more money, more power and more numbers with every passing year.  Naturally the government gives in, because without these thug armies it would have no power to force everyone else to obey its whims; besides, the government doesn’t pay them with its own money anyhow, and it can always demand more with its ever-growing power.  This is what anarchists call “the gun in the room”:  every single law derives its power from the open or indirect threat of violence, the spoken or unspoken “do what we say, or else“.  And while the American faction which claims the label “left” likes to pretend it’s more gentle and concerned for individual rights than the soi-disant “right”, the truth is that, as I wrote in “Against Conscience“:

A few years ago, Americans who like to imagine themselves as “the political left” eschewed the traditional label “liberal” in favor of the older term “progressive”; this is especially interesting since the progressive philosophy (which holds that the world should be ruled by experts who are “scientifically” trained to know what’s “best for society” and therefore have the right to impose their will on everyone else “for our own good”) is if anything the exact opposite of classical liberalism (which holds that each person has the right to self-ownership and self-determination).  In other words, the shift in nomenclature revealed the truth previous leaders tried to hide under the “liberal” label:  the only…difference between the American political parties lies in the fact that soi-disant “conservatives” think the all-powerful ruling elite should be made up of the wealthy and religious authorities, while soi-disant “progressives” think it should be made up of those “educated” for the task in state-controlled systems.  In practice, however, there is no difference at all.  Both flavors of fascism favor infinite expansion of government power with the ultimate goal of total establishment control of all wealth and every individual; both dole out bread and circuses so as to call attention away from what they’re actually doing…

Even so, I’m continually amazed at the obtuseness of white “leftists” who acknowledge that the police state disproportionately harms the poor & minorities, yet support ever more things being criminalized.  Somehow these people imagine that their censorship, gun control, bans on substances (e.g., tobacco & sugar) and behaviors they dislike (e.g., sex work and “revenge porn”), and other laws won’t also be enforced more against black folks, despite the blatantly obvious fact that such laws always are.

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It’s time to set aside childish things, and start dealing with one another like grownups.  –  “Childish Things

A friend of my family’s once said, “Maggie was born adult.”  Just about everyone who knew me (with the exception of my mother) felt that way to one degree or another, and I can remember being frustrated with what I perceived as childishness in the greater world from a very young age.  For example, I can remember being extremely annoyed with commercials during kid-TV programming (such as Saturday morning cartoons) claiming that some mundane task like tooth-brushing needed to be “fun”.  Even at that tender age, I understood that it wasn’t necessary for every single thing in the world to be “fun”; some things just need to be done whether they’re “fun” or not.  I had a similar reaction to the “condoms are sexy” campaign of the ’80s:  No, condoms are not sexy; in fact, they’re really kind of nasty.  But until something better comes along, they are necessary whether they’re “sexy” or “fun” or not, and anyone who would eschew a reliable protection against contagious disease because it isn’t “sexy” is a childish imbecile and a danger to himself and others (see also “consent is sexy“).

There are a number of similarly-idiotic words used to influence the intellectually immature, and I despise all of them.  The odious word “deserve” is used to sell luxuries and deny basic human rights; “privilege” is used to subtly excuse and shift the blame for tyranny; “fairness” is used as an excuse for entitlement; “love” is reduced to the temporary neurochemical derangement we wrongly call “romantic love”, and represented as the only valid reason for sex or marriage (when actually it’s just about the worst reason for engaging in either); and prohibitionists use moronic phrases like “selling their bodies“, “the commodification of sex is sad“, and “no little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute” as excuses for inflicting violence on adults for engaging in consensual sex.  “Dreams”.  Seriously.  And yet these people, who actually believe the fantasies of undeveloped minds should be given the same weight as actual facts in adult discussions, are not only treated as grown adults, but actually deferred to as though this pablum constituted valid logical argument.  See also “follow your dreams”, possibly the most inane, naive, and – dare I say it? – privileged bit of non-advice ever to adorn a bumper sticker, right alongside such wisdom of the ages as “Baby on Board” and “Virginia is for lovers”.  But it doesn’t stop there, oh no; as I wrote in “Childish Things“,

Worse and more foolish still is the belief that a nonhuman thing, either material or immaterial, can be “bad”…too many [people]…imagine that plant matter or technological devices can be intrinsically evil; that certain words or images can be literally harmful…that the mere action of taking a photograph of a naked person…is intrinsically inimical; that certain forms of human interaction can mystically harm the participants even if they freely choose to engage in the activity and suffer no physical damage; that magical vestments or talismans can grant power over other people or absolve the wearer of moral culpability for his actions; that official pronouncements from anointed leaders can make things vanish; and even that being given a spell-scroll of one variety can make a “dangerous” action into a beneficial one, while being given a different kind of rune-inscribed parchment can make an innocuous action evil…

All this arrant, primitive stupidity make me want to vomit.  Human beings have the right to control our own bodies & lives regardless of motive, whether anybody “loves” or “dreams” or “deserves” whatever, or whether or not our actions are “fun” for us or anyone else.

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The 4th of July is now a memorial rather than a celebration, and the Spirit of ‘76 is nothing but a ghost.  –  “The Spirit of ’76

Humans have a rather pathetic tendency to mistake form for substance, and to confuse symptoms with causes.  So if I had thought about it hard enough, I probably would’ve been able to predict that eventually Americans would realize they were living in a fascist police state, but that they’d do so long after such a state was established and reach the conclusion for completely wrong reasons.  It’s become fashionable to refer to Donald Trump and his government as “fascist” due to his openly-racist rhetoric, but the US government has always been racist since its inception, and as I wrote almost a year ago,

…fascism has a specific meaning, namely rule by a coalition of political, corporate and military or paramilitary interests.  [Americans] seem to think US fascism started with Donald Trump, which is patently absurd.  Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Lawrence Britt’s seminal article on the 14 defining characteristics of fascism; you’ll note that most of these describe American government as far back as the Reagan administration, and a few of them as far back as the FDR administration.

I might also point out that FDR openly admired Mussolini, and Hitler openly praised FDR, right up to the point when that tyrant historians celebrate as one of the “greatest presidents” decided US interests would be better served by joining the Allies.  Furthermore, though the anti-Trump crowd loves to style themselves “The Resistance”, they also unironically talk about government officials committing “treason” (you know, the charge used by tyrannical governments for executing actual resistance members), obsess about Russian agents more than Joe McCarthy did, and blindly support candidates every bit as fascist as Trump (though, admittedly, saner and more polished).  Moronic blue hat/red hat partisanism has rotted Americans’ brains to the point where they actually blame the other party for every ill they can identify, even when a few minutes of research on the internet will demonstrate that our current tyranny is solidly bipartisan.  Our idiotic, shallow, appearance-obsessed culture is long overdue for collapse, and when it does “the ash left behind [may] provide…fertile soil for new (and gods willing, healthier) growth“.  The moribund American Empire will produce no more good in the world except by its collapse and replacement, and though I grieve the innocent blood which will be spilled, it isn’t like US policies aren’t spilling rivers of innocent blood right now.  The sooner it happens, the better for the world; the end of this monster who once promised so much can’t possibly come soon enough.

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As many sex workers and clients know, having a degree and/or certification is no guarantee that a therapist will not be completely clueless about sex work.  Disinformation about our work and lives is so widespread, and the stigma against properly investigating it so entrenched, that it’s possible for someone to earn a PhD in psychology or social work or whatever without even having a passing acquaintance with anything resembling a fact on the subject.  Moreover, interest in psychology is not equivalent to a belief in human rights or a desire to promote happiness and sexual health; there are just as many control freaks dressed up as therapists as there are dressed up as teachers, doctors, clergymen, judges or any other “authority” figure you can name, and people like Melissa “13” Farley and Dominique “Body Fluids” Roe-Sepowitz are perfectly happy to design fake “studies” to “prove” whatever anti-whore belief they want to lend credence to.  So when a sex worker or client goes looking for a therapist, they’re much less likely to find an Alyxx Berg or a David Ley than they are a misogynistic quack who insists that literally no woman is capable of making pragmatic decisions about sex, and knows nothing of any of the copious research disproving myths about sex work, sex workers, clients, third parties or any other aspect of the demimonde.  Therapists well-informed about sex work are so rare, in fact, that when I see an excellent article like this one by Katie Bloomquist I experience a palpable sense of relief that there are at least some members of the psychiatric community who live in the real world rather than in some Victorian fantasyland of male sexual predators and helpless, asexual female victims:

Assuming therapy clients who pay for sex have traits of sexual narcissism and feel “entitled” to women’s bodies is based on harmful myths and stereotypes about those who pay for sex.  As systemic mental health providers, being curious about the needs the client is getting met when they pay for sexual services is key– is it an emotional need?  A physical need?  A need to express a type of sex that is not “allowed” in the relationship”…Examining the systemic function the behavior of paying for sexual services plays usually reveals more about our clients’ needs and wants in their relationships and sex lives…Conversely, the antiquated notion that women should only have sex with men “for free” is based on male entitlement to women’s bodies and grossly gendered ideas of emotional and sexual labor.  This notion is also based on gendered assumptions…that women who engage in sexual behavior in exchange for money are either deviants or victims, as the stereotype of women who have any type of sex is that their sexual behavior must be “intimate” or “emotional”.  Gendering sex in this way is inaccurate and harmful – as it often results in female-identified people being expected to provide sex and intimacy “for free” and discounts emotional and sexual labor as a valuable type of work…

This isn’t Bloomquist’s only article on the subject, and informed therapists are not as rare as they were even ten or twenty years ago.  But they’re still rare enough that when I see reality laid out like this in a short, concise article, it gives me hope that many years of hard work by activists and ethical researchers is finally beginning to have lasting cultural impact.

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The most enjoyable, rewarding and memorable moments of my life have always involved other people.  –  “The Best Part

I reckon my travel habits probably seem odd or even boring to many people; I don’t generally go to see the sights or touristy things in places I visit, and when I do I generally prefer the more off-the-beaten-track ones rather than the ones that demand both admission and standing in long queues.  When I travel, I like to spend as much time as possible doing things the locals consider quite ordinary, such as eating local foods or just walking around the streets or countryside.  And nearly every time I visit a new place, I discover several new foods I like and learn new ways of doing things.  On this trip I discovered haggis, Stornoway black pudding, stroopwafels, and a flat wine I actually like (generally, I only like sparkling wines).  But I don’t just stumble on these things by accident; I try them because either my traveling companion or someone I meet recommends them to me and takes the time to tell me why they think I’ll like them.  As I’ve written on several occasions, it’s my traveling companions and the people I meet and talk to who are the best part of travel for me:

I’ve met a lot of people in [my life].  I’ve talked with them, argued with them, loved them, and fought with them.  I’ve hired them to do jobs and been hired by them; I’ve fucked them, been fucked over by them, played with them and feared them.  I’ve learned from them, taught them, helped and been helped by them, ignored them, missed them and avoided them and done many other things far too numerous to list.  And for the majority of my adult life, I’ve made my living by interacting directly with them on a one-on-one basis…I can open the vault of memory and find a wealth of experiences from months, years and decades in the past; I can see their faces, hear their voices and even tell you where we were and what we talked about.  Some of the people with whom I had these treasured interactions are still dear friends, and some I haven’t seen in many years; many of them were with people I met only once, and whose names I have long forgotten.  And many others fall somewhere between those two extremes…

This trip was no exception; I met, talked to and otherwise interacted with lots of people I didn’t know before, some by introduction from Brooke and some just by circumstance (the festival at Hay-on-Wye was very fruitful in the latter respect).  I’ll probably never cross paths with most of them ever again, and others may grow into friends.  But as usual, the memory of many of those meetings will outlast most of the other experiences of the trip.

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As those of you who saw Friday’s picture column were probably already aware, Brooke Magnanti and I spent last week in Scotland, largely doing the sorts of things I like to do on such trips: talking to people and sampling the local foods and ways (including haggis, which I absolutely loved).  Then starting Friday afternoon, in 24 hours we used basically every common sort of vehicle (boat, self-driven car, airplane, bus, train and chauffeured car) to get from where we were in the West Highlands down to Hay-on-Wye in Wales for a large literary & philosophical festival at which Brooke spoke & participated in panel discussions.  It was quite rainy on Sunday, as this picture demonstrates, and I’m currently typing this using the festival’s wi-fi while waiting to see a panel on sex robots which I will try VERY hard not to disrupt.  By the time you read this, we’ll be on a train back to London; Brooke’s flying back to the US tomorrow, and I’ll be returning on Thursday.  I’ve very much enjoyed this trip, and I’ll have more thoughts about it on Thursday and more pictures on Friday; for now, it will suffice to say that I’ll be back to the UK in the not-terribly-distant future, with any luck sooner rather than later.

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If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  –  “Whorearchy

Two weeks ago I published “Out of the Woodwork“, in which I wrote, “since the guys who used to use Backpage now don’t know where to go, they’re inflicting their ham-handed ‘Hey sexy’ and untutored ‘qv avail?’ texts on sex workers who aren’t used to dealing with that (and in my case, lack the patience).”  I’ve also taken to Twitter to mock some of the more ridiculous approaches I’ve received.  And though I’ve only been attacked once because of it (by a racist troll whose first text was so vile I felt as though I needed a shower, and whom I instantly muted so I wouldn’t accidentally see more), I still feel it’s important to make my position very clear, both for my friends and readers who did use Backpage, and for the general readership.  Though my attitude about whorearchy is well-known and I often roll my eyes at snobbery and express my disgust for sex workers who try to draw artificial lines between themselves and others, I still feel it’s important in these difficult times to assure all of my sisters that we are in this together.  I have nothing but respect for Backpage ladies’ amazing patience and ability to find gold by sifting through junk; they’re like those people who can go to yard sales and thrift stores and find all the valuable antiques.  I have neither the skill nor the patience to do it.  I don’t think any kind of sex worker is “better” than any other kind; we’re all sisters, we all do the same type of work, and authoritarians & prudes hate us all equally.  But the skill set is different for every market segment, and I simply don’t have the skill set for PSE, street work, professional-level domination, Backpage work, casino work, or many other types; truth be told, I’m not very good at phone sex either, and as I’ve pointed out in the past, nobody would ever pay to see me dance with my clothes on.   What I am very good at is GFE and courtesan-style companionship, dates that are just as likely to involve chatting, hand-holding, intellectual discussion, counseling and/or teaching as they are kissing, sucking and fucking.  Some friends of mine tell me they don’t see how I can do GFE; either they find it emotionally draining, or too intimate, or else they just can’t keep a conversation going with a quiet guy without making him feel they’re talking at him rather than to him.  But it comes so naturally to me, I think I could even do it in a drunken stupor.  Sex workers each have our own abilities and aptitudes, and we gravitate to those forms of sex work which suit us best.  And that doesn’t make any of us “better” or “higher” or more “legitimate” than others, nor more immune to the growing power of the Moral Climate Monitors who want us all either unemployed or “rescued” into re-education camps.

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