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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

The other day, a total twit on Twitter twitted that she’s like to see the US federal government sue Exxon into bankruptcy for global warming.  Let’s put aside for a moment the incredible absurdity of choosing that one particular corporation rather than any other petrochemical firm or coal-mining concern; any auto manufacturer or power company; any government entity which owns industrial facilities; people collectively for driving cars & using electricity; the heirs of Faraday or Edison; China, India, or Brazil; or even cows collectively for belching up so much methane.  Do you really want to government to be able to sue YOU for something they decide to blame you for?  That’s the precedent that would set.  Why are people so damned stupid about how legal precedent works?  Once set, a precedent isn’t only usable vs. people YOU consider bad.

Look, y’all, it’s simple.  Big corporations are dangerous, but they don’t claim the right to inflict violence on me for not using their products.  There are lots of big corporations I won’t give money to, and they don’t send armed thugs to smash down my door, steal everything I own, lock me in a cage and render me forever unemployable (assuming I survive the process) for refusing to deal with them.  Try doing that with government; go on, I dare you.  Refuse to purchase government “services” or follow their “terms of service” (called “laws”), and see if you get away as painlessly as you do when you boycott Wal-mart or choose not to watch Hollywood movies.  The real danger is that corporations and government are increasingly intertwined, and corporations can call on government to inflict violence (such as via “copyright violation investigations”).  But sever the connection and those corporations are toothless.  So if you’re afraid of Monsanto, but not of the government mechanisms it can use to crush you, you’re hopeless and deserve everything you get; alas, you’re dragging me down with you.  Government promotes the myth that it protects people from big corporations, but in reality, they couldn’t have grown so big without the corrupt symbiosis which has been growing ever more extensive, powerful and inescapable since the days of the East India Company.

On a small scale, consider the myriad laws requiring people to buy commercial products (under threat of “punishment” as though we were children), or attempting to prevent people from buying cheaper alternatives from competitors who aren’t in bed with government.  Government “regulations” are always unnecessarily byzantine so that only corporations large enough to keep full-time compliance experts (lawyers, accountants, etc) on the payroll can possibly hope to follow all of them without unknowingly breaking some, and thus bringing down crushing fines (or, increasingly, criminal penalties).  If you’re in favor of government “regulation” of some industry but also claim you’re against big corporations, you’re a hypocrite and a fool because the regulations are always written by operatives of big corporations or professional cartels to favor big corporations and kill small competitors.  Ask yourself who benefits from requiring black women to take thousands of hours of training when all they want to do is braid hair, or who benefits from requiring food trucks to follow arbitrary rules designed to stifle their business and drive up their operating costs, and maybe it’ll begin to dawn on you.  Also note that these two examples force small, usually minority-owned businesses to dance to tunes written by established businesses (which are, of course, mostly owned by white people) and maybe, just maybe, you’ll begin to see a glimmer of what I see.

But even more importantly than all that:  Any individual thuggish cop can do more to destroy the average person’s life in seconds than Microsoft could do in ten years. When Coca-Cola, Disney, IBM, Google, Monsanto, Chase, Wal-mart or Kraft starts sending out gangs of thugs to rape, rob & murder people, then and only then will I be more concerned about them than I am about government.  I notice most people whining about corporations are middle-class whites; oppressed minorities are more concerned about being robbed, locked up, virtually enslaved and even murdered by government actors than they are about “unfairness”.  Yes, huge corporations are dangerous, but governments are much more dangerous because they claim the “right” to do evil to anyone they want, often without the victim having any recourse whatsoever.  No corporation claims that, and if one ever does then it will have crossed over into being a government.

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Role Models

Last week, one of my online friends reacted to news of an abhorrent act of violence against peaceful people by referring to the evil lurking in our society.  But while I share her disgust and sorrow at the evil acts of terrorists, I have to disagree with her on one point:  In a police state, evil doesn’t lurk; it leers out of every threatening sign, every TV screen, every police car.  And so evil people are encouraged because they liken their own individual evil to the organized evil of their rulers; they’re shown evil is the path to power.  When a soft-headed person lives in a society where evil is rewarded & even exalted, what does he learn?  He learns that hatred and violence are the path to power.  So when he feels powerless because he’s lost his job or can’t get women or whatever, he follows the lessons taught him by cops, politicians and other authoritarians:  Might Makes Right.  Violence Is Power.  Suppressing those he feels are beneath him, as cops do, is OK.  In short, in the modern US (and countries occupied by or dominated by the US) evil doesn’t HAVE to lurk; it holds most of the weapons and all the political power.  Naturally it’s increasing.

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I notice that a lot of escorts whine about criminalization, yet don’t want to do anything about it.  How are we ever to evolve change if we attack each other, or if we won’t speak up, or at least get behind someone who is out on the front line fighting for our rights?

It has been said that trying to organize sex workers is like herding cats.  I’ve always found it darkly amusing that prohibitionists paint us as meek, passive, spineless creatures at the mercy of anything with a penis, when in actuality sex workers in general are the most stubborn, willful, independent and even defiant women I know.  In fact, if you look at anti-sex worker rhetoric from prior to about a century ago, you’ll notice that these exact characteristics were used to support the claim that we are “bad” women, because the Establishment likes women meek, passive and spineless and we’re the opposite.  We like to do things our own way, on our own schedule, by our own rules, and we’ve been well-known since Biblical times for rebelling against authority and refusing to jump when told to or speak only when spoken to.  I’m sure you see where this is going: the very characteristics that drive women toward sex work in the first place, the same characteristics which enable us to succeed in a profession without structure, bosses or trade unions, are the very traits that make us difficult to organize.

There is hope, of course.  The submissive or weak-minded are easily driven from the rear by “leaders” who don’t actually lead, but rather stay in safety and shout orders while others take the risks.  But the ornery and self-motivated can only be led from the front, by those willing to take the risks and model the behavior they’d like others to adopt.  Nor can these leaders be motivated by the desire for power, glory or adulation; most sex workers are keen judges of human behavior and can smell hypocrisy and manipulation a mile off.  The only way we’re ever going to win our rights is by ceaselessly fighting the lies prohibitionists tell about us, and relentlessly opposing the police state’s desire to control us.  The best way to do that is by speaking up and being out, by refusing to hide our light under a bushel, by fearlessly living our lives no matter who tries to threaten and terrorize us into submission.  If we do a good job of that, others will follow our examples, and those gifted with the ability to organize will take on those roles.  It won’t be a fast process, but it’s already well underway; there are strong sex worker organizations in many countries, and though criminalization makes that harder in the US it’s gradually happening here as well (albeit at a maddeningly-slow pace).  In her book The Love Project, Arleen Lorrance wrote, “Be the change you want to see happen instead of trying to change anyone else.”  This quote is usually shortened to “Be the change you want to see in the world” and misattributed to Gandhi, but I prefer the original phrasing and try my best to live by it.  I don’t have the power to change anyone else, and I wouldn’t want it; however, I do have the power to behave in the way – independently, fearlessly, honestly and ethically – that I’d like others to behave.  And I can only hope that by so doing, others will like what they see and want to do it as well…not because anyone forced them to, but because they want to in order to win rights for themselves, their friends and all their sisters.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Letting Go

As regular readers know, it’s always been extremely difficult for me to relax; my brain never stops and rarely slows, and if I don’t keep it occupied it tends to veer off into things I prefer it not to think about.  That means I can’t concentrate when there are distractions, and being “in the moment” is impossible without the help of drugs or other means of altering brain chemistry.  So as you might expect, just letting go and allowing someone else deal with stuff has never been my strong point, especially since most of the people in my life have always relied on my hypercompetence and therefore entrusted all the preparation and administration to me.  I’ve always been the mommy, the planner, the Girl Friday, the designated driver, the navigatrix, the detail-noticer, the problem solver, the solution-finder, the bearer of burdens.  But over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself in a circle of extremely competent women, and I’ve learned that it’s safe to trust them to deal with things when they volunteer to do so, rather than having to take care of everything myself.  Traveling with Lorelei is a special delight; she thinks of all the details I’d think of plus some, and isn’t afraid to delegate back to me if she needs help.  On our recent eclipse trip, she did everything from booking the lodging to plotting our route, and I was happy to be her passenger and companion and help out when needed.  This whole “letting go and enjoying the ride” thing is pretty novel for me, but I’m really beginning to enjoy it; maybe it’ll even help to reduce my stress levels in the long run.

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Diary #373

With the sale of my Oklahoma rental property last week, I am now basically debt-free; I could literally pay off all the debt I owe in the world with a single overnight, and the only reason I haven’t paid that is I want to keep an interest-free buffer during the moving process (though if someone really wants to see me completely debt-free, he could book an overnight on condition I pay it off, and I’d honor the request).  Grace is on her way back from Oklahoma with the second load; she thinks there will be two more, so barring mishap we should be done before the end of summer.  And once that’s done, she can launch into the repairs and improvements necessary before I can start inviting company out there; I plan to pay for those as I go, rather than assuming more debt (because honestly, I’m done with that whole shtick).  Yesterday Lorelei and I saw the eclipse from a quiet beach after spending the night at a lovely little B&B in Oregon, and next week I’m going to San Francisco for a couple of days (and I could see one gent on Wednesday evening; let me know ASAP if you want to be the lucky man).  So for right now, I’m in an unusually quiet place for me; I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts, because 50 years’ experience tells me it probably won’t.

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Laws, like houses, lean on one another.  –  Edmund Burke

The inability of naive people to understand the power of legal precedent is one of the greatest forces for evil in the world.  These well-meaning dunderheads simply refuse to understand that once a law is passed and enforced unchallenged, or when the state prevails in challenges to that law, that other laws and procedures can follow on the trail blazed by the first one.  It makes absolutely no difference what the “intent” of the first law was, nor if the laws which follow it were passed with completely different intentions; once the precedent is established that it’s OK to criminalize xa, laws that criminalize xb, xc and xd are quick to follow, all leaning on the first like Burke’s row houses.  Any legal weapon given today to any state actor for use against people you dislike, will be used tomorrow against people you like, and once the process gains momentum it’s nearly impossible to stop before it reaches xz.

It seems so obvious, one has to marvel that people still don’t get it; they’re willing to give “their” guy extraordinary weapons to deal with what they view as a menace, and can’t seem to fathom that someone else with very different ideas about what constitutes a menace will occupy the throne in a very short time, and that extraordinary weapon will still be available to him in the armory, to use however he pleases.  Useful idiots are so convinced of their own righteousness, they’re unable to conceive of anyone branding them as evil.  It’s the result of a sheltered existence in which the force of the state has never been used against them, just against others they can feel good about standing up for.  Last weekend I was tweeted at by one such idealistic fool, who insisted it’s possible to draw a “bright clear line against ‘hate speech'”, differentiating it from other kinds of speech so as to allow censorship.  This nitwit was seemingly unaware that “hate crime” laws have already been extended to cops via so-called “blue lives matter” laws in several states; from there it’s only one more step to criminalizing speech that criticizes cops or politicians, and a package of laws going through Congress right now paves the way for paying for sex to be classified as a “hate crime” by defining it as “gender-based violence”.  And after that, it’s just one step further to defining speech about decriminalization as “hate speech” because it “promotes gender-based violence”.  But do sheltered idiots who talk about “bright clear lines” vs “hate speech” get that?  Nope, because never once in their sheltered ninny lives have they seen laws and policies maliciously applied to harm them or those they love.  They just sit in their freaking ivory towers and blame some convenient “other”, when in actuality the laws used as weapons of oppression were supported and cheered on by previous generations of useful idiots exactly like them, who never admit that oppressors rarely take power; they’re given it by privileged idiots to fight Muslims, “sex trafficking”, “terrorists”, “Satanists”, “sex predators”, “criminals”, “illegal aliens”, drug users, whores, communists, Jews, black people, the “yellow peril”, “witches” or whoever the fashionable villain of the day might be.  And the evil effect of those laws remains long after the moral panic is gone, causing both direct harm themselves and indirect harm by propping up the still-more-evil laws that inevitably follow them.

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Just your regular reminder that just because somebody opposes bad guys, doesn’t make them a good guy.  If anything, the baddies fight each other more than they fight the goodies, because the baddies are fighting for what they both want: power.  Power over you and me.  Power to control your choices, your body, your income, your work, your speech, your interactions with others.  Everyone who wants that is evil, even if one set of them happens to be on your side today.  There’s an old saying, “He who sups with the Devil should use a long spoon.”  But most modern people don’t get that; let a pig or politician say something they like against someone they hate, and suddenly that pig or politician is a goodie they’re not only happy to eat with, but to allow to cook for them.  And they don’t even count the spoons.  You know who killed more Nazis than anybody?  The Commies.  And they were doing it before the Nazis even came to power.  And predictable as fucking sunrise, in the middle of all this week’s anti-Nazi fervor, what did we see?  Historical ignoramuses claiming the Commies weren’t as bad as the Nazis, despite the fact that just Mao & Stalin combined murdered more than three times as many people as Hitler, and that’s not even counting the contributions of lesser luminaries like Pol Pot, Kim Il-sung and Fidel Castro.

Oh, and one more thing:  I’m really pleased to see so many people joining me in condemning fascism, as I have for decades.  Unfortunately, most moderns seem to think the term means something like “organized racism”.  It doesn’t; fascism has a specific meaning, namely rule by a coalition of political, corporate and military or paramilitary interests.  They also 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.

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