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Posts Tagged ‘left-right myth’

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  –  George Santayana

Americans suffer from a peculiar and almost characteristic ignorance of history.  Part of the reason is certainly “American exceptionalism”, the ridiculous dogma that the US is intrinsically different from all other nation and empires which have preceded it since the nation-state was first invented; after all, if one truly believes that none of the lessons of history can possibly apply to one’s own current reality, then studying it is as academic as a physician choosing to study the anatomy of echinoderms.  Another part is this country’s bizarre celebration of ignorance; as Isaac Asimov once expressed it,

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Soi-disant conservatives mock the currently-fashionable elevation of feelings above facts by the “woke”, yet they themselves are guilty of the same sin; they eschew facts which conflict with their irrational attachment to ancient religions, their emotional discomfort with new ideas, and their visceral fear of unfamiliar cultural or sexual practices.  Americans belonging to both “wings” of the US Fascist Party are only too happy to discard whatever economic, scientific, or historical facts get in the way of their preferred policies, especially when those facts indicate that the policies will accomplish exactly the opposite of their pretended goals.  And then there’s intentional disinformation; since tribalism is the highest virtue in modern American thought, nobody wants to be called a “traitor” for refuting the lies vomited out by their “leaders”, even when those lies are easily contradicted by consulting a legitimate source.  So the ignorant believe whatever they are told, while those who know better remain silent.

Worst of all, history has always been written by the victors, and in the US the victors have always been authoritarians; US history is thus warped by authoritarians to glorify other authoritarians, and Americans can’t be bothered to consult histories written by non-Americans because what do those foreign eggheads know?  They’re probably atheist or libertarian or Muslim or dead white males who aren’t Marx anyway.  USA! USA! USA!   Both Team MAGA and Team {unpronounceable string of umpteen capital letters} are much too busy dreaming of inflicting their own flavor of totalitarian dystopia on everyone else to bother even attempting to learn from those who went before, and besides, it’s 2019, duh.  And so they keep fighting over the wheel while the ship which carries all of us spins slowly in the rapid current toward the whirlpool ahead, ignoring the writing on the map, the clearly-posted warning buoys, and the shipwrecked sailors on nearby islands shouting at them to turn back before it’s too late. 

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One Bit

A “bit” is the very smallest unit of information, representing the result of a choice between two and only two possibilities.  One bit can tell you whether a switch is on or off, a number 1 or 0, a charge positive or negative, etc.  It takes at least five bits to designate a letter of the Roman alphabet, and because designating a character from the traditional ASCII character set required eight bits, that was designated a “byte”, the smallest unit of computer memory.  The information contained in this column to the end of this sentence is roughly 600 bytes (4800 bits); not much really.  So what would you say if I made the facially-absurd claim that the entirety of human political thought, from its earliest beginnings to the present day and spanning every single person in every country on the globe, could be accurately and concisely summarized by 1/4800 as much information?  You would correctly surmise that anyone who actually believed such a thing would have to be some kind of imbecile, and yet tens of millions of people believe exactly that; they think everything important about any person’s entire range of political cognition can be summed up precisely and acurately by exactly one bit of infomation.  Left or right, blue or red, good or evil, Little-endian or Big-endian.  Is it any wonder that modern US politics bears almost no resemblance to the real world?

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If there is anything that the past century has taught us, it is that the only war which will truly end all wars among humanity is the one in which the human species is finally obliterated.  –  “To End All Wars

In the first few decades of the last century, a popular conspiracy theory held that the Great War which ended 101 years ago today had been engineered by munitions manufacturers and bankers for their own profit.  But while that may have certainly been one factor, the majority of the blame rests on the power-madness of European governments and their unquenchable thirsts to expand their empires across the entire globe, no matter what the cost in blood and wealth to their subjects, both native and conquered.  A century later, however, the world’s one remaining empire is engaged in not one but many endless, pointless wars whose costs would have staggered the Rothschilds, whose lack of clear imperial goals would have confused a Caesar or a Napoleon, and whose sheer, mindless carnage would have nauseated the Spartans.  America’s war-madness has destabilized the entire Middle East; made military contractors wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice; contributed to the centralization of US federal power in the executive branch; fueled terrorism on four continents; indebted the US Empire to the only serious challenger to its pre-eminence; created the modern surveillance state; and handed so much political and military power to a domestic Praetorian class that its members can not only rob, rape, pillage and even murder citizens with impunity, but also write its own laws and openly defy legislation intended to bring it back under political control.  Certainly, the politicians who support these wars do so at least in part out of a desire to increase their own power, because far too many of the hoi-polloi still practice primitive leader-worship and adhere to notions of nationalism that were already outdated when the Great War began.  But given the popularity of astonishingly-wasteful military adventurism across the monolithic ruling party naive Americans absurdly refer to as “the political spectrum”, including among those who profess to have better and far more productive ideas for the trillions being flushed down Ares’ toilet, it seems obvious that the theorists of a century past would be absolutely correct if they were saying now what they said then:  a great deal of the impetus for modern warfare, like the impetus for the domestic wars (on drugs, whores, “crime”, etc), comes directly from those reaping profits and gathering political power from the bloodshed.  And because that is so, and nobody in power anywhere has the courage or morality to say so, the wars of the 21st century, unlike their 19th and 20th century counterparts of finite length, will continue on interminably until the Empire waging them is consumed in the flames of its own collective insanity.

 

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There is not and in fact cannot be any such thing as “legitimate” authority, whether that authority is chosen by elections, lots, birth, examining goat entrails, or pulling swords out of lakes.  –  “Illegitimate

One of the major themes of The Grand Illusion (1937) is that class differences are more powerful and enduring than national boundaries, so the ruling classes on the two sides of any given war have more in common with one another than they do with the people they rule.  This has been true at least since the Middle Ages, and possibly much longer; in the present day it is more true than it ever has been, both within any given country and across national boundaries.  Posturing politicians pretend to be the sworn enemies of other politicians, only to play kissy-face with one another when they don’t realize there’s a camera around.  They claim to be the champions of “the people”, but in actuality those “people” are no more than a source of power to them, as interchangeable, expendable and disposable as lumps of coal thrown into a furnace.  And while the conflict between politicians of different parties may be real, it is not the conflct of a life-or-death struggle as they pretend (and their followers believe), but the conflict of two friends playing a game or arguing over which fast-food restaurant makes the best cheeseburger.  Two of the contenders in the next US presidential election changed political parties after middle-age (ie, well after their actual beliefs, rather than their publicly-claimed ones, were set in stone) in order to further their ambitions, but you’d barely know it by the fanatical chanting of their fans and their attempts to out-Herod Herod.  And if you’d like to destroy your belief that US parties actually have any kind of solid basis in ideology, just take a look at the avowed positions of the two contenders from the last presidential election and compare them with both their actual actions in political office and the supposed political “wing” of the parties they represented.  And yet I’ve seen friends argue heatedly and even become estranged over their loyalties to these opportunistic sociopaths; a message board I used to frequent completely imploded over name-calling (“libtards”, “RepubliKKKans”, etc) and other ugly, childish behavior during the 2008 election.  No matter what natural affiliations one might expect a politician to have due to race, sex, religion, economic background, or any other characteristic, those all become casualties of the quest for power.  You know which countries are the largest exporters of surveillance and other military and police technologies used by brutal governments to suppress their people?  China, Israel and the United States.  And none of them is especially concerned whether their customers claim to be communist, anti-Semitic, democratic or anything else, because in actuality, they’re all on the same side:  the side of the power elite.  And until the masses discard both their cherished belief in god-king “leaders” who will save them, protect them and care for them, and their ugly, primitive lust for power over other humans, that power elite will continue regarding them as livestock to herd, shear and slaughter as they see fit.

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Though lily-livered fools have been demanding they be “protected” from ideas they don’t like for several years now, it’s terrifying how quickly this terrible idea has moved from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream.  –  “Suppression

For one educated in the Seventies and Eighties, and trained as a librarian in the early Nineties, the landscape of intellectual freedom has become almost unrecognizeable.  For the majority of my life, and the majority of time for which “Banned Books Week” has existed, top-down censorship attempts in the Western world were rare; attempts to ban books, censor websites and suppress speech generally came from non-government authoritarian groups and the majority of educated people could be counted on to oppose and ridicule them.  But in this century, the sick need to control others’ thoughts grew as the internet made it easier for those thoughts to be shared, and early last year top-down government censorship returned with a vengeance thanks to the Great Unwashed eagerly swallowing racist claims about “human trafficking” and magically baneful effects of anything to do with sex.  The US enacted FOSTA, leading to a wave of internet censorship; the UK is trying to build a massive firewall comparable to China’s; the EU has enacted law after law allowing greedy corporations and finger-pointing Prunellas alike power over others’ web-browsing; and every two-bit dictatorship has recognized that all it needs to do to justify thought control is parrot Western “hate speech” idiocy.  Free speech (derided by “progressive”-flavored authoritarians as “freeze peach”) has noticeably declined all over the world:

…First, ruling parties in many countries have found new tools for suppressing awkward facts and ideas.  Second, they feel emboldened to use such tools, partly because global support for free speech has faltered.  Neither of the world’s superpowers is likely to stand up for it. China ruthlessly censors dissent at home and exports the technology to censor it abroad.  The United States, once a champion of free expression, is now led by a man who says things like…“free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad”…Censorious authoritarians elsewhere often cite Mr Trump’s catchphrases, calling critical reporting “fake news” and critical journalists “enemies of the people”.  The notion that certain views should be silenced is popular on the left, too.  In Britain and America students shout down speakers they [disagree with]…and Twitter mobs demand the sacking of anyone who violates an expanding list of taboos.  Many western radicals contend that if they think something is offensive, no one should be allowed to say it.  Authoritarians elsewhere agree.  What counts as offensive is subjective, so “hate speech” laws can be elastic tools for criminalising dissent…

That article has a lot of good examples of the rise of (often violent) censorship, but beware; even the authors of this ostensibly pro-free-thought piece have been infected by the need to choose a “side” and skew information accordingly.  As I wrote four years ago, Ray Bradbury’s view of future censorship practices was prescient; where else but in “a culture which values feelings above thought” could a video display service ban an historically-important anti-Nazi diocumentary from 1938 for violating its policy against “hate speech”?  Or perhaps Google is just feeling a bit self-conscious, given that it’s currently in a fascist collaboration to develop a censorship-enabled search engine for China.  Meanwhile, the US is trying to silence Edward Snowden by seizing the profits from his new book; I suggest you buy a paper copy to preclude Amazon’s stealing electronic copies from your Kindle at the behest of its pals in Washington.  The censor-morons are loose, and they’re attacking the small targets so their totalitarian masters can expend their energy on big ones like the internet, the publishing industry and what little is left of the independent press.

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Mental gymnastics is the best exercise of all!  –  Elana Spivack

Drawing Lines 

In the 21st century, humor sites are more honest and moral than “news” sites:

…30-year-old Penelope Clemm has been pole dancing recreationally for three years now, but has harbored an internalized hatred for sex workers her entire life.  Clemm strikes a delicate balance of acknowledging how much she loves pole dancing, but dismissing every woman who makes money doing the same thing…“It’s definitely made me…feel sexy in a way that I never did before.  And yet, I still cannot conceptualize in the slightest how any self-respecting woman would do this for money”…like many people with deep-seated, internalized biases, Clemm had difficulty articulating why she holds this position. “It’s a matter of principle, and I have principles”…

Imaginary Victims (#904)

Naturally, the prohibitionists who didn’t give a shit until last year are claiming credit for her release:

Cyntoia Brown…whose case drew national attention [over a decade] after being sentenced to life in prison for killing a man [in self-defense] at age 16, was released on parole [last] Wednesday…She will be on parole for 10 years [with] conditions…includ[ing]…that she maintain employment [with a murder conviction on her record] or educational enrollment…that she participate in [approved state] counseling sessions…[and that] she…perform at least 50 hours of community service [while working or going to school], including working with at-risk youth…

Though parole conditions are often designed to make it easy for “authorities” to cage a person again with very little justification, Brown has a better chance than most due to support from allies and public attention to her case.

All-Purpose Excuse (#923)

Ever wonder why the government pushes “sex trafficking” propaganda so hard?

[Deranged propagandist] Jaco Booyens touted President Trump’s [“historic”] work in fighting sex trafficking and [fetishized] Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as “incredible people” who helped keep children safe…His movie 8 Days [is soft BDSM porn about] a 15-year-old girl who’s forced into sex trafficking after attending a party with her friends…[yet claimed] that sex trafficking was rooted in sex addiction fueled by mass media…”It starts with…soft porn [like my movie], it’s the objectification of women”…

Blunt Instrument (#926)

While Asian sex workers are fighting back against the racist “sex trafficking” narrative, cops are trying to use that visibility against them:

Emily Zhang Lawrence…[was] charged with a number of criminal counts including human trafficking and prostitution…[after] the Montgomery County…Vice [gang raided her business]…Rose’s Spa…[pigs oinked] that the spa recruited its masseuse’s [sic] — all Chinese immigrants — from Flushing, New York.  The Queens neighborhood is known for being a [sister community to Hong Kong, where many Asian migrants first stay upon arriving in the US.  Racist pigs therefore refer to it as a] hub for…human trafficking…

Backwards into the Future (#927)

The prohibitionists are slowly losing ground to the facts:

South African authorities are compromising the safety and wellbeing of thousands of women…by treating sex work as a crime…We have researched illegal sex work in ChinaTanzaniaCambodiaSouth Africa, and the United States…and…we consistently find police abuse to be one of criminalization’s main cruelties.  Sex workers often face harassment, extortion, and rape, and vulnerability to violence…at the hands of…police…and…because they cannot trust members of law enforcement, they are deterred from reporting attacks by men who pretend to be clients…Fortunately, South Africa and the United States are both sites of growing movements to decriminalize sex work once and for all…

Pyrrhic Victory (#931)

Tyranny always starts with despised minorities, but it never stops with them:

Chinese authorities approached the family of an international student who participated in high-profile protests at an Australian university and warned his parents of the potential consequences of political dissent.  The…intimidation tactics [demonstrate that] the Chinese government was monitoring the demonstration at the University of Queensland to record who attended…last month’s event [was held] to show support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and to condemn Beijing’s repression of the Uighur ethnic minority group…within days of the rally the student received a call from his mother in China to say the family had been approached by…authorities [who] issued [threats] about engaging in “anti-China rhetoric” in Brisbane…[Australian politicians claimed to be] alarmed by [China following precedents set by] Australia…

If you like the precedent that a country owns its citizens and has the “right” to punish them for acts which were totally legal in the place they happened, thank the international war on whores.  Australia is especially hypocritical in this respect, given that since 2010, Australians who hire surrogate mothers outside of Australia can be penalized under Australian law.

Negative Secondary Effects (#937)

It’s great to see sex workers striking back at prohibitionist persecution:

…Not Buying It, a group led by well-known [prohibitionist] Sasha Rakoff has been terrorizing gentlemen’s clubs across England in recent months, by sending in undercover former police detectives to covertly film inside…The resultant tapes have been submitted to local councils in a bid to get the establishments shut down…Now, nine dancers at the Spearmint Rhino in London…have sued Not Buying It for breach of privacy, demanding that all existing tapes be destroyed.  An earlier High Court ruling had already banned Rakoff from further sharing the tapes, so the strippers’ chances of getting their way in the high-profile case, the costs of which are likely to bankrupt the losing side, are more than fair…

Pyrrhic Victory (#960)

The more we discover about Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops, the worse it sounds:

Amazon[‘s]…Neighbors app…allows people to report suspicious things to…neighbors [and cops, mostly]…the existence of brown people…Government agencies participating in the Ring handouts are given talking points, pre-written press releases, and contractual obligationsAmazon has even crafted scripts for [cops]…to use when questioned…or…to talk people out of their Constitutional rights…”Ring suggests cops post often on Neighbors…interacting with the [peasantry so as to]…increas[e] the opt-in rate”…(There are scripts for that as well)…

Turn of Tide (#961)

The “sex trafficking” narrative has been so successful, prohibitionist rhetoric is now being used to attack the way the state persecutes sex workers:

L.A.’s anti-sex trafficking efforts…ensnare…female sex workers far more often than any traffickers, and the women arrested rarely end…up in programs designed to [brainwash] them out of the sex trade…While black women make up around 9% of the city’s female population, they account for nearly 65% of the LAPD’s female prostitution arrests…It adds up to a high-profile effort to target human traffickers and save victims that’s causing collateral damage…City officials [pre]tend that policing the sex trade is one of the best methods for rescuing trafficking victims…[but those] with a front row seat have a different perspective…Dr. Susie Baldwin, the medical director of L.A. County’s Office of Women’s Health…[said] “All of this money is going to arrest people…leaving them with severe consequences for their lives”…law enforcement…[intentionally] conflate[s] trafficking and prostitution, painting all sex work as exploitative and doubling down on vice arrests under the guise of trafficking enforcement…

The idea that sex workers are “collateral damage” in a well-intentioned war on “sex trafficking” is of course naive nonsense; the entire purpose of the narrative is to harm sex workers and our clients.  But if the gullible are going to use those fantasies to strike back at pigs and prohibitionists, I’m not going to complain.

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Why is it only that sex workers should be the ones to have a skill set but give services away for free?  –  Phoenix Calida

Anatomy of a Boondoggle 

Truthful headline: “Police Pay Man to Rape Immigrant Women”:

A[n Ohio] woman was arrested [after cops paid someone to violate her at her]…massage parlor…Ping Wei, 53…[was victimized and accused without tangible evidence by a so-called] confidential informant…

Feminine Pragmatism 

One day, “People have to work to make money” will be recognized as the non-news it is:

Increasing numbers of women in low-paid jobs who have children are being forced to [find more remunerative work] to survive…[demand for one flexible work-from-home job] has risen by 29 per cent in the past year alone…[but] women [a]re now having to work longer hours for less money due to the market…becoming increasingly saturated…

Buried Truth

Yet another example of the McNeill Rule:

…Tennessee [politician] Bill Sanderson resigned…[after] Grindr messages and nude photos…exposed the fact that he’s a closeted hypocrite with a gay son who has voted against every LGBTQ issue that has come before him…He has [also] been a co-sponsor of some of the most extreme anti-abortion legislation, including this year’s heartbill bill…Sanderson has voted against…bills that would have given access to bathrooms to trans students, blasted the SCOTUS marriage ruling, voted to support allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples, supported a bill allowing therapists to discriminate against gay people, and voted agaisnt allowing municipalities in Tennessee to enact LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances…in his 2013 Grindr profile, which could be seen by anyone using the app, he writes…“I really haven’t had a connection with a guy and I have a burning desire to have that relationship. I like down and dirty guy to guy play too! So, I guess you might say, nothing will be held back …” (Sanderson says he did not write this)

Torture Chamber 

Our government refers to this as “correction”:

Jarrett Leaman…is…a typical college student…[whose] only prior involvement with police is two speeding tickets.  On June 29, he was arrested for public drunkenness…the next thing he remembers is waking up in a jail cell at 5 a.m., covered in blood, bumps, and bruises…[while he was passed-out drunk, multiple screws and one pig] pummeled [him] to the ground, face down on the cement floor…[attorney Leticia] Chavez-Freed…saw it on video…as part of a [so-called] internal investigation…“They put him into a chair. They strap him in. His hands are behind his back and, again, the kicking, the hitting”…at least five [screws] and one [pig] participated in the beating…a spit mask was also placed on Leaman’s head, even though he was barely conscious…at one point…the [pig]…and [one of the screws] lifted the mask from Leaman’s head to take a picture of his injuries like a “hunting trophy”…

New Excuse

Sometimes the War on Whores is the War on Drugs rather than its successor:

[Politician] Sherrod Brown…reintroduced a [US Senate] bill that would officially [conflate selling]…drugs [with] human trafficking, thereby making it easier to [load extra charges onto young black men that cops or] prosecut[ors wish to target]…”Ohioans are bought and sold in our own backyards”…[Brown idiotically bloviated while making furtive movements in his pants pockets.]  Brown’s bill, called the Protect Act, would officially list drug addiction as a method of coercing someone into either commercial sexual acts or other forced labor against their will…

A Moral Cancer (#583)

No, you can’t “save the planet” by going vegan:

…some activists are propagating the idea that everyone on the planet should go vegetarian or even vegan…The former head of the United Nations’ climate change organization, for example, suggested that meat-eaters should be made to feel like pariahs…[such rhetoric] blithely ignores the reality that…we can’t stop temperature rises with our diets…A systematic peer-review of studies of going vegetarian shows that a non-meat diet will likely reduce an individual’s emissions by…just 4.3%…In a first world setting, the reality is that [your share of corporate pollution]…means [lifelong veganism would] reduce your emissions by about 2%, according to a study of the environmental impact of Swedish vegetarians…

Also: veganism does not reduce animal deaths and environmental damage; it increases them.

Between the Ears (#858)

Any internet-connected device can be used to spy on you:

Apple’s Siri AI assistant sends audio of sexual encounters, embarrassing medical information, drug deals, and other private moments recorded without users’ knowledge to human “graders” for evaluation, a whistleblower has revealed…contractors around the world…grade the AI based on the quality of its response and whether its activation was deliberate…accidental activations are much more frequent than Apple lets on, especially with Apple Watch users…In what sounds like a sick joke on the part of some programmer, the sound of a zipper unzipping often triggers Siri to wake up…While Apple emphasized that a user’s Apple ID and name are not attached to clips reviewed by contractors…the company is aware of how easily even a recording stripped of its user ID can be connected to the user who made it…Amazon’s Alexa infamously has entire chat rooms for its human trainers to discuss difficult-to-understand audio clips (or mock funny recordings) and Google Home uses a similar system of outsourced “language experts” that allows the company to claim that no one at Google has access to the recordings its devices make…

All-Purpose Excuse (#923)

Puritan fanatics have given tyrants an accusation they can hurl at nearly anyone:

A 9-year-old American citizen on her way to school was a[rrested] by [border patrol thugs] and [locked in a cage like an animal] for some 32 hours before she was released back to her family…[“authorities”] later [bloviated] that the girl, who was carrying a U.S. passport card with her, gave “inconsistent information”…Julia Isabel Amparo Medina …her 14-year-old brother and two friends were being driven to school by the friends’ mom from their home in Tijuana to San Ysidro…Thousands of people travel through the Tijuana-San Ysidro crossing daily for school or work.  When traffic slowed to a crawl, the mom told the children to walk across the border so they wouldn’t be late.  A…[pig] detained Medina, saying she didn’t look like the photo on her passport card…Medina’s brother, who is also a U.S. citizen, said [thugs]…demanded he sign a paper saying that his sister was really his cousin…[threatening him with prison and telling the boy] “they were going to charge him [with]…sex trafficking”…

I’m not sure why it took four months for this story to gain traction, but I’m suspending my usual rule about not sharing stories more than a month or so old.

Still Consenting

Phoenix Calida on the absurdity of a sex-work-free “Utopia”:

Many on the left have told me that sex outside of procreation or love is icky.  They say that…non-male people, should not be allowed to be fully in charge of their…sexual lives…they insist sex workers are bad because they commodify sex and the soul, meaning sex workers have been made into objects, and are no longer humans…the left dreams of a post-revolution utopia where people only have sex for free and for love…The idea that sex work will cease to exist after capitalism falls has always been bizarre, since trading sex existing before capitalism did.  No matter how many times I am told that the revolution will end sex work, I’ve yet to be provided with realistic scenarios of how that will happen…

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