Sunday, May 20, 2012


That picture of a bearded gentleman is Peter Kropotkin, the subject of today's post


I finally got the formatting to look right. Thanks Hotsprings.

I mentioned some time ago that I was delving into Kropotkin’s writings. His stuff is not something to breeze through with understanding and is taking me some time to absorb his concepts. Had a friend mention to me that Kropotkin was excellent at putting him to sleep. I mentioned back that I felt the same way about Eckhart Tolle.

I think it behooves us to ask some questions; what is the legitimate function of government, and how powerful should it be?

We currently have a majority of our citizens that are totally dependent upon the government to enable them to live, dependent upon that body. Is this a legitimate function of government? If you are of a more politically liberal point of view, yes it is. Some of the arguments for this are hard to refute. What do we do with citizens that for various reasons cannot support themselves, temporarily or permanently? Should the government have the mandate to confiscate fruit of an individuals labor to support someone else?

Of course, without government-backed efforts, we would not have our highway system, most universities, most research labs, and stifled advanced research. Without government backing, our lives would mostly be at a much lower “standard of living”.

All of which evades the point. Is it legitimate for a government, in a moral or even a ethical sense, to forcefully confiscate money from you for projects that you may not approve of? Should the government have the ability to force you into military service for wars that have an agenda we care little about? I am using this in a broad sense. A government that creates the financial situation for which the only way a young man can get 3 hots and a cot and must join the military is still confiscating your life. Of course, that young man in actuality has a choice, between bad and maybe a worse situation.

From a political view, Jesus was an anarchist. Your only loyalty was to God.

Kropotkin is what I would call a fundamental anarchist in that whatever government is formed has to be with the agreement of the population involved and if it becomes intrusive or advocating actions that people can’t stand, it is dissolved.

Kropotkin and modern anarchists insist that human relations should all be voluntary right from the start. Kropotkin asserted that people will act morally from an innate need for the relationships.

One of the best futuristic novels (IMO) that speculates on what an anarchistic society would look like is “The Probability Broach” by L. Neil Smith.

In the modern anarchistic thought, I have put this in the blog before.

It’s true. If your idea of healthy human relations is a dinner with friends, where everyone enjoys everyone else’s company, responsibilities are divided up voluntarily and informally, and no one gives order or sells anything, then you are an anarchist, plain and simple. The only question that remains is how you can arrange for more of your interactions to resemble this model.

Whenever you act without waiting for instructions or official permission, you are an anarchist. Any time you bypass a ridiculous regulation when no one’s looking, you are an anarchist. If you don’t trust the government, the school system, Hollywood, or the management to know better than you when it comes to things that affect your life, that’s anarchism, too. And you are especially an anarchist when you come up with your own ideas and initiatives and solutions.

As you can see, it’s anarchism that keeps things working and life interesting. If we waited for authorities and specialists and technicians to take care of everything, we would not only be in a world of trouble, but dreadfully bored—and boring—too boot. Today we live in that world of (dreadfully boring!) trouble precisely to the extent that we abdicate responsibility and control.

Anarchism is naturally present in every healthy human being. It isn’t necessarily about throwing bombs or wearing black masks, though you may have seen that on television; (Do you believe everything you see on television? That’s not anarchist!). The root of anarchism is the simple impulse to DO IT YOURSELF; everything else follows from this.

Here is an interesting take on anarchism and the early Jews;

In the previous post, I mentioned one aspect of Kropotkin’s concern about biological survival of a species. He asserted that it was only through cooperation would a thinking species survive. That survival of the fittest only pertained to individuals, not to a group.

Kropotkin’s greatest moral attribute of humans is the dictate of “treating other as you would be treated, under similar circumstances”. He further states;

“We all love moral strength, we all despise moral weakness and cowardice. Every moment our looks and words show the repugnance we feel towards cowardice, deceit, intrigue, want of moral courage. We betray our disgust, even when under the influence of a worldly education we try to hide our contempt beneath those lying appearances which will vanish as equal relations are established among us”. Sounds pretty egalitarian to me.

Kropotkin is a great believer in equality, across the board and respect for the individual. He does not support the mutilating of an individual in the name of some moralistic ideal.

Kropotkin was born in 1842, and makes many observations to his contemporary society. I find it interesting that what we bitch about today, he was bitching about back in the late 1800’s; Hypocrisy, deceit, wars, inequality, lies, backstabbing, and a general restriction on individual freedom. He was deeply concerned with the hierarchy of authority and its abuses. He goes to great length to demonstrate the morality of an anarchist system of social organization. He sometimes becomes rather bitter with religion, pointing out the hypocrisy of that social force and its abuse of hierarchy.

I have much to go in reading Kropotkin’s essays and dissertations. But so far, he was a man of his times and just as applicable in today’s world, and for me, a very interesting man to learn about. There are a few questions that have come up concerning his writings, but maybe they will be answered as I plow through his stuff. I suspect that his influence today will be similar to his time, a small but vocal adherents to his ideas.

It appears obvious to me that a strong central state will always become corrupt and self-serving, always, at least so history teaches us. Central states always seek control over everything that can be controlled. Their dissolution may take some time, but dissolution always occurs. Central states, always, are run by a very small minority of elites that always have an agenda that is self-serving. Even during the formation of this country and its constitution, which was rather radical at the time, the folks writing the document were self-serving, looking ahead by generations for a continuation of elitist control.

It sure appears to me that Kropotkin’s contention that only an anarchistic society can actually survive over the long term at the benefit of all of its citizens with maximum freedom. This would necessitate that each person is willing to take responsibility for their actions and that only freely accepted associations would be the norm. That societies are prone to grant power to the few in a hierarchy because of the promises they make to grab power keeps us from having a free society. If a more anarchistic society is ever to become a reality, there will be great pain within the society to form it because of this dependency. The present attitude of populations across the globe, and its dependency on a strong central government, does not bode well for such a change. However, folks have to make a decision as to which causes more harm and hardship over time. It is the same with our present economic situation. The pain that would have to be endured by the population to cure what ails us economically is unacceptable to most folks. But, it will come, it always does.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Elections - Think Local

photo credit: Time Magazine A Blast from the Past - Note how well third party or alternative candidates have done. by murph I have refrained from saying too much on this blog about the coming election, and like the last election in 2008, the very low probability about whether it will even be held. Remember back in 2008 there was some speculation whether there would be a contrived crises and elections would be put off? It didn’t happen then and I really don’t expect it to happen this time around. It would seem to me that we are going to have only a choice between two candidates that have no significant difference in foreign and domestic policies and economic policies. Ron Paul has only one thing that seems to really differentiate himself from the others, (the dismantling of the federal reserve) and that seems to be going over like a lead balloon. I am currently convinced that Paul has no chance; the financial folks are simply not going to allow that to happen. The Libertarian party candidates so far simply have nothing really new to say about anything and do not even adhere to their own party platform and haven’t enough traction to have a chance. ANY candidate that would actually dare to stand up and advocate any real changes and improvement in our national predicament can not get coverage in the mass media and in today’s world, has no chance at all. Carl Denninger, of The Market Ticker, had some very pertinent comments on this in his Saturday April 29th postings that talks about this. Here is a quote from that posting; “How about these ideas -- all of which are very Libertarian? · All the fraudsters who were involved in the 2007-08 financial collapse are going to be investigated and where possible indicted and imprisoned, starting with those who ripped off the most money. How many jobs and homes were lost in the last few years and how many people would vote for a candidate that said this and actually meant it? I'm willing to bet there's not one person in America of voting age who was not impacted personally by this series of scams and frauds or has a family member or close friend that was. Oh sure, you won't get any Wall Street votes with this platform plank, but they're the 0.1%, not the 1%. · The banking system will be put on a One Dollar of Capital basis when I am elected, preventing you from being ripped off again, and wage and environmental arbitrage will be ended through the Constitutional process of tariffs to end the abuse of people and the environment that happens to also offshore our manufacturing jobs. Again, how many jobs have been lost and how much looting has taken place? Couple this with my monetary inflation and income graphs and you have an instant winner -- show the people that they have had 10% or more of their purchasing power stolen annually for the last decade! · The monopolists in the medical system will have their privileges revoked and the free market will be restored. The drug that is available for $2 in Canada but costs $25 here will be able to be imported by anyone who wishes; your cost for medical care will collapse. You won't need insurance for other than catastrophic events such as a heart attack as everything else will be affordable on a minimum wage job. Yes, you won't get one vote from the pharmaceutical industry this way (or one campaign dollar) but you will get votes from Seniors and everyone else who currently can't afford reasonable medical treatment and who has seen their insurance expenses go to the moon. Incidentally that's all the small business owners, self-employed and once you educate people, those who work for big businesses and union employees as well! · With those steps along with a real foreign policy (see my link here) we could actually balance the Federal Budget. Not the weasely crap that Johnson parades around with claiming he'll submit a balanced budget (but note he doesn't say he'll veto one that is not balanced when the bills get to his desk!) but a real balanced budget that allocates funds only from what's actually taxed. · Yes, I recognize that this will result in an immediate 10% or so economic contraction in GDP -- once. But the cleaning out of the bad debt in the system is both necessary and healthy. See 1920/21 for what happens when you do the right thing -- the asset price crash comes, as does the bankrupties,(sic) but immediately following that is economic recovery, realignment and progress.” Now, of course, all of these ideas would also get no play in the mass media, the only place you would hear about it would be on the internet. Just like with the current Ron Paul blackout. It appears to me that the political elites and the financial elites are so intertwined that this kind of reformation is currently impossible. The appearance that this intertwining is going to eventually collapse this nation, and others as well, is completely immaterial. These folks are not stupid, they know damned well what will be the outcome of the continuance of our current policies. I therefore have to conclude that it is deliberate. These folks in power evidently have a vision of the outcome of these policies that has nothing to do with national and population health. It is some kind of a New World Order agenda that we have only a hazy and incomplete picture of and thus a whole bunch of speculation by us peons. I suspect that Denninger’s projection of a 10% reduction in GDP is minimalist. I suspect it would be a lot more, and while true it would be just once, it would be a disaster for some time. Contractions like that last for quite some time. During this campaign, I notice that no candidate wants to deal with the actual issues of constitutionality, energy, environmental degradation, and actual population well being. Even Ron Paul is mostly a single-issue candidate, seemingly thinking that his fix will fix all that ails this nation. I will posit that there is no single fix for what ails this country and for that matter, the rest of the world. In my life experiences, there simply ain’t no silver bullet, no panacea to cure all that is so deadly wrong with western culture in particular. Western culture has existed since the Roman times by looting other areas of the world. Empires, including the present one, have developed sophisticated wealth pumps into the elites pockets that create impoverishment in the subjected countries, wars and environmental disasters. It also appears that this has taken place throughout history, even pre Roman. The difference is that the world was rather sparsely populated and the worldwide damage was limited to regional areas. Now, it is a total worldwide problem. I see no means for this to end, unless by some kind of outside influence. Alien interjection? Even with that----? Even with that, we have what sure appears to me to be what we call ”human nature” to contend with; desire for power, desire for wealth, selfishness, greed and all the other assumed negative attributes of being human. And this is taking into account those few individuals in the world population that do not buy into that mode of thinking. My experience is that many of the folks that claim they do not buy into it, when the chips come down, actually do. When self-interest is threatened, we are going to resist, or at least talk about resistance. No political candidate at the national level is going to base a campaign on the rejection of what appears as the primary parts of “human nature”; limiting of greed, selfishness and the desire for wealth. No politician in our present day and age is going to advocate policies that are contrary to the elitist’s desires. He can’t possibly win. Every one of the panaceas I come across are false thinking. Everything is too interconnected for a silver bullet to cure what ails us. It would take a massive change in attitudes and the consequent change in policies that are not on the horizon that I can see. We can play around with all kinds of speculations about what the elitist’s agenda’s are and how to counter it. But we are doomed to failure if we do not have a huge attitude change about human’s role and place on this planet. There will be no changes until the majority of the population realizes just how much they have been manipulated by a very few members of the population. Those few people that do understand this, are simply not influential enough to affect significant change. Along with the national elections going on, States and local elections are also taking place. Our organization here, (Citizens Action Group, CAG) held a “meet and greet” the candidates forum. We did it a bit different. Each candidate could speak briefly on what they considered the 2 most basic issues on a local basis. Then, it was one on one question and answer period where the folks in attendance got to circulate around and talk to as many candidates as they could. IMO, it was one of the more successful forums I have attended. I found it amazing how little each candidate really understood the local issues, with a few exceptions. I actually talked with a judge running for that office that did seem to understand a lot of it. Some of the candidates for different offices seemed to be in some kind of outer orbit that I simply could not fathom. Of course there was the usual “got to create jobs” and the got to have “growth” bunch. Only 2 candidates seemed to be able to grasp that “growth” was the problem, most of them not understanding that resources for “growth” were limited and that actual sustainability was important with no growth, you know, the standard business Chamber of Commerce position, the “if you ain’t growing you are dying” position. With a couple of candidates I asked how growth could occur with resources becoming a limiting factor. They sure didn’t want to deal with that question. I also asked what they wanted to do about the herbicide problems. They only looked confused, like “what problem?” I asked one candidate about aerial spraying. He just laughed, said he wasn’t into conspiracies. Now I will admit that from personal exposure, at least at the local level, most of the folks that take on political office spend a huge amount of time at long meetings and study concerning what they are in office to do. They also must spend a lot of time going out and meeting their constituents and believe it or not, they also have personal issues and a life to live too. With a very limited amount of time available they simply can’t get up to speed on every issue that other folks are concerned with. It is very easy for them to depend on “authorities” to give them the low down and never check out that information. Which means that many actual critical issues are never brought to their attention and the contradictions of information. At the local level, they don’t have the money to put together staff that has checks and balances concerning their information. So a lot of bad decisions are always going to be made. And, god forbid if they advocate something that is unpopular with their constituents, regardless as to whether it is the best decision. Got to admit that I couldn’t do it. Got to admit that I am cynical enough that I probably will not bother to vote for anything above the local elections where some control over events are possible. Not only do I have very limited real knowledge of national candidates positions, (limited to national MSN pronouncements) but I also assume they are never going to tell us what their real positions are anyway. We have been lied to so much I don’t really understand how anyone can accept what they say. Very short memories? Sorry for the long rant. Nothing new in this post. Just putting it together in a condensed fashion.