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August 12 2017


Link: Restating the Obvious: An Open Letter from the Libertarian Movement

Shared Article from Liberty Against Fascism

Restating the Obvious: An Open Letter from the Libertarian Movem…

Today (August 12th, 2017), the “Unite the Right” rally is scheduled to proceed in Charlottesville, VA. The “Right” being united there isn’t …

View all posts by libertyagainstfascism @

August 09 2017


11:02 A.M., August 9, 1945. Nagasaki, Japan.

Here is a shattered wall clock, with the hands stopped at 11:02 A.M.

Found in a house near Sanno Shinto Shrine in Sakamoto-machi, about one kilometer from the hypocenter. The clock was shattered by the blast, and its hands stopped at 11:02-the moment of the explosion.

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Seventy-two years ago today, at 11:02 in the morning, without warning, Major Charles Sweeney flew a U.S. B-29 bomber over the city of Nagasaki and dropped an atomic bomb. The thing about Nagasaki is that it wasn’t even supposed to be bombed that day. Sweeney was acting on orders from General Curtis LeMay, the head of the XXI Bomber Command, and at the command of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and President Harry S. Truman. A U.S. bomber had already dropped a uranium bomb on Hiroshima only three days before; the atomic fires annihilated 90% of the city and devoured 140,000 lives. On August 9, while the Japanese government was still gathering information about what had happened at Hiroshima, while the Imperial council was still in session and still debating the question of surrender, before any decision was announced, the U.S. Army flew out a second bomber mission. The intended target was Kokura, but when Sweeney reached Kokura at 9:44am, he couldn’t see his target. He couldn’t see it because the U.S. had firebombed another nearby city, Yawata, the day before: the smoke from the city burning hid Kokura from his sight. So Sweeney flew on to his secondary target — to Nagasaki. Clouds also hid the target in Nagasaki, but the plane was low on fuel and could not fly on to any other targets. So, at 11:02 in the morning, the plane’s bombadier, Captain Kermit Beahan, dropped a 10,200 pound plutonium bomb (nicknamed Fat Man) over this tourist destination, industrial center and sea-port in southwestern Japan with a population of about 230,000.

The bomb exploded about 500 yards above Nagasaki.

Here is a mushroom cloud, seen from the ground, towering into the sky over a bridge in Nagasaki.
Here is a city street completely reduced to rubble, with fires smoldering in the background and smoke hanging in the air. A single Shinto gateway remains standing over the rubble.

Photo by Yosuke Yamahata

Known as Urakami, the district around the hypocenter (ground zero) area had been populated for centuries by Japanese people of the Roman Catholic faith. At the time of the bombing, between 15,000 and 16,000 Catholics – the majority of the approximately 20,000 people of that faith in Nagasaki and about half of the local population – lived in the Urakami district. It is said that about 10,000 Catholics were killed by the atomic bomb. Although traditionally a rustic isolated suburb, the Urakami district was chosen as the site for munitions factories in the 1920s, after which time the population soared and an industrial zone quickly took shape. The district was also home to the Nagasaki Medical College and a large number of other schools and public buildings. The industrial and school zones of the Urakami district lay to the east of the Urakami River, while the congested residential district of Shiroyama stretched to the hillsides on the west side of the river.

It was over this section of Nagasaki that the second atomic bomb exploded at 11:02 a.m., August 9, 1945. The damages inflicted on Nagasaki by the atomic bombing defy description. The 20 machi or neighborhoods within a one kilometer radius of the atomic bombing were completely destroyed by the heat flash and blast wind generated by the explosion and then reduced to ashes by the subsequent fires. About 80% of houses in the more than 20 neighborhoods between one and two kilometers from the hypocenter collapsed and burned, and when the smoke cleared the entire area was strewn with corpses. This area within two kilometers of the hypocenter is referred to as the hypocenter zone.

The destruction caused by the atomic bomb is analyzed as follows in Nagasaki Shisei Rokujugonenshi Kohen [History of Nagasaki City on the 65th Anniversary of Municipal Incorporation, Volume 2] published in 1959. The area within one kilometer of the hypocenter: Almost all humans and animals died instantly as a result of the explosive force and heat generated by the explosion. Wooden structures, houses and other buildings were pulverized. In the hypocenter area the debris was immediately reduced to ashes, while in other areas raging fires broke out almost simultaneously. Gravestones toppled and broke. Plants and trees of all sizes were snapped off at the stems and left to burn facing away from the hypocenter.

The area within two kilometers: Some humans and animals died instantly and a majority suffered injuries of varying severity as a result of the explosive force and heat generated by the explosion. About 80% of wooden structures, houses and other buildings were destroyed, and the fires spreading from other areas burned most of the debris. Concrete and iron poles remained intact. Plants were partially burned and killed.

The area between three and four kilometers: Some humans and animals suffered injuries of varying severity as a result of debris scattered by the blast, and others suffered burns as a result of radiant heat. Things black in color tended to catch fire. Most houses and other buildings were partially destroyed, and some buildings and wooden poles burned. The remaining wooden telephone poles were scorched on the side facing the hypocenter.

The area between four and eight kilometers: Some humans and animals suffered injuries of varying severity as a result of debris scattered by the blast, and houses were partially destroyed or damaged. The area within 15 kilometers: The impact of the blast was felt clearly, and windows, doors and paper screens were broken. Wall clock found in Sakamoto-machi about 1 km from the hypocenter. The hands stopped at the moment of the explosion: 11:02 a.m.

The injuries inflicted by the atomic bomb resulted from the combined effect of blast wind, heat rays (radiant heat) and radiation and surfaced in an extremely complex pattern of symptoms. The death toll within a distance of one kilometer from the hypocenter was 96.7% among people who suffered burns, 96.9% among people who suffered other external injuries, and 94.1% among people who suffered no apparent injuries. These data show that the deaths occurring immediately after the atomic bombing were due not only to burns and external injuries but also to severe radiation-induced injuries. The late medical effects of atomic bomb exposure include keloid scars, atomic bomb cataracts, leukemia and other cancers and microcephaly (small head syndrome) due to intrauterine exposure. Although aware that the atomic bomb had the power to instantly kill or injure all people within a radius of four kilometers, the authorities were unable to determine the death toll and number of injuries in Nagasaki. Still today there is no accurate data on the number of people who died. A variety of factors contributed to this lack of information, such as the paralysis of administrative functions in the aftermath of the bombing and the inability of the postwar government to initiate a proper investigation. Another obstacle was the enduring nature of disorders related to atomic bomb exposure. A progressive increase can be expected, therefore, at whatever point in time calculations are made. There are countless cases of people who suffered injuries on August 9 and died after fleeing to areas outside Nagasaki city and prefecture, only to be registered as dying of causes other than the atomic bombing. Because of the lack of knowledge about radioactive contamination, meanwhile, many radiation deaths were attributed to diseases. The Nagasaki municipal government officially adopted the figure of more than 70,000 deaths on the basis of information from population surveys and the estimate made by the Nagasaki City Atomic Bomb Records Preservation Committee in July 1950. Said the committee in its report: 73,884 people were killed and 74,909 injured, and 17,358 of the deaths were confirmed by post-mortem examination soon after the atomic bombing.

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

About 24 hours before the incineration of Nagasaki, U.S. planes had begun dropping leaflets all over Japan, threatening more destruction like the massacre of Hiroshima two days before. But they named no targets that might be evacuated. Shortly before these leaflets were dropped, Harry Truman also publicly declared his aims: It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth. The leaflets themselves read:


America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.

We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.

We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.

Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.

You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.

These leaflets did not reach Nagasaki at all until August 10, the day after it was destroyed.

The purpose of this massacre was to achieve victory through catastrophic bloodshed and terror. LeMay, when asked about his bombing campaigns, stated There are no innocent civilians, so it doesn’t bother me so much to be killing innocent bystanders. (He also mused, later, I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.) The interim committee deciding to drop the bomb stated, on May 31, 1945, that we could not give the Japanese any warning before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Of course, no specific warning was given to the civilians of Nagasaki, either, at any point. The point of the bombing was to kill as many people as possible while wiping two cities off of the face of the earth.

The massacres at Nagasaki and Hiroshima were at the end of a half-year long terror-bombing campaign that included the Operation Meetinghouse firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945, which killed 100,000 civilians over a single night, and the low-altitude firebombing of over 60 other Japanese cities. The 74,000 souls who died at Nagasaki were among some 800,000-1,000,000 civilians killed by months of low-altitude firebombing, conventional high explosives, and atomic bombs over the course of 6 months. Seventy years ago today also, in a radio address, President Harry S. Truman said: Having found the bomb, we have used it. . . We wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. . . . We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war.

After the war, Truman defended his decision to annihilate two industrial metropolises with atomic weapons, and to kill a quarter of a million civilians within only 72 hours, by claiming that it was the only way to coerce the political goal of an unconditional surrender from the Japanese government, and to reduce the number of U.S. soldiers who might be killed in combat.


Reposted byfinkregh finkregh

August 06 2017


8:15am. 72 years, 140,000 souls.

Here is a pocket watch, stopped at 8:15am.

Donated by Kazuo Nikawa
1,600m from the hypocenter
Kan-on Bridge

Kengo Nikawa (then, 59) was exposed to the bomb crossing the Kan-on Bridge by bike going from his home to his assigned building demolition site in the center of the city. He suffered major burns on his right shoulder, back, and head and took refuge in Kochi-mura Saiki-gun. He died on August 22. Kengo was never without this precious watch given him by his son, Kazuo.

— Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Seventy-two years ago today, on August 6, 1945, between 8:15 and 8:16 in the morning, the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. The government of the United States chose Hiroshima as their target because it was still standing. For half a year, the U.S. government had waged a war of unrelenting, devastating low-altitude firebombing of cities throughout the Japanese home island. Within six months, the firebombing had killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. The firebombing had destroyed over 60 Japanese cities. Hiroshima was still mostly undamaged. They believed that would make it a good place to test the effects of the new atom bomb. So Hiroshima became the first city ever attacked with nuclear weapons in the history of the world. It would not be the last.

On a bright August morning, without warning, the bomber dropped its atom bomb over the densely-populated center of the city. It exploded about 2,000 feet above ground, creating a 13 kiloton explosion, a fireball, a shock-wave, and a burst of radiation. On the day that the bomb was dropped, there were about 255,000-300,000 people living in Hiroshima.

There was a sudden flash, brighter than the sun, and then sky went dark, buildings were thrown to the ground, and everything began to burn. People were burned alive and nothing left but a shadow on the wall. People staggered through the ruins, their eyes blinded, their clothing burned off their bodies, skin burned off in the heat. Everyone was desperate for water, everything was unbearably hot. They begged soldiers for water from their canteens; they drowned themselves in cisterns. Later, black rain began to fall from the darkened sky. People escaping from the city center thought it was a miracle. They tried to catch the rain on their tongues, or they caught it and drank it out of cups. They didn’t know that the rain was fallout. They didn’t know that it was full of radiation and as they drank it it was burning them away from the inside. There was no refuge, no sanctuary; there was nobody to help.

The city was burning; the doctors and nurses were almost all downtown. The bomb exploded directly over one of the major clinics, and over 90% of the doctors, and over 90% of the nurses, were killed or injured in the bombing. Because the U.S. bomber targeted the city center, about 85% of the people killed in Hiroshima were civilians.

The explosion completely incinerated everything within a one mile radius of the city center. The shock-wave and the fires ignited by the explosion damaged or completely destroyed about nine-tenths of the buildings in the city. Somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 people–that is, about one quarter to one third of the entire population of the city–died immediately. The heat of the explosion vaporized or carbonized the children and adults who were nearest to Ground Zero when the bomb went off.

Thousands more, who were further away from the center, died when they were crushed to death by the force of the shock-wave, burned by the blast or by the fires raging throughout the ruined city, trapped underneath collapsing buildings or drowned in the river as they tried to escape. They died from dehydration; they were killed quickly or slowly by radiation poisoning and infections and cancers that ate their bodies away from the inside out. Some died suddenly, and some died slow, lingering, painful and unavoidable deaths over days or weeks. It is estimated that in all, the atomic bombing killed about 130,000-140,000 people. It left thousands more with permanent disabilities from their injuries and from the radiation that spread in a burst and spread through the fallout.

Almost all of the people who were maimed and killed in the obliteration of the city were civilians. Although there were some minor military bases near Hiroshima, the bomb was dropped on the city center, several miles away from the military bases on the edge of town. Hiroshima was chosen as a target, even though it had little military importance, because It is a good radar target and it is such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged. There are adjacent hills which are likely to produce a focussing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage. 1. It was one of the largest Japanese cities not yet damaged by the American firebombing campaign. Military planners believed it strategically important to demonstrate as much destruction as possible from the blast.

Thomas Ferebee, a bombadier for the United States Army, was the man who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. His commanding officer was the pilot of the Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets. Tibbets and Ferebee were part of the XXI Bomber Command, directed by Curtis LeMay. LeMay planned and executed the atomic bombings at the behest of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and President Harry Truman.

Kengo Nikawa died on August 22nd, 1945 because of the bombing. This is his pocket watch.

We will never know the names of many of the 140,000 other residents of Hiroshima who were killed by the bombing. We have only estimates because the Japanese government was already in a shambles by this point in the war, and countless records, of those that were successfully kept, were consumed by the flames, along with the people whose lives they recorded.

Three days later, on August 9, 1945, CBS broadcast a recorded address by President Harry S. Truman about the atomic bombing. It was broadcast on the very same day that the government of the United States sent bombers to incinerate a second city, Nagasaki, with a second atomic bomb. Here is what Truman said:

Here's Harry S. Truman, looking awfully proud of his damn self.
Here is an audio clip of…

Harry S. Truman, August 9, 1945.

We won the race of discovery against the Germans….

In his radio address on August 9, Truman disingenuously described Hiroshima, a densely populated, industrialized port city of a quarter million souls, as a military base, and then he said, That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. That was a lie. The bomb was dropped on the city center, over a hospital, far away from military installations.

It is worth remembering that the atomic bombing of the Hiroshima city center — the first use of atomic weapons against human targets in the history of the world — a bombing in which the United States government’s forces deliberately targeted a civilian center — a bombing that the United States government carried out with the explicit intention of obliterating an entire city in seconds, in order to break enemy morale — an attack in which that government’s forces deliberately turned weapons on civilians that destroyed 90% of an industrial metropolis, and killed between a third and a half of all the people living in it — was, and remains, the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of the world.

Here are some facts you do not need to remind me of today: that the government of the Empire of Japan launched a war of aggression against American territory and killed both American military and civilians; that they conducted brutal wars of conquest against China, Korea, and throughout southeast Asia, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were mercilessly tortured and killed; that even to the end, some fanatical elements of the military regime wanted to fight the United States down to the last man.

That’s all true, but it’s quite beyond the point. None of these vicious acts by a vicious government justifies doing this to Japanese people, to civilian men, women and children who had no meaningful role in either the decision-making or in the fighting. No crime or atrocity of the Japanese government excuses a half-year campaign of terror against Japanese cities; no political objective could possibly allow the U.S. government to seek victory by burning 140,000 civilians alive in a single day. No strategic necessity justifies turning such weapons on a city of 300,000 human beings; no need or desire or exigency of war justifies treating 140,000 souls like this.

Nothing ever could.

Here are some photos in which...
Paper lanterns float down the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima,
in the annual August 6 memorial event, in memory of the lives lost.


The audio clip above is from a recording of President Harry S. Truman’s radio report on the Potsdam conference, recorded by CBS on August 9, 1945 in the White House. The song linked to above is a recording of Oppenheimer (1997), by the British composer Jocelyn Pook. The voice that you hear at the beginning is Robert Oppenheimer, in an interview many years after the war, talking about his thoughts at the Trinity test, the first explosion of an atomic bomb in the history of the world, on July 16th, 1945.

August 05 2017


What I’m Reading: Jesse Walker, Sloppy History in the New York Times

Shared Article from

Sloppy History in The New York Times

Who was against "government schools"?

Jesse Walker @

Katherine Stewart has an op-ed in today’s New York Times that purports to expose the sordid history of the phrase “government schools.” The “attacks on ‘government schools,'” she claims, “have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism.”

How reliable a historian is Stewart? Not very. Take this passage, for just one example . . .

— Jesse Walker, Sloppy History in the New York Times
Reason Hit & Run, 31 July 2017

August 03 2017


What I’m Reading: Kulturkampf

Shared Article from


If any evidence is needed of the dangers of cultural conservatism, notice that Deist feels moved to invoke an actual Nazi slogan in his closing paragr…

Roderick Long @

July 25 2017


So long, and thanks for all the Flash

This morning, Adobe announced their plans to end support for Flash in late 2020. For Flash developers this will mean transitioning to HTML, as Chrome will increasingly require explicit permission from users to run Flash content until support is removed completely at the end of 2020.

HTML is faster, safer, and more power efficient than Flash and works across desktop and mobile. Three years ago, over 80% of Chrome daily desktop users visited sites with Flash. Today only 17% of users visit sites with Flash and we’re continuing to see a downward trend as sites move to HTML.

Over a three-year period, Flash usage has declined 80%.

We strongly encourage sites that still rely on Flash to make the move to HTML as there will be an increasing number of restrictions on Flash leading up to the end of support:

  • For sites that use Flash for gaming, a list of relevant APIs and demos can be found at We recommend exploring technologies like WebAssembly, which allows for high-performance computing.
  • For sites that use Flash for media, Mozilla’s media migration guide gives an overview of the APIs used to prepare, distribute and play media on the web.
  • Finally, for sites that use Flash for advertising, we recommend switching to HTML ads. Please work with your ad provider directly for this.
Flash helped make the web a rich, dynamic experience, and shaped the modern set of web standards. We recognize that any transition can have challenges, but we will continue to work closely with Adobe and the web community to ensure that users have a great experience and to help developers make the web transition to HTML.

Posted by Anthony Laforge, on behalf of the Chrome team

July 21 2017

Professors from Around the World Get Their Students into HFOSS

July 17 2017

Facets: An Open Source Visualization Tool for Machine Learning Training Data

July 13 2017

After a "close call," a coding champion

July 08 2017


Bolivarian Process (Cont’d)

Shared Article from The Japan Times

Maduro-backing militias storm Caracas congress, rough up opposit…

Pro-government militias wielding wooden sticks and metal bars stormed congress on Wednesday, attacking opposition lawmakers during a special session c…

CARACAS – Pro-government militias wielding wooden sticks and metal bars stormed congress on Wednesday, attacking opposition lawmakers during a special session coinciding with Venezuela’s independence day.

Four lawmakers were injured and blood was splattered on the neoclassical legislature’s white walls. One of them, Americo de Grazia, had to be removed in a stretcher while suffering from convulsions.

“This doesn’t hurt as much as watching how every day how we lose a little bit more of our country,” Armando Arias said from inside an ambulance as he was being treated for head wounds that spilled blood across his clothes.

The unprecedented attack, in plain view of national guardsmen assigned to protect the legislature, comes amid three months of often-violent confrontations between security forces and protesters who accuse the government of trying to establish a dictatorship by jailing foes, pushing aside the opposition-controlled legislature and rewriting the constitution to avoid fair elections.

. . . Later Maduro condemned the violence, but complained that the opposition doesn’t do enough to control “terrorist attacks” committed against security forces by anti-government protesters.

— Maduro-backed militias storm Caracas congress, rough up opposition lawmakers
The Japan Times (July 6, 2017)

Shared Article from Reuters

Brazil bans tear gas exports to Venezuela due to violence: sourc…

Brazil's government has halted exports of tear gas for use in Venezuela due to violent repression of protests there, two sources familiar with the dec…

Brazil’s government has halted exports of tear gas for use in Venezuela due to violent repression of protests there, two sources familiar with the decision said on Monday, a move that added to the diplomatic isolation of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro.

Brazil’s Defense Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Relations made the joint decision in response to appeals by the Venezuelan opposition, the sources said.

The Defense Ministry said on Friday that Rio de Janeiro-based Condor Tecnologias Não-Letais had not shipped tear gas canisters to Venezuela’s armed forces as negotiated in April, without giving a reason.

Condor confirmed on Friday that it had two active contracts in Venezuela, but declined to comment on specific shipments.

The company and ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

The involvement of the Ministry of Foreign Relations underscores the role of diplomacy in the decision, as Brazil’s armed forces usually take responsibility for licensing the export of “controlled products” such as the stun grenades, rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas made by Condor.

“The (Brazilian) government decided to accept the opposition’s request because there’s a massacre in Venezuela,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity to speak freely. The other source, a senior government official, said export of other crowd control equipment would also be denied.

— Brazil bans tear gas exports to Venezuela due to violence: sources
Reuters (June 19, 2017)

See also.

July 05 2017

Lonely Robots: Transhumanist Responses to Unfuckability

July 03 2017

When Anarcho-Transhumanists Attack: Cyborgs vs. Tanks

June 27 2017

Pride’s Queer Future

June 21 2017


Planet Money #381: When Business Loves Regulation

Shared Article from

Episode 381: When Business Loves Regulation

One in three American jobs require a license. Today on the show, why those licensing rules hurt the U.S. economy.

Jacob Goldstein @

The problem is not freed markets; the problem is what Molinari described as owned markets. Owned not because the owners bought them, or won them in competition; but rather through the proprietors’ exploitation of the political process of state regulation.

June 20 2017


Sartwell, the Principle of Hierarchical Coincidence and Actually-Existing Socialism

Crispin Sartwell has a great new article recently at Splice, on “The Newnew Left and the Principle of Hierarchical Coincidence.” Quoth he:

The classical socialism of people like Corbyn and Sanders had been developed, in detail, by the middle of the 19th century. It was designed as a response to the rise of rapacious industrial capitalism, and it specifically proposed to rein in capital by vast expansions of state power, or the annexation of more and more resources, powers, segments of the culture by government.. . . The concrete proposals amount to increased state control of many or even all segments of human life, from cradle to grave.

I think you’re going to need some new ideas, because there’s one breathtaking theoretical and practical problem with classical socialism. It proceeds in massive unawareness of a fundamental principle in political theory and political reality, which I call the principle of hierarchical coincidence (PHC): the idea that, in more or less every case and in the long run, political and economic hierarchies tend to coincide. Economic power leads to political power; political power leads to economic power.

. . . For this reason, and for the most part and in the long run, ever-increasing state power as recommended in socialism will tend to increase rather than ameliorate economic inequality. And though governments do sometimes and to some extent reduce economic inequality, they do so in a situation in which the seemingly intractable political/economic structure is largely produced, held in place, and enforced by these governments themselves. The structure of economic inequality rests to a large extent on political and police power, and certainly couldn’t be maintained without it.

This is the incoherence at the heart of classical socialism: that intensifying political power, at least of a certain kind, will in the long run reduce economic inequality. But if you start nationalizing or socializing various segments of the economy—that is, if you give these powers to the state–you don’t move toward an egalitarian paradise, you simply create a new ascendant class. . . .

–Crispin Sartwell, The Newnew Left and the Principle of Hierarchical Coincidence
SpliceToday, 13 June 2017.

Read the whole thing.

Shared Article from SpliceToday

The Newnew Left and the Principle of Hierarchical Coincidence

There’s one breathtaking theoretical and practical problem with classical socialism.

Crispin Sartwell @

What I want to add here some responses to the pat rejoinders that I think are most likely to get thrown out quickly in response to the problem Sartwell raises, but which are really idle as objections to Sartwell’s point.

First, it is entirely idle to point out that state socialism is intended to combat hierarchical coincidence, and if only it could be properly politically implemented, it would tend to reduce inequality more and more and hence more and more make the problem evaporate rather than stabilizing or spiraling out of control. Whatever its theoretical intent, the effect in actually-existing state socialism is entirely different.

If there were some way to implement state socialist programs exactly to the ideological socialist’s specification, without serious political complication, bureaucratic redirection and mission creep, or unintended consequences, then sure, we’d have to hash out whether the total effects of the system tend to reinforce or to weaken the problem of hierarchical coincidence, on net, over short-term and long-term time spans. But there is no such way.[1]

Second, there’s a lesson which many socialists today might take from a point like Sartwell’s, which does represent some progress, but which really goes a lot less far than they might think. In particular, it’s really easy to look at Sartwell’s discussion of the problems posed by increased state economic control, and conclude that the easy solution to the problem is to become an anarchistic socialist, instead of a state socialist. No state, no state power to back up economic power. And of course I’d hardly want to ward anyone off of anarchistic socialism — since that is, after all, what I believe in some forms.

But if you think of the structure of a socialistic anarchy as combating inequality with more or less the same sorts of socialization and collectivization proposed by state socialists — just in the hands of grassroots collectives, administered locally and democratically without state power by the same people who work in them — then I would argue that you have not eliminated the problem of hierarchical coincidence by eliminating the state police power, or by moving from electoral power to social capital as your means of administering the distribution of economic resources. Because, of course, there are such things as hierarchies of social power and prestige, even outside of state structures. Substituting social capital for political power brings some obvious benefits, because political power involves greater institutionalization, more formalized excuses for legitimacy, literally lethal repertoires of force to exert, etc. But the ability to wield social power within collectivized economic institutions, and so to continuously reinforce economic and social power, does not easily disappear even with the removal of the state. It becomes easier to combat; and maybe an easier fight is the best we can realistically hope for. But maybe, on the other hand, the goal should be to make sure that realistic alternatives to existing collective entities, dissent, exit, open competition, and other routes for centrifugal economic and social forces to dynamically express themselves, are firmly incorporated into our economic activities and our socio-economic institutions.

  1. [1]You might say, “but the lack of immaculate conception is a problem for any duty proposing serious changes to the political system — including libertarianism, including market anarchism, including everything.” And you’d be right. It’s a really serious problem for any form of reformist libertarianism, and a major explanation for why it often degrades into standard right-wing business regulation politics. Anarchism doesn’t eliminate the problem; but it ameliorates it, precisely to the extent that the anarchist deliberately breaks from political strategies that open up the largest opportunities for political complication, bureaucratic redirection and mission creep, or unintended consequences. But if solving the problem were easy, revolution would be easy, and it’s no surprise that it isn’t.

June 15 2017

Supercharge your Computer Vision models with the TensorFlow Object Detection API
ISP Doesn’t Have to Expose Alleged BitTorrent Pirates, Finnish Court Rules

June 14 2017

“Top ISPs” Are Discussing Fines & Browsing Hijacking For Pirates
Die „Tagesthemen“ beim Weltkongress der Homöopathen

Your Freedom Is My Freedom: The Premise Of Anarchism

Sometimes words are just words — interchangeable and discardable — but sometimes a word belies a knot in our thought, tightly wound and tensely connected. “Anarchy” is one such word.

Centuries ago the English peasantry rose up to overthrow the king and radically remake society. The vanguard of this revolution, the levellers and the diggers, sought to demolish the feudal hierarchy, to revise property and the division of land. In their revolt they were joined by opportunists who sought the overthrow of the king to assert their own power. Naturally these factions clashed. It was in this civil war that the word “anarchy” was leveraged to great effect. Those with the audacity to explicitly oppose anyone ruling over anyone were characterized as desiring “anarchy,” and when this happened the idealistic rebels were forced to backpeddle, to stumble and prevaricate on a trap built into their very language.

The word “anarchy” originates in the Greek word “an-archia” (“without rulership”). Over the last couple millennia it has grown two simultaneous associations: 1) the absence of domination and constraint and 2) a war of competing would-be-rulers. The latter redefinition inspired by the constant conflict between princes and small lords that had gripped Europe during the middle ages in the absence of a single ruler. While the first definition is clearly the better fit to the word’s etymology the latter signified something more properly akin to “spas-archy” or *fractured* domination than the absence of domination. But in practice these two definitions grew to be lumped together as the same thing, functionally serving as an orwellianism. Like a more condensed version of the phrase “freedom is slavery” the invocation of “anarchy” thus served to write out of our language the ability to speak of a world that wasn’t characterized by domination. To desire the end of domination was thus transmuted into merely desiring a different, more decentralized, configuration of domination.

This perspective mirrors that of our rulers and would-be-rulers who cannot conceive of anything besides rule-or-be-ruled. It’s the fascistic or authoritarian perspective in which there exists nothing besides the game of power. If rulership is all there is — if it is inescapable — then the “without rulership” of “an-archy” signifies a senseless and incoherent concept, and the word should, in the authoritarian mind, be reassigned to more productively characterize a less centralized set of power relations.

This reframing of anarchy in terms of centralization rather than domination is an obvious trick because decentralized expressions of rulership or interpersonal domination can clearly be quite severe. Parental abuse of children, partner abuse, sexual violence, community ostracization, and many other informal power dynamics of social capital are often far more visceral and constraining in many people’s actual lives than war, taxes, and police repression. Exploitation at the hand of the thief or bandit, the mugger or rapist, the brigand and minor warlord, is hardly any different than at the hand of a cop or bureaucrat.

Centralization and decentralization each have their own efficiencies and inefficiencies when it comes to domination and constraint. Centralization allows one to take advantage of certain economies of scale, but decentralization can allow more intimate and attentive abuse. It makes little sense to quibble over whether the decentralization of the Rwandan genocide made it more efficient at horror than Third Reich. Decentralization may be a necessary condition of liberation, but it alone is hardly sufficient — the real issue is domination itself.

Similarly, domination can be quite sharply constraining even without a clearly defined hierarchy. Two people can chain each other down, sometimes without either ever getting an advantage. Indeed we often interact in ways that are mutually oppressive. More complex or balanced dynamics of domination that defy description in terms of a simple hierarchy do not necessarily diminish the domination at play.

For those of us who seek the abolition of such dynamics altogether, who strive in the direction of a world entirely without domination, without rulership over one another, it is impossible to avoid a contest over the definition of anarchy. Language channels and focuses our thoughts; a definition determines what can be expressed succinctly and what presumptions we will gravitate towards. So it was like a thunderclap when in the nineteenth century someone finally declared that “Anarchy is order, government is civil war” and a movement promptly grew like wildfire. We declared ourselves “anarchists” as a provocation, but also as a corrective. Because we will never be able to make serious headway towards freedom unless the concept itself is conceivable.

Unfortunately just as the term “anarchy” has been saddled with negative associations, so too has our concept of “freedom” become muddied in ways that often keep us chained. In wider society “freedom” is often used in very loose ways; if we dislike something we’ll characterize the absence of it as “freedom from” it. This “freedom” refers to nothing more than negation of a given thing. And obviously “not” can never coherently function as a general ideal — “negation” is meaningless when not paired with some specific concept. The absence of one thing always means the presence of another thing.

Thus is this sense of “freedom” invoked by authoritarians of all colors. The soldiers and the cops beating us are said to “protect our freedom” — which is to say a freedom from disruption, the freedom to exist in a certain state of affairs, no matter how noxious. The “freedom” to maintain a certain static culture or set of traditions, “free” from change and challenge. This sort of freedom is never anything more than the securing and preserving of some kind of identity, some specific static world. Thus does the conservative quite seriously declare that two gay men holding hands in the public square violates his freedom.

To survive conflicts of such “freedoms” a number of systems of detente have been proposed. The most common today is a propertarian resolution wherein the world is physically divided up and within each clearly demarcated bubble owners may structure things according to their unique desires or identities.

There are certainly many practical upsides to giving everyone their own garden to play in! But — as an abstract — the negative concept of “freedom” obscures the positives to collaboration as well as the innate arbitrariness and constraint of static identity.

To worship a notion of freedom as isolation from outside forces would leave us all chained in prisons, frozen statues walled off and incapable of engagement and development. This notion of freedom as rigamortis — the “freedom” of the coffin — is innately authoritarian. But it’s also deeply arbitrary. It’s not clear which authority or identity we should adopt. There are many different corpses we might strive to reduce ourselves to, forever “free” of further external influence. What mere “freedom from” deprives from us is active agency. True freedom is of course not about retreating from or walling off outside influences but rather having *choice* in our interactions with the world.

Not a single isolated “choice” of a certain identity or role, but continual, engaged, active choice, every moment of our lives.

When we truly live we are hurricanes of self-reflection, pulling in knowledge and influences from the wider world — the universe wrapping in on itself in a self-awareness that expands the scope of what is possible. To truly be free — liberated of constraints — can only mean to have more options. Not confined within some arbitrary box, but radiating ever outward into the world.

Note that such freedom *isn’t* a zero sum game. Every single person can remake the world. Creation and discovery are not exclusive acts. A society where every person was equally unleashed, to discover titanic insights or create profoundly moving art, would not be a gray world of mediocrity because impact and influence is not a scarce good. We can each be heroes, we can each change everything, we can each bring more options into the world.

In this proper light there is no inherent conflict between the freedom of individuals because freedom is a larger and more general phenomenon. To fire a gun at your neighbor’s head would gravely deprive the world of possibility. True freedom is not predicated on the imprisonment of others but rather their liberation.

In our muddied and corrupted language it’s often easy to mistake power and freedom as the same thing. Yet unlike power — which is a kind of directed capacity, a relation between distinct entities — freedom resists disentanglement. To slice the world apart into arbitrary selves and arbitrary structures is to curtail what is possible. Rulership is always relation of constraint. Domination over another person is often assumed to expand the capabilities of the ruler at the expense of the ruled, in practice power usually constrains both. On some occasions the ruler does expand their personal freedom at the cost of overall freedom but the anemic and arbitrary sense of self required for such a trade-off is its own prison.

To divorce yourself from the spark of freedom in another is to identify with something other than freedom — to reject the active spark that gives you life as an actor in this world and consign it to death in the name of some happenstance idol. Ultimately you can either value freedom or some random dead static thing. Some specific state of affairs rather than motion and agency. To identify with freedom, to truly live, to embrace possibility, is to reject and overcome all walls, including those between one another.

Your freedom is my freedom because freedom tolerates no divisions, accepts no adjectives, belongs to no one. There is simply freedom or constraint. Liberation or rulership. This common empathy in liberty is the foundation that makes anarchy a coherent idea, that makes a world without rulership conceivable.

Anarchism is more sweeping and more ambitious than any of the political platforms it is often compared with. As you can see we can never make a simple list of demands because our aspirations are ultimately infinite. By declaring ourselves for the abolition of rulership itself we have created a space for striving; the furthest particulars will always be unsettled. Anarchism does not represent a final state of affairs, but a direction, a vector pointing beyond all possible compromises. As the old saying goes we don’t want bread or even the bakery, we want the stars too. And anarchists have gone in many directions, exploring many concerns and dynamics.

However there are some unavoidable conclusions to our embrace of freedom.

Most famously we oppose the state. Government is defined by its monopoly on coercion — it cannot act but through aggression, every law or edict it passes is imposed by a centralized apparatus of violence. The state is in short a forcible simplification of human relations, a system caught up in feedback loops that strengthen its tyranny. Rather than building tolerable and fluidly responsive agreements from the ground up, the state imposes one rigid vision from the top down. Its monopoly on overwhelming violence provides a shortcut to accomplishing things that bypasses full negotiations; not only does this approach suppress freedom in the name of expediency it encourages everyone to do the same. Once the state exists it presents a tool that cannot be ignored — if you want to get a given task done the state makes it enticing to do it through competing for, seizing, and directing the state’s coercion. Nearly everyone becomes invested in expanding the power of the state so that it can assure or enact their desires.

The state that is so often defended as a means of solving collective action problems is itself a catastrophic collective action problem, with mass murderous consequences. The state suppresses us all, chains us in service to a limited number of tasks, inherently simplistic directives that can never fully reflect our complex array of desires. The state rules us, but it always seems easier to fight for control of the state, to struggle to win the lottery for its hamfisted power, than to dissolve its chains.

States formed historically from brutal domination and have persisted so virally because they are mistakes hard to unmake. Nevertheless at different points enlightened people throughout history have successfully dissolved states — to varying degrees and with varying permanence. In our era it lies before us to dissolve not just one state but the entire global ecosystem of cancerous power systems (both formal nationstates and the smaller state-like entities they encourage from corporations to gangs to cliques) and establish a more decentralized and responsive society with not just a few token checks and balances against power, but countless social structures acting as antibodies and an entire populace committed to fighting its emergence.

There are many possible norms, instincts, and patterns of organization that impede and check relations of domination, but those that worked in the past have atrophied in our society and those approaches that show new promise are — like any radical change — challenging to establish and popularize.

This is obviously no trivial task, statism is reinforced not merely through the violent threat of the police but through a culture that embraces domination and an infrastructure that encourages centralized social relations. The state nurtures organizational and technological forms in its image — simplistic and centralized — so as to more easily engage with them, and its heavy hand distorts economic relations in similar directions, encouraging hierarchy and monopoly.

We are not allowed to create or interact except in ways that are easily visible to and controllable by the state. You are either forced to work under the state itself or under a business reflective of it and compliant to it. Everyone else is shuffled into a pool of desperate “unemployed” or given welfare under intense constraints — we are in countless ways barred from providing for ourselves rather than begging before a boss or bureaucrat. Under the guise of “public quality” individuals are violently suppressed for selling tamales or cigarettes, and most collective endeavors that treat all participants as equals are banned unless they can grease enough hands and jump through enough red tape. We have been systematically dispossessed of almost all means of living out from under the thumb of one tyrant or another by centuries of genocide, slavery, and imperialism. Repeated theft in countless arenas has concentrated control into the hands of the few and curtailed our opportunities.

This ecosystem of power also nurtures a psychology of brutal competition, not only among those who seek its power, but also among those it represses, twisting them into seeing the world as it does, in terms of power rather than freedom. It violently simplifies our relations with one another into centralized structures and encourages us to struggle to dominate one another.

Statism isolates. Its centralization is just another way to say that power severs and impedes our connectivity. Instead of distributed resilient social networks statism stokes hierarchy and segregation, giving us each fewer options in our relations with others and holding back what is possible on the whole.

This point about connectivity is an important one that strikes deeper than the specific problems of centralization. It’s not enough to not be imprisoned or held down by clear chains, you have to have channels by which to act in the world. A wall has the same effect as a chain. It’s not enough to be able to say “no” to a handful of options, we must have more options to choose from — deeper and richer in their scope and impact on the world around us.

And just as it severs our capacity to connect in direct ways, power cuts us off from truth. It encourages manipulation and constraints on the flow of information, which necessarily oppresses us all because a lack of accuracy means a lack of agency. The less grounded our models of the world are the less actual choice we truly have to act within it, the more futilely our actions grasp at empty air rather than connecting and moving the world. A lie is often a complex knot that binds and ignorance can seem to provide complex options, but simple truths open real possibilities.

This focus on deeper realities rather than abstract or ‘practical’ rules of thumb is, incidentally, why we are called radicals. “Radical” stems from “radix” the Latin word for root, and signifies not necessarily an *extreme* position but rather a view that gets to the fundamentals of things. To be a radical is to seek to identify and address the most basic, the most deeply rooted dynamics. To start from the foundations. The radical is only an extremist from the perspective of a world that has abandoned earnest inquiry and lost sight of the most basic truths.

Ours is sadly a world of “good enough”, of the “practical”, of the immediate at the expense of all else. We have all seen what such a world creates. Misery and encircling mutual enslavement. Too often we worship and cling to the barest of impressions, the most superficial of identities and common banners. We look for quick fixes again and again, hoping to solve myriad social problems and conflicts with the blunt instrument of the state, ignoring the collateral damage and deepening crises such means create. We recoil from the longer, harder, more painstaking path of building a new world in the shell of the old — of spreading and nourishing new relations, projects, norms, and technologies that increasingly make unsustainable our world’s instruments of domination — a path that requires complex resistance, continual struggle, with no easy resolution, no comforting collusion.

Our world is gripped in shortsightedness, not just in means but in its ends. We are caught up in a myopia that obscures the freedom to be found in others, that tells us to identify with the limits set for us — to see freedom as another flavor of domination, and tyranny as liberation from the complexities of true engagement. It tells us that we are the clothes we happen to wear and not the conscious act of choice between them. It pleads with us to believe that freedom is a thing impossible, incoherent, irreconcilably fractured.

Anarchism is not and has never been a proclamation that if we overthrow a given state — wherever the extent of that state is to be drawn — utopia will immediately result. Anarchism is not a claim about “human nature” or a simplistic reflex of negation. Anarchism is daring to see beyond the suffocating language of power.

Anarchism is the lifting of our eyes beyond our immediate preoccupations and connecting with one another. Seeing the same spark, the same churning hurricane, same explosion of consciousness, within them that resides within us. Anarchism is the recognition that liberty is not kingdoms at war, but a network interwoven and ultimately unbroken — a single expanse of possibility growing every day. Anarchism is the realization that freedom has no owners. It has only fountainheads.

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