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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crucifying Democracy 8.29.2007

Our thirteen invisible dictatorships --
and how to live free inside them
Adam Ash

“Too many people live their whole lives
a thrust short of an orgasm – if they get that far”


We The Chickens
1. The Father as Your Dictator
2. The Male as Your Dictator
3. The State as Your Dictator
4. The President as Your Dictator
5. Capital as Your Dictator
6. The CEO as Your Dictator
7. God as Your Dictator
8. The Ideology as Your Dictator
9. The Event as Your Dictator
10. The White Man as Your Dictator
11. The Expert as Your Dictator
12. Energy and Agribusiness as Your Dictator
13. The Police as Your Dictator

Your Freedom of Freedom (The Sovereign Self)
14. Starting with You (Your Freedom to Die and Kill)
15. Deconcepting Dictatorships Out of Your Life (Consciousness, Materializing Reality, the Conceptual, Refusing Dictatorship,
Creating Personal Freedom)
16. The Ways of the Elephant, the Turtle and the Termite
(Altism, Exilism, Deconnection, Networking, Commutopia)
17. Crowd-sourcing Democracy
18. Your Freedom to Pleasure (Masturbation, Touch, Sex, Intimacy)
19. Your Freedom to Beautify
20. Your Freedom to Eat Well, Be Healthy and Stay Fit
21. Your Freedom to Alter Your Reality
22. Your Freedom to Alter Yourself (Genetic Freedom, Bionic Power)
23. Your Freedom to Grow
(Use of Infrastructure: Shelter, Transport, Health, Education, Law, Bureaucracy)
24. Your Freedom to Act (Visible Refusal, Protest, Overthrow, Revolution of Outsiders, Communal Celebration, Carnival, Public Sex Orgy)
25. Your Freedom to Make and Create
26. Your Freedom to Imagine
27. Your Freedom to Be Together


1. The myth you live in

You believe you live in a democracy, a belief you share with millions all over the world. Humans aren’t born stupid, and neither are you, but this belief is as BS as Santa Claus.
If you believe in Santa, you’re the childish victim of a harmless lie. But if you believe in democracy, you’re the adult victim of a fatal myth. A myth meant to keep you blind and helpless, like a fly stuck by the eyes to flypaper. Or a man stuck forever on a cross.
Your belief is a life sentence -- to a prison of the mind that cuts you off from your true potential. A sentence to which millions have condemned themselves. We may as well be chickens in a vast egg-laying battery, squeezing out our daily eggs in a controlled environment.
You have a choice: to live in myth or truth.
Learning the truth may freak you out, because you’ll have to change your life as well as your mind. For the dedicated couch potato, this could prove more unnerving than having a wayward flea dig its pincers into a tender hemorrhoid.
If you’re not up to this disturbing news, stop reading. But if you’re willing to face the danger of truth to achieve a life of true freedom, read on.
This essay will show that democracy exists inside our heads, but not in the real world. And while it lives in our heads, it acts like spider poison: it keeps us immobile while our bones are being picked clean.
Yet we are capable of more than lifelong victimhood and blind faith and mute passivity.
We may be only human, but we have the potential of angels. Our thoughts can span the universe, as Einstein’s did. We spawn artists who give us new eyes, like Matisse and Picasso. Authors like Beckett and Orwell rewrite the world for us. Poets like Yeats and Whitman lay down inspiring explosions of verbs and nouns. Composers walk us on new planets of sound, like Beethoven and Mozart, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
Not all of us are Einsteins or Beethovens, but all of us can live free, even in a dictatorship. How? This book will tell you how to be free in your dictatorship, unlike most people, who live like slaves. It will help you break loose -- to find an alternative life of freedom.
We have the capacity of angels, yet most of us trudge along like sheep. We think we’re citizens of a liberating democracy, but instead we toil in an imprisoning dictatorship. In fact, you’ll find most of us sitting for the better part of the day inside the prison of an office cubicle or factory station.

2. You think you’re free, but how free are you?

The weird thing is, none of these cubicle people think they’re in a prison. Yet if they had a free choice, is that where they’d be all day? On the weekends, when they have a choice, do people flock to go to their cubicles?
No, they try to get the hell out -- to the beach, or the park, or somewhere that looks least like a cubicle.
But ask these people if they’re free, or if they live in a democracy, and they’ll tell you “yes.” They’ll say yes even if you ask them while they’re sitting in their cubicles, shackled to their computers, breathing stale air, conditioned by machines, surrounded by other cubicle folk, each cooped up in their own cage, their behinds connected to office chairs for hour upon debilitating hour. They’re like a fried omelet that thinks it’s still a live egg, or a free-ranging chicken.
The strongest bar of our prison is our notion that our prison is a “democracy.” We call ourselves a “democracy” and we think this makes us free.
What is a democracy? A democracy is a state or a community in which the will of the majority prevails. (Too bad if you’re in the minority: democracy is a numbers game, the biggest number wins, the majority tyrannizes the minority.)
What is a dictatorship? A dictatorship is a state in which the will of one person and his cronies prevails, no matter what anyone else thinks.
The two concepts are mutually exclusive, but this is not what happens in real life. In real states all over the world, these two concepts are blended. All dictatorships have democratic potential, and all democracies display dictatorship tendencies.
And however democratic or dictatorial any state is, one thing is sure: the richer you are, the more powerful you are. That’s why kings and queens used to have more money than anyone else. That’s why Bill Gates wields tremendous power in the world, because he has more money than anyone else. When Bill Gates comes knocking, any head of any state will drop everything to see him. That’s why there are companies who are more powerful than countries, because they make more money. There are only 30 countries who make more money than Walmart, for example, which makes Walmart a major player on the world stage, and the Walton family from XXXXX the most powerful dynasty on the planet. Even in the most democratic countries on earth, like Sweden or Denmark, the rich still wield the most power. If you’re a billionaire – and there are now XXX in the world, XXXX of them in America – you can do anything you want, and get away with anything, too. Russia’s billionaires are a particularly odious lot, because they operate like the Mafia, killing people who get in their way. One reason why America is the most powerful country on earth is because it has the most billionaires. Half the men in the US Congress are millionaires. The other half will be millionaires soon enough after they retire from Congress to become lobbyists. In this world, the rich rule. Our world is in essence a plutocracy -- a dictatorship of the rich.
Besides the rich, there are various kinds of dictatorships that exert control over our lives:
1. The political dictatorship we’ve been talking about, a very specific political arrangement of one-man rule – by a president, a king or queen, a tribal leader, a warlord – which most of us still live under in one way or another, despite the fact that democracy has been around since the ancient Greeks.
2. The business dictatorship of a single man -- the boss or CEO -- over everyone who works in his company, whose workers may number in the ten thousands. If he wants, he can fire as many workers as he likes, all in one go if he feels he needs to. That’s real dictatorship power over people’s lives.
3. The religious dictatorship of an omnipotent imaginary friend whom believers call God over our minds and lives, reinforced by self-appointed representatives like the Pope, priests, mullahs, reverends, missionaries and other church officials who feel they can tell us what to do because their imaginary friend God gives them power over us.
4. The familial dictatorship of a patriarch or matriarch – father, mother, grandfather, grandmother -- over a family.
5. The expert dictatorship of lawyers and doctors and other experts in fields we’re unfamiliar with who tell us what to do. This even gets into fields of parody – like self-help and diet gurus who take upon themselves the expertise of telling as how to live and eat. The expert dictatorship paradigm is usually the dictatorship of snake-oil salesmen. The story of Esther and the skin specialist vs. lowly pharmacy assistant.
6. The educational dictatorship of teachers who tell our kids what to do and what to learn. The dictatorship of universities for the privileged, such as the Ivy League in America, Oxbridge in the UK, and the XXXXXX and XXXXXX in France that turn out the next generation of leaders who run the various dictatorships in their countries.
7. The dictatorship of taxation that takes our money and spends it the way the government decides, which usually has little connection with how we want to see it spent. Most voters in America, for example, would not like a big portion of their taxes spent on big business welfare – like tax breaks for big oil, massive subsidies for agribusiness, and huge sums for Pentagon suppliers -- but they have no control over this.
8. The consumer dictatorship of ads on TV with the gall to tell us how to spend our hard-earned money.
You may not know it, but you live in a web of dictatorships telling you what to do every second of your life. You live on automatic, without any knowledge. Automatic life is how invisible dictatorships operate -- they want you to take various systems of power and obedience for granted, as if that is the way life is. But life is only you and the world – and as soon as you take responsibility for yourself, and learn a little self-respect, you will realize that freedom is not given. You have to see it, fight for it, own it, and continually fight for its ownership. Once you come off your automatic default setting, the world opens up to you. You have to become yourself.
Revolt is personal. Man is born free, but everyhwre he is ikn chains. Power is everywhere. Put two people together, or a group, and one will emerge as the leader. It is very difficult for people to act together as colleagues. It is easier to giove or take orders. It is easier to transgress on another, or aceept b eing transgressed upon. The transgression on the other, instead of laving choices always open.
It’s taken you your whole life to get to this point where you’re now an indoctrinated slave and pawn and serf living under many dictatorships. This essay will help you see them for what they are, and you for what you are – and help you dismantle all the dictatorships over you, so you can live your life in freedom.

What is freedom?

Berlin is best known for his essay " Two Concepts of Liberty ," delivered in 1958 as his inaugural lecture as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents' possible action. Greater "negative freedom" meant fewer restrictions on possible action. Berlin associated positive liberty with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one's destiny. While Berlin granted that both concepts of liberty represent valid human ideals, as a matter of history the positive concept of liberty has proven particularly susceptible to political abuse.

Within the philosophy of human rights , some philosophers and political scientists make a distinction between negative and positive rights . According to this view, a positive right imposes a moral obligation on a person to do something for someone, while a negative right merely obliges others to refrain from interfering with someone's attempt to do something.

To state the difference more formally, if 'A' has a negative right against 'B' then 'B' must refrain from acting in a way that would prevent 'A' from doing 'x'. If 'A' has a positive right against 'B', then 'B' must assist 'A' to do 'x' if 'A' is not able to do 'x' without that assistance. For example, a negative right to life would require others to refrain from killing a person. A positive right to life would require others act to save the life of someone who would otherwise die.

Negative rights may be used to justify political rights such as freedom of speech ,property ,habeas corpus , freedom from violent crime ,freedom of worship , a fair trial , freedom from slavery and the right to bear arms . Positive rights may be used to justify public education ,health care ,social security or a minimum standard of living .

In the 'three generations' account of human rights, negative rights are often associated with 'first-generation rights', while positive rights are associated with 'second-generation rights'.

Under the theory of positive and negative rights, a negative right is a right not to be subjected to an action of another human being, or group of people, such as a state, usually in the form of abuse or coercion . A positive right is a right to be provided with something through the action of another person or the state. In theory a negative right proscribes or forbids certain actions, while a positive right prescribes or requires certain actions. In the framework of the Kantian categorical imperative , negative rights can be associated with perfect duties while positive rights can be connected to imperfect duties

A right to an education is considered a positive right because education must be provided by a series of 'positive' actions by others. School buildings, teachers and materials must be actively provided in order for such a right to be fulfilled. The right to be secure in one's home, on the other hand, is considered a negative right, on the grounds that in order for it to be fulfilled, others need take no particular action but merely refrain from certain actions, specifically trespassing or breaking into one's home.

The division of human rights into three generations was initially proposed in 1979 by the Czech jurist Karel Vasak at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg . He used the term at least as early as November 1977. [1] Vasak's theories have primarily taken root in European law, as they primarily reflect European values.

His divisions follow the three watchwords of the French Revolution :Liberty, Equality, Fraternity . The three generations are reflected in some of the rubrics of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union .

First-generation human rights

First-generation human rights (FGHR) deal essentially with liberty and participation in political life. They are fundamentally civil and political in nature, and serve to protect the individual from excesses of the state. First-generation rights include, among other things, freedom of speech , the right to a fair trial ,freedom of religion , and voting rights . They were first enshrined at the global level by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

See: Articles 3 to 21 of the Universal Declaration, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .

When first generation human rights are limited this directly limits second generation rights. Improving first generation rights is the "causal link from first generation human rights to improved socio-economic outcomes". [2]

[edit ]Second-generation human rights

Second-generation human rights are related to equality and began to be recognized by governments after World War I . They are fundamentally social, economic, and cultural in nature. They ensure different members of the citizenry equal conditions and treatment. Secondary rights would include a right to be employed , rights to housing and health care , as well as social security and unemployment benefits . Like first-generation rights, they were also covered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

See: Articles 22 to 27 of the Universal Declaration, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights .

[edit ]Third-generation human rights

Third-generation human rights are those rights that go beyond the mere civil and social, as expressed in many progressive documents of international law , including the 1972 Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and other pieces of generally aspirational " soft law ." Because of the principle of sovereignty and the preponderance of would-be offender nations, these rights have been hard to enact in legally binding documents.

The term "third-generation human rights" remains largely unofficial, and thus houses an extremely broad spectrum of rights, including:
Group and collective rights
Right to self-determination
Right to economic and social development
Right to a healthy environment
Right to natural resources
Right to communicate
Right to participation in cultural heritage
Rights to intergenerational equity and sustainability

Liberty is generally considered a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has the ability to act according to his or her own will .

Individualist and liberal conceptions of liberty relate to the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion; a socialist perspective, on the other hand, regards liberty as the equal distribution of power, arguing that liberty without equality amounts to the domination of the most powerful .

John Stuart Mill , in his work, On Liberty , was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion. In his book, Two Concepts of Liberty ,Isaiah Berlin formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty and negative liberty . The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority , while the former implies the right to exercise civil rights , such as standing for office.

Mill offered insight into the notions of soft tyranny and mutual liberty with his harm principle .[1] Overall, it is important to understand these concepts when discussing liberty since they all represent little pieces of the greater puzzle known as freedom . In a philosophical sense, morality must supersede tyranny in any legitimate form of government . Otherwise, people are left with a societal system rooted in backwardness ,disorder , and regression .

Positive liberty
Main article: Positive liberty

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Positive liberty is often described as freedom to achieve certain ends, while negative liberty is described as from external coercion . The idea of positive liberty is often emphasized by those on the left-wing of the political spectrum , whereas negative liberty is most important for those who lean towards right-wing . However, not all on either the left or right would accept the positive/negative liberty distinction as genuine or significant.

Among the right-wing , some conservatives also embrace some forms of positive liberty. For example, Puritans such as Cotton Mather often referred to liberty in their writings, but focused on the liberty from sin (e.g. sexual urges) even at the expense of liberty from the government . Many anarchists , and others considered to be on the left-wing, see the two concepts of positive and negative liberty as interdependent and thus inseparable.

While he described the concept of positive liberty , Isaiah Berlin was deeply suspicious of it. He argued that the pursuit of positive liberty could lead to a situation where the state forced upon people a certain way of life, because the state judged that it was the most rational course of action, and therefore, was what a person should desire, whether or not people actually did desire it.

Defenders of '' positive liberty'' say that there is no need for it to have such totalitarian undertones, and that there is a great difference between a government providing positive liberty to its citizens and a government presuming to make their decisions for them. For example, they argue that any democratic government upholding positive liberty would not suffer from the problems Berlin described, because such a government would not be in a position to ignore the wishes of people or societies. Also, many on the left see positive liberty as guaranteeing equal rights to certain things like education and employment, and an important defense against discrimination — here, positive liberty could be the governmental demand that (for example) the sex of an applicant be ignored when a firm hires a new employee.

[edit ]Negative liberty
Main article: Negative liberty

The philosophical concept of negative liberty refers to an individual's liberty from being subjected to the authority of others. In this negative sense, one is considered free to the extent to which no person interferes with his or her activity. According to Thomas Hobbes , for example, "a free man is he that... is not hindered to do what he hath the will to doe."

Hobbes and Smith embrace protecting positive liberty along with continental European thinkers such as Hegel ,Rousseau ,Herder , and Marx .

The concept of negative liberty has several noteworthy aspects. First, negative liberty defines a realm or "zone" of freedom (in the "silence of law "). In Berlin's words, "liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question 'What is the area within which the subject -- a person or group of persons -- is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons." Some philosophers have disagreed on the extent of this realm while accepting the main point that liberty defines that realm in which one may act unobstructed by others. Second, the restriction (on the freedom to act) implicit in negative liberty is imposed by a person or persons and not due to causes such as nature, lack, or incapacity. Helvetius expresses this point clearly: "The free man is the man who is not in irons, nor imprisoned in a gaol (jail), nor terrorized like a slave by the fear of punishment... it is not lack of freedom not to fly like an eagle or swim like a whale."

The dichotomy of positive and negative liberty is considered specious by political philosophers in traditions such as socialism ,social democracy ,libertarian socialism , and Marxism . Some of them argue that positive and negative liberty are indistinguishable in practice, while others claim that one kind of liberty cannot exist independently of the other. A common argument is that the preservation of negative liberty requires positive action on the part of the government or society to prevent some individuals from taking away the liberty of others.

[edit ]Freedom as a triadic relation

In 1967, Gerald MacCallum argued that proponents of positive and negative liberty converge on a single definition of liberty, but simply have different approaches in establishing it. According to McCallum, freedom is a triadic relationship: X is an agent, Y is an obstacle, and Z is an action or state, where X is free to go from Y to do or become Z. In this way, rather than defining liberty in terms of two separate paradigms, positive and negative liberty, he defined liberty as a single, complete formula.

[edit ]Liberty and political thought

[edit ]Meaning of Liberty

The first known use of the word freedom in a political context dates back to the 4th century BC, in a text describing the restoration of social and economic liberty in Lagash , a Sumerian city-state. Urukagina , the king of Lagash , established the first known legal code to protect citizens from the rich and powerful. Known as a great reformer, Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property and required the charges against the accused to be stated before any man accused of a crime could be punished. This is the first known example of any form of due process in the history of humanity.

Like Urukagina, most ancient freedoms focused on negative liberty , protecting the less fortunate from harassment or imposition. Other ancient legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi , similarly forbade compulsion in economic matters, like the sale of land, and made it clear that when a rich man murders a poor one, it is still murder. Still, these codes relied on a certain virtuousness of kings and ministers, which was far from reliable.

In the Persian Empire , citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion , women had the same rights as men, and slavery was abolished. All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era where slaves typically did such work. [2] The Cyrus cylinder of Cyrus the Great documents the protection of the rights to liberty and security ,freedom of movement , the right of property, and economic and social rights. [3]

In the Maurya Empire of ancient India , citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had rights to freedom ,tolerance , and equality . The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great , which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war was also condemned by Ashoka. [4] Slavery was also non-existent in ancient India. [5]

Roman law also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens . Still, the Roman citizen enjoyed a combination of positive liberty (the right to freely enter contracts, the right to a legal marriage) and negative liberty (the right to a trial, a right to appeal and the right to not be tortured). Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility , never by the common man. The idea of unalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.

[edit ]Social contract
The Statue of Liberty is a very popular icon of liberty.

The social contract theory, invented by Hobbes ,Locke and Rousseau , were among the first to provide a political classification of rights , in particular through the notion of sovereignty and of natural rights . The thinkers of the Enlightenment reasoned the assertion that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his power, rather than the king's power giving force to law. The divine right of kings was thus opposed to the sovereign 's unchecked auctoritas . This conception of law would find its culmination in Montesquieu 's thought. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by " Nature and Nature's God ," which, in the ideal state , would be as expansive as possible. The Enlightenment created then, among other ideas, liberty : that is, of a free individual being most free within the context of a state which provides stability of the laws. Later, more radical philosophies such as socialism articulated themselves in the course of the French Revolution and in the 19th century.

[edit ]Modern perspectives

The modern conceptions of democracy , whether representative democracies or other types of democracies (including the past communist "popular democracies"), are all found on the Rousseauist idea of popular sovereignty [original research? ]. However, liberalism distinguishes itself from socialism and communism in that it advocates for a form of representative democracy , while socialism claims to work for a direct democracy (although, in the case of communism, this was supposed to be achieved through a period of dictatorship of the proletariat , a concept which was instrumentalized during the Cold War to legitimate authoritarian regimes).

Liberalism is a political current embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that claim defence of individual liberty as the purpose of government. Two main strands are apparent, although both are founded on an individualist ideology . In continental Europe the term usually refers to economic liberalism , that is the right of individual to contract, trade and operate in a market free of constraint. In the United States it often refers to social liberalism , including the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or established authorities in political or religious matters. Both are core political issues, and highly contentious.

A school of thought popular among US libertarians holds that there is no tenable distinction between the two sorts of liberty -- that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law , for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists "life, liberty, and property" without making any distinctions within that troika.

Anarcho-Individualists , such as Max Stirner , demanded the utmost respect for the liberty of the individual. From a very similar perspective from North America, primitivists like John Zerzan proclaimed that civilization not just the state (as in socialist thought) would need to be abolished to foster liberty. Some in the US see protecting the ideal of liberty as a conservative policy, because this would conform to the spirit of individual liberty that they consider is at the heart of the American constitution. Some think liberty is almost synonymous with democracy , at least in one sense of that word, while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts, with democracy being nothing more than the tyranny of the majority.

Ross Bearman, infamous freeware developer was described by Liberty (pressure group) spokesperson last year as '...the greatest threat to internet safety and freedom the western world has known since Thatcher.'

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Mohandas K. Gandhi - Freedom can be achieved through inner sovereignty.

Freedom is narrowly defined by Classic Liberals and Neoliberals as the ability to act without restraint from the government, or more broadly defined as the ability to have access to particular resources from the government without constraint by Social Liberals and most variants of Socialism . Defined thusly, 'freedom' is a broad notion, not necessarily covering the same field as ' free will '.

The protection of interpersonal freedom can be the object of a social and political investigation, while the metaphysical foundation of inner freedom is a philosophical and psychological question. Both forms of freedom come together in each individual as the internal and external values mesh together in a dynamic compromise and power struggle; the society fighting for power in defining the values of individuals and the individual fighting for societal acceptance and respect in establishing one's own values in it.

[hide ]
1In philosophy
1.1 An absence of restraint
1.2 Inner autonomy
2Historical origins
6See also
7External links

[edit ]In philosophy

[edit ]An absence of restraint

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin drew an important distinction between "freedom from " ( negative freedom ) and "freedom to " ( positive freedom ). For example, freedom from oppression and freedom to develop one's potential. Both these types of freedom are in fact reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights .

Freedom as the absence of restraint means unwilling to subjugate, lacking submission, or without forceful inequality. The achievement of this form of freedom depends upon a combination of the resistance of the individual (or group) and one's (their) environment; if one is in jail or even limited by a lack of resources, this person is free within their power and environment, but not free to defy reality. Natural laws restrict this form of freedom; for instance, no one is free to fly (though we may or may not be free to attempt to do so). Isaiah Berlin appears to call this kind of freedom "negative freedom" - an absence of obstacles put in the way of my action (especially by other people). He distinguishes this from "positive freedom", which refers to my power to make choices leading to action.

Freedom has often been used a rallying cry for revolution or rebellion . For instance, the Bible records the story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt and its oppression (slavery), and into freedom to worship God. In his famous " I Have a Dream " speech Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted an old spiritual song sung by black American slaves: " Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last! "

[edit ]Inner autonomy

In the context of internal control, freedom is also known as self-determination, individual sovereignty, or autonomy .

Freedom can also signify inner autonomy, or mastery over one's inner condition. This has several possible significances: [1]
the ability to act in accordance with the dictates of reason;
the ability to act in accordance with one's own true self or values;
the ability to act in accordance with universal values (such as the True and the Good); and
the ability to act independently of both the dictates of reason and the urges of desires, i.e. arbitrarily (autonomously).

In a play by Hans Sachs , the Greek philosopher Diogenes speaks to Alexander the Great , saying: You are my servants' servant . The philosopher has conquered fear, lust, and anger; Alexander still serves these masters. Though he has conquered the world without, he has not yet mastered the world within. This kind of mastery is dependent upon no one and nothing other than ourselves. Richard Lovelace 's poem echoes this experience:
Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage

Notable 20th century individuals who have exemplified this form of freedom include Nelson Mandela , Rabbi Leo Baeck ,Gandhi ,Lech Wa__sa and Václav Havel .

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau asserted that the condition of freedom was inherent to humanity, an inevitable facet of the possession of a soul and sapience, with the implication that all social interactions subsequent to birth imply a loss of freedom, voluntarily or involuntarily.

In those with spiritual beliefs, freedom may encompass the peaceful acceptance of reality. The theological question of freedom generally focuses on reconciling the experience or reality of inner freedom with the omnipotence of the divine.

[edit ]Historical origins

The ama-gi , a Sumerian cuneiform word, is the earliest known written symbol representing the idea of freedom. Our English word "freedom" comes from an Indo-European root that means "to love." Cognates of the English word "freedom" include the Old High German word for "peace" and our English word "afraid" from a Vulgar Latin word for breaking the peace.

[edit ]Usage

This article or section is in list format, and needs cleanup .
A good lead should be written for this, and/or the entire section converted to prose. Once this task is complete, please remove this message. ( talk ,help ,how to edit )
Liberty Leading the People , a personification of Liberty.
Political freedom is the absence of political restraints, particularly with respect to speech ,religious practice , and the press .
Personal liberty can refer to not being in prison (including not being a victim of false imprisonment ). It may also refer to the enjoyment of all of the privileges of membership of a place or club (as in the honour, the Freedom of the City ), financial freedom or anarchism .
Economic freedom usually means the degree to which economic actors are unfettered by governmental restrictions. Its most prominent advocates include Austrian School ,Chicago School and Supply-side economists . Free market advocates frame the issue of economic freedom as "the degree to which the public sector interferes with the private sector ," and argue that the less a government acts to interfere with the economic freedom of businesses and individuals (such as through taxation or regulation ), the healthier the economy will tend to be. Critics of capitalistic free markets equate Economic freedom with economic power . The advocates of mixed economies and socialism contend that the public sector need not always be seen as an unwanted intruder on the economy, and that government action should not be seen as necessarily interfering or freedom-infringing. Nonetheless, some Socialists concede that some traditional freedoms will be curtailed when the dictatorship of the proletariat assumes power.
Freedom of choice, i.e. free will .
Freedom of speech is similar to freedom of information, but refers to a general lack of such restrictions (on the creation, use, modification and dissemination of ideas) in a society by the government or those that hold power in that society.
Freedom of thought is also known as freedom of conscience and refers to the right of an individual to hold a particular thought, belief or viewpoint regardless of those held by others.
Psychological freedom , i.e. the ability to make the choice to not be afraid of failure in its most basic form.
Being not in any relationship (be it a romantic relationship or a cooperative , for example), free to do what one wants, including starting a new relationship or having relationship tests (like one-night-stands, casual physical intimacy , etc).
Freedom of education closely resembles autodidacticism , which views modern schooling as a dismal system of captivity. Students have traditionally seen gaps in the school year as freedom from their oppression. This idea is not to be confused with liberal education , as one may interpret them as opposites.
Software freedom or other freedom of information (or ideas); i.e.: information (esp. software) being free of technological or (more commonly) legal restrictions on its use, modification, distribution and (less often restricted) creation. See also: Free software ,Open source and gratis software .
Leaving one's parents' home and coming of age .
The absence of interactions in physics ; for example, asymptotic freedom discovered by David Gross ,David Politzer , and Frank Wilczek .
Political philosopher Gerald MacCallum designed the following concept of freedom, allowing for its 'fleshing out' into many different conceptions: "X is free/not free from Y to do/not do/become/not become Z."
To the Jews who believed Him Jesus said "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Freedom from government and Church - Christian anarchism .

Political freedom is the right , or the capacity and ability, of self-determination as an expression of the individual will.


The concept of political freedom is closely allied with the concepts of civil liberties and individual rights .Most democratic societies are professedly characterized by various freedoms which are afforded the legal protection of the state . Some of these freedoms may include (in alphabetical order):
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of association
Freedom to bear arms
Freedom of education
Freedom of movement (or travel)
Freedom of the press
Freedom of religion (or belief)
Freedom of speech
Freedom of thought
Intellectual freedom
Sexual freedom

[edit ]Views

Various groups along the political spectrum naturally differ on what they believe constitutes "true" political freedom. Friedrich Hayek famously noted that "liberty" and "freedom" have probably been the most abused words in recent history today.

In libertarianism , freedom is defined in terms of interference with the individual pursuit of happiness either by government or other persons, where interference is defined as unreasonably preventing others from realising their will in their chosen course of action or in their use of things. This does not mean that libertarians are pro-business. Rather, they simply oppose interference in any consenting acts between adults, including capitalist acts. Generally businesses favour regulations that protect them from competition, which requires many restrictions on consenting capitalist acts between adults. Libertarians call for freedom from coercion, governmental and civilian, in social, political, and economic matters.

On the other hand, those on the political left place more emphasis on freedom as the ability of the individual to realize one's own potential and pursuit of happiness. Freedom in this sense may include freedom from want, poverty, deprivation, or oppression.

Many anarchists with the exception of individualist anarchists ,anarcho-capitalists , and particularly anarchists that don't qualify their type of anarchism see negative and positive liberty as complementary concepts of freedom. Anarchists that recognize the concepts of negative and positive liberty tend to be left-leaning anarchists such as communist anarchists .

Some treat freedom as if it were almost synonymous with democracy , while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts. For example, some people argue that Iraq was free under Paul Bremer on the grounds that it was a rational, humanist, non-subjugating government, long before elections were held [citation needed ]. Others have argued that Iraq was free under Saddam Hussein because Iraq was not a colony [citation needed ], while a third claim is that neither Dictatorial nor Colonial rule in Iraq are examples of political freedom.

Environmentalists often argue that political freedoms should include some social constraint on use of ecosystems . They maintain there is no such thing, for instance, as "freedom to pollute" or "freedom to deforest" given the downstream consequences . The popularity of SUVs ,golf , and urban sprawl has been used as evidence that some ideas of freedom and ecological conservation can clash. This leads at times to serious confrontations and clashes of values reflected in advertising campaigns, e.g. that of PETA regarding fur .

There have been numerous philosophical debates over the nature of freedom, the claimed differences between various types of freedom, and the extent to which freedom is desirable. Determinists argue that all human actions are pre-determined and thus freedom is an illusion. Isaiah Berlin saw a distinction between negative liberty and positive liberty .

In jurisprudence , freedom is the right to determine one's own actions autonomously ; generally it is granted in those fields in which the subject has no obligations to fulfill or laws to obey, according to the interpretation that the hypothetical natural unlimited freedom is limited by the law for some matters.

Freedom in politics is generally used as a governing tool. "For what we call freedom is given only to those who obey, it is then when you stand for what you believe and fight back against oppression you lose those freedoms, and when what is taken away should be your inalienable rights what choice does one have but to obey?" - Joseph Garcia

[edit ]Recent trends

In modern times the expansion of "freedom" around the world is considered by some to be synonymous with increased participation in democratic political systems , without the influence of superpower country in any means.

In the 20th Century, the world observed a great reverse in terms of political situation, since the revolutionary struggles in areas of the world suddenly succeeded in establishing freedom from foreign colonialists and domination, at least in places like Africa, even though others may argue that the Cold War caused most of these new states to become puppet states for various regimes such as in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

[edit ]Quotes

(see also Quotes about Freedom )
"_________ _ _______" (Freedom or death)
—Greek War cry during their war of independence.
"Give me Liberty or give me Death!"
—Patrick Henry
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
—Mahatma Gandhi
"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."
—Jean-Jacques Rousseau
"Sloboda ili Smrt" (Freedom or death)
—Former Yugoslavic Republic Of Macedonian national motto
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"
—Benjamin Franklin
"The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defence are the constitutional rights secure."
—Albert Einstein
"Live free or die"
—Motto of US state of New Hampshire
"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
—Kris Kristofferson
YOU LIVE IN A SEA OF UNTRUTH – All governments lie. All authority lies.
Thinking the basics.
Freedom to be, freedom to become – the idea of personal potential – the idea of becoming, of potential.
Freedom to flower. Freedom of independence – standing on own two feet. Freedom to own yourself.
Freedom to live – not to be killed. Notg to be hurt.
Freedom from want – from hunger, from cold, from danger.
Freedom from desire?
Desiring the woman – the woman as visibly desirable object – in art, porn.
Freedom to create – freedom of artist and inventor, make something that didn’t exist. Inventor of worldwide web.
Ownership is the original sin – not sharing.
The other is the stranger. Welcoming the stranger.. Sharing food in your own house.
Nesting is the beginning of ownership. Having your own home – a place that excludes others, that others can only visit on your invitation, you are the guard of it, it is yours.
Breast-feeding is the original experience of community, of being with another, of sharing, of not-owning. Feeding someone with your body. Passing life on to another. Touching is being with another – start our acquaintance with touch – a handshake. The hand is the important human thing – grasping the hand of the stranger.
Ths stranger – the enemy. The we and the they. The plural “you” doesn’t exist in English, the plural you is the more personal “they,” the possibility of having a relationship with the “they.”
Freedom from authority. From ownership, from constraint, from .limitation, from rules, from responsibility.
Freedom in a free community. Freedom for others.
Freedom from and freedom to.
The freedom of working together, communally and not separately -- assembly line vs sharing – open space vs cubicles

Let’s deal with the political dictatorship first.
We’ll take America as an example. It happens to be the most interesting example around, because the American people pride themselves on their democracy more than any other citizenry in the world -- while in actual fact America displays the greatest dictatorship tendencies of all the states that call themselves democracies. If you don’t live in America, it’s probably a better example for you than your own country, because so many people secretly wish their countries were as free and rich as America – a wish based on the worldwide BS about democracy that our so-called democracies profess themselves to be.

3. America and South Africa

I grew up in apartheid South Africa -- one of the most notorious dictatorships of the 20th century.
A dictatorship is not an abstract notion to me, since it’s been my unfortunate fortune to live my material. I was born into the Afrikaner master race – the deep, dark heart of an ugly regime. My father was a high-up apparatnik. We were the elite of the white elite. Once I came home and told my mother about a new girlfriend – “her father knows Pa” – and she said: “At last you’re going out with a girl of our class.”
We not only ruled the country as vicious racists, keeping the blacks downtrodden and God pure in His High White Heaven -- we were snobs about it.
There are clear parallels with certain families in the US – the Bushes and the Kennedys spring to mind – but we’ll leave that for later.
Meanwhile, be warned: this not another jeremiad by an American leftist, ready to bash Bush, Clinton, or Reagan at any opportunity. This is bigger and deeper: an attack on the very foundations of American belief, shared by Republicans and Democrats alike, and everyone who thinks their country is a democracy. The truth about America by someone cast up outside its myth, in a faraway dictatorship whose traits were plain for all the world to see.
Today, the rest of the world feels the same way again, but this time about another country: our America.

4. Fascism Lite

Yet we in America live in blissful ignorance of our reputation. There are enough of us to keep each other warm, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.
But this warmth is the coziness of ignorance. Pluck the scales from your eyes, and you’ll notice there are connections between dictatorships. They’re the same, although they come in different versions. Germany’s Nazi dictatorship was different from Italy’s fascism, and both were different from Soviet Russia and apartheid South Africa’s, and different yet again from today’s Burma or Singapore, and the American version is the most different from all the others.
You might want to call America the home of Fascism Lite. America starts wars, lies about them, locks up people without trial in a concentration camp at Guantanamo, suspends habeas corpus, tortures prisoners – things done by dictatorships – but it wears a smiley face. It artfully conceals its true nature, dressing itself up in democratic frippery to cover the steel body of its dictatorship. It manufactures a consensus that shields its people from the truth that America is more of a dictatorship than a democracy. It has achieved the grand and subtle art of the invisible dictatorship.
Strangely, the belief that we live in a democracy is shared by the people and their rulers alike. The powerless don’t apprehend how powerless they are. And the dictators don’t know they’re running a dictatorship; they don’t recognize their own monster. The dictatorship is invisible to both the rulers and the ruled. This is true of America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and all countries with a touching faith in their own democracies.
How can this be?
Let’s begin by asking this personal question: how do you exercise your will in America’s “democracy”?
The concept of democracy works in a number of ways for any American: you have opinions and express them freely; you vote; you organize; you protest; you run for office; you gain office; you make laws; you govern; and so on.
These are all concepts that make you believe you live in a democracy. Let us examine how they work one by one, and how they add up to an invisible dictatorship.

5. In a democracy, you’re free to express your opinions

Democracy starts for you, personally, with you having an opinion that you want the majority to act on. You may want women to have the right to have an abortion without being jailed for it, or men to have the right to bonk each other up the butt, or everyone to have the right to smoke marijuana in public.
Two of these rights have been achieved by taking individual cases all the way to the Supreme Court, one in 1965 and the other in 2003. The third seems unattainable, even though nobody has been able to prove that marijuana is harmful to adults in any way, except that it induces mindless fits of giggles, which don’t appear to fall within the definition of a criminal experience.
But our “democracy” says it’s criminal to get high. Does this mean that our democracy is stupefyingly dumb, bizarrely delusionary, or pathologically crazy? Not necessarily. It means that democracy, like religion or a fondness for broccoli, is not a creature of reason: if it were, smoking marijuana would’ve become legal long before abortion or butt-fucking.
But say you’re a creature of reason, and you think it’s reasonable that Americans should be able to smoke marijuana without getting locked up for it. Or you think it’s reasonable to prosecute doctors who perform abortions. Or you think it’s obvious that gays should not be allowed to teach your kids about evolution. Whatever you think, you have the freedom to express your opinion. It’s the absolute foundation of democracy (otherwise how would we know what the majority thinks?).
You can even express a criminal opinion. There are organizations that devote themselves exclusively to expressing the opinion that marijuana should be legal. Like them, you can exercise your freedom of speech by talking, writing, speechifying, sending a letter to the editor of a newspaper or your elected representative, blogging, teaching, and every form of speech imaginable.
You can do that to promote whatever: to make marijuana legal; to say public schools shouldn’t depend on property taxes for their funding, because that makes for good schools in rich surburbs, but horrible schools in urban ghettos; to make it possible for gays not only to bang each other without the cops barging in on them, but also to get married like everyone else.
That’s the concept of democracy. But in real life, what happens?

6. In a democracy, you’re free to express your opinion, but your country is not free to hear it

In real life, not all opinions are equal.
Some opinions are much more powerful than others, because they reach many more people. Columnists get to express their opinion to thousands or millions of newspaper readers every week. You may have noticed that, time and again, the same small circle of people are invited to express their opinions on national TV to many viewers.
The freedom to have an opinion that’s heard by many people, is hogged by a few people.
You are free to express your opinion to your family (which can be dangerous) or your friends, and that’s about it.
The rightwing radio star Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, is free to express his opinion to his massive audience that the state should show drug offenders no mercy (and the state has happily obliged him; there are kids sitting in jail for 20 years in Texas because they smoked a joint). Your freedom consists only in being free to enjoy the irony when Rush himself becomes addicted to drugs.
There’s a name for opinion-makers like Rush. They’re called the punditocracy; the chattering classes. They’re also called self-serving hypocrites, but that’s another story. They control all opinion via the media, which in America is ruled by a few big companies -- Time-Warner, Fox, Disney, GE, Viacom – as it is in all so-called democracies.
The punditocracy is not a democracy. You don’t get to elect Rush Limbaugh or TV host Tim Russert, or to vet their opinions. Media owners do that. You think you’re picking them because their popularity and power depends on you; your vote put them there. But who gave you the choice in the first place? The media bosses pick the select few who get to the starting line. You get to choose from their auditioned, screened, vetted, processed, blow-dried lineup. It’s like a kid not wanting to eat her vegetables, and then being conned by this line: look, you’re free to choose, what do you prefer, the carrots or the tomatoes? when she didn’t want either in the first place.
You can hear Rush Limbaugh calling everything evil by turning on the radio, but you have to look very hard to find the contrary opinion – say, that marijuana is good because it gives you the munchies, the giggles, and carnal experiences more intense than elephant sex. Chances are you’ll never find this opinion, unless you commit the crime of smoking a joint with someone hot, with boxes of condoms and brownies in easy reach, at which point the truth of the anti-Rush opinion will hit you hard and good. However, until the entire nation has a similar experience (many are too chicken to try), this knowledge will be confined to the lucky few, and marijuana will stay illegal.
Not that pundits don’t deserve their big audiences. The punditocracy may not be a democracy, but most pundit picks start equally at zero, and have to work themselves up from there, sucking up to their superiors who gave them their shot, and building an audience. The winners work hard to get a good hearing, as does the pundit entrepreneur Rush Limbaugh.
The best opinions, however, don’t necessarily reach the largest audiences. High Times magazine may have a better opinion than Rush Limbaugh on the marijuana issue, but it reaches a much smaller audience. Also, people with money and power can make sure their bad opinions prevail, by spending money on advertising and propaganda.

7. Opinion is manufactured

Opinion is not only controlled, it is manufactured.
For example, when Hillary Clinton wanted to reform healthcare, HMOs bought ads that helped kill her reform plans.
If you had millions to play with, you might get marijuana legalized by manufacturing an opinion that it gives people inspiring religious experiences. But you don’t have millions. You may believe in marijuana harder than in Jesus, but you’re not going to get a hearing for your opinion, even if it appears to be more reasonable than the opinion that gay marriage is a sin, an opinion much discussed in the media, especially around election time.
Even if the majority of Americans hold a great opinion, you and they aren’t heard. Only the opinions of the few are heard widely, so those opinions rule. It’s a form of control. There’s nothing democratic about it.

8. In a democracy, governments spin and lie

Perhaps the biggest manufacturer of opinion is our government. One would assume that since they’re supposed to represent the majority of voters, they wouldn’t need to sell us on anything. So why do they spend most of their media time spinning and lying?
If you think this is an understatement, think back to the last interview you heard with a high-level administration official. That official would have been robotically stuck on message – Dick Cheney, George Bush, Scott McClennan, etc. Any politician outside the administration as well -- Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, you name one.
The explanation is simple. Their opinions often do not represent the majority, even though they promise to represent the majority to get themselves elected.
For example, consider the issue of war. Presidents don’t generally include war in their list of election promises, and most American wouldn’t want to vote for a president who promised to plunge the country into war anyway.
So it is that when they want to start a war, all presidents lie about their reasons for it.
President Polk lied in 1846 about starting a war with Mexico. He said it was because Mexico “shed American blood upon American soil,” when he and the slave-owning aristocracy coveted half of Mexico. President McKinley lied in 1898 about invading Cuba, saying he wanted to liberate it from Spain, when he wanted Spain out of Cuba to make room for the United Fruit Company. He lied about the Philippine war, when he said he wanted to “civilize” the Filipinos, while he really wanted a piece of real estate in the Far East. Harry Truman lied about dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, saying it was “a military target.” Vietnam was one big lie from start to finish: Kennedy lied about the extent of our involvement there, Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin, and Nixon lied about the secret bombing of Cambodia.
Presidents even lie about tiny wars: President Reagan lied about Grenada, and Bush Sr. lied about Panama. Then there was the lie about baby-killing when the Gulf War started, and for our war in Iraq, the lie about Saddam’s WMD, “the smoking gun” which could become “a mushroom cloud” over a US city.
Wars start with lies: it’s standard operating procedure in our “democracy.” Once again, democracy (like religion or a desire to have your tongue pierced) does not appear to be a creature of reason. The Big Lie Technique is normally associated with dictators like Stalin and Hitler. So, when it comes to starting wars, our “democracy” operates exactly like a dictatorship, without fail, every time.

9. In a democracy, the government dictates the agenda

The government is also in the fortunate position of setting the agenda for the punditocracy: the actions of the government frame most debates in a democracy. If the government takes no action on a serious problem, it becomes invisible. For example, America has only 4% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population. A large prison population is only supposed to happen in a dictatorship like Burma, not in a “democracy” like America. But nobody does anything about it, because nobody hears about it, so nobody talks about it, which is why nobody will ever do anything about this dictatorship habit of our “democracy”. Even though it is a huge problem: we have more prisoners per capita than Russia had under communism or South Africa had under apartheid. Every democracy suffers from big problems like that which aren’t addressed, because it’s not on the government’s agenda.
So yes, you have freedom of expression in America, but America doesn’t have the freedom to hear all expressions of freedom. There is no democracy of opinion in America. Freedom of expression is a democratic right, but not a democratic fact.
The only democratic expression of opinion is via an opinion poll, where all opinions are equal. Everywhere else, as far as opinions go, we don’t live in a democracy; we live in an undemocratic punditocracy. But even opinion polls cover only those issues that the government talks about. Nothing else.
There is one exception, and it heralds a glimpse into a new future: the internet blogger, whose best tool is the commentary thread. There are bloggers who started from zero, like Daily Kos and Instapundit in America, who are today read by millions, with very lively comment threads, where readers debate and inform and attack and defend each other on issues of the day. Granted, the issues discussed are those put on the agenda by the dictatorship. But at least they’re discussed.
We shall return to the subject of the Internet. It holds the promise of a revolution in power. It threatens to put everything in the hands of the communicators, a far bigger class than the rulers.


10. In a democracy, you’re free to vote, but your vote is not democratic

Let’s go on to another way in which democracy is supposed to work for you.
You can vote -- for all sorts of elected representatives: city councilor, mayor, congress person, president. The idea is that these people campaign for your vote, and promise to represent your best interests in the higher councils of the land. Sometimes they even make specific promises, though they’re more often wonderfully vague, and appeal to your “values” instead of committing themselves to actually doing anything tangible and specific for you.
Consequently, most voters send their representatives off to Congress with wistful hope rather than the confidence that they’ll be well represented.
In the year 2000, a majority of people voted for Al Gore to be president, but George W. Bush became president. The will of the majority did not prevail. Our president was not democratically elected. In the end his election came down to a party vote in the Supreme Court, whose benches support the behinds of more Republicans than Democrats, and are in fact appointed by the President. The people appointed by a President voted for one. How democratic is that?
The reason our President is not democratically elected is because the people vote state by state for representatives to an Electoral College, who then vote for the President. So a candidate can win a majority of states, without winning a majority of votes over-all. On three occasions this has resulted in the minority candidate becoming president. This bizarre voting procedure, unique to our “democracy,” is enshrined in our “democratic” Constitution, often said to be the envy of the world.
This same Constitution also guarantees that the highest legislative body in the country, the US Senate, is not democratically elected either. Every state sends two Senators to the Senate. The biggest state is California, with 36 million people. The smallest state is Wyoming, with 500,000 people. If you live in Wyoming, your single vote is equal to the votes of 72 Californians.

11. Winner takes all, loser takes zip

Our other elections happen in constituencies all over the country, where people vote for politicians to represent their constituency. The politician who gets the most votes, wins. It’s called the winner-takes-all system. If one party wins in every constituency with 51% of the vote, they get all the representatives, and their opponents none. The winner takes all.
So who represents the other 49% of the people? Nobody. In many democracies, like Italy, Israel and Sweden, this striking discrimination is remedied by a system of proportional representation that ensures everybody is fairly represented according to their percentages of the vote. But not in our “democracy.”
The winner-take-all voting system leads to another undemocratic outcome. It promotes the survival of very few parties. In our country, that big number is two. You have only two ways to vote that counts. You get more shampoos to choose from than parties. Your hair appears to be more important than how you want the country run. It’s as if all the opinions that represent all Americans had to be squeezed into two bottles, Egg Shampoo with Lemon and Egg Shampoo with Aloe.
There is, for example, no African-American party, which would surely exist if we had an Italian, Israeli or Swedish system. Accordingly, after 50 years of assiduous voting, African-Americans find that their issues and problems are consistently ignored by the government. Even when a tragedy like Katrina exposes the great poverty that exists in African-American communities, absolutely nothing is done to redress it. African-Americans are reduced to voting defensively, to ensure that things don’t get worse. They can’t hope for anything better. Meanwhile, if they had the means, or the balls, to form their own party, they could be an important swing vote to prevent the country from spilling over to the right, as is happening now.
Since these undemocratic election procedures are part of our constitution, they’re virtually impossible to change. They’re built-in for all time.
Well might you ask: why do we call America a democracy when it doesn’t work like one in many ways?
We will soon get to investigate hard evidence that goes further. We will show that America not only has a less-than-perfect democracy, but that its “democracy” works more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
But meanwhile we need a little philosophy before we walk any further on this journey. We need to strap on a little cortical body armor to enter a territory riddled with mental landmines.


12. How you experience the world

So far I’ve mentioned two ways – your opinion and your vote -- in which our democracy doesn’t work like a democracy. I’ve also asked the question: why do we persist in calling America a democracy when it doesn’t work like one?
It’s because of a major flaw in how the human mind works. The human mind always privileges the Conceptual over the Real.
Let me explain. This is going to get philosophical, so hang on to your cerebral hat. But we can’t go any further without a little philosophy. We’re doing some serious thinking here, about the serious state our “democracy” is in. Thinking is a habit that puts our heads in the clouds; we need philosophy to get us back to earth.
As I said, the human mind privileges the Conceptual over the Real. What the heck do I mean by that?
Let’s begin with the concept of consciousness. That’s what
makes us human: we’re conscious. We’re conscious of the world outside ourselves. In fact, we divide the world in two. An inside: me. And an outside: the world. That’s the first act of consciousness.
We experience ourselves inside ourselves, in our heads, as a thinking self. “Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am.”
We experience the outside, the world, via our senses.
But we have only five senses -- sight, hearing, taste, smell and feel -- so we experience the world in those five ways only. There may be more of the world to experience, but human consciousness knows only those five ways.
The world produces higher tones than we can hear, for example. Dogs hear them; our auditory system can’t. There may be much more to the world than what we can see, hear, taste, smell and feel, but we can’t know what it is. Maybe evolution, which has given us our five senses, will bring us more senses in the future, and open up whole new worlds for us.
Technology has in fact given us interesting new ways to experience the world. We experience radio waves, for example, when we hear a human voice over the radio, even though we don’t have radio antennas in our body that experience radio waves first-hand.
What does consciousness do besides experience the world in five ways?
It conceptualizes. The very act of consciousness is conceptualization.
It says, I feel the sun. Mmm, it makes me warm.
It says, that man is fine. I want to sleep with him.
It says, I live in a democracy. They live in a dictatorship.
There are those two words again, democracy and dictatorship. The mind has just divided the world into two concepts. Pretty daring. How does that happen?

13. How your mind fools you into thinking you live in a democracy

Concepts are useful. They help us deal with the world, navigate it, manage it, control it, use it.
But they have a way of sweeping us into their peculiar extravagances. Concepts always try to get bigger. Some concepts attract minds like magnets grab nails, and get very big. They try to get as big as God -- the biggest concept ever, which tries to fit the entire world into one concept. Some call it the universe (a place), but most human beings call it God (a consciousness). That’s the problem with the majority: they don’t always have the most sensible opinion. A century ago most people believed in the concept that women were born to serve men.
Language is our biggest conceptual creation. It’s how we communicate our concepts, and how we make human communities possible. We can call language our communal sense, our sixth sense – the sense that allows us to experience and interact with the world of other human beings, of other selves, of all the other insides outside our own inside.
However, when your inside creates a concept to deal with the outside, it is doing a strange thing. It is not accepting the world at face value. It is making something else of it, something for the mind to play with. It brings the outside inside by giving it an inside-like character. It turns the outsideness of the world into the insideness of the self.
The self is out walking, and it gets tired, and it sees a nice rock, and it says to itself, I can sit on that rock -- and now it has turned the rock into a chair. It turns the outsideness of the rock into the insideness of a chair. The rock is not a chair. It doesn’t even look like one. But to the tired self it is.
The self of consciousness never accepts the world as it is. It looks at the world and tries to fit the world into itself, in the act of fitting itself into the world. It tries to get along with the world by accepting the world on its personal terms of self, instead of the world’s terms as it really is, in and of itself –- what the German philosopher Kant calls the Ding An Sich. The self tries to incorporate the world into consciousness by the act of conceptualization.
The Conceptual is how we deal with the Real. It infuses our most basic acts. It makes the Real functional.
You see a flower. It is real. You pick it. That is conceptual. You pick it because it is pretty, which is your concept of it, and you want it, because you like pretty things. You have a concept of the flower – it is pretty -- and you have an emotion about the flower – you like it for being pretty -- so you pick it.
You go home and stick a bunch of flowers in a vase. They sit there. They’re real. But you are not satisfied with the Real. You want to improve it. So you arrange the flowers in the vase. You make the pretty flowers even prettier. You get really Conceptual, because you like your concept of prettiness.
To get technical, the Conceptual is what our consciousness makes of the Real. Our consciousness turns a rock into a chair, a flower into an arrangement. The rock is really a rock, but we’ve conceptualized it into a chair. We say it’s a chair when we sit on it, even though it’s a rock.
In the same way, our consciousness turns a dictatorship into a democracy. We say it’s a democracy when we vote, even though it works like a dictatorship. We feel better if we can say we live in a democracy instead of a dictatorship.
It is hard for us to acknowledge the Real. The poet T.S. Eliot said humankind cannot bear too much reality.
The pathos of being human is that we are always creating the Conceptual out of the Real. That’s how our minds work. We try to improve on the Real, to make it better, more convenient, more comfortable and comforting, easier to deal with, functional, something we can use. We construct the Conceptual in a vain attempt to console ourselves about the brutality of the Real.
We construct the concept of a democracy to console ourselves about the brutality of a dictatorship.

14. You can’t help it, your mind thinks emotionally

Conceptualization is more than how we deal with the Real. It’s also how we COPE with the Real. It’s always an emotional act. Our inside relates to the outside emotionally. We want the outside to be more agreeable. We want to like the outside. We want the outside to like us. We idealize and anthropomorphize. We symbolize and make myths. We are always fooling ourselves about the nature of the Real by deducting the Conceptual from it -- by translating the Real into the Conceptual.
The Real has no emotions. The Conceptual is all emotion. The rock has no emotions. It is neither friendly nor unfriendly. But we make it agreeable. We make a friend of it when we sit on it. We enjoy sitting on the rock, we’re grateful it’s there, we get all emotional about the rock.
We forget the rock is a big piece of stone. The Real is what gets lost in the act of translation into the Conceptual. We never see the wood for the trees.
We are like a man sitting on a toilet who thinks he’s walking the ramp at a fashion show.

15. A song of philosophy

Now I’m going to get a little more philosophical. Think of the next few lines as a song of philosophy. It’s quite short, only 19 sentences long, so hang in there, even if it appears meaningless. If you want, just skip it. I’ll let you know when I stop singing.
Here goes:

Neither the Conceptual nor the Real actually exist. What exists is the difference between them.
The Conceptual is action. The Real is events.
The Conceptual is knowledge. The Real is the world.
The Conceptual is language and words, and how they hang together. The Real is gravity and things, and how they hang together.
The Conceptual is how we live, how we construct our lives. The Real is what life is.
The Conceptual is community, the Real is people.
The Conceptual is a man or a woman, the Real is a person.
The Conceptual is the right and wrong of morality; the Real is the damage and pleasure of experience.
To get practical, the Conceptual is a table, the Real is the wood.
To get scientific, the Conceptual is E equals MC squared; the Real is -- when I apply the energy of a blade to the matter of my hand, it bleeds.
To get philosophical, the Conceptual is living, the Real is being.
To get personal, the Conceptual is love, the Real is sex.
To get serious, the Conceptual is mortality, the Real is death.
The Conceptual is what you do. The Real is what you are.

That’s it. The song is over. Enough of this philosophical heavy lifting. Let’s get back to democracy and dictatorship.
But let’s take an interesting choice of words from the last line of our philosophy song.
The Conceptual is what you do. The Real is what you are.
We can use these words like this:
Democracy is what we do. A dictatorship is what we are.
OK. How do you do democracy, besides expressing an opinion and voting?


16. In a democracy, you can run for office to serve the people

In a democracy, you are free to organize and run for office. But when you run for office in America, you find out something bizarre. If you want to get elected, you have to join one of the only two parties. You have to adjust yourself to one of them. It’s not like the supermarket, where you have a wide choice of stuff. You only have the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to choose from. You can choose the Green Party, but then you won’t get elected.
You don’t really have what one might call a democratic choice.
So you run for office. But you need money for it. So you have to ask people for money. If you have a good chance of winning, people will give you money. Most conveniently, companies will give you money. You will get more money from business than from people. You may end up finding that you represent big business instead of people.
If you get elected, you go sit on the city council, in the State senate, or in the US Congress. There you represent the people who voted for you, and you deliberate, debate, make budgets, allocate funds, and make laws. You try to allocate funds to your district to help the people who voted for you.
All well and good. That’s how a democracy works.
But when you make budgets and laws, you find a very strange thing. People knock on your door who call themselves lobbyists. They represent organizations and business people who have a lot of money. So you invite them in. They talk to you about the budgets and laws you make, and give you good reasons about how these budgets and laws could be made to benefit the businesses they represent, and so, they say, help the country.
You are happy to talk to these lobbyists. You can raise money for your next campaign from them. You spend most of your time talking to these lobbyists, so you can raise money to fight your next election. You get so busy raising money to keep your job, you don’t have time to write the laws.
But hey, no problem. The businesses will write the laws for you.
So you end up making laws about bankruptcy written by credit card companies.
Laws about the environment written by businesses that don’t want to clean up after themselves.
Laws about energy written by oil companies that get big windfalls from the laws they write.
Laws about Medicare written by pharmaceutical companies that don’t want Medicare to have the right to bargain down the high prices of their drugs.
These laws hurt the people who voted for you, but you make the laws anyway, because that’s how you keep your job.
These laws have in fact been written in the past five years by lobbyists to the Congress you voted for.
Is that how a democracy is supposed to work? Not really. That is how fascism is supposed to work, which is when government and big business are in cahoots with each other, as happened in Italy under Mussolini, and in Germany under Hitler. So we find that our Congress works like a bunch of fascists, beholden to big business, and not to little people like you and me.
In fact, we might say they make laws AGAINST people like you and me. In that case, what did we vote for? A democracy? Hmm.

17. In a democracy, you can protest if you disagree with the government

Now say you don’t run for office, because you don’t like the government, and you don’t want to join them. In fact, you are upset with your government. In a democracy, you have the right to protest. You can organize yourself into a protest movement. You can have a protest rally. You can march in protest.
All well and good. Democracy gives you the right to do these things. But doing these things can be risky. Ask any protester. During the last Republican Convention in New York, there were a lot of protesters, because New York has more Democrats than Republicans. What happened to these protesters? They got arrested. In fact, many New Yorkers who weren’t even protesters, got thrown in jail.
This is what’s supposed to happen to protesters in a dictatorship, but it also happens in a democracy. A democracy tells you that you have the right to protest, but often arrests you when you do.
Many people don’t like protesters because they think they’ll get violent. This is the reason the police arrest protesters, to prevent violence. Protesters can get so worked up, they destroy property. Car owners and storeowners as a rule don’t like protesters, because cars and windows are favorite targets.
Protesters sometimes commit symbolic violence, like burning the US flag. Burning the US flag is a popular pastime of anti-American protesters all over the world, but in America it’s frowned upon. Congress is always trying to pass a law against it. They give us the right to protest, but they wish we wouldn’t, and actively try their best to stamp out protests, and will defend any police action against protesters, just like dictatorships do.
Do protests work? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. In a country like France, the protest is an accepted form of political expression, and often works. The protests against the Vietnam War worked, because they stopped the war. But the protests against the Iraq War didn’t. The whole world marched in protest against the war in Iraq, millions of people all over the planet in the biggest protest in all of human history, but our leaders went to war anyway. They didn’t listen to the people of the world. They acted like dictators.


18. Who is the dictator?

The one good thing the Bush/Cheney administration did was to make the fact that the US is a dictatorship more obvious.
What follows isn’t meant to be yet another Bush/Cheney-bashing dirge. There are enough of them already. But there’s a point to be made here: how congenial and open our “democracy” is to dictatorial tendencies.
Our so-called democracy can easily be hijacked by a determined president – or even a strong vice-president like Dick Cheney, Can we call it a democracy if it’s so easily bent to the will of one or two men?
No. Our system was always ready to have its dictatorship potential unleashed. It wasn’t difficult for Bush/Cheney to find all sorts of ways to bring out the dictatorship potential in our so-called democracy. The levers of power were there, waiting for a determined hand to activate and pull them. Our system is designed to make it easy for any dictatorial president to find these levers of power and use them. Now we’ve had a living example of a president who found those ways built-in for him to use. Bush/Cheney have shown the way for any future president to follow, and create and build their own dictatorship.
The same goes for any other democracy. All of them can be hijacked by determined rulers. Tony Blair got Britain into the Iraq War, despite the fact that the majority of his people did not want anything to do with it, and demonstrated their opposition loudly. It did not help them. They still found themselves at war with Iraq. Their soldiers were still sent there to die for a cause the British people did not believe in.
Etc. Recast this

Since 2000, when a minority candidate became president, we’ve had a government startlingly different from what we’ve become used to.
A bizarrely unique administration. It sticks out with the flagrancy of a penis at a lesbian singalong.
This administration is unique because it’s the first to openly challenge laws promulgated by Congress. Such usurpation is evidence of a dictatorship, as clearly as maggots are evidence of a corpse.
This administration is unique because it’s openly dictatorial towards other countries. Previous administrations have acted dictatorially in secret -- hiding their misdeeds from Americans, like a dictator burying corpses at night in mass graves. We used to mess Latin America around as much as Russia messed around Eastern Europe -- killing the locals, training their army officers in torture, overthrowing their governments, backing the most hideous dictators – but we did it in the dark.
The Bush/Cheney administration, on the other hand, has openly professed brazen new doctrines like “pre-emptive war” and “extraordinary rendition” -- kidnapping suspected terrorists anywhere in the world and dumping them in countries where we know they’ll be tortured, sometimes doing it to innocent people.
At the same time, Bush/Cheney have been openly dictatorial in our own country, with brazen new practices like warrantless domestic spying; the classification of people as “enemy combatants” to get around democratic laws of habeas corpus; and the presidential claim to be above the law by signing laws with “presidential signing statements” that give him the power to break a law he signs.
No wonder this administration is also uniquely divisive. The country is split down the middle between those who regard Bush as a worthy successor to Reagan -- and those who think he shouldn’t be allowed to run a toilet concession.
Let’s take a look at Bush/Cheney, who’ve disturbed the balance between “democracy” and “dictatorship” more than any other ruling elite since our Founding Fathers, whose “democracy” ignored slavery and the genocide of America’s natives. (The Founding Fathers were OK with killing Indians, just like Bush/Cheney are OK with killing Iraqis.)

19. How we make it easy for a president to act like a dictator

Nine ways in which Bush/Cheney have unleashed our hidden dictatorship potential

1. We worship the military
1. Bush voids laws by attaching signing statements to them.

Since he assumed office, Bush has signed over 1,100 laws passed by Congress with presidential signing statements. No president has come close to using this many. Bush’s statements say that he, as president, will decide whether and when he’ll apply a law. He says he has the unilateral right, as president, to violate it. No president has used a signing statement to void the law he signs. President Bush considers himself above the law -- the mindset of a dictator. He says he’s the one who decides how much power he has; he says he’s free to usurp the power of Congress.

2. We think our president won’t lie to us
speaks the truth Bush lies.

Bush has been caught out in more lies than a turd sports flies. He told his electorate that the government has to get a court warrant to wiretap, when he knew his administration was breaking this rule. He said nobody expected Hurricane Katrina to breach the levees, when he’s on tape listening to experts telling him to expect it. Worst of all, he lied us into war. He bent CIA intelligence out of shape to spread the falsehood that Iraq had WMD. Afterwards, when he was caught out, he claimed that intelligence got it all wrong, not him. But all along, the CIA had huge doubts, British Intelligence said the document that claimed Iraq wanted to buy uranium from Niger was a forgery, and German Intelligence told the CIA that “Curveball,” the Iraqi who claimed Saddam had chemical WMD, was a total flake. Bush used the Big Lie Technique, so beloved of dictators Hitler and Stalin, to lie us into committing the murder of between 30,000 and 650,000 Iraqis, and thousands of young Americans. Taxpayer-funded propaganda and punditry, and Orwellian language, are part of this technique -- like calling an environment-gutting bill the Open Skies Act.

3. We think our president is law-abiding
Bush shreds habeas corpus.

The Bush administration can arrest anyone and lock them up indefinitely without a trial by classifying them as “enemy combatants.” To house these prisoners, Bush builds concentration camps like Guantanamo, and prisons like Abu Ghraib, where they can be tortured. He also establishes “black sites” (CIA prisons) in other countries where detainees are tortured.

4. We can’t imagine our president would sanction torture
Bush promotes torture.

The CIA has captured suspects and sent them to countries where they knew they would be tortured, an outsourcing of torture called “extraordinary rendition.” Bush fought tooth and nail against the McCain anti-torture bill. When it passed almost unanimously, he signed it with a signing statement saying that he could break this law when he felt like it. Under this administration’s policies, many US prisoners have been tortured and died from their treatment. This has been done to complete innocents. Bush shares the promotion of torture with dictators like Hitler and Pol Pot. The Red Cross is denied access to detainees. It’s interesting that only a handful of army personnel at the lowest level have been convicted for torture, while all the torture implicated higher-ups have gone scot-free – General Miller, presidential adviser John Yoo, Attorney-General Albert Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, and the President himself.

5. We don’t think our president would spy on us
Bush spies on US citizens.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) prohibits domestic surveillance without a warrant. But President Bush signed a secret executive order authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless electronic eavesdropping on US citizens. They’ve spied on thousands of us. Nobody has been prosecuted yet. Why are they doing it? Why don’t they ask for warrants? Is it because they know they’re unwarranted?

2. We don’t think a president has anything to hide
Bush is crazy for secrecy.

On November 1, 2001, Bush issued Executive Order 13233, which negated the 1978 Presidential Records Act by allowing presidents, vice-presidents and their heirs the power to prevent many document releases. In this way, Bush protects his Dad from being implicated in many national security scandals of the 80s – secret arms sales to Iran, covert supplies of chemical weapons to Saddam, and cocaine trafficking with Nicaraguan contras. Moreover, 55,000 pages of released records have been reclassified.

7. We allow politicians to claim they’re instruments of God.

When asked if he ever discussed Iraq with his Dad, Bush replied that he communicated with a higher power -- God. He has told people that he believes God chose him for his job, and that he is doing God’s work. Such messianic self-belief smacks of a dictator’s supreme arrogance.

3. We think Congress and the Supreme Courts act as a brake on presidential power
Bush reduced the GOP Congress to lackey status.

For five years, Congress was in the hands of pliant Republicans. The courts were filled with a majority of Republican-appointed judges. The checks and balances established by our Constitution were gone. Bush bestrode Washington like Caligula.

9. Bush uses terrorism to excuse his behavior.

All dictators like to scare their people with stories of enemies and terror. The President has said we’re in an eternal war against dangerous terrorists who threaten us all. Meanwhile, your chances of drowning in your bathtub are better than croaking from a terrorist act. By fostering a perpetual state of crisis and emergency, Bush is able to exercise greater control. It gives him an excuse to operate like a dictator and abridge our rights.

20. The invisible dictatorship masks incompetence

Every day Bush/Cheney build on their foundation for an expanding dictatorship. They may call it the power of the “unitary executive.” Others have called it the “imperial presidency.” Still others see it as “a CEO mentality.” But the proper word for it is dictatorship.
We’ve listed the most fundamental ones. And skipped a number of other dictatorial tendencies. For example, the habit of a dictatorship to be so fixed on ideological purity, it executes with massive incompetence.
In this regard, the Bush/Cheney list is endless. The Katrina response made the most headlines. Then there’s the awkward illegal outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, to punish her husband for exposing as BS the sale of uranium to Iraq by Niger. There’s the FBI tracking activist groups like Greenpeace and Catholic Workers. There’s the hampering of the 9/11 investigation. The attacks on science and research. The limiting of responses to requests under the Freedom Of Information Act. The many no-bid contracts to Cheney’s Halliburton cronies. The K Street project, which forced business groups to appoint lobbyists who were Republicans, otherwise they don’t get a hearing. Jack Abramoff. The mishandling of the Iraq War. Inadequate body armor for our troops. Faith-based initiatives that break down the wall between church and state. Putting us into debt to China. Tax cuts for the rich. Screwing up the environment. Using US attorneys to accuse Democratic Party of anything it takes to turn a close election. Etcetera.
Today a majority thinks our country is moving in the wrong direction. If this particular wrong direction -- the growing Bush/Cheney dictatorship – were public knowledge, Americans would be way more concerned than they already are.
George Orwell said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” If the Bush/Cheney dictatorship continues to expand, the time for revolutionary action may come soon. The Declaration of Independence says this about the rights of Americans: “… when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government …”
A recent protester held up this slogan: “Somebody give Bush a blowjob, so we can impeach him.”
That says it. That very much says it.
While Congress was in Republican hands, the dictator was above censure. He could not be impeached.
Then, when the Democrats won the House and Senate, the first thing Nancy Pelosi said was that “impeachment is off the table.”
What about the American people? Hey, don’t look to us. We’re the happy serfs on the plantation, mired in ignorance, blind and powerless, a great big flabby penis looking for a place to park its impotent seed.
The most impeachable President and Vice-President in US history are running out their term while their lost and unpopular war, that the majority of Americans don’t want, continues to kill their own citizens, and the citizens of a country thousands of miles away, month after month after month. And we call this a democracy?

I promised not to write any shrill screeds against Bush. But I’ve decided to break my promise, because I think you deserve a break. A little romp of a rant I once wrote. Here it is, an over-the-top shriek of outrage for comic relief that I spilled back in July 2007. Enjoy. Afterwards, we’ll get back to serious business again.
The Fun of Waiting for the Barbarians to leave Washington

What will Washington be like when the Barbarians leave town at year end 2008?

Will this hapless burg feel the relief of an epic enema? Will this home of flagrant hypocrites and BS ejaculators, stuffed from snout to stern with an indigestible lumpen elite of corrupt souls, moral myopics, and wannabe-messiahs – will it actually change?

We know what Washington has become since the Barbarians took over in 2000. Who back then, when Bush was campaigning as a “compassionate conservative,” could have foreseen what his Cheney presidency would bring us?

1. The turning of our proud Army and CIA into low-life torturers.

2. The deaths of tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of innocent Arab men, women and children, and nearly four thousand Americans -- not counting the thousands of severed limbs dropped on Iraqi soil.

3. The hatred and contempt of the world.

4. The creation of thousands of fresh, motivated, diehard Al Qaeda terrorists and hundreds of suicide bombers.

5. The tactic of the Big Lie to con us into “pre-emptive” war (it worked for Hitler, it worked for Bush).

6. A headlong plunge from a comfortable surplus into a tsunami of debt, making us the #1 debtor nation on earth, which includes the staggering waste of $12 billion a month on the Iraq War, the millions wasted on mercenaries – hired goons -- by the truckload, and the stunning charity to the super-rich, to the point that beneficiaries like Warren Buffett and Bill Clinton apologize for it.

7. The rebuilding of Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

8. The trashing of our Constitution, Bill of Rights, habeas corpus, separation of Church and State, Geneva Convention, warrants for surveillance, laws via “signing statements,” the environment, the middle-class, the poor, US attorney credibility, FEMA, stem-cell research, and good American jobs.

9. No-bid contracts for Cheney’s cronies at Halliburton.

Truly, we’ve had six years of government by the Barbarians, our historical worst. It’s the sacking of Rome from the inside. The cons are running the prison. Darth Vader rules the galaxy. Child molesters oversee the nursery.

During Watergate, pundits proudly stated that the system worked. Well, in the case of the Barbarians, the system worked all right, but it was not the system we call democracy. It was something new in America – dictatorship lite.

Our so-called democracy -- this supposedly robust system established by our founding fathers, of a separation of powers, of checks and balances, of equality before the law -- was hijacked by no more than thirteen men with a wacky agenda: Dick Cheney, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Zalmay Khalilzad, John Bolton, Philip Zelikow, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The shame of it is that they were ably supported by not only the usual suspects -- the Weekly Standard, National Review, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the “scholars” of the American Enterprise Institute, the batty "Rapture” Evangelicals and creationists, the rightwing radio windbags, the flag-waving “uberpatriot” imbeciles, the greedy military-industrial complex slurping up our tax dollars -- the whole pea-brained troglodyte spastic chorus of hate-speech-spouting Bible-thumping crooked free-market monopoly capitalism liberal-decrying family-values war-on-terror gay-baiting women-suppressing stem-cell-fearing enemies-under-our-beds science-ignorant paranoid fetus-pitying SUV-driving beer-bellied gun-toting bash-the-poor hysterical racist ideologues who’ve made America the laughing stock of the civilized world, given noble conservatism a bad name, and caused Barry Goldwater to puke on the worms in his grave.

These thirteen Barbarians -- who in any other country would be marginalized on the far-right loony fringe -- were also enthusiastically cheered on by the self-proclaimed stalwarts of our “democracy” like the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC. These highly intelligent and “liberal” media fell for the most obvious lies, and became the useful idiots of the Barbarians.

Thirteen Barbarians hijacked the country, and the country was only too willing to be hijacked. Hey, we may be against gay marriage, but that doesn’t stop us from bending over when our elite waves a big blunt organ our way.

So much for our so-called democracy. Turns out it can be easily busted by a few determined wingnuts.

Even an election win by the Democratic Party has made little difference. Our kids are still being killed for no good reason in Iraq. The Barbarians, bloodied but unbowed, still rule. Nobody has thought to impeach the most impeachable President and Vice-President in history.

Our system of “democracy” has failed us. The truth is, the system never works. It’s people who make the system work, and we’ve elected the wrong people to make our system work. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach, and that’s that. The electorate never gets a proper alternative to the dictatorial powers-that-be.

It doesn’t really matter which party is in power. The credit-card companies will still get to write the bankruptcy laws. Big Pharma will still be writing drug laws. HMOs will be writing healthcare laws. Big Oil will make sure they’re subsidized by our taxes. The American people will still find themselves eternally ass-up-in-the-air, steadily buggered by their Barbarian elite.

The Barbarians are in charge because a nation of Barbarians put them there, and it took our nation of ignoramus hicks all of six years to find out how Barbarian their chosen Barbarians can be. At last Bush’s approval rate sleeps with the fishes, and most Americans want the end of a war most of them now think was a mistake, but wouldn’t you know? Bush is still whining away on TV, refusing to get his butt out of Iraq.

Now that we know how easy it is to turn our “democracy” into a dictatorship (in the current jargon, a “unitary executive”), what can we expect future administrations to get up to?

Don’t think you can trust an administration run by Democrats to be more “democratic” than the Barbarians. The template has been set. It’s just too easy to hijack our “democracy.” Our media are simply too compliant. Our citizens are simply too ignorant (how many of them realize they make no more money than they did in 1970, even though they’re way more productive and work much harder?). And our business leaders can buy too many profit opportunities under the Barbarians. Heck, they love the war; they’re making a killing in Iraq.

That shrewd old Nazi, Hermann Goering, explained the whole thing at Nuremberg: "Naturally the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

It sure worked here. The Barbarians took over, planning a war on Iraq long before 9/11 for their Barbarian dream of yet another puppet regime in the Middle East. Now they’ve afforded future administrations a shining example of just what a few determined men can do when they want war, or tax cuts for the rich, or the right for corporations to foul up our air, or however they want to screw the average American. The spiders spin, and we sit trapped in their web, being sucked dry, while those who should be warning us are basking in access to power instead of speaking truth to it.

Will anything happen to our Barbarians? Let’s take just one example: pundit William Kristol, the editor of Rupert Murdoch’s conservative vanity publication The Weekly Standard. He told NPR when the Iraq War started: "There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America, that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni … There's been almost no evidence of that at all.” What happened to this massive fool, whose brain has been squatting in his bowels since birth? Time Magazine made him one of their columnists. The stupider you are, the bigger the forum you’re given to be stupid in. The more you screw up, the likelier you are to get a Medal of Freedom pinned on your incompetent backside by our Barbarian-In-Chief.

Even now, our nation of Barbarians have no idea how truly Barbarian their Barbarian rulers are. Three of our GOP presidential candidates don’t believe in evolution. All of them are for torture. How can this happen in an educated society of rational grownups? We’re talking about idiocy on a massive scale here, a kind of dark age of the human spirit. Our leaders may be jokes, but what they do is not funny at all, since it usually entails thousands being ripped off or killed. (This month’s joke from the NY Times: “Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel ... that he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches.” America, never forget you voted for this pustule on a warthog’s butt who would’ve felt at home in the Kremlin.)

The American experiment with democracy is over. We need a new De Tocqueville to write not “Democracy in America,” but “Kleptocracy in America.” Here’s the definition of kleptocracy: a government that extends the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class at the expense of the population. Rings a bell, doesn’t it? Especially when we see our pols, after they lose elections, automatically become lobbyists to cash in big-time. And you thought they were there to work for you.

We can now look forward to Barbarian rule in perpetuity. Sometimes it will be Barbarian Heavy, like today, and sometimes it will be Barbarian Lite, like it will be under Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Hillary or Obama might make a cosmetic difference, but Paris Hilton will become a nun in the Congo before any administration actually tries to SOLVE our problems of education, healthcare, energy, the environment, campaign funding and income inequality -- as opposed to Congress paving them over with a thin coat of superficial law-making. Until public schools are funded equally and not by property taxes, until there's a single-payer healthcare system, until big business is forced to clean up after themselves, until corporate welfare for big oil and other businesses stop, until the rich pay their fair share of taxes, until we stop exporting our jobs overseas, until CEOs stop making more in one day than their workers make in a year, things will go on as before.

The Barbarians have won. Under Bush/Cheney, government of the people by the people for the people has perished from America. Sorry, Abe. Our Constitution never stood a chance against our 21st century elite. You thought you birthed a democracy, founding fathers. Tsk, tsk. Long live government of the Barbarians by the Barbarians for the Barbarians.

III: Invisible Economic Dictatorship

[We are now going to talk of the biggest dictatorship in all our lives, which is economic dictatorship. I am going to coin a few more terms, and suggest a few changes, that may shock you. Hang on to your conceptual hat, because we are going to get very real here. After all, it’s no use having a mind if it can’t be blown every now and then. A blown mind is a mind that’s at least breathing.
Here goes:]

A fact of American democracy that is never discussed is how undemocratic our business lives are.

Many of us spend most of our waking hours on earth working under circumstances that are totally undemocratic.

In a big company, tens of thousands of workers can be fired because of one man’s decision. The CEO of an American company has as much power as an old-fashioned monarch. Life in a modern American corporation is about as democratic as Germany under Hitler or Russia under Stalin. Our CEOs are today’s version of Genghis Khan.

The basic fact of corporate life is that you have to obey your boss.

Hence the corporate duty of sucking up to the boss. The phenomenon of phalanxes of yes men. The underlying fear in everything a company man does: what will the boss think of this?

It’s amazing that innovation can blossom under such a system. But think how innovation happens: you need to get the boss on your side before you can do anything. It had better be something he likes. It had better be something he can take credit for.

One-man rule: that’s how American business operates.

Of course, democracy and capitalism are not natural bedfellows. A good case might be made that capitalism does better under a dictatorship: witness the runaway success of Singapore and China.

Perhaps an interesting line of enquiry might be to explore how capitalism might work if it were organized along democratic lines.

Let’s engage in a thought experiment: how would one organize a company along democratic lines? What would something as paradoxical as democratic capitalism look like?

A good place to start would be with the workers of the company. We might call them the citizens of the company, like one refers to the citizens of a country or nation.

Just calling them citizens immediately changes how one thinks about them, doesn’t it?

As citizens, the workers would have some rights and some say in how their company is run. Like, for example, the right to elect their leader.

Imagine what would happen to a company in which its citizen workers get to vote for a new CEO every three or four years.

Come election time, there would be campaigns from qualified would-be CEOs inside the company (or outside the company, for that matter) directed at the citizen workers to win their votes.

What kind of campaigns would these CEO candidates run?

Obviously, they’d come up with policies that show how they’d make more money for the company than the next candidate, and how they’d spend that money better than the next candidate.

Now think about this: it would not get these CEO candidates many votes if their motivation for making more money was to return more dividends to the shareholders in the company.

In fact, to get the most votes, they’d have to promise that a solid chunk of the profits generated by their policies would be returned to the voters -- the citizen workers -- themselves. Come to think of it, they’d have to provide really good reasons why they wouldn’t return a 100% of the profits to the workers. (Think of the motivating effect if citizen workers were to make more money when the company makes more money.)

But what about the shareholders? Shouldn’t they be getting dividends?

Certainly. But it very much depends who the shareholders are.

Here’s where things get interesting.

How would you organize a company in which shares are divided between workers and shareholders and owners?

Let’s float an idea that may sound off-the-wall, even though it’s not intended as a cast-in-stone solution. Think of it as a line of enquiry for people to explore, debate, rebut, refine, develop and run with. In other words, a thought experiment. A new model for a new kind of employee-owned corporation.

Here goes. Say you have an idea that could make money. So you start a company. It’s yours, you own it. Because you have a good idea, your company starts to grow. You add more employees as you make more money so that your expanding company can make you even more money.

Here’s the thought experiment: what if corporate life was arranged –- regulated by law -- as follows.

You are the owner of the company as long as your business employs under a 100 workers. You’re the dictator. You’re free to support your employees, or exploit them, as much as you want or need to.


The day you decide to expand to the point where you need more than a 100 workers -- the minute you employ your 101st worker –- the second you find you need to employ more than a 100 workers to expand even bigger and faster to make megabucks –- at that point, a new change kicks in, legally mandated under the new democratic corporate regulations of our thought experiment.

This law says you now have to share ownership of the company with your workers. The minute you have more than 100 workers, you have to give your workers 51% of your company.

After this, if you and the citizen workers decide to take the company public, you can offer only up to 49% of the company to outside shareholders. Out of your share.

The shares of the citizen workers can never be alienated. They’re not even allowed to sell their shares themselves. If they leave the company, their shares go back to the company, i.e. to the other citizen workers.

In other words, the workers will always own at least 51% of their company.

So when you as the owner get to a 100 workers employed, you face an existential decision. You can decide to stay at 100 employees and be a dictator. But if you want to expand to make more money on a bigger playing field, you have to change your company from a dictatorship to a democracy.

You have to share ownership with your workers. You also have to share power, because now the citizen workers get the right to vote for their leader every three or four years.

They will keep voting for you, the original owner, if the company does well and makes money for them. But they will vote for someone else if you start to blow it.

If they vote for someone else, he or she starts running the company. You still own your 49% of the shares, but you have no power anymore.

If the citizen workers decide to sell shares to the public, they can do it without your say so. They can raise capital for the company by selling up to 80% of your 49% share of the company. The capital they raise goes to the company, not to you. You can decide to sell your 20% of your 49% share of the company in the IPO if you want to cash in.

It gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view).

Every year, if there hasn’t been an IPO, you have to give away 5% of your 49% to the citizen workers until the last 20% of it, which you can keep forever and pass on to your kids. Or sell to the citizen workers in what used to be your company, or sell to shareholders.

Crazy, isn’t it?

But is it any crazier than what we have now? Who says it’s better to have a board-appointed CEO than one democratically elected by the workers? Who says it’s better to have outside shareholders in your company who may never have stepped foot on your factory floor and only bought the shares on the recommendation of a broker – what you might call a class of absentee landlords? What’s so logical about that?

One idea behind our crazy thought experiment is that it’s OK to be the dictator of a 100 people, but not of more than a 100. In fact, the workers who sign up with your dictatorship are there because they’re hoping your company will grow beyond a 100 workers into a democracy.

Now you may say this is all totally unfair -- taking a man’s company away from him and handing it to his employees simply because his original idea was so good it led to him needing to employ more than a 100 workers to exploit its full potential. Doesn’t he deserve all the money to be made from his idea? Why should these workers be able to muscle in on his profits? He’s the guy who came up with the idea. He’s the guy who took the original risk of starting a business to bring his idea to a waiting world. If we keep doing business this way, we will take all motivation away from those innovators who bring new ideas to our society and keep it growing and changing and vital.

It’s easy to mount a counter-argument against this. Who says the guy with the great idea wouldn’t make more money for himself by giving over 51% of his company to his workers, who would now work harder and smarter because they’re working for themselves and not just for him? Isn’t this a better way to make sure that good ideas will better succeed and keep our society growing and changing and vital? And wouldn’t this system encourage natural entrepreneurs to start more than one company: to come up with one idea after the other, and start many companies, one after the other to get their ideas out in the world -- instead of doing the first good idea they had and sticking with that for the rest of their lives?

This is not meant as a hard and fast plan, but as a basis for discussion. A way to deconcept the logic of undemocratic capitalism and point out how democratic capitalism might work. You may have your own ideas.

What cannot be gainsaid is that the capitalism as it is practiced in the US today is totally undemocratic.

Under a more democratic system of capitalism, not only are power and assets shared, but also motivation and incentive.

When everyone is an owner, behavior changes. Everyone in the company, from the CEO down to the janitor, owns shares and will be thinking about how they can make more money for the company –- how they can do their job better, how they can save monet for the company, how they can maximize profit. The company’s money is their money. Isn’t that more true to capitalist ideals than it is for the workers to rely solely on a fixed wage?

My contention goes further: I say a democratic corporation will beat an undemocratic corporation, run by a board-appointed CEO and owned by absentee shareholders, hands down. Every time. It stands to reason: a company owned and run by many capitalists who actually work in the company, will work harder and smarter and more cost-consciously and more profit-mindedly and more competitively than any other.

The workers will work smarter and harder. The bosses will work smarter and harder. The CEO will work smarter and harder. They’re all working for each other as well as for themselves. They're all accountable to each other. They all want each other to do better, because that way they themselves will do better. They win by sharing. The CEO knows he keeps his job only while his decisions and actions do well for the people working under him.

The workers will follow a CEO who makes good money for them with a 110% of their smarts, goodwill and effort.

This could be the perfect model of a perfect company.

If workers could vote for their CEOs today, which CEOs would survive? Steve Jobs of Apple would, for sure. But how many others?

If you’re a CEO, engage in your own thought experiment: do you feel the cold breeze of democratic accountability raise the hairs on the back of your neck?

If only more of our American CEOs labored with that breeze down their necks.

If only our capitalism worked in a more democratic way.

But under our widely accepted and highly admired system, we just have to cope with the results of dictatorship-predator capitalism: cars and burgers that wreck our environment and endanger life on earth; HMOs that deny us operations that could save our lives; and CEOs who make more money in a day than their workers make in a year.

We’re stuck with the capitalism we have instead of the capitalism most of us may prefer, if only we knew about it.

Call me a dreamer. But if democratic capitalism actually happened, you yourself might find that, ohmigod, there’s a dream out there worth following.

Well, that’s the end of our thought experiment. Let’s look at what we have today. Let’s contrast reality with the dream of our thought experiment.
What we have to day are two things.
Number one, an ideology of capitalism. And two, the reality of capitalism.
Our ideology of capitalism is best represented on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, where you will come across the espousal of an economic theory that is put forth with a shrill fanaticism more redolent of fundamentalism than rational thought.
It’s based on a simple thought: the metaphor of the invisible hand, coined by Adam Smith. It says the best way to organize economic life is for everyone to be as free as possible to be as selfish as possible, and that this system will lead to the greatest social good. Those who seek wealth by pursuing their own self-interest will actually help the whole society. The individual seeking his own good supports the good of the entire community by the principle of “the invisible hand.” This paradox comes about because in a free and competitive market, where many sellers are trying to get rich, those goods and services that are the best – the most beneficial, the most efficient, of the best quality -- will be the most profitable. We’ll get more of those goods and services than of the lesser ones. The mechanism is made possible by the free price system. People will naturally choose quality and be happy to pay for it. In this way, they’ll naturally make the best products the most profitable and the most popular. Think iPod -- a really easy and efficient way to listen to music.
Here are Adam Smith’s two most famous paragraphs:
“Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me what I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is the manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love.”
“… every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.”
We have all these guys trying to get rich, “each intends his own gain.” But in order to gain, every guy has to trade something he owns or manufactures, or a service he provides, to someone else who is willing to pay him for it. So, by division of labor, and in a free market, the common good is expanded.
That’s the beautiful theory. But what actually happens.
For example, how did Bill Gates become the richest man in the world? How did Microsoft get so big? They did more than offer a very good product. They screwed everyone in their path. They stole ideas and said, “so sue me.” They pushed a total monopoly, and hung on to it by fair means and foul, helped by an administration they bought. They killed many a good company on their march to the winner’s circle. There was an invisible hand, all right, but there was also a very visible fist.
Beautiful as the theory of capitalism may be, it works a lot like the equally beautiful theory of communism. Karl Marx wrote the immortal words: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Here’s the paragraph in which it appears.
“In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”
Very beautiful, indeed. But what happened to those words? They were used as an excuse by the likes of Stalin to run a horrific dictatorship, as the theory of the “invisible hand” is used by today’s CEOs as an excuse for all sorts of goings-on, including exporting good American jobs overseas in the pursuit of their self-interest. Here is a case where self-interest does not increase the common good of their home country at all. It may increase the common good of Chinese workers in Beijing, but not the common good of American workers in Boston.

I’d call our system of capitalism, so different from the rest of the West, predator capitalism. Its overriding quality is that it feels no social responsibility. It’s about profit, and about driving your competition out of business, and about moving your costs over to the taxpayer.

Take one example: Detroit. They make cars, but everybody else has to pay for the roads. Our car manufacturers, who should be paying and charging for their whole system, which includes roads, have cleverly opted out of their road responsibility and given it to everyone else. At the same time, they snuffed out their competition, the more efficient and cheaper streetcar system, in towns all over America. There was a time when you could take a streetcar all the way from New York City to Albany. No more. The car companies killed that.
Big Oil’s Vendetta Against the Electric Car
by Johann Hari/ The lndependent/UK

Somewhere out there, in the dusty basements of the Chevron-Texaco corporate headquarters, there is a technology that can - in one swoop - slash global warming emissions, save millions of people from respiratory illnesses, and stop us trashing the Middle East to seize its oil. Yet it is being deliberately left to rot, in the hope we will all forget about it.This sounds like the plot to a bad retro-episode of the X-Files, but an award-winning documentary released this week on DVD in Britain reminds us this technology is real and it is still there, waiting to save us. The film is called ‘ Who Killed the Electric Car? ‘

Its story begins in the smogged-out state of California in the early 1990s. The people of the Sunshine State were waking up with a cough to a crisis: one-quarter of all 18-25 year olds in LA County had severe lung lesions or chronic respiratory diseases caused by air pollution. The state government realized they had to act - so they seized on news of a dramatic new technology.

General Motors (GM) had developed a prototype of an electric car with swelling consumer potential. It was a sleek, silver car that could drive at the same speed as a fossil-fueled hunk of metal - only with no exhaust fumes and no carbon emissions. You simply plugged it in at night, like a mobile phone, and drove off in the morning. The electricity costs the equivalent of 30p for a gallon’s worth of travel, as opposed to the £4 Brits pay at the petrol pump.

But GM seemed reluctant to push this extraordinary product onto the consumer market. So the California State Senate decided to give them a nudge. They passed a law that said if you want to sell cars for California’s roads, a proportion of them have to be electric cars: 2 percent in 1998, 5 percent in 2001, and 10 percent in 2003.

The state senators envisaged a day when electric cars would turn the old fossil fuel beasts into relics. They argued that since it took a law to get seatbelts, airbags and catalytic converters into cars, we also need a law to get toxic fumes and surplus global warming gases out of the atmosphere.

The car companies were immediately and irreparably enraged. They began a two-pronged strategy: the most grudging and stuttering possible compliance with the law, while lobbying fiercely alongside Big Oil to have the law scrapped.

The first electric cars appeared on California’s roads nonetheless, and a slew of celebrities like Tom Hanks, Ted Danson and Mel Gibson snapped them up and plugged them at every opportunity.

But the people working on selling the electric cars noted something odd: GM was deliberately underselling them. Chelsea Sexton, one of the company’s electric car specialists, explains that the team had to fill in vast questionnaires for every customer, only for most to be inexplicably rejected: “I had to fill in a resume for Mel Gibson listing his accomplishments and achievements, because they said he didn’t warrant a car.”

Instead of marketing them with sexy women draped over the cars, GM’s ads had odd opaque graphics and the voice of an elderly woman. Big Oil speedily joined this anti-advertising campaign. Exxon-Mobil followed its standard operating practice of setting up fake consumer groups to spread disinformation about the products, saying they were bad for the environment.

This corporate coalition finally succeeded in repealing the law - and GM immediately called in all their electric cars and sent them to the scrap heap. The drivers offered over $1.9m to keep the last remaining models - but the company preferred to destroy them. A bemused Sexton says, “There’s no precedent for a car company rounding up every particular kind of car and crushing them, as if they’re afraid one will get away.”

Their campaign almost complete, Chevron-Texaco came in with a final blow. The biggest drawback to the electric car had been its limited range: one charge lasted around 60 miles, then the car stopped. So the distinguished engineer Stan Ovshinsky created a battery that could run up to 300 miles at 70mph on a single charge - enough to get from London to Scotland, and make the car extremely popular. The oil companies bought the technology. It has not been seen since.

Why? Why would a string of corporations turn down cash and scrap a potentially extremely profitable technology? Isn’t that contrary to everything we are taught about how market economies work?

The oil companies had an obvious interest in stopping an alternative to fossil fuels. There is $100 trillion of oil left in the earth, and they plan to mine it - even if doing so will make the planet uninhabitable. Anything that could divert that cash away from them is a threat to be crushed.

But why did the car companies collaborate? Electric cars have no combustion engine - and it is in maintaining and replacing those engines that makes up a hefty chunk of Detroit’s profits. A transition to batteries, which require little maintenance, would be a disaster for their balance sheets.

Besides, marketing clean electric cars would mean admitting that their core product is dirty. Tom Everhart served on the board of GM for more than a decade, and he explains how the conversation about the electric car went there: “We said that [using the electric car] we can meet the zero emissions requirements. Then we said, ‘Do we want to show we can meet them? That means all our other cars…’”

Thatcho-Reaganites are always lecturing about how unregulated markets are the best way to stimulate innovation. The story of the electric car is a parable about how, to the contrary, unregulated markets often quickly descend into a corporate oligopoly that smothers new technologies in their cot. Only tough, democratic regulations - which they mock as ‘red tape’ - keeps markets from devouring themselves. The California government’s regulations spurred innovation, until they were scrapped.

Out here in the smog, we have never needed the electric car more. The Royal Commission of Environmental Pollution warned this week that the air pollution in London is now as damaging as the low-level radiation Chernobyl survivors were exposed to, knocking an average of eight months off your life. The daily carnage in Iraq is the result of our burning thirst for oil. And more important still, global warming is acting like a slow-mo carbon bomb dropped on the planet, destabilizing the climate in ways we cannot control and cannot predict.

But however much we cry for it, the electric car will remain moth-balled in the vaults of Chevron-Texaco - until we change our economic system to put the needs of people before the unhindered, unhinged preservation of profits.
Car accidents kill more people than anything else, but they don’t pay for anyone killed in car accidents either. Their products befoul the environment, and they don’t pay for those damages either. The car as Detroit makes it, will end up killing us all with global warming, yet they don’t pay a blue cent for any of the vast damage they cause. They’ve put most of their costs on our backs.

The car racket is a perfect example of what I call predator capitalism. No social responsibility whatsoever.

It’s a massive irony that the free-market fundamentalism that has brought them this far, is now also bringing them down, because they have to pay for the healthcare of their workers under our free-market healthcare system. Our HMOs are eating the profits of our car manufacturers, because they both believe in free-market fundamentalism. A rather elegant irony, don’t you think?

One thing must be understood. There is an inherent contradiction between democracy and capitalism. There is nothing democratic about capitalism. The most successful capitalist countries – China and Singapore – are not democratic at all.

In our “democracy,” our entire media is now ruled over by seven companies: how democratic is that? In this monopolistic capitalist system, it’s no wonder we all rushed to war when Bush lied to us – there was no other voice in the media except the ones for war. How democratic is our media, which are the result of capitalism?

Let’s analyze our form of capitalism which I’ve called predator capitalist. It’s based on the ideology of free-market fundamentalism. Let’s look at this bizarre ideology, which is almost as absurd as Stalin’s brand of communism was.

If our political discourse is riddled with untruths, deceptions, masks, feints, blind alleys and deviances, our economic discourse is beyond devious – especially in America. On a political level, we are so out of step with the rest of the civilized world, our far-left is their center. Our center is their far-right. And our right is their off-the-wall loonies.
On an economic level, it’s worse. What they call capitalism, we call socialism. What we call capitalism, they’d call out-and-out exploitation.
For example, we regard their single-payer healthcare system as socialism. We forget that’s how we run our schools, police, courts, garbage disposal, etc. Does that make us socialists? If it does, thank God for that.
We think their healthcare system is socialism, yet they regard it as business as usual – a normal and expected thing, like the air they breathe. For them it stands to reason that healthcare should be free for everyone. For us healthcare has got to be something on which you can make a profit. That’s one reason why our country spends twice as much on healthcare than other countries, and why we have worse outcomes. That’s another reason why our car companies can’t compete because their healthcare expenses add more than $1,500 to the cost of every car they make, a cost that Japanese car companies don’t have. The divergence is so immense it can hardly be discussed.
As an American I am totally envious of my sister who lives in France. I could eat a Studebaker I get so irked. She once had cancer. She was operated on, stayed in the hospital for months, spent three months of convalescence on a country estate, and returned to her secure job. All free, and she didn’t lose a cent of her salary. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? Well, the entire rest of the industrialized world lives like that.
This is what we call socialism, and we’ve been programmed to fear it. This healthcare socialism doesn’t work, we’re told -- people wait months for their operations. This has got be a BS scare tactic. My sister didn’t wait a second. She was at death’s door, and they sprang into action, and saved her life with the best care in the world. When you want to see the doctor here in the US, how long does it take for you to get an appointment? How long does it take you to get into a hospital?
Stupidly, we think our system, which ranks 37th in the world, behind Slovenia, is the way to go. Our broken healthcare system is just one more institution that comes to us courtesy of our dictatorship tendencies.

9. The corporation as dictatorship – capitalism vs. democracy

Now you free
11. The consuming serf and the CEO tyrant
i. The United States of Consuming Serfs – the craziness of the society of unsatisfied desires we live in -- the coalition of the unliving The Unliving The Unlife
The Gene of Belonging – urge to fundamentalism security over liberty -- The psychology of serfdom
Given the magnitude of the global crises we face, we’d hope the key nonprofits trying to address them would use every appropriate tool to maximize their impact.

Yet, Seattle’s own Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which does a world of good with its programs, is missing a significant opportunity by not aligning the foundation’s investment commitments with its larger social goals.

If the foundation wanted to consider a different approach, it might learn from institutions like California’s massive CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) pension fund, which has combined first-rate financial returns with investments that put its dollars in service of its values.

At present, the Gates Foundation invests solely around trying to maximize returns, arguing that the more it makes, the more worthy projects it can fund. That means it has steered its dollars toward a number of companies that seem to undermine the good work it does with its programs: Exxon/Mobil, in which the foundation has $293 million, has been the prime global funder of institutes and individuals who deny global warming; mortgage company Ameriquest has been sued repeatedly for predatory lending; Tenet Healthcare has paid more than $1.5 billion in settlements for fraud, kickbacks and patient-care lapses.

Earlier this year, Gates Foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer defended the foundation’s hands-off approach (except for avoiding tobacco companies) by saying, “It would be naive to think that changing the foundation’s investment practices could stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of companies in which it invests billions of dollars.”

But the current approach is an opportunity lost to make a broader impact with its $66 billion of capital (counting the pledged contributions from Warren Buffett). And, the financial returns for trying to do the right thing don’t have to be lower.

To take the example of the $248 billion CalPERS fund, it has more than three times the assets of the Gates Foundation, while facing the legal and fiduciary strictures of being a public pension system. Yet, it has managed to shift its investments toward companies that take account of social and environmental impacts for a broader bottom line.

In addition, CalPERS has engaged in proactive shareholder advocacy, using the leverage of its holdings to change corporate policies. It helped win better drug access for AIDS patients in poor countries. It improved working conditions for Asian suppliers to corporations where it’s invested. It has publicly joined shareholder campaigns to require that Exxon/Mobil shift major resources toward alternative energy and to force the resignation of the director of Exxon’s public-issues committee - “due to the company’s inaction on the business risks from climate change.”

CalPERS is also directly investing close to $1 billion in renewable technologies and in increasing the energy efficiency of the $12.2 billion of buildings and houses in its portfolio and that of its sister fund, CalSTRS (California State Teachers’ Retirement System).

Throughout this, they’ve still earned excellent returns: 12.89 percent over the past five years for CalPERS, and 13.1 percent for CalSTRS. And, according to studies by consulting group Wilshire Associates and University of California, Davis, finance professor Brad Barber, their stands on corporate governance have actually added market value to corporations whose policies they worked to shift.

Their approach has been so successful that the retirement systems of New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, Minnesota and Oregon are now following suit by developing their own environmental-investment programs.

The Gates Foundation would do well to solicit the perspectives of former California state Treasurer Phil Angelides and former Controller Steve Westly, who spearheaded the most far-reaching CalPERS initiatives.

They’d do well to talk with leaders of other institutions that have followed similar paths. The socially responsible Domini 400 Social Index, for instance, has outperformed the S&P 500 on an annual risk-adjusted basis since its 1990 inception. Last year, 32 pension funds from six continents representing $2 trillion in combined assets agreed to place analysis of environmental, social and governance issues at the core of their investment approaches.

We’ll never live in a world where our every choice matches our values. Sometimes you lose potential earnings by not investing in tobacco - or at least until the lawsuits roll in.

But imagine if the Gates Foundation disinvested from Exxon/Mobil and similarly problematic corporations and shifted the money into renewable-energy stocks or program-related investments - or joined public campaigns to change key corporate policies.

Imagine if it shifted even a portion of its investments to provide resources for the kind of world it works to create through its grant-making.

Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of “ Soul of a Citizen ” and “ The Impossible Will Take a Little While .” See

Capitalism doesn’t need democracy, look at China. It just needs an elite. It’s the economy of the elite, for the elite and by the elite.
How capitalism is undemocratic
Free-market evangelicals
Predator capitalism
Free-Market fundamentalism
Corporate dictatorship vs. corporate democracy
CEO dictatorship Worker democracy

20. If living in a political dictatorship sucks eggs, working in a corporate dictatorship is chewing turds

1. The CEO as dictator over paid power no accountability
2. Avoiding responsibility – the corporation
3. Profit motive – amoral, anti-social good, no values, competitiveness,
4. Harmful products – Coca Cola, McDonalds, chemicals, pharma, oil
5. Harmful practices – Wal-Mart, GE, environment, people
6. Off-loading cost to others – roads (car manufacturers), Wal-Mart (healthcare)
7. Undemocratic
8. Newman’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Murdoch, Tom of Maine, Body Shop, that carpet company guy

The insane world they’ve created of the consuming serf, slave

I wish there is a word for someone who believes that:

1. the community should establish a super-strong social safety net (via big government a la Sweden) look up “communitarianism”

2. government should watch that rich people don't rip us off too much (tough anti-trust action, tax the rich mightily)

3. everyone should get a fair shot at getting rich (spend the same amount of money per school kid, make it easy to start a business or declare bankruptcy)

4. it should be difficult to start a war (you can only start one if you get a two-thirds majority in a national referendum)

I like to think of myself as a classic liberal, but I don't know if these 4 points are covered by it.

Posted by: Adam Ash |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 08:22 AM

I'd like to add:

5. Corporations should be owned by their employees, not shareholders

Posted by: Adam Ash |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 08:25 AM

Democratic socialist?

Posted by: OneFatEnglishman |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 08:25 AM

Democratic socialist?
I likes.
OneFatEnglishman, bless your Celtic heart.

Posted by: Adam Ash |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 08:31 AM

48: I haven't read the Dead Right series for a couple of months (though I have read it twice), but wasn't the point that Frum's belief system is an incoherent mess? Given that, and that its Frum who Holbo is saying thinks, "Property rights and market economics are inextricably connected to social conservatism," why would you take that paragraph as supporting thw truth of that point, as opposed to supporting the truth that a somewhat nutty guy (David Frum) believes that point.

65: Can employees sell those shares to non-employees, or are they a non-alienable right to some percentage of the companies profits? If non-alienable, can loans be collateralized with the projected revenue stream from the shares? Are people who currently invest their money in equity going to be limited to buying debt, and are companies similarly going to be limited to financing themselves by selling debt rather than equity? I can imagine it being good idea, pending some economic argument for why it would be a bad idea, to create tax incentives towards, say an initial distribution of any newly created shares so that 50.1% go to employees, and they're distributed among employees in some fairly equitable way, is that what you're asking for, or a more robust requirement?

Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-20-06 08:54 AM

"Democratic Socialist" is what my father, following his hero, Michael Harrington, called himself. Harrington died in the early nineties. I remember he was prominent enough to attract some press coverage to his views during the '88 Democratic Convention.

Posted by: I don't pay |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 09:07 AM

Washerdryer, 68:

"Can employees sell those shares to non-employees?"

"Are they a non-alienable right to some percentage of the companies profits?"

"If non-alienable, can loans be collateralized with the projected revenue stream from the shares?"
Why not.

"... 50.1% go to employees, and they're distributed among employees in some fairly equitable way -- is that what you're asking for, or a more robust requirement?"
That's all I'm asking for (unless you have some interesting more robust idea, which I'd love to hear).
You can still raise money on the stock market, but the majority share-holding should remain in employee hands, in a tiered manner (a) after 5 years work, you get a bigger share-holding, and (b) when you get to some kind of "partner" big-responsibility level, you get an extra whack of shares.

I believe that if you live in a democracy, you should also be able to live in a democratic corporation, where there's a vote every four years for who should be CEO, so the CEO's prime responsibility is to the employees - if he fucks up in the employees' eyes, they vote for someone else with a better plan.

In my democratic business world, a business that employs under 100 people can be a dictatorship -- so the people who had the balls to start the business, get enough of a chance to make all the money they can from it.

But as soon as the company employs more than a 100 people, it must become a democracy. Of course, that would encourage many under-a-100 dictatorships, but no matter. I think it's OK for a dictator to be able to fuck over a maximum of a 100 people, but not more than a 100 people.

Posted by: Adam Ash |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 09:32 AM

Adam, I'd hate to have the job of specifying the system that allocated employee shares on that basis.

Posted by: OneFatEnglishman |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 09:54 AM

I appreciate the answers, and there's certainly something to them. But you dropped my part about tax incentives (I'd also be willing to do it via a direct subsidy, if one day the U.S. had a much simpler tax system and this was adding needless complexity) as compared to direct prohibition plus punishment. So, I'm going to put together a really long overly complex hypothetical to draw out (some of)the implications of putting your policy into effect.

On day zero, Jim starts his own business selling widgets. He, of course, owns 100% of the shares in Widgets"_"Us. This company is amazingly successful, and grows at a rate of one employee per day, each of whom receives a salary and benefit package at the high range for their line of work. On day 100 (or 101, does Jim go towards the count?), Widgets"_"Us has 101 employees. Jim continues to hold 100% of the stock. Can the employees now sue him to have him divest himself of 50.1% of the shares? Do they have to provide any (new) compensation for this (they may have been previously compensating him by working for him without owning any of the company)? If they, despite being aware of their right to 50.1% of the company, choose not to sue, what happens? Does the Federal Trade Commission, or a similar agency, sanction the company? So the company is still growing at the same constant rate, and on day 200 Jim, who hasn't been sued by the (now 200 + Jim) employees and may have paid some sanction, decides that he's done with Widgets"_"Us. So he, without asking anyone else, purports to have an initial public offering of 100% of the ownership, divided into 100,000 shares, for sale at $20 a share. I'm sure the SEC refuses to register these shares, but that would only mean that he can't sell to individuals, certain institutional investors could still buy the shares. Can the firms that normally underwrite IPO's legally underwrite this sale? If different institutional investors purport to buy the shares by exchanging money for them, what happens? One thing I could imagine is that this illegal sale isn't enforceable, if Jim receives the money first he can refuse to distribute the shares, and if the investors receive their shares first they can refuse to pay. Or it could be that the SEC will just not approve the sales. Anyway, this is, as I said, a needlessly complicated way of asking what kind of legal framework you want around the ownership of medium-to-large businesses.

Posted by: washerdreyer |Link to this comment | 07-20-06 10:31 AM

"On day 100, Widgets"_"Us has 101 employees. Jim continues to hold 100% of the stock. Can the employees now sue him to have him divest himself of 50.1% of the shares?"

The employees don't have to sue Jim. He is legally obliged to issue a 100 shares, one each to each employee, amount to 51% of shares in the company.

He is also legally obliged to give away a further 5% of his 49% holding every year until he has 9% left, which he can keep till he dies if he wants to.

"So the company is still growing at the same constant rate, and on day 200 Jim, who hasn't been sued by the (now 200 + Jim) employees and may have paid some sanction, decides that he's done with Widgets"_"Us. So he, without asking anyone else, purports to have an initial public offering of 100% of the ownership, divided into 100,000 shares, for sale at $20 a share."

He can only offer an IPO of his 49% holding or part thereof, whenever he feels like it.

"Can the firms that normally underwrite IPO's legally underwrite this sale?"

"If different institutional investors purport to buy the shares by exchanging money for them, what happens?"
The money goes to Jim. The IPO comes out of his share of the company. No matter how many shares he sells, and how much money he makes, he can never sell more than 49% of the company, and less if he waits a few years, because every year he has to give away another 5% to the employees. After 8 years, he has 9% and they could have 91%, if he didn't have an IPO before that.

The owner can cash in, but the employees can't -- they keep their 51% so they're always in control, and able to vote for a new CEO every four years. Maybe there should be a two-term limit for CEOs as well as Presidents.

Worker capitalism don’t drink the Kool Aid by making a wage-and-benefits deal with capitalists, workers should own the company
People capitalism Capitalism with a human face SHARED CAPITALISM Employee-owned businesses
Partnership the template for a company, a paradigm of democratic capitalism. People’s democracy. Workers capitalism. Everybody should be a capitalist. Everybody should be a bureaucrat. Capitalism by the workers, of the workers, for the workers
How is my tax money spent. I vote on how it is spent.
Surplus value of worker should go to worker. Surplus power of voter should go to voter. Taxes should come back to voter. Profits should come back to worker.

1. The institutions.
The school. The university. The guild. The partnership. The jury. The prison. The police. The restaurant.
The school should train teachers from the student population, like a guild.
Why can’t all institutions have children in them that train them like a guild?
Intern, trainee worker, worker, partner, owner, trainer.

2. The guilds. Doctors, lawyers, via university.
The school. The prison (they should be the judges). The court. The jury another paradigm of democracy.

Doctors and lawyers a paradigm – professionals who have their own customers.

The car manufacturer. The workers who have their own customers. Everyone makes their own car. You make a car by putting it together on the internet, like self-publishing. You start from the consumer, who manufactures the car.

The internet makes a new company and a new bureaucracy possible. A new economy and a new state possible. You pick the book over Amazon. EBay. Wikipedia. Linux. Google.

The services:
The utilities and products: electricity, water, fuel, food, clothes, houses, furniture and household items, cultural products, technical products.

2. The town, the village, the suburb. That Latin American city as a paradigm.

III. Invisible Financial Dictatorship – telling you how to spend your hard-earned money with ads and stuff consumerism – the gall
Control over how your taxes are spent
Should give you the power to decide what percentage of taxes spent on education, healthcare, infrastructure, police, courts, prison, defense, administration – need an annual report from government

III: Invisible Social Dictatorship

i. Religion churches

The Invisible Dictatorship of God, the supreme imaginary friend

Having a strong faith is not necessarily disabling. The people who survived the Nazi death camps the best were the Communists and the Seventh Day Adventists – those prisoners with the two strongest-held faiths. They had belief systems that kept their egos more intact than others who were only shielded by their former bourgeois status in society, and when that was taken away from them, they crumbled.

That said, what kind of a freedom is there in relying on some omnipotent imaginary friend to whose service you have to give over your whole life in order to be redeemed after you’re dead, which is not much help to you while you’re alive?

Recognizing a higher being is the exact opposite of standing on your own two feet and taking responsibility for yourself. Obeying some metaphysical being places you immediately in a situation of obedience, of servility, of what Nietzsche called a “slave mentality.” It’s the utmost abandonment of selfhood, of the sovereign self.

No doubt all of us long to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves, but why project that beyond what is already bigger than ourselves here on earth – our responsibilities to our family, our neighborhood, our community, our nation, our planet?

Believing in God is placing yourself and your destiny in the hands of a dictator. And not that much of a benevolent despot. He can visit you with sickness, agony, disappointments in love and success and income, with pain and death, and for that you must be eternally grateful. Doesn’t sound like much a bargain.

There’s not much difference between a devout Christian and a citizen of North Korea or Burma devoted to its dictator. In both cases you’re not in charge of your own destiny – you’ve given it over to someone else, in a faint hope that that creature would even know who you are.

It’s a little like being a fan of the Rolling Stones. But at least you can go and see the Stones play, and for a couple of hours get lost in your worship of their talent, but you never get to see God play in a rock ‘n roll band or sing “Sympathy for the Devil.” The closest you get to him is when you sit in a church and listen to a priest or rabbi or mullah, or kneel down in prayer. But he never appears in front of you or shakes his sexy behind in your face like Mick Jagger. The dude never shows himself. Some people think he has a white beard, but nobody has ever come up with a single hair.
Then he is supposed to have written the Bible or the Koran. Says who? Says the Bible and the Koran. But hey, how do you check that out? George Lucas directed Star Wars. I know that because a lot of people were on the set with George Lucas and saw him do that. Nobody saw God write the Bible. Nobody saw Mohammad write the Koran. Apparently it all happened in visions and stuff. The Invisible Dictator of Dad Father
iii.medical hospitals, doctors The Invisible Dictatorship of the Expert – doctors, lawyers (story of Esther and pimples and expert and pharmacy guy) prisons The Invisible Dictatorship of the Law, Police, Prisons as Sheriff
v.educational schools Ivy League job training The Invisible Dictatorship of the Teacher and the School – home-schooling, parents should do it, or at least take a hand and an interest in what happens to their kids in school instead of handing them over for most of their lives parental neglect abdication

"Political power, then, I take to be the right of making laws with the penalty of death." –John Locke (2nd Treatise of Government)

15. The most effective political act of all

Of all the options you have if you don’t like your government, there is only one that is truly effective.
That is to kill. It works every time. When you assassinate the president, he is dead. You have removed him from office. He can never run again.
Because killing is so effective, it’s often used by people who get totally upset with governments, countries or regimes. It’s been used by Palestinians against Israel, in the form of suicide bombers. By Basques against Spain. By the IRA against England. WW1 started when a Serbian commoner assassinated an Austrian duke. Killing was used most memorably against the US by Saudi terrorists who didn’t like the fact that we had our troops stationed in Saudi-Arabia near the holy shrine of Mecca. In the biggest terrorist act of history, these Saudis killed 3,000 Americans in less than two hours.
Killing is the ultimate protest. It is the ultimate power a human being can have. It’s so radical, extreme, severe and absolute, the right is never granted to any civilian. Only governments claim the right to kill. The US government claims the right to kill people who kill other people, for example. It shares this habit of execution with undemocratic countries like China. Democracies stopped doing this a long time ago. America hasn’t, but as we’ve seen, America doesn’t work quite like a democracy, even though it prides itself on being one. Its use of the death penalty is one more example of its dictatorial ways.
When you kill a political leader, you are taking the right to kill into your own hands, out of the hands of the government, which claims that only it has the right to kill.
Not that anyone should have the right to kill. Neither a person nor a government. But because governments claim they have the right to kill, they make it easier for people to feel they have the right to kill, too.
Those Saudis felt they had the right to kill, because governments kill people all the time and get away with it. Those Saudis regarded themselves as soldiers in a war, believers who were going to paradise, martyrs ordained by Allah -- like soldiers in a regular war ordered by their government to kill for their country and die for its beliefs.

16. Killing goes beyond the conceptual

Killing is the most remarkable act any human can commit. It is the dialectical opposite of the other most remarkable act a human can commit: to seed life via sex and bring it into the world as a baby child.
The two absolute extremities of humanity: causing death or life.
When you kill a political leader, you are acting like a government. You declare war on your enemy.
It is an amazing thing to do, an exception to all other acts, because it is not playing the Conceptual game. You are not doing democracy anymore. You are not voting, or running for office, or making laws. You are not conceptualizing in any way. You are not communicating via language, or using a rock as a chair, or picking a flower because you have a concept that it is pretty.
You have stopped being Conceptual about politics. You have gone over from the Conceptual to the Real. You have left the consolation of the Conceptual behind you, to enter the brutality of the Real. You are now part of the threat of the Real. You have escaped the Conceptual. You are not a victim or a slave of the Conceptual anymore. You are a master of the Real.
Franz Fanon famously claimed that killing purifies: ''Violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.'' Jean-Paul Sartre added in his preface to Fanon’s Wretched Of The Earth: ''To shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone -- to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time.''
These two lefties are trying to romanticize killing for political ends. They are still playing in the world of the Conceptual, trying to make killing part of their Conceptual game.
But killing is not doing the Conceptual. It is being the Real.
And when you go even further, when you kill yourself in the act of killing others – like a suicide bomber, like those Saudis in their Boeings –- when you make yourself the instrument of violence, when your own body is the weapon, you do more than leaving the Conceptual behind you and entering the Real.
You enter the Real in person. You yourself are not Conceptual anymore. You are the Real.
You are also dead. But you are real.
Those Saudis never felt more real than when they turned their jets on the Twin Towers and hurtled towards them -- the exhilaration of their certain death.

17. Killing: the ultimate act of being human, of being free

Because killing is dropping the Conceptual for the Real, it is the ultimate act of deconception.
What the heck do I mean by that?
Actually, you know already, because that’s what we’ve been doing all along. We’ve have been looking at democracy critically. We’ve shown American democracy to be riddled with dictatorship tendencies.
We’ve been engaging in various acts of deconception.
To engage in deconception is to move your mind – to think – from the Conceptual over to the Real, the way killing works.
Deconception is a philosophical form of assassination. To deconcept is to kill concepts. To assassinate concepts. We are being concept killers. We are deconcepting the Conceptual.
Our minds are used to Conceptualizing the Real. That’s what consciousness does as a matter of course. But we are trying to intervene in this process. We are trying to reverse the natural movement of the human mind. We are trying to throw our minds in reverse gear. We want to send the mind reeling backwards, from its habitual Conception of the Real.
We want to arrive at the Real instead of the Conceptual.
The Conceptual renders the Real invisible. Our project is to make the Real visible. To make the Real actual.


18. Art is an act of deconception.

There is a precedent: it’s called art.
Art is an ultimate Conceptualization, but also an ultimate deconception. Art always tried to replicate the Real, by faithfully rendering nature on canvas, but it was actually engaged in Conceptualization, like the mind naturally works. But something different happened with the Impressionists. They tried to give us a true impression of how we see the world, unencumbered by our senses. Abstract art goes even further: it tries to make our inside an outside. It takes our inside and puts it outside us as the Real, free from the Conceptual.
Can we free ourselves from the Conceptual of doing democracy?
Can we go even further and free ourselves from the Real of dictatorship by doing what an abstract artist does: can we make an amazing inside an amazing outside? Can we take something from inside us and put it out there and make it real, so we are engaged in something real when we act in the world?
Can we deconcept ourselves to the extent that a suicide bomber does, but instead of making ourselves dead and real, make ourselves real and more alive than we’ve ever been before?
Instead of living a life of the Conceptual, can we live a different life? Can we engage in a struggle to live in the Real? Is it possible to live in the Real?

19. Democracy says it empowers you, but it depowers you

When the Conceptual makes you believe you live in a democracy, you are not empowered. You are depowered. The Conceptual does that: it depowers you. You can fight back by deconcepting the Conceptual.
Conceptualizing empowers the state when it lets you do democracy, and depowers the individual.
The time has come to reverse this process.
Depower the state! Empower the individual!

Living in truth. Making the dictatorship visible.
Living in truth. Living stripped, unencumbered, free
Building your house of freedom, your island of truth in sea of inanity

Thinkers of the world coagulate around concepts like mussels, barnacles. Swim free in the ocean of the Real. Detach yourself from the Conceptual. Detach yourself from language. Thinkers of the world, disperse – you have nothing to lose but your concepts.

Marx famously stated: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
I want to say: “Thinkers of the world, disperse; you have nothing to lose but your concepts.”
Commit acts worth dying for.
Accept your own death, like a suicide bomber does.
Live a life worth dying for.
Kill yourself to live. The ultimate compassion to yourself.


Living with total insult
The trauma of socialization, we are injected in society through pain, Society inflicts its wound. The other-in-authority inflicts a lifelong wound
The wound of socialization
The social wound
The limitation, overcoming the limitation of society

We live in a distortion of human potential
The distortion wants to de-individualize you: you have to go into exile within the distortion. Free your desires from the distortion.
We chose long ago to live with technology around us and as part of us – both communication technology and all the various forms of industry's machinal descendants. The machinal in us is also driven by an eros, a natural desire – desiring machines that drive us, that liberate powers, that connect and interconnect us. This comes into its own when we detach ourselves from the grip of everyday life. These superior territories, the established power structures, and the many ingenious devices of Law and Capital always try to channel, structure, and systematise this desire. Or to profit from all the drug's various forms.

Drugs and enthusiasm have their own anarchic powers and can become unruly in their diversity and opposition. What's more, we humans are interconnected in a network of all types of machines. Is there not unmanageable potential and diversity in this? The drug's masters came from and via California. Not only did they promote Eastern mysticism but also its proliferation in Silicon Valley.

Beyond that which is mechanically-machinally-industrially homogenous comes also mental-electronic-machinal heterogeneity. This driving force can be found in the phrase "You tube".

"The most important element for anyone who looks at my objects is my fundamental thesis: each human being is an artist. It is even my fundamental contribution to the history of art (…). Within each human being lies a virtual creative ability. This is not to say that everyone is a painter or a sculptor, but that there is some latent creativity within each domain of human work… each type of work has a connection to art; and art is no longer a type of activity or an isolated group, with people able to do art whilst the others have to do another type of work. …

Therefore culture and economy are one and the same thing and, within our society, the most important means of production, the most important factories that create capital are schools and universities. This is why they are in the hands of the state, and this why we have to free them." — Joseph Beuys
How to understand concepts of labour, production, cooperation and communication when capitalism is not only a mode of production but a production of worlds? To speak in these conditions about ‘production’, it is necessary to construct a radically different method than we find in political economy, economics and sociology. The question is not of the ‘end of work’ nor of ‘everything turning into work’. It is rather that we have to change the principles of valuation, the ways in which we understand the value of value. We need a new concept of ‘wealth’, a new concept of ‘production’. To create these new concepts, it is necessary to forget the philosophy of subject and that of labour, which restrain us from understanding cooperation between minds. Spirit, like intellectual or immaterial labour, has a tendency to cross the borders; it is without spatial existence and does not reduce to its manifestations. In the era of immaterial labour and cooperation between minds it is not possible to think social conflicts in terms of the friend/enemy dichotomy or in terms of the conflict between two classes, nor in terms of liberal (private/public) or socialist (individual/collective) traditions. Creation acts in another way than exclusion, competition or contradiction, the evolutionary principles of the above. How should we then translate the concept of the multitude into politics? A fertile starting point might be Gabriel Tarde’s sociology of ‘difference and repetition’, which allows us to understand that some of the key concepts of Tarde, like those of invention, imitation, memory and sympathy, might be very appropriate for explaining the mode of the cooperation of the multitude.

Crow March 26th, 2007 3:03 pm coments on Darfur bu Tom Stoppard

I hate to rain on your interventionist parade but “liberal humanitarian” interventionism works no better than Bush’s disgusting debacle in Iraq. Somalia ring a bell? We ought to lead by providing an example of peaceful, sustainable, cooperative bio-regionally based localist society. Or to put it another way who would Ghandi bomb on behalf of? Answer no one. A draft for the U.N. is exactly no better than a draft for the Iraq war. It’s forced servitude for the purpose of murder:

“Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.”

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fact that the uniform is blue makes not one bit of difference.

“We are as gods, and we might as well get good at it.” --Stewart Brand
Self-exile, detach yourself from the distortion, detach yourself from the grip of everyday life
Eventually change the distortion, meanwhile live in exile within it

The recognition that there is an alternative to what we have out there, bouned only by your imagination Imaginism

The Philosophy of Altism – exploring the alt, the alternative

The way of the turtle
Be a disconnecter
The freedom of exile

Then reconnect with other disconnecters
Join other disconnecters/disconnecteds
In the Disconnected Community
The Disconnecter Revolution
Engage with the Connecteds in
The Revolution of the Disconnecters
The way of the termite
The Disconnecteds vs the Connecteds

Build a majority of exiles committed to the public good from a position of exile
First you have to put the mask on your own face before you help others. Go into exile, and then help others into exile, until everyone is exiled from society into truer selves, a society of exiles, a new way to live.
That’s all you’ve got: yourself. Self-expressionism self-actualization Selfmadeism Selfmakeism No

No Impact Man a perfect example.
Supersize Me
Michael Moore
Ralph Nader

TO START AN OUTSIDERS REVOLUTION: not only to change the world, but to change everything.

From exilism to crusaderism
From exilism to causism

truth but yourself

What makes people happy, what gives them the most pleasure? Bliss happinism, hedonism, pleasurism joyism blissism

Doing good
Helping someone
Engrossed in something
Talking and listening
Being in love
Listening to music
Being healthy
Feeling secure regularity routine expectancies
Nice work rewarding work

Here is the philosophical core of living free in an invisible dictatorship.

One starts being free in the invisible dictatorship by deconcepting the "democracy" to come to know that it is an invisible dictatorship.

Then one starts deconcepting the dictatorship out of one's life by seeing that there are alternatives to it. The alternatives offer themselves when you exert personal power over your corporate fate in the invisible dictatorship.

The most basic way of exerting this personal power is over what you eat. Refuse McDonalds and other corporate foods. Support your local farmers' market. As much as is possible, buy food grown within 100 miles, because food that travels further causes global warming from emissions from vehicles and supports agribusiness.

You are exploring an alternative to invisible dictatorship. Like alt rock is an alternative to corporate rock.

You imbue your life with the philosophy of altism.

Inside the invisible dictatorship, you choose exile. You follow exilism. You disconnect from corporate food. It is the way of the turtle, drawing in on yourself and your own power, away from corporate power.

You become a disconnecter.

But it is not enough to ascribe to exilism, to become a disconnecter.

You must then join with other disconnecters to join the community of the disconnected.

Then, in the community of disconnecteds, you must engage with the invisible dictatorship by undermining it -- by spreading the philosophy of altism and exilism, by urging others to disconnect, and by spreading your ideas to the connecteds laboring in the invisible dictatorship. It is the way of the termite.

You make a revolution of the disconnecters.

In the struggle of the disconnecteds vs. the connecteds, the disconnecters will win because we have on our side human reason, social morality and the sustainability of the planet on our side.

We disconnecters make a new community within the dictatorship, which grows steadily and eats up the dictatorship. It is the way of the termite.

It is a 3-stage process:

1. Increase your personal power. Explore altism. Find personal freedom in the invisible dictatorship via exile. Exilism. Be a disconnecter.

2. Then join other disconnecters in a community of the disconnecteds. Or start your own disconnected community around some cause. Community organizers Alinsky (Obama & Hillary) & Vincent DeMarco.

3. Then engage with the invisible dictatorship by persuading the connecteds to disconnect. Eventually the disconnecters will disconnect the majority from the invisible dictatorship so that most of us live free. Then the invisible dictatorship and corporate power atrophies, and the infrastructure of the internet, telephone, cable TV, roads and cities it leaves behind becomes something the disconnecters use to connect in freedom.

Turn your life into play not work

The philosophy of narrative – reading the world as narrative
Reading your life as narrative
The world as story
Your life as story
Your family as story
Your friends as story


COMMUTOPIA living for each other as a family
Aspects of exilism:
1. CREATE freely
passive consumer vs. active creator -- creatism creatorism creaism
Creatism ucreatorism DIY creation
Make things with your own hands – cook your own food, knit, make pots, blog, freelance, start your own business entrepreneurism, be your own CEO,
make your own stuff -- DIYism

2. EMOTE freely
Don’t dampen yourself to behave like distortion wants vs. lose inhibitions
Nakedism liberate emotion emotionism feelism happinessism happyism emotional well-being emotism
Conservative = in-group loyalty, respect for elders/authority, purity moral disgust
harm/fairness = liberalism – don’t harm rights justice

3. FEMININIZE freely
Don’t suppress feminine qualities like distortion wants
WOMANISM for men FEMINISM for women
Men have to liberate/empower their inner woman, not be slaves to manhood

4. SELF-INVENT freely
Don’t let distortion invent you Become your own center, not example of distortion
Selfcreatism Creatism artism artistism beism freemeism freeism freedomism actuatism actism set yourself free first before you free others
Self-therapy Freedom Therapy Selfcreatorism Creatorism
Personalism Individualism Creatism relationalism selfism self-fortress
Self-liberationism Self-liberation unleashism

5. SELF-MANAGE freely
Don’t let distortion manage you
Democracy of one self-management independism autonomism
potentialism vs selfinventionism - realizing your potential, or invention yourself anew, inventing potential Take charge

6. SELF-EMPLOY freely
Don’ty let distorition employ you
Democapitalism democrapitalism
Capitalism is essentially undemocratic – we have to democratize corporations democorporatism democorporacy

7. EXPAND freely
Don’t let distortion force you into permanent exile
Expand your own freedom to others. Enlarge your private space, shrink your work space, your earning space. Be a walking missionary for your exile, make it attractive, make yourself attractive
You don’t fit in, you shouldn’t, anger and resentment against fitting in make you what you’re not I-ism and we-ism I-ism vs. we-ism me-ism vs. we-ism
Lonelyism aloneism poisonous society selfheroism selfbasisism

Step One. Strip it dfown. What would you save from a burning house. Unclutter your existence down to level zero. Nothingness. Blank slate.

ZONE OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, establish that Freeness start with emotional liberty
Microliberty Selfinventionism – how much of yourself have YOU invented and how much was invented for you?
Safety in self The safe self the safety of the self the necessity of loving at least one other person – best friend or lover or partner the continual mirror a place to put your love affection must have a harbor, an object That must be a person, not a state or a group Personal outpouring The home is another person an anchor Society is usually mad
Selfworldcreatorism Personal liberation, individual revolution Selfrule Personal Rule Not personal freedom, but personal rule sovereignity


Self-inventory of self-potential – what you’re best at doing + what you love doing = if they overlap, you’re in clover
If they clash, make what you’re best at doing your living, and what you love doing your hobby
Selfartistry – for those that have overlap
Yourself as canvas, scenario selfscenario

Self and self
Self and loved one
Self and child
Self and community
Self and world
Self and planet of humans

Honoring the world and the other
The wish to exterminate, obliterate vs. the wish to relate, to discover.
Relation Creation
Actively create yourself Question everything else Selfcreationism Self-makerism Selfactism Self-creator

Need a word for freedom self-independence self-reliance freedom is responsibility to self self-freedom selfsistence
Selfism existentialism NEED A NAME FOR PHILOSOPHY
Self-government Sovereign self selfdom vs. serfdom
Self-fulfilment self-potential No-limitism

Well, the metaphysics of the over-gifted aside, here is what I love about Auden. He came here and saw postwar America for what it was: both a large, evolving bureaucratic state, managerially devoted to maximizing production and consumption; and a place that nonetheless allowed people a certain beneficent freedom to be themselves, to carve out their own little polis from their intimacies. As he once wrote, "Our only choice lies between an external and false necessity passively accepted and an internal necessity consciously decided, but that is the difference between slavery and freedom." Auden was no Horkheimer, but he did see that America had severely conformist tendencies that had to be stayed by the eccentricities of a self-consciously high art. For that he remains a hero.

For the blacksmith "it is not a question of imposing a form upon matter but of elaborating an increasingly rich and consistent material, the better to tap increasingly intense forces." 3

3. ibid. p. 329.

In other words, the blacksmith treated metals as active materials, pregnant with morphogenetic capabilities, and his role was that of teasing a form out of them, of guiding, through a series of processes (heating, annealing, quenching, hammering), the emergence of a form, a form in which the materials themselves had a say. In the terms with which I began this essay, he is less realizing previously defined possibilities, than actualizing virtualities along divergent lines. Historians have clearly understood the importance of metals in technological history, even using them to label some crucial stages, such as the Bronze or Iron ages. But it would be a mistake to think that the relevance of metals for the question of innovation is due to human intervention. To see this we need to explain a second obscure term in the quote above: the "machinic phylum." What does this term refer to and what does it mean to say that it has "metallic probe-heads"? Let"s answer the latter question first. The key idea is to think of metals as being the most powerful catalysts in the planet. (The only exception being organic enzymes, but these have been evolved to achieve that potency.) A catalyst is a substance capable of accelerating or decelerating a chemical reaction, without itself being changed in the process. That is, a catalyst intervenes in reality, triggers effects, causes encounters that would not have taken place without it, and yet it is not consumed or permanently changed in these interactions, so that it can go on triggering effects elsewhere.

We can imagine our planet, before living creatures appeared on its surface, as populated by metallic particles which catalyzed reactions as they flowed through the Earth, in a sense allowing the planet to "explore" a space of possible chemical combinations, that is, allowing the planet to blindly grope its way around this space, eventually stumbling upon proto-living creatures, which as many scientists now agree, were probably autocatalytic loops of materials, that is, proto-metabolisms. 4

4. Stuart Kauffman, "The Origins of Order. Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution," Oxford University Press, New York 1993, chapter 3.

So in this sense, metals are a kind of probe head. But what then is the "machinic phylum"? To answer this question we need to add one more thing, already hinted at above when I referred to "probing a space of combinations." As many researchers are now becoming aware, a crucial ingredient for the emergence of innovation at any level of reality is the "combinatorial productivity" of the elements at the respective sub-level, that is, at the level of the components of the structures in question. Not all components have the same "productivity." For example, elementary particles have a relatively low productivity, yielding only 92 possible atoms in this planet, although we can artificially stabilize a few more trans-uranic elements, beginning with Plutonium in World War II. However, when we move to the next higher level, the assembly of molecules out of atoms, the number of combinations becomes immense, essentially unsurveyable. Similarly, the number of cell types on Earth (nerve, muscle, bone et cetera) is relatively small, a couple of hundred types, but the number of organisms that may be built combinatorially out of these elements is, again, immense. As Hungarian physicist George Kampis has remarked, "the notion of immensity translates as irreducible variety of the component-types ... This kind of immensity is an immediately complexity-related property, for it is about variety and heterogeneity, and not simply as numerousness." 5

My subject is: At the mind's limits. That these limits happen to run alongside the so unpopular horrors is not my fault.
Jean Améry [1]

Although one may do better to go through life without resentments, Améry believes that to do so, in the light of what happened and recurs repeatedly, would be immoral. For Améry, resentment (and here his conception of it significantly deviates from Nietzsche's) arises from a state of disharmony with society that is forced upon an individual. What constitutes a moral person, he believes, is precisely this imposed disharmony. It harbours within it both the power to resist and an overwhelming feeling of dependency (the "moral person" for Améry is by no means an "authentic" or autonomous being).

The building of a sovereign self
We yield to authority and seek approval from it
We give up the right to kill
Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal (property)
Thou shalt not hurt or harm or wound (beating children, violence of the father)

Four invisible dictatorships: of the state (leader, police), of the job CEO), of the family (father, mother), of God

The right to kill belong to leader, police, army, God

I am
You are -- against
We are -- together
They are – enemy creation
That’s mine
This is mine
Idea of property
Idea of fairness -- what’s fair that’s not fair (come from property?) someone gets something you don’t get
Why don’t we kill?
Sharing food and giving presents
Share and touch – smile, nod, handshake, hug
Intimacy and enemy

20. How to deconcept all dictatorship out of your life

Deconcept yourself. You don’t have to be anything. You don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be beautiful. You don’t have to be thin. You don’t have to be anything, because you don’t have to listen to the dictator within or without. In fact, you shouldn’t, otherwise you’re not free. The more you live without concepts, the freer you are. The goal is to without a concept. I don’t have to do anything today. I just have to do what I want to do. I just have to get what I want to get – like a baby. All I need to do is eat. All I need to do is satisfy my hunger. And if all I have to do is satisfy my hunger, I must do that interestingly. The only hunger I need is the hunger for food. So I must satisfy that hunger beautifully, like an artist will. How do I satisfy my hunger without a concept. By not doing what I did yesterday. I must do today as a today, as a complete new day.
(FOOD IS THE GREAT LIBERATOR. Liberation through food.
Food liberation movement.)
All you need is just enough.
What is just enough? Do you need a car? You can walk. Do you need new clothes?
You don’t need anything.
Start with zero and end at zero. Don’t leave anything behind. Spend all your money till the day you die.
Save up for the future.

22. Depose your inner dictator

Your Five-Year Independence Platform (benefit, cushion, security, safety net, you owe it to yourself, you owe it to everyone else to agitate for a 5-year-ahead job/income security)

You don’t have to be anything, do anything, have anything, need anything, want anything.
All you need is food. Health. Love. All you need is what that baby needs. You have to look ahead, five years, always know you’re OK for the next five years. When you start working, save up so you know you’re OK for the next five years, then you’re free from your job, too, because you know you can leave it and be OK for five years.
Some of us don’t need to feel we’re OK for the next day.
Let me surprise my hunger today.
Once you found a way, destroy it, and look for a new way. Or if you like your new way, repeat it.
You do have responsibilities, but only to those who utterly depend on you. What do your children depend on you for. Love? That’s easy. Hug them. Food? Buy it. Can they make their own food? Yes? Let them. No? Show them. Teach them. People like to be independent. Don’t expect anything from anyone, not from your father or mother, your spouse, your beloved, yourself. Because all they can give you are concepts, and you don’t want them. Don’t let anyone expect anything from you either.

Food, masturbation, exercise, love, life security
23. The seven fears.

a) Fear of the other
b) Fear of the new, change, unknown (freedom to do what you’ve never done)
c) Fear of pain, hurt, disease, cancer Fear of feeling intensity drama
d) Fear of being alone, without people, without stuff (quit marriage, job), alone in the dark
e) Fear of death
f) Fear of the body (Freedom to enjoy body)
g) Fear of authority fear of the father

The seven freedoms.

a) Freedom to be silly
b) Freedom to quit your job or your marriage or stuff (freedom to do without it)
c) Freedom to do something never done Be new
d) Freedom to enjoy the body: eat, shit, fuck, sleep, exercise
e) Freedom to create what didn’t exist before
f) Freedom to know something you never knew
g) Freedom to transform yourself, kill yourself, decide your own death, born again reborn
h) Freedom to love

Freedom to do what you want – freedom of will, freedom from constraint
Freedom to do what you like – freedom of desire, freedom from constraint
Freedom to be what you can – freedom to fulfill potential, freedom from bottled, freedom from stopped
Freedom to contribute to society
Freedom to be a genius – they are the only ones who do it, artists
The artist is the person who lives in freedom
The freedom of art
Freedom to rebel against everything
Freedom to kill yourself, not to be freedom to be or not

The three genes.
1. The dog gene – the tail – wagging, pleasing, love me, pat me, approval-seeking, submissive, performer
3. The mule gene – the back – work, labor, slave, dumb, worker
4. The wolf gene – the teeth – predator, blind me first, desire, ruler
5. The mom gene -- “Do For Others” ego. The love gene. The elephant. Altruism, social gene, helper, nurturing. Rabbit. Bonobo. Kangaroo. Dove.

Freedom to keep your own hours, eat your own food

Freedom = control, autonomy, independence, free from constraint

Freedom to do what you like (be happy)
Freedom to do what you can (potential fulfill)

1. We have the “pleasing ego, approval-seeking, insecure ego.” The submissive gene. Sacrifice yourself. Please pat me. The pet. The dog (sheep).
2. The “blind me first ego.” The selfish gene. Drives. Desires. The wolf. The predator.
3. The “Do For Others” ego. The love gene. Altruism. What animal? Bonobo. Kangaroo. Dove.
4. Dolphin Playful gene Nightingale -- artist

“Until we learn, like the bonobo, to fuck everybody, we can never be free.”

Deconcept, deritualize, depower Ritual and reborn, reconcept, repower

What in your life is conceptual and what real?
Eating, shitting, fucking, walking, exercise, sleeping is real.
Working – having to do something to get food, shelter, clothing, status, esteem, fucking, etc. is conceptual, and this is the first conceptual thing you have to face and make as real to you as possible – you have to like doing it, it has to come natural, like having a good shit. You need a job that’s like a good shit.
Freedom is aligning your life of the conceptual as closely as you can to the real.

Helping other people – being communal – is the conceptual thing that’s closest to the real.
How you interact with others, how you make that real.

Deconcept yourself – what concepts matter the most to you. The concept of your country being important is so conceptual it’s stupid.

Freedom vs comfort/secuirity. Freedom is the opposite of comfort, scary, you’ve got to be an adult, we’d rather be babies.

The ritual of staging your own death and funeral

The freedom to do without it. Living just enough. The freedom from stuff, clutter, props. Burn your stuff. Ebay it.

23. Living a life of true freedom

You don’t have to listen to anybody, because all they can do is give you concepts. And you don’t need concepts.

The human is born in hunger
Hunger for everyone
Categorical imperative

To kill yourself is the ultimate freedom. You decide when to quit life, when to die. Totally in charge of your destiny.
To get used to the idea that your death is in your hands. You have to take control of your death. Decide how to die. By killing others?

Does this depower or empower me?
The boss at work. He has power. Power resides in corporations, in the family, among friends, in associations (unions, political parties, corporations), in the state.
The powerweb. A sticky web.
Morality: Kant, Rorty, Berlin.
Amgamben: state of exception
Foucault: power embedded everywhere, in language
Technology: Heidegger
Language: Wittgenstein
To genderize the real. To degenderize the real.

Assign role to yourself, role assignment, how are you a hero in your life story
The power to exclude.
Propping the conceptual
CEO as dictator. The heroic CEO.
You’re free in your house – that’s your castle. Your place of nurture – it has to actively nurture you. Plants. Small dog.

Start declaring the rooms in your house sites of freedom.

Sites of freedom: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room: expand freedom in your own house.

What thinking box are you applying to what’s inside you and what’s outside you?

That is already a thinking box (outside/inside). Is it space?
Time – things passing things -- possible in future/planning

A T-shirt is a deliverable which does not exists in-time, like a movie or a piece of music. Anything in-time experience can be delivered via any number of means, while a thing that is not in-time, a T-shirt, you have to physically make and appropriate to wear it physically. It can fall apart, and then it has to be replaced or forgotten about, but a movie or a piece of music, that you have for as long as you experience it, and then it’s gone. You can get the right to see it or use it whenever you want, like a computer, which is both in-time and not-in-time.

Co-operation of minds. It is shared, the producer invents it, and then consumer reproduces it and uses it.

There is no scarcity with music, it can be ubiquitously shared, while a T-shirt can only be worn by those within reach of that T-shirt. Although that particular invention can be widely shared by reproducing it.

It is circulated, not distributed. File-sharing.
The firm without factories
The invention and then imitation
Produces worlds, the event which brings together advertising and the produced thing/experience
We do try to experiencify the thing, eventify it?
An image, a sensation, an idea (object) and imitate it – perpetual printing of the image, sensation or idea
Memory, a habit a notion (a book is an outside memory) imprinted inside our nerves and body or outside it.
Society of sovereignity, discipline or control
Capitalism as proliferation of possible worlds

Slaveries: slave to corporate time, space, food, acoustics, media, images, stuff, wage, magazines, attractiveness, media violence, oil, fashion, status symbols, education
(young black people the biggest slaves)

Victims of corporate predators slave machines
We are all corporate space-time fools

The Corporate Space-Time Continuum

Opt out. No TV, no unfresh food, bicycle not car,
Freedom tech vs. slave tech: computer vs iPod (the ad of the silhouetted humanoid)

The acoustic slavery of the iPod
Does house nigger and field nigger work? Management and wage earners
Economic patriotism
1. No more outsourcing
Trade barriers to protect American jobs, and stop corporate predators

Workers should own a company, not shareholders. Good to raise money that way, but they don’t own the company. The workers should.
If you have a business, tell your employees everything that’s going on. Tell them how much money the company is making. Tell them what their share is. Share the company with them.
If you’re a boss, be nice and encouraging.

The human is born in hunger. Not the little things, the simple things.

Living off the grid
Little freedoms, big freedom freedom inside the cage, outside the cage
54% Americans thought press shouldn’t be allowed to criticize the government about the war

Do what you love: what you do to survive, put food on the table, shelter, clothing, able to connect to others – what do you do to communally survive? Your most important decision – for me, writing for me, then novel writing, which actually took over my life and forced me out of advertising. If you like to perform a trial lawyer or an actor, public speaker.
Rugby for guys over 60 in New York City

Love is a yearning for the Real. Love is what’s real. Connect your inside to the outside in the strongest emotional terms: your real connecting with the Real.

Own your labor, don’t sell it to the single highest bidder, don’t auction yourself out as a wage slave. If you have clients or customers yourself, you own your own labor. Become a freelancer.

Make the outside accord as much as possible with your inside – that is power, that is freedom, that is your own dictatorship over your own life. Positive dictatorship. Do what you want, do what’s communally beneficial.

The consensus conceptual depowers the individual. Be suspicious of all consensus concepts.
The Consensus Matrix
Food matters. Start your revolution, your personal empowerment, with food. Manufacture your own juices – get a juicer. Don’t let others manufacture for you what you eat.

Refusal, opt out, reform, revolt, replace the consensus. Refuse the consensus. Opt out of the consensus. Fight the consensus: subvert, reform, revolt, replace,
Kill the concept

I dreamt of beautiful clothes – shirts and ties, fierce orange shirts in colors that do the wave, lighter and darker shade of same color waving across the front.

Your own personal Declaration of Independence
This is what you learn at school. School has to be a path of self-discovery, not a path of socialization to the point of abject conformity.

This is what you really need.

You get 12 years of schooling, at least 6 hours a day. One would expect after all that time, you’d at least have learned:
To speak, read and write at least 2 or 3 other languages besides English, Spanish being mandatory, one more European language, and an African (Swahili), Asian (Chinese, Hindi).
To take care of your body – learn how to be fit and stay strong, swim, float, climb a cliff, do a back flip, learn what foods are good for you and how, learn how to cook, bake bread, learn how to prepare at least 5 different dinners for 8, different cuisines from different cultures, Make wine, brew beer, ginger beer
Dance waltz, tango, learn self-defense, fencing, yoga, meditation
To learn computer programming, and at least have programmed one piece of software.
To take care of a baby. and a helpless old person, and a sick person
Learn how to read music and play a musical instrument, and sing and play at least 10 Beatles songs
Learn how to draw, take photographs, draw a self-portrait, draw a cartoon, comic book
Tell a joke, tell a good story, write and do a comic monologue
Learn how to write and make a speech, a business presentation, discuss any problem, debate, act a part in a play
Learn how to buy a house and invest in the various investments
Learn what the world religions are all about – Christianity, Islam, Confucius, Buddhism, Hinduism
Do math, taxes,
Studied these 100 books of world literature
Make a shirt, dress, jackets, pants, a pair of shoes
Build a house
Take a combustion apart and put it together again and fix it
Build a radio, electric generator, solar cell
Build a chair, table, bookcase, couch
Write a decent poem, song, short story
Learn what doctors, shrinks, engineers, cops, firefighters, lawyers, Wall Street people do
Debate and make a law
Organize a political party
Organize and take part in a protest
Electrician, plumbing, carpentry
Grow vegetables, flowers, trees
Take care of animals
Start a business, find a need, market your product
Cut hair, use makeup
Have sex,
drive a truck and a schoolbus, shoot a gun, fish, build and fly a kite, Fly a plane
Design a video game and program it
Find your way in the woods, build a fire, cook over a fire
Manners, social graces
Play tennis, golf,
Run a marathon, ride a horse, canoe

Be free to flower, get a taste of everything


Freedom is the room to become everything you want
Be free to flower, get a taste of everything
Why the metaphor of a flower – growth: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, competence, wisdom: leadership

Personal space in public space
Take your inviolable private space into public space – extend its inviolability

Freedom vs fitting in
How does enslavement happen? -- we all have a thirst for approval, acknowledgement, how we join, we want others to like us, parental approval – that is the road to serfdom. When we don’t approve of ourselves, we need the approval of others to be self-validated.

We have the “pleasing ego, approval-seeking, insecure ego.” The submissive gene. Please pat me. The pet. The dog (sheep).
The “blind me first ego.” The selfish gene. Drives. Desires. The wolf. The predator.

The “Do For Others” ego. The love gene.

1. Deconcept the dictator out of your life – and claim your freedom.

1. Don’t prop the conceptual. Just enough philosophy. Happiness doesn’t come from being rich. Studies prove it. The freedom to rule your basics.

2. The five freedoms. 1. The freedom to be silly. 2. The freedom to quit your job if you feel like it. 3. The freedom to enjoy the basics: your body. Be like a baby. Eats, shits, crawls all over. Loves to laugh. (Exercise, shitting, eating, fucking. The freedom to eat well.) 4. The freedom to do something you’ve never done before. 5. The freedom to create what didn’t exist before. make, create, think, grow things. Forget about what you have to do. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to be rich, successful, famous or beautiful. It doesn’t make you happy. Create. If you have a garden, grow some food in it. Eat something you’ve grown. Be active, not passive. Turn off the TV. It’s there to dictate to you. Your daily dictator. Go out and see a movie.

3. Enjoy the basics. Enjoy the first things you do when you wake up. If you wake up with a mighty pee, enjoy it. Enjoy the agony of it, because you know you’re soon going to relieve yourself, When you do, enjoy the act of peeing. Afterwards , enjoy the fact that your bladder is empty and that you are relieved. You can get at least ten minutes of joy out of a pee. As for a good shit, if there’s one thing I’d be happy you take away from this essay, it’s to enjoy a good shit. (Describe it.)

4. The dictatorship of prepared food. Make a list of all the raw foods you can buy, and then buy them. Think of creative ways to combine them. Salad orange, onion, red pepper, babby lettuce, olive oil, salt. Grill a fish that you’ve smeared with olove oil and sprinkled almonds over. Coca-Cola tastes like a chemistry experiment.

5. ASAP, put yourself in a position where you’re always free to leave your job. That’s why saving is good. Spending depowers. Saving empowers. Don’t just stop at one house, Buy a second and a third and rent them out. The freedom to quit your job if you feel like it.
Being a cop is a good bargain, Work 20 years and retire on good money. If your job doesn’t make this bargain with you, you have to make it with yourself.
Feel sorry for your boss. He got there only one way. By sucking up to his boss.

Democracy via Internet: debate it, then get the two best debaters to debate each other.

Democracy is government by discussion. Public reasoning. But political campaigns are the opposite of public reasoning – reasoning has nothing to do with it – it’s appealing to your emotions, and the basest at that – propaganda and a con job pure and simple.

The Internet males town meetings possible, can replace the voting for elected representatives, since we can suggest, debate laws ourselves now.

There are at least three, maybe four, dictatorships in your life:
The dictatorship of your country: the state.
The dictatorship of your religion: the church, synagogue or mosque.
The dictatorship of your job: the corporation, company or partnership.
The dictatorship of your family.

A child should have the freedom to choose their own name.
A corporation should be a democracy.
The democratization of the state, the corporation and the family.
The corporation steals people, Slavery.

Humans are born into slavery. Your life should
PC authors of your own content.
You should be your own author. Collaborate your own content
PC faster.
Internet faster. Free.
Software faster.

You should own yourself. Your own labor, your own love, your own genitals, your own hunger, your own desires, your own

The church owns your genitals. The state owns your body. The family owns your life.
You should raise your child in freedom: freedom for others.

Love thy neighbor as thyself is hokum. Love they neighbor’s freedom as thy love thy own freedom.
Freedom from God, from an imaginary friend as dictator. . God is the ultimate personal dictator and must be overthrown. Freedom from the false gods of the West (capitalism, free market, etc. everything which places one human over another).
What was the enlightenment but the freedom from God. From religion. From
Freedom from religion. Consider it. Except to say that a belief in an Omnipotent Imaginary Friend is simply an expression of helplessness, which is not a proud or empowering way to be.

Overthrowing the dictator starts with forgiving the dictator. Forgiving God, forgiving the white man, forgiving all enemies deprives them of power. Depowers them.
The surplus value of freedom like the surplus value of labor. Devote your freedom to the freedom of others. Of the Other. Creating surplus freedom.
Freedom starts with masturbation — the freedom to pleasure yourself.
The sixties was a revolution of the self.
The Revolution of the Self, overthrowing your personal dictatorships.
The freedom to fuck people.
The freedom to eat Nature.
The role of reason. Reason and freedom.
Freedom from the idea of sin.
The freedom of the imagination to fuck anybody via masturbation.

Freedom from interfered food.

Freedom from zero. Thinking from zero. The freedom of nothing.

Personal freedom, public power -- power over your own everyday life – what do I call that? Self-freedom, self-management, independence, personal independence. Self-freedom. Self-sovereignity

You don’t own your time.
You don’t own your body.
You don’t own your labor.
You don’t own your soul.
You don’t own your actions.
You don’t own your life,

Kid: “That’s mine.” The urge to property. “She’s mine. He’s mine.” The battle for property. Society exploits your urge to property to enslave you.

Given a choice between slavery and freedom, most people choose slavery.
It’s easier to be a slave than to be free.
Human are born slaves, yet everything calls us to freedom.
Humans prefer slavery to freedom.
Slavery is the natural human condition. People have to learn freedom.
People need to be oppressed into freedom.
Our souls hunger for freedom, but our bodies are enslaved.
We are born slaves, yet everything promises us freedom.

The freedom that never arrives. Always dissatisfaction The free human
Free the human race

Being a producer and consumer is being a slave.
There is no freedom in choosing between fifty shampoos.

We are born slaves, yet everywhere we are promised freedom.

Freedom cannot be given, it must be taken
Slavery has ended, but enslavement continues
Slavery was just one mode of enslavement
Slavery is an institution; enslavement is the human condition
Freedom can only happen when there’s a revolt against human nature.
You need a revolution in human nature to accomplish freedom
Freedom is not the natural condition of humankind
Start with your own freedom
To free the world, start with your own freedom
The freedom revolution starts in every human heart
The battle for hearts and minds starts with your heart and mind

Humankind has achieved many things, but not freedom

“Humanity’s final struggle is for freedom.”

People were asked: would you rather earn $50k a year when everybody you know earns $25k a year, or $100k a year when everybody you know earns $200k a year. Most people said in that case, they’d rather earn only $50k a year.
How weird is that?

The tension between the Conceptual and the Real is the human condition, the problem of consciousness, the gap between what we intend to do, and what happens.
The Conceptual masks the Real and distances itself from the Real at all times. The Real masks itself with the Conceptual. The Real is perverse. We are victims of the Conceptual. We are slaves of the Conceptual. Can we become masters of the Real?
Where does the Conceptual get its power from? From the Real. By the beauty of its falsification – to the Real like Math is to the Real.
How do you know when you’ve arrived at the Real? Tests for the Real practical can I use it common sense out there agency
We are always creating the Conceptual from the Real, but can we create the Real from the Conceptual?
This is the job of philosophy. To clean up the Conceptual, to make the Real visible. To reverse the human process of making the real conceptual. To deconcept the conceptual and see if we can arrive at the real.We cannot create the Real, but we can recognize it when deconception gets us there. Deconception is recognition of the Real, acknowledgement of the real. Decreate.

Family. Congeal into being when baby is born. The bond between mother and child. And those hwo help the mother give birth. That is the start of community. Born into it.

START A LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET – Let the farmers around the city supply the city, and make sure the city farmers grow everything, so you always get as much as possible for the season. Start a store that sells only local produce. Make labels for different farms, brand them. Brand farms, make them entrepreneurs, give them a bigger slice of profit.

You express need. Cry for food. Demand from community. Express unhappiness to get what you want – frustration, anger. Empty stomach. Hunger and thirst drive you. Psychology starts with hunger. Living is hunger. Satiation, satisfaction. Demand, satisfaction.
Demand sustenance, nurturance, laughter. Warmth, comfort. Security, love. Regularity of meals is security. It comes at a specific time.

Your belly is the main driver.

Morality depowers, because it tells you not to kill, and that is an inherent human right. Religion depowers.
Living in truth. Making the dictatorship visible.
Living in truth. Living stripped, unencumbered, free
Building your house of freedom, your island of truth in sea of inanity

The power of the inane, the banal, the ordinary, the image, stuff, owning, surrounded by props
The power of reiteration. Repetition. Saying makes it so.
Replacing one vocabulary with another – framing.
Vocabularise -- vocabularies 9/11
Vocabularise: colonize the real through language
By language, via language, exerting language, through the power of language, by employing language
Language is an expression of power. The Conceptual is an expression of power.
Make the state vulnerable
Vocabularize, position, define, frame, storify, genderize people, concept the real, sexify the dreary, name the enemy, exclude the impure, purify the ranks, purification rituals, stigmatize, call evil, religify, spin, modes of arguing, argument as combat, smearing/fogging the mirror (self-deception, delusion, illusion), glorify the human, religify nature, blame the other, sacrifice – kill to purify (Algerian philosopher), scapegoat
Who watches? The gods. God. Us. Children.
Freud said the evil is in us – the subconscious – the enemy inside
Putting the enemy outside.
What are you against? Must have an enemy.
Enemy necessity.
Make ourselves innocent, purify. Blame
Get rid of the enemy.
The function of philosophy is hygiene – to deconcept
9. Ways of conceptualizing
Storify -- Narratives of US Mob at Gates, Rot at Top, Triumphant Individual, Benevolent Community
Where is the Rot at the Top? – government, liberal elite
Who are the Mob at the Gates? Communists, liberals

Sexify The Mother And The Father.
The state as mother. The state as father.
The politician as mother. The politician as father.
Power is the ability to do harm.
Father does harm, employs force, protects.
Mother spreads love, employs suasion, helps.
The protective father. The strict father.
The nurturing mother. The laissez faire mother.

The concept of the free-market. The pathology of the corporation. Globalization.

Freedom is responsibility to yourself, to be what you can be. But first you have to discover what you can be. Society prevents you from discovering what you can be.
Most of us dream of being rock stars, or basketball players. A waste.

The Internet: concentrate and distribute power. Microsoft and Google. Power monopoly. Monopower.
Empire, bases everywhere. Empire is expanding the power to kill.

A democracy operates in the realm of the Conceptual. Our project is to make

trying the reverse the process of Conceptualism. Instead of conceptualizing the real, we are trying to deconcept it, in order to arrive at the Real.

The Conceptual is not the Real.
My project is to make the Real actual.
The Conceptual renders the Real invisible.
A democracy operates in the realm of the conceptual.
You live in the realm of the conceptual. The struggle to live in the Real.
Dewordify life. Deconception.
The conceptual depowers you.
Thinking from the Real, not the Conceptual.
Depower the state! Empower the individual!
How do you make your voice heard in your democracy? What can you actually do to participate in a democracy?
Philosophy killers assassins

The tension between the Conceptual and the Real is the human condition, the problem of consciousness, the gap between what we intend to do, and what happens.
The Conceptual masks the Real and distances itself from the Real at all times. The Real masks itself with the Conceptual. The Real is perverse. We are victims of the Conceptual. We are slaves of the Conceptual. Can we become masters of the Real?
Where does the Conceptual get its power from? From the Real. By the beauty of its falsification – to the Real like Math is to the Real.
How do you know when you’ve arrived at the Real? Tests for the Real practical can I use it common sense out there agency
We are always creating the Conceptual from the Real, but can we create the Real from the Conceptual?
This is the job of philosophy. To clean up the Conceptual, to make the Real visible. To reverse the human process of making the real conceptual. To deconcept the conceptual and see if we can arrive at the real.We cannot create the Real, but we can recognize it when deconception gets us there. Deconception is recognition of the Real, acknowledgement of the real. Decreate.
Art does that anyway. Art tries to tear the real from the conceptual. Make something simply to appreciate it, not to use it. To stand before it in wonder.

Our mind creates the Conceptual, it can only make Conceptual from the Real, because it cannot make the Real, it can only interpret it, and always gets it wrong. The Conceptual is the translation of the Real into the language of the Mind. The table cannot exist as itself. It can only exist as how we use it. We arrange the real –- the fact of wood – into material, into the Conceptual. The wood masks itself as the table. The table masks the wood. The wood allows itself to be translated into the table. We conceptualize the wood as table. It is no longer wood. Or tree. Tree has been translated into table. Eat on table, work at table. Share the table, put objects on the table. It is not that one table, which is now become the real, and the Conceptual as a place to eat, another Conceptual as a place to work at. To sit at.
Go from the table to democracy.
Do things. Control things. Arrange life. Create relationships. Arrange society. How to arrange community. Community arranges itself, because people are the material. People are masked as community.
Filtered, translated, remade, conceptualized as community.
Family. Congeal into being when baby is born. The bond between mother and child. And those hwo help the mother give birth. That is the start of community. Born into it.

You express need. Cry for food. Demand from community. Express unhappiness to get what you want – frustration, anger. Empty stomach. Hunger and thirst drive you. Psychology starts with hunger. Living is hunger. Satiation, satisfaction. Demand, satisfaction.
Demand sustenance, nurturance, laughter. Warmth, comfort. Security, love. Regularity of meals is security. It comes at a specific time.

Your belly is the main driver.

A democracy operates in the realm of the Conceptual. The Real itself is Conceptual. Its is touchstone. We need a touchstone, a standard, something authentic, not a falsification, which we will call the Real.
The Media operates in the realm of the Conceptual, and proliferates the Conceptual
The act of Deconception. Deconcepting is a losing battle, but it gets you closer to the Real. The Real doesn’t throw a shadow, but the Conceptual does, it is all shadows. It’s living in the shadow.
Make the invisible visible, the Real actual.
Freeing yourself from conceptualizing. Penetrating the real. Surround the real. Stripping. Deflowering yourself.
For the purposes of this essay, the Conceptual is democracy. The Real is dictatorship. In our deconception of Democracy, we will arrive at Dictatorship.
The struggle to live in the Real.
The threat of the Real.
The Conceptual depowers. I am depowering the dictatorship by my conceptualing. Being concepted, and therefore depowered. Morality depowers, because it tells you not to kill, and that is an inherent human right. Religion depowers.
Living in truth. Making the dictatorship visible.
Living in truth. Living stripped, unencumbered, free
Building your house of freedom, your island of truth in sea of inanity

The power of the inane, the banal, the ordinary, the image, stuff, owning, surrounded by props
The power of reiteration. Repetition. Saying makes it so.
Replacing one vocabulary with another – framing.
Vocabularise -- vocabularies 9/11
Vocabularise: colonize the real through language
By language, via language, exerting language, through the power of language, by employing language
Language is an expression of power. The Conceptual is an expression of power.
Make the state vulnerable
Vocabularize, position, define, frame, storify, genderize people, concept the real, sexify the dreary, name the enemy, exclude the impure, purify the ranks, purification rituals, stigmatize, call evil, religify, spin, modes of arguing, argument as combat, smearing/fogging the mirror (self-deception, delusion, illusion), glorify the human, religify nature, blame the other, sacrifice – kill to purify (Algerian philosopher), scapegoat
Who watches? The gods. God. Us. Children.
Freud said the evil is in us – the subconscious – the enemy inside
Putting the enemy outside.
What are you against? Must have an enemy.
Enemy necessity.
Make ourselves innocent, purify. Blame
The function of philosophy is hygiene – to deconcept
9. Ways of conceptualizing
Storify -- Narratives of US Mob at Gates, Rot at Top, Triumphant Individual, Benevolent Community
Where is the Rot at the Top? – government, liberal elite
Who are the Mob at the Gates? Communists, liberals

Sexify The Mother And The Father.
The state as mother. The state as father.
The politician as mother. The politician as father.
Power is the ability to do harm.
Father does harm, employs force, protects.
Mother spreads love, employs suasion, helps.
The protective father. The strict father.
The nurturing mother. The laissez faire mother.

The concept of the free-market. The pathology of the corporation. Globalization.

The Internet: concentrate and distribute power. Microsoft and Google. Power monopoly. Monopower.
Empire, bases everywhere. Empire is expanding the power to kill.

A self-help book masquerading as a political theory.
That was Karl Marx.
The self-help revolutionary.
Do a book about dictatorship that frees the reader from it, and from the state.

The masquerade of democracy.

The masked ball of democracy.

8. Oddments:
The rule by cabal. Cabal rule. Another word for invisible dictatorship.

Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bush.

Your right. Its mode of expression. How effective is it? It’s very conceptual, but how actual?

You are depowered by the state.
The naming of gender is an act of depowering. You take power away by naming someone woman or female. Calling someone a woman takes their power away. Makes them invisible. Renders them conceptual not real.
By conceptualizing something, you depower it. Empower and depower.
The state depowers the individual. The job of the state is to depower the individual.

Humans depower the threat of the real through the conceptual, language. Get a handle on existential fear. On death. We are always trying to make the real invisible, because the real is a threat. Religion is the most structured depowering of the real through comfort and consolation.

The Threat of the Real.

Propping the conceptual

I had to create a new vocabulary.
Cutting down the old vocabulary.
Sweeping the deck clean. Exploding subverting
Cleaning the self, stripping the self, building the self

Looking in the smeared mirror. Or recognizing yourself. You don’t recognize yourself.
The shock of recognition. The constant work of making your real self actual.

Does this depower or empower me?

Cleaning your mirror of perception.

Does this depower or empower me?
The boss at work. He has power. Power resides in corporations, in the family, among friends, in associations (unions, political parties, corporations), in the state.
The powerweb. A sticky web.
Morality: Kant, Rorty, Berlin.
Amgamben: state of exception
Foucault: power embedded everywhere, in language
Technology: Heidegger
Language: Wittgenstein
To genderize the real. To degenderize the real.

Assign role to yourself, role assignment, how are you a hero in your life story
The power to exclude.
Propping the conceptual

Who has the power to kill? The power to make war. Should anybody have the power to kill? Why does the state have the power to kill? A state who has the power to kill is not a democracy. Nobody should have the power to kill.

The state has the power to kill. The dictator has the power to kill.
Who has the power to kill?
The power to harm. Power is the ability to do harm. Taking and giving power. Depower and empower.

The boss at work. He has power. Power resides in corporations, in the family, among friends, in associations (unions, political parties, corporations), in the state.
The powerweb. A sticky web.
Morality: Kant, Rorty, Berlin.
Amgamben: state of exception
Foucault: power embedded everywhere, in language
Technology: Heidegger
Language: Wittgenstein
To genderize the real. To degenderize the real.

Assign role to yourself, role assignment, how are you a hero in your life story
The power to exclude.

Killing in the name of the conceptual. War is invisible murder.
In the realm of the conceptual killing is called war.
War is not the real. It is the concept. Killing is the Real.

Does this fact operate in the realm of the conceptual or the damage of the Real.
Is it invisible or actual?

The test for the real: common sense, what is practical.

The power to kill cannot be taken away. It’s a real power, not a conceptualized power.
You have abilities/powers, which give you rights, which give you duties

You can divide people up into leaders and followers, wolves and sheep. The wolves herd the sheep, use the sheep and feed on the sheep. They are predators; the sheep are their fodder. The sheep read self-help books; the wolves write them. There are many more followers than leaders.
Wolves come in two types: entrepreneurial wolves and apparatnik wolves. An entrepreneurial wolf started your company and owns it. Apparatnik wolves run the business for him. Sheep work there.
There is a third category of people: black sheep. They are the intellectuals, artists, writers, and rebels without a cause, or rebels whose causes draw no followers – rebels who want to be wolves, but find no sheep to follow them. You also get another category: lone wolves. Leaders keep to themselves, who make no effort to get followers.
Wolves lie to sheep. The Iraq War.

Introduction: the extent of your power. A map of your power. Your power map. Your reach, grasp. Your powers. Like a superhero’s powers.
How powerless you are.
i. You can have an opinion. Requires not much. Have it or earn it. Teach it. \You can have an opinion, which is expressed in a poll, or reported and discussed in the media. You can blog it. Talk it. Smear, lie. Teach.

iv. You can run for office. You can start a business and employ people. Become a site of power.
v. You can make law. Administer. Contracts. Do business. Enforce law. Judge. Save life.
vi. You can kill (murder your opponent – political assassination or terrorism). Killing is the ultimate human right. The ultimate expression of power. The power of the death penalty. You can save a life or heal. (Doctor)
4 ways to participate in a democracy.

When government kill, it’s conceptual. Terrorists, too?
The Conceptual is not the Real.

The very act of consciousness is conceptualization. Consciousness does not accept the world as it is. It tries to incorporate the world into consciousness by the act of conceptualization.
The Conceptual is what our consciousness makes of the Real. It is hard for us to acknowledge the Real. T.S. Eliot said humankind cannot bear too much reality. The pathos of being human is that we are always creating the Conceptual out of the Real. That’s how our minds work. We try to improve on the Real, to make it better, more convenient, more comfortable and comforting, easier to deal with. We construct the Conceptual in a vain attempt to console ourselves about the brutality of the Real.
You see a flower. That is real. You pick it. That is conceptual. You go home and stick a bunch of flowers in a vase. They sit there. They’re real. But you are not satisfied with the Real. You want to improve it. So you arrange the flowers in the vase. You get Conceptual.
To construct the Conceptual is always an emotional act. We are human: we think with our emotions. We idealize and anthropomorphize. We symbolize and make myths. We are always fooling ourselves about the nature of the Real by deducting the Conceptual from it -- by translating the Real into the Conceptual. The Real is what gets lost in the act of translation into the Conceptual. We never see the wood for the trees.
Neither the Conceptual nor the Real actually exist. What exists is the difference between them.
The Conceptual is what we see and touch. The Real is what is.
The Conceptual is knowledge. The Real is the world.
The Conceptual is action. The Real is events.
The conceptual is language and words. The Real is gravity and things.
The Conceptual is how we live, how we construct our lives. The Real is what life is.
The Conceptual is community, the Real is people. The Conceptual is family, the Real is older and younger people. The Conceptual is a man or a woman, the Real is a person.
The Conceptual is morality, what’s wrong and what’s right. The Real is damage and hurt, pleasure and joy, what goes wrong and what goes right.
To get practical, the Conceptual is a table, the Real is the wood.
To get scientific, the conceptual is E equals MC squared; the Real is when I apply the energy of a blade to the matter of my hand, it bleeds.
To get philosophical, the Conceptual is living, the Real is being.
To get personal, the Conceptual is love, the Real is sex.


God the Killer (Joker? Lover? American Theocracy)

Iraq War: The Real Reasons, the Fake Reasons

My Year of Blogging against Bush

America: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Why does Hollywood make bad movies?

Genetic Engineering of the Perfect Sex Object

The Broken Hearts of
Bergman, Beckett, Bacon, Celan, Adams, Coetzee and Bob Dylan – an essay

Women’s worst enemy: men or women?

Power and Helplessness in
Chomsky, Foucault, Agamben and Negri/Hardt

New Yorker, Harpers, Atlantic, Mother Jones, Ode, The Nation, NY Times Magazine, Chelsea Green

He, rightly I think, says we cannot call the mode of government in America democratic given the corporate influence on legislation, 6but it remains unclear to me what Stout understands to be the alternative.

Stout's favorite way of describing democracy is that it is "practice of giving and asking for reasons." 7Such a claim I assume is equivalent to his admittedly aphoristic and paradoxical statement that "pragmatism is democratic traditionalism"; that is, that pragmatism names the space that combines rebellion against hierarchy with a love of virtue. 8Therefore democracy does not seem to name a form of government for Stout, but rather "is a culture in its own right." 9Accordingly he insists that the ideal of democratic individuality is not complete independence but rather the interlocking virtues of courage and self-trust that allows citizens to resist conformity. 10 Indeed, Stout insists the democratic critics of democracy must tempter their criticism with generosity. Generosity is required in order to show that the critic is open to having his, her, or their indictment indicted. 11

It remains unclear to me, however, how Stout understands the role of "the people" and democracy. He worries "under circumstances like ours" whether "the people can summon the spiritual wherewithal, the moral fiber, to act on behalf of democracy before democracy gives way." 12 However, in response to Eliot's "Anglophilia and traditionalism," which Stout criticizes for looking away from his own people to find hope and value in some other place and time, Stout confesses that his "democratic wager is that the grounds for this-worldly hope and the evils we need to resist are both to be found among the people." 13 I am not suggesting that Stout cannot consistently hold these judgments about the role of "the people" in democracies, but I would like to know more about how he understands who the people are and what role they should play in his democracy.

Early in Democracy and Tradition, Stout says democracy as a "strictly political referent is a form of government in which the adult members of the society being governed all have some share in electing rulers and are free to speak their minds in a wide-ranging discussion that rulers are bound to take seriously." 14 Public deliberations are essential to this form of government, requiring people's representatives to deliberate on behalf of their constituency and the judgments of their constituencies. Such a context is the link between democracy in its strictly political form and democracy as a cultural phenomenon.

Democracies, at least as theories of state power, are best understood not as the rule of the people, but rather as "a most realistic way of exercising vigilant supervision over the authority entrusted to a few." 38 In the name of democracy we are still ruled by an Èlite whose decisions are not the result of a democratic process; but the reasons Èlites give for the decisions they make may provide the means for those subject to those decisions to hold their rulers to account. 39 Democracies, particularly, if they are understood not as majority rule but as an arrangement for minority leverage, can be a form of government Christians rightly prefer.
Coles observes that Wolin values many American exemplifications of radical democracy that Stout embracesóthe abolitionists, the civil rights movement, feminist struggles, grassroots organizations formed against exploitive corporate-state power. Yet Coles also thinks Wolin's understanding of history pulls him toward a more insurgent stance than Stout seems to embrace. I think that is right; but to understand why it is so requires a return to the way Wolin tells the story of the development of political theory. Indeed I fear that the expanded edition of Politics and Vision may tempt some to read the new materials without reading or rereading the chapters that constituted the first edition. The new chapters added to the edition are so interesting, dramatic, and filled with the insights about our everyday reality that one has come to expect of Wolin (insights such as how the postmodern economy has begun to appear as a variant of totalitarianism) that one can forget those judgments and insights are possible because of Wolin's extraordinary erudition as well as how he tells the story of the nature and development of political theory.
Wolin credits Plato with the discovery of "the political," that is, he taught those who would come after him to think of political society as a coherent and interconnected whole. 50 By doing so Plato exercised the power of the imagination that is absolutely crucial for the political theorist. Through the use of exaggeration and extravagance Plato, as well as those who followed him, helped us see what might otherwise go unseen. 51 Yet Plato represents an ambiguous beginning for Wolin just to the extent Plato discovered politics as the form of rule necessary for the management of public affairs for the community, Plato also regretted the turbulence of Athenian democracy. 52 As a result, Wolin argues, Plato failed to establish an adequate understanding of the relationship of the political and politics, that is, how to gain the knowledge we need to act wisely in a context of conflict, ambiguity, and change. 53 When all is said and done, it is Wolin's judgment that Plato finally desired to defeat the contingent and incomplete art called politics through philosophy. Yet according to Wolin "the concluding note of Plato's political science is not of an unlimited arrogance that man can fashion a polity untouched by time, but of a heroism chastened by the foreknowledge of eventual defeat. It is, in Shelley's words, 'Eternity warning Time.'"
"Christianity broke the closed circle, substituting a conception of time as a series of irreversible movements extending along a line of progressive development. History was thus transformed into a drama of deliverance, enacted under the shadow of an apocalypse that would end historical time and, for the elect, bring a halt to suffering." 58 Wolin notes that this new time-dimension could be unpolitical and even anti-political in some forms of Christianity, but it is nonetheless the case the Christian encounter with politics revitalized a tradition of political thought.
It is against this background, I think, that we can appreciate Wolin's concern with recent developments in political theory and practice. For Wolin the development of political liberalism looks very much like the attempt to deny contingencyóa denial that often is associated with empireóthat lies at the heart of the political. The effect of liberal theorists such as Hobbes and Locke (an effect they might well not have welcomed, to be sure) is to subject politics to the economics of interestóor perhaps, to subject politics to economic presumptions derived from capitalism. Wolin's last chapter in the first edition of Politics and Vision, "The Age of Organization and the Sublimation of Politics," was Wolin's attempt to help us see how the fear of politics, a fear he finds at the heart of the liberal theorist, has resulted in a rationalism embodied in the modern corporation.

In the new edition of Politics and Vision the chapters on "Liberalism and the Politics of Rationalism," and "Liberal Justice and Political Democracy" are but further reflections Wolin began in his analysis of the modern organization which includes the modern state. For Wolin, therefore, Rawls becomes the exemplification of the end of politics. Of course Rawls's declared purpose in writing A Theory of Justice was to further the interest of a democratic society; but Wolin argues that Rawls lacked any conception of politics, political power, or the role of the citizen. 60 That Rawls represents for Wolin the denial of politics is but a correlative of Rawls's ahistorical account of political life. 61 From Wolin's point of view, Rawls is the final outworking of the contractarian tradition which was from the beginning the attempt to deny history, particularity, and difference. 62

Such a politics, a politics without memory, is "the precise definition of the media-constituted politics which forms such an essential element in the structure of megastate power and of the structure of passivity which sustains it." 63 In the "Preface to the Expanded Edition" of Politics and Vision Wolin describes his evolution as a theorist as "the journey from liberalism to democracy." 64 Wolin rightly, I think, thought liberalism served at certain times as an expression of democratic hope, but the ahistorical character of liberalism failed to acknowledge we come into this world with a "birthright." 65 Birthright politics, historical politics, is composed of ambiguous historical moments, deep ambiguities, that require interpretative modes of understanding that make us able to reconnect past and present experience and in the process reconstitute our politics. 66 But memory, it turns out, is exactly what liberal arrangements are meant to repress.

The politics of memory cannot help but disrupt liberal politics, at least the kind of liberalism exemplified by Rawls, if for no other reason than that democratic politics is not first and foremost (as liberal theory seems to be) concerned with questions of legitimacy of state power. From Wolin's perspective, those who care about a political life of participationóthat is, who desire to originate or foster cooperative action with othersómust abjure current forms of state power. "The result of state-centeredness is a politics in which at one extreme are the experts struggling to be scientific and rational while at the other is a politics of mass irrationality, of manipulated images, controlled information, single-issue fanaticism, and pervasive fear." 67

Wolin, therefore, recommends rather than accepting a conception of democracy that makes it indistinguishable from constitutions necessary for state power, we should accept the charge that "democracy is inherently unstable, inclined toward anarchy, and identified with revolution. . . . This democracy might be summed up as the idea and practice of rational disorganization." 68 Wolin makes this recommendation because he is convinced that democracy in the late modern world cannot be a complete political system, but rather democracy can only succeed temporarily as a witness to a political mode of existence that exists through memory. 69 I think it is not unreasonable to suggest that radical democracy is Wolin's name for the kind of interruption he thinks the church represented in the Roman Empire. 70

Wolin does not believe our situation is at all hopeless. Indeed he thinks we have time to draw on our ability to tend to one another when we are sick or when the garden needs weeding. To so tend requires the development of skills through which our tending is tempered by "a concern for objects whose nature requires that they be treated as historical and biographical beings. The beings are such as to need regular attention from someone who is concerned about their well-being and sensitive to their needs." 71 Such tending politically should direct our attention to practices constituted by habits of competence and skill that are routinely required if things that matter to us are to be taken care of.

If that is "radical democracy," then I think I can claim to be a radical democrat. Indeed I should like to think that the attention and reflection I have developed concerning the place of those called the mentally handicapped represents my most determinative political reflections. A community that has the time and can take the time, the patience, to be constituted by practices represented by those "slower" than most of us, is a community that may provide an alternative to the politics of speed that currently shapes our lives.

Community without the state coming together without the state The stateless human.
The state vs humanity. Neither the state nor the corporation deals with the human. The human as a free being. Humanity without power.
The broad aim of the engagement is to develop a conception of community that does not presuppose commonality or identity as a condition of belonging. Within this, Agamben’s conception of “whatever singularity” indicates a form of being that rejects any manifestation of identity or belonging and wholly appropriates being to itself, that is, in its own “being-in-language.” Whatever singularity allows for the formation of community without the affirmation of identity or “representable condition of belonging,” in nothing other than the “co-belonging” of singularities itself.

Because Agamben says the original meaning of sacer is “doomed to death,” he will locate the sovereign right “to let live and make die” in sacrifice–in this “sacrum facere.” In Homo Sacer, Agamben explains this with reference to the archaic Roman vitae necisque potestas , the absolute right of the father over the life and death of his sons. This is the power that makes the pater –the father– domus –head of the household, dominator. Here, life– vita ,zo_ –is only a correlate of the power to kill– nex . It is what the law presupposed in granting the father his right–there must be something for him to kill, namely, the life of his sons. And because the Romans thought there to be an “essential affinity” between this right and the power of imperium, exercised by the sovereign, man–as citizen, as bios politikos–was subject to sovereign decision regarding life and death, just as were the father’s sons. Here, man becomes homo sacer, sacred life–but this is simply life that can be killed.

Because human life– zo_ , the bare life of man– is, according to the law, merely the correlate of the power to kill, Agamben says life becomes the sacred, though unspeakable, ground of political order–as that which can be killed. 40The power of imperium –which came to be exercised by Roman consuls–comes from the sacrificial ax carried by their lictors–the fasces, used to perform executions. 41Imperium –sovereignty–is simply the power to execute–to kill. That this definition holds even in modern political philosophy is evident from Hobbes’ Leviathan –where the sovereign retains the power to punish by the “infliction of death; and that either simply, or with torment”–to Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology –where the sovereign is said to be the one who “decides the exception.” 42

Inasmuch as, for Agamben, bare life is what is excluded from–and so in exception to–the various forms of life–as their sacred, unacknowledged ground–Schmitt’s attempt to strike the word “man” from the German Civil Code–in 1935, as he was attempting to reformulate the principles of jurisprudence in light of the Nazi revolution–suggests the danger of the “division and opposition” of life and forms of life that so concerns Agamben. Schmitt claimed that

The legal concept of ‘man’ in the sense of Article 1 of the Civil Code conceals and falsifies the differences between a citizen of the Reich, a foreigner, a Jew, and so on. Replacing scientific abstraction as something remote from reality, thinking in concrete terms, seeing equal as equal and above all unequal as unequal, and emphasizing the differences among men of different races, nations, and occupational estates in the sense of God-given realities–that is the goal of National Socialist academic jurists, not just those who are organizationally led by Carl Schmitt. 43

Agamben argues, on the contrary, that it is precisely the politicization of life–particularly as Schmitt advances it here, in terms of a concrete science of the “God-given realities” of race, nation, and class–which has led to the “bloody mystifications of a new planetary order.” 44To overcome these “bloody mystifications” requires an investigation of the possibilities of the human life–that is, an ethics–a political life freed from sovereign power. This ethics–an ethics of form-of-life–means the end of the separation and opposition of forms of life and bare life, of sacrifice, and sovereign power, insofar as it appropriates the process of exclusion and inclusion that constitute the exception. It designates an exemplary life, a life that is the “impotent omnivalence of whatever being,” in that it is “a single object that presents itself as such, that shows its singularity,” and allows for the possibility of community “without being tied to any common property, by any identity.” 45For Agamben, this is the very idea of the happy, political life.

Direct philosophy : free of jargon, for the common man, useful, applicable

To leave can be better than to revolt. Not to replace, simply to leave the hegemony

Paolo Virno's criticism of Agamben

Agamben is a thinker of great value but also, in my opinion, a thinker with no political vocation. Then, when Agamben speaks of the biopolitical he has the tendency to transform it into an ontological category with value already since the archaic Roman right. And, in this, in my opinion, he is very wrong-headed. The problem is, I believe, that the biopolitical is only an effect derived from the concept of labor-power. When there is a commodity that is called labor-power it is already implicitly government over life. Agamben says, on the other hand, that labor-power is only one of the aspects of the biopolitical; I say the contrary: over all because labor power is a paradoxical commodity, because it is not a real commodity like a book or a bottle of water, but rather is simply the potential to produce. As soon as this potential is transformed into a commodity, then, it is necessary to govern the living body that maintains this potential, that contains this potential. Toni (Negri) and Michael (Hardt), on the other hand, use biopolitics in a historically determined sense, basing it on Foucault, but Foucault spoke in few pages of the biopolitical - in relation to the birth of liberalism - that Foucault is not a sufficient base for founding a discourse over the biopolitical and my apprehension, my fear, is that the biopolitical can be transformed into a word that hides, covers problems instead of being an instrument for confronting them. A fetish word, an "open doors" word, a word with an exclamation point, a word that carries the risk of blocking critical thought instead of helping it. Then, my fear is of fetish words in politics because it seems like the cries of a child that is afraid of the dark..., the child that says "mama, mama!", "biopolitics, biopolitics!". I don't negate that there can be a serious content in the term, however I see that the use of the term biopolitics sometimes is a consolatory use, like the cry of a child, when what serves us are, in all cases, instruments of work and not propaganda words.


Start a movement.

Freedom to kill yourself, nobody else has.
The freedom to kill other people without getting killed, although made very miserable.

The freedom to love. Who, what, whatever, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone.

The freedom to jump out of what, where, how you are, with whom you are.




You be self-sovereign.

Discover who you are. Find what you enjoy.