Posts from August 2009

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday / ALLiance in Walla Walla, Washington and Pensacola, Florida

Two things.

First, a shout-out on behalf of the ALL Ad Hoc Global Organizing Committee. Are you yourself, or do you know anybody who is, an individualist anarchist, agorist, mutualist, left-Rothbardian, or otherwise on the libertarian left, who happens to live in or nearby any of the following metropolitan areas?

Are you yourself, or is the ALLy that you know, interested in meeting like-minded people and getting (more) involved in local activism and organizing? If so, please drop me a line with your or their contact information. I have some requests from prospective local organizers who are looking for people to start locals for the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I would love to be able to put interested ALLies in contact with each other.

Second, it’s Sunday Sunday Sunday. Let’s get Shameless Shameless Shameless.

What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

On being part of the problem

Matt Cockerill at the Young Americans for Liberty blog wants to know why there aren’t more libertarian women. By which he apparently means that he wants to know why more women don’t read his own personal libertarian blog and why more women don’t go to the libertarian political events that he personally goes to. (Which is actually a separate question, although men posting Where’s the women? posts never quite seem to recognize that.)

The first point in Matt’s discussion is to ask whether this might be the result of intractable forces predisposing women to be anti-libertarian. (Along with a link to an LRC article arguing, based purely on anecdote and appeal to conventional wisdom, that women are instinctually anti-libertarian because they are too emotional and mostly incapable of abstract thought.)

The second point in Matt’s discussion is to wish for more women to show up for his Sausage Party because libertarian men are currently being driven insane by the lack of young libertarian women to hit on.

But I do know that a proportional increase in libertarian women would do well to preserve the sanity of libertarian men. As it stands, the young female “itinerary” [sic! –R.G.] is mostly composed of Obama zombies, fully-blown Marxists, and “murder-all-Iranians” type chickenhawks. This undoubtedly needs to change.

The first commenter, Anonymous, adds: Most women/girls are more emotional than logical. The ones who think with their brain and not their heart are libertarians. But at the same time most libertarian women have a hard time being libertarian with ALL issues.

The third commenter, John M., adds: I think many of the libertarian women that read this site would take offense to being labeled as more emotional than logical. A more scientific distinction would be to argue that the ratio exists because men are naturally more skilled at mathematics and science whereas women are more skilled in the disciplines of reading and writing. This gives men an advantage at comprehending and anaylzing the ramifications of policies. But he does want more women in the movement, because he believes (based on the experience of Sarah Palin, who he insults as having little … brain-power or charisma) that having a few women on the ticket (a few women who he believes will need to be politically educated by libertarian men) they will be useful for getting out the vote.

Commenter Jack, in reply to John M.’s mention of a female professor who once chewed [him] up for saying that women are more emotional than logical, adds: LOL. More indoctrination. I hate to hear stories of culturally marxist academia. It would be one thing to politely disagree, but professors these days will eat you up if you try to say that any two people are different than each other in any way. Matt Cockerill comes back around to use this as an opportunity to tell us what he thinks is wrong with the modern women’s movement: The result of the egalitarian, denialist feminist indoctrination of the last few decades has been a generation of guys afraid to act like guys, and women who hate most of us for being fakers.

Matt Cockerill also comes back around to mention that he opposes a woman’s right to abortion, and that he considers this position compatible with the politics of individual liberty.

Sometimes, when women don’t show up for your parties, the best thing to do is not to ask whether there’s something wrong with women that makes them naturally predisposed not to dig the things you think they should dig. Because, dude, sometimes the reason that women don’t want to hang out with you is because there’s something wrong with you. And, specifically, because there’s something wrong with the way that you treat women.

And if you want a good example, why not start with the way you approached your original question?

Incidentally, be sure to read through the comments thread on the original post — not because the bulk of the comments are enlightening or even maginally original, but rather because radical feminist, left-libertarian Drunkenatheist’s commentary on the bulk of the comments is. Props.

(Link thanks to Drunkenatheist [2009-08-28].)

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The War on the Informal Sector (cont’d)

WASHINGTON — If you’re planning a garage sale or organizing a church bazaar, you’d best beware: You could be breaking a new federal law. As part of a campaign called Resale Roundup, the federal government is cracking down on the secondhand sales of dangerous and defective products.

The initiative, which targets toys and other products for children, enforces a new provision that makes it a crime to resell anything that’s been recalled by its manufacturer.

Those who resell recalled children’s products are not only breaking the law, they are putting children’s lives at risk, said Inez Tenenbaum, the recently confirmed chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The crackdown affects sellers ranging from major thrift-store operators such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army to everyday Americans cleaning out their attics for yard sales, church bazaars or — increasingly — digital hawking on eBay, Craigslist and other Web sites.

Secondhand sellers now must keep abreast of recalls for thousands of products, some of them stretching back more than a decade, to stay within the bounds of the law.

. . . Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the agency, said it wouldn’t be dispatching bureaucratic storm troopers into private homes to see whether people were selling recalled products from their garages, yards or churches.

We’re not looking to come across as being heavy-handed, he said. We want to make sure that everybody knows what the rules of engagement are to help spur greater compliance, so that enforcement becomes less of an issue. But we’re still going to enforce.

— James Rosen, McClatchy (2009-08-20): Seller, beware: Feds cracking down on garage sales

Like most invasive government regulations, the rules of engagement for this particular war hurts all of its targets — that is, they ratchet up fixed costs for all resellers, hurting them directly and also hurting their ability to provide a cheaper alternative to their main competitors (in this case, mainly big discount retailers like Wal-Mart). But within the resale market, it hurts some players more than others:

Staffers for the federal agency are fanning out across the country to conduct training seminars on the regulations at dozens of thrift shops.

Even before this law, we had good mechanisms in place for pulling recalled products, said Jim Gibbons, the chief executive of Goodwill. The law just kicks it up a notch, so Goodwills around the country will continue to improve our process.

Goodwill uses $2 billion in annual sales at its 2,300 thrift shops nationwide to pay for its job-training and employment placement programs.

— James Rosen, McClatchy (2009-08-20): Seller, beware: Feds cracking down on garage sales

Those of us who want to resell old toys but don’t have $2,000,000,000 in annual sales to dip into for regulatory compliance and who don’t get training seminars from the United States federal government may have a harder time kicking it up a notch. As usual, regulation props up big established incumbents and hurts grassroots, ad hoc, or just plain small-time players; state corporatism artificially enforces consumerism by burning out reuse markets, and props up the strip mall by burning out the bazaar.

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Border politics

From Ray Ybarra:

Someday children will be able to walk into a library and read about a period in history when thousands of migrants died attempting to unlawfully enter nation-states. The children will be appalled to read in this history book that there was once a time when human mobility across borders was not recognized as a human right. In the final chapter of the book, they will read about how the oppressed and disenfranchised across the globe organized to demand recognition of what was already known in their hearts. The time to write that final chapter is now.

For two years, I tracked anti-immigrant vigilantes through the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border. I met migrants who had blood coming out of their noses and purple masses where their lips used to be. I came upon migrants who were drinking their own urine to postpone death and saw mothers carrying their babies through the scorching, unforgiving terrain. I cannot forget the faces of people who were walking for days simply to find a job. I met mothers whose children died of dehydration and spent countless hours trying to conceive of a solution to the human rights tragedy created by borders. After many discussions with migrants, from rural communities in Mexico, to the border, and in communities across the United States, I kept hearing the same phrase: Tenemos un derecho humano a cruzar fronteras, translated, We have a human right to cross borders.

. . . Challenging the assumption that the rights of countries to regulate migration are superior to our rights as human beings to cross borders is long overdue. Now is the time for migrants and their allies to share their experiences, hopes, and aspirations, and to stop tailoring the discourse to sound appealing to the oppressors.

Past social movements provide examples of individuals asserting their rights despite immoral laws. Rosa Parks knew she possessed the right to sit anywhere on the bus. Before the passage of the 19th Amendment, Susan B. Anthony knew that women possessed the right to vote. Similarly, we must now turn to those who are most profoundly affected by immoral and inhumane immigration policies to lead us by example. Let us bury the notion that migrants are simply economic victims who need activists to be their voices. Every footstep in the desert can be considered an act of civil disobedience by visionaries paving the way for a movement for equality, liberty, and freedom. Migrants across the world cross international boundaries because they know that mobility is a human right. They have already provided the leadership—now it is time to identify followers.

— Ray Ybarra, Movement Vision Lab (2007-11-25): Crossing the Border: Human Mobility as a Human Right

Read the whole thing.

Right on. My only caveat — the only thing that I’d want to change — is to suggest, instead of act of civil disobedience, to view independent border crossings as direct action. Immigrants aren’t crossing borders in order to get arrested, or to challenge the morality of government border laws; they are crossing borders in order to find homes and jobs — to get the things they need in their lives, even without the approval of coercive governments — in order to render the destructive violence and stupidity of government border laws simply irrelevant to the lives that they lead. Not because political actors have been challenged to the point that they are no longer willing to go on enforcing unjust border laws, but rather because the actions of the immigrants themselves, and those who stand in solidarity with them, have made them unable to go on enforcing unjust border laws, even if they wanted to.

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Rad Geek Speaks: a talk on Anarchism and its ideas TOMORROW, at the Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe. Las Vegas, 27 August 2009, 6:00pm

ALLies,

In honor of thefirst anniversary of the weekly Vegas Anarchist Cafe, and in connection with the opening of a new school year on UNLV’s campus, Southern Nevada ALL has helped to organize a line-up of special programming the A-Cafe’s Free Speech Soapbox Series, to offer some opportunities for kick-starting some engaging conversations about Anarchy, about the ideas of Anarchism in theory and practice, and about how Anarchist ideals of free association, mutual aid, DIY social change, decentralized resistance, and direct action can apply to our struggles, passions, and dreams for our own community here in Vegas.

I’m happy to announce that for the first event, which will be held at this week’s A-Cafe on Thursday 27 August 2009, I will be giving a special talk, **What Is Anarchism? to discuss the ideals of Anarchism in theory and practice, the meaning and reasons for Anarchism’s opposition to the state, the benefits of a society without rulers or domination, and correcting common misconceptions and replying to common objections about Anarchism, Anarchists, and Anarchy. For anyone curious about the ideas of philosophical Anarchism, or interested in the conversation.

  • WHAT: Talk by Vegas ALLy CHARLES JOHNSON on WHAT IS ANARCHISM?

  • WHERE: Weekly Anarchist Cafe @ the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza (4550 S. Maryland Pkwy, right across the street from UNLV)

  • WHEN: This Thursday, 27 August 2009 6:00pm – 7:00pm. The regular A-Cafe informal meet-up and discussion will continue after the talk, from about 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

  • WHO: Anyone curious about, or interested in conversation about, the ideas of Anarchism.

If you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), come on out for what I hope to be an engaging back-and-forth, and a good kick-start to the conversation about Anarchist ideals in our community. It’d be great to see you there. If you know any friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else around abouts who might be curious or interested in conversation about Anarchism — whether they are themselves (A)s or not — then please do forward the announcement on to them

As always, the Anarchist Cafe will begin on Thursday at 6:00 PM. The talk will begin shortly after 6:00 and run for about 45 minutes, with time set aside afterwards for Q&A and conversation. After the formal Q&A has ended, we’ll continue with our usual informal chat until the end of the A-Cafe at 8:00pm.

This week’s presentation is part of the Free Speech Soapbox Series at Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe — a series of presentations, speeches, programming, and free speech 4open mics for the first hour of the weekly A-Cafe (6:00–7:00pm). Future Soapbox events are already being scheduled; if you’re in Vegas, or will be passing through, and are interested in giving a talk yourself — or know someone you’d be interested in hearing talk — about an issue you care about, a project you’re working on, a local group you support, or a how-to for a skill you’d like to share with fellow Anarchists — this is your time and we all have something to say or do that can help out our ALLies. Contact us for more details or to sign up.

Hope to see y’ALL there!

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