Posts tagged Cascadia

Rad Geek Speaks: “Women and the Invisible Fist,” bringing Molinari to the Marxians, and Libertarian-Left Radical Philosophizing

I’m pleased to say that my paper Women and the Invisible Fist: How Violence Against Women Enforces the Unwritten Law of Patriarchy[1] has been accepted for a panel at the Ninth Biennial Radical Philosophy Association Conference next month in at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

The RPA, if you’re not familiar with it, publishes Radical Philosophy Review, puts on conferences of its own, and puts on regular panels at the American Philosophical Association Eastern and Pacific Division meetings, on (engaged) radical philosophizing, critical theory, feminism, postcolonialism, academic Marxism, and the like. As RPA would have it, Founded in 1982, RPA members struggle against capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, disability discrimination, environmental ruin, and all other forms of domination. We also oppose substituting new forms of authoritarianism for the ones we are now fighting. … We believe that fundamental change requires broad social upheavals but also opposition to intellectual support for exploitative and dehumanizing social structures. Since this conference’s theme is Violence: Systemic, Symbolic, and Foundational, I figured that the Invisible Fist essay was apropos, and might provide a chance for some interesting Left / Left-Libertarian engagement and dialogue. Since the program committee seems to agree, I will be there representing the Molinari Institute.[2] If you happen to be around southern Cascadia next month, here’s my panel. It’d be great to see you there:

The Ninth Biennial Radical Philosophy Association Conference

Violence: Systemic, Symbolic, and Foundational

November 11th-14th
University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon
Conference Program available online

V-E: A Culture of Violence Against Women

Friday, November 12th 2010, 3:45–5:15pm
Rouge Room, Erb Memorial Union
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Chair: Gertrude Postl, Suffolk County Community College

  • Christa Hodapp, University of Kentucky. Identity Through Destruction

  • Charles Johnson, Molinari Institute. Women and the Invisible Fist

  • Jacob Held, University of Central Arkansas. Revisiting MacKinnon via Rae Langton: Pornography as Illocutionary Disablement and Civil Suits as a Means to Enfranchise the Silent Majority

I can’t speak for the others; but here’s my abstract. (If you’ve read the post with a similar title, you’ll already have a general idea; but there’ve been some changes, and like all academic enterprises, this one needs a tl;dr summary.)

When feminist theorists challenge the common dichotomies of pervasive private crimes from public policy, and of personal problems from political struggles against oppression, antifeminist critics often treat the challenge to this distinction as if it were a simple replacement of the private with a conventional understanding of the political – treating feminist analyses of patriarchy as little different from the use of conspiracy theories to explain the prevalence of male violence. I argue that, contrary to these canonical misunderstandings, the central insights of feminist analysis of patriarchal violence may be articulated with help from a surprising source – the work of radical libertarian social theorists, in particular the Austrian free-market economist Friedrich Hayek. Using philosophical analysis and critique to charitably reconstruct Susan Brownmiller’s “Myrmidon theory” of stranger-rape, as presented in Against Our Will, in light of Hayek’s conception of social order as importantly structured by emergent “spontaneous orders” which are “results of human activity but not of human design,” I argue that the dialogue provides critical terms to articulate the radical feminist critique of rape culture, while also claiming and importantly enriching the concept of “spontaneous order” as a tool for radical social critique. When this analytic reconstruction is supplemented with a discussion of recent empirical data on the pervasiveness of rape, drawn from social-science and public health literature on male violence against women, it reveals a distinctive picture that should be of prime importance both to radical feminists and to serious libertarians: a pervasive, diffuse threat of violence that constrains the liberty of women in everyday life to move and act and live as they want, but which, unlike the kinds of State violence which male radicals are accustomed to discussing — modes of domination handed down according to explicit State policies, ratified through political processes, promulgated from the top down and consciously carried out by officially appointed or deputized agents of the State — expresses itself instead in attitudes, behaviors, and coercive restrictions that are largely produced by bottom-up, decentralized forms of violence without conscious collaboration or conspiracy, sometimes in conflict with the explicit provisions of the law, in which women are battered into the social position they currently occupy as if by an invisible fist. I conclude that this unexpected convergence of Brownmiller and Hayek provides (1) a mutually illuminating dialogue on methodology in radical social theory and analytical understandings of structural violence, (2) a surprising synthesis of radical critiques of the construction of identity with radical critiques of domination through the state, and (3) an opportunity to ramify and radicalize understanding of both the feminist insight that “the personal is political,” and the Hayekian insight that society is structured by emergent orders that are “results of human activity but not of human design.”

Interested? It’d be great to see you there. And, if you’re interested in supporting radical libertarian academic work, left / left-libertarian engagement, and the occasional quixotic effort to repurpose Hayekian economics for the purposes of individualist anarchist and radical feminist social theory, then you may also be interested to know that I’m raising some money on behalf of Molinari to help the Institute cover the costs of getting me out to the conference.[3] The budget is also attached, for the curious.

Donate to the Molinari Institute to support left-libertarian scholarship.

Flight
Round-trip from LAS to EUG
$240.80
Hotel
3 nights at conference rate
$310.26
Conference registration $75.00
Transport to & from airport
Estimated
$25.00
Total: $651.06

Meanwhile, I’m going to be in Eugene, Oregon and its immediate environs — I will probably also make at least one trip up to Corvallis, if I have the time — for a few days a month for now. Of course, I’ve been hearing all about Eugene all my damn life as an activist; but I’ve never made it out there yet. So, any suggestions on places to go (bookstores, infoshops, eateries, local sights), or people to meet? (How about you, gentle reader, if you’re in the area?) If so, drop a line in the comments!

Cascadia, ho!

  1. [1] A refined, expanded, and paper-ified version of the thoughts I was working on in my Women and the Invisible Fist post here at the RGPD.
  2. [2] If the Marxians won’t come to Molinari, then I guess Molinari must go to the Marxians.
  3. [3] All contributions go to the Molinari Institute, with an earmark noting that it’s for the RPA presentation; any proceeds above and beyond actual costs will go towards our slush-fund for future awesome left-libertarian academic engagements.

Wednesday Lazy Linking

Don’t forget.

  • The world is awesome.

  • People are awesome. You don’t need plans, or politics, or power. Put them up against people, and people will win every time. People came up with that video. Also, other people came up with this.

  • Technological civilization is awesome. (In case you’re wondering, it’s awesome because it’s made of people.)

  • Books are awesome. Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times (2009-05-29): Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-Reader

  • To-day is awesome. It’s an anniversary. My love and I were married three years ago today. If the normal online rounds are held up for a while, well, that’s why.

Solidarity.

  • In memory of George Tiller. feministe (2009-05-31): In honor of Dr. Tiller (if you would like to donate in memory and in honor of Dr. Tiller’s work). Among others, the National Network of Abortion Funds has established a George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund.

  • IQSN, L.A. I.M.C. (2009-05-27): Solidarity with Queer Bulgaria on 27 June 2009. A day of international actions in solidarity with the LGBTQ Pride march in Sofia, Bulgaria. Last year’s march was attacked by neo-Nazi groups who decided to Keep Our Children Safe with a campaign of roving basher gangs and by slinging molotov cocktails and small explosives at the marchers. International Queer Solidarity Network calls for a European mobilization, with support from the United States, that will stand in solidarity with Queer Bulgaria for this year’s march.

News.

Comment.

Historicize.

Communications.

Institutionalized sadism

(Via Atomic Nerds 2009-02-08, flip flopping joy 2009-03-03, and NPR.)

See if you can figure out what all of these cases have in common.

Trigger warning. The stories below involve verbal descriptions, and a news video below includes repeated displays of silent but very graphic footage, of extreme physical violence by adult teachers and male police officers against young men, young women, and girls under their authority.

In Idaho, an eight-year-old girl who has been labeled with Asperger’s Syndrome was taken out of a class Christmas party at her government-run school, because she was wearing a hoodie with cow ears and a tail, which she refused to take off on the arbitrary orders of her teacher. For this minor dress code violation, she was stuck in a separate room and intervened with by a pair of teachers. While she was under their power, she peacefully tried to walk out of the room through an open door, so the adult teachers physically grabbed her and forced her down into four point restraint; when she screamed and tried to get out of the painful hold they had put her in, the teachers then called in the county government’s police, who came in, grabbed this 54-pound girl, handcuffed her, marched her out to a police car, and took her to a juvie prison, for battering the teachers who were physically restraining her when all she wanted was to be left the hell alone. This sustained assault by several different adults, some of them heavily armed, on an upset child, which has left her with bruises, is dignified as a scuffle by the newspapers:

The mother of an 8-year-old autistic girl who was arrested after a scuffle with her teachers said it was horrifying to watch her daughter be led away in handcuffs from her northern Idaho elementary school.

Police in Bonner County, Idaho, charged the girl, Evelyn Towry, with battery after the arrest Friday at Kootenai Elementary School.

Even though prosecutors dismissed the case Tuesday, the family is considering legal action against the school. They say their daughter was physically restrained to the point of causing bruises and is now tormented by memories of the incident.

… Towry said Evelyn, who loves Spongebob Squarepants, told her she was put in a separate classroom away from the party, but when she tried to leave, the teachers told her to stay put. Evelyn did not listen, Towry said, and the adults physically restrained her.

She reacted in a violent way to the physical restraint, Towry said.

Towry said her daughter demonstrated for her how she was held down by her arms and legs. And Towry videotaped the thumb-sized bruises she says were left on Evelyn’s legs from the incident.

She said I was very scared, Towry said. She told me she was being hurt.

Dick Cvitanich, superintendent of the Lake Pend Oreille School District, which includes the school where Evelyn was a student, said the school called police because there was escalating behavior that resulted in what we perceived to be an assault on staff.

No doubt; but who, in this situation, was doing the escalating?

Teachers and the principal wished to pursue charges because they felt there were ongoing problems and this was the only way to resolve it, Lakewold said.

But Towry said her daughter thinks she got into so much trouble simply because she didn’t want to take off her cow costume.

When asked what she likes best about school, Evelyn responded quickly and emphatically.

Nothing, she said. I don’t like school.

— Sarah Netter, ABC News (2009-01-04): Parents Consider Legal Action After Autistic Girl, 8, Arrested at School

Meanwhile, in Occupied Seattle, a 15 year old black girl was taken to a government jail by the county government’s cops after she and a friend went on a joyride in her friend’s mother’s car. While under their power, according to the cops, she got quote-unquote real lippy over how they were treating her, and went so far as to call them some unkind names. Then, when she was being locked in a cell, the cops ordered her to take off her shoes; she kicked off one of the shoes towards the heaily armed cop who was about to lock her securely in a room she couldn’t escape from. Instead, he decided to take this escalating behavior as assaulting a police officer, which is of course a perfect opportunity for intervention — in this case, rushing the 15 year old girl, kicking her in the gut, slamming her against the wall of her cell, pulling her back by her hair, slamming her to the ground, pinning her down, and smashing her repeatedly with his fist while she was physically restrained by himself and his gang brother.

Meanwhile, in Texas, at the Corpus Christi State School [sic] — it is actually a government-run institution where about 360 people, ranging in age from 18 to 77 years old, are legally committed, temporarily or permanently, with or without their consent, for being labeled as mentally retarded, especially if they severe behavioral and/or emotional problems — about a dozen workers are under investigation after cell phone videos surfaced in which they rousted up some of the young men under their power, late at night, surrounded them, shoved them, kicked them, and goaded them into fighting each other for the entertainment of the trained, professional staff.

At a state institution for people with mental retardation in Texas, six staff members have been charged with taking part in staging what have been called human cockfights, using residents with mental retardation. . . .

The fights became known only because one of the workers lost his cell phone. It was found and turned over to an off-duty police officer. The phone had videos of more than a year of staged late-night fights, some as recent as this past January.

— Joseph Shapiro, NPR Morning Edition (2009-03-18): Abuse At Texas Institutions Is Beyond ‘Fight Club’

The criminal charges stem from allegations this week that Corpus Christi state school employees forced disabled residents into orchestrated, late-night fights over the course of more than a year. They were caught after they captured at least 20 of the episodes on a cellphone camera, one turned over to police.

Five of the suspects – Timothy Dixon, 30; Jesse Salazar, 25; Guadalupe Delarosa, 21; Vince Johnson, 21; and Dangelo Riley, 22 – are charged with injury to a disabled person, a third-degree felony. Their bail has been set at $30,000. A sixth suspect, 21-year-old Stephanie Garza, is charged with a state jail felony for allegedly failing to intervene in the fight clubs. Her bail is set at $15,000.

Arrest warrants obtained by The Dallas Morning News allege five of the employees encouraged, filmed or narrated the fights – which were documented in dozens of still images and 20 videos taken over six months in 2008. Riley is allegedly seen kicking a resident during a fight, while Dixon, who appears from the warrants to be the phone’s owner, is accused of doing much of the filming and narration. Four of the videos show residents sustaining injuries.

— Emily Ramshaw, The Dallas Morning News (2009-03-13): State school worker linked to fight club scandal arrested; 5 others sought

Texas authorities are outraged. But they would like us to know that this is an Isolated Incident:

He said he hasn’t heard of fight club scenarios at any other state schools.

I haven’t heard any other allegations yet, he said. So far, these circumstances, these staffers, appear to have been the exception.

— Emily Ramshaw, The Dallas Morning News (2009-03-12): Texas officials make surprise visits to state schools after Corpus Christi fight videos surface

Right — an exception. Just like the literally hundreds of other exceptions that we were discussing here less than a year ago, which The Dallas Morning News, among others, have documented at Texas state mental institutions in the last 4 years — the use of physical threats, headlocks, chokeholds, tackling, dragging, beating, raping, to please the whims of Mental Health staffers or to dominate and control the patients unwillingly forced to endure their care. Meanwhile, at Corpus Christi alone in 2008 alone, there were nearly 1,000 allegations of abuse, neglect or mistreatment in 2008; 60 reports were confirmed by the administrators. 60 confirmed reports is bad enough, but what’s worse is how many of those unconfirmed reports must surely be the result of the usual institutional cover-ups and white-washes. How much do you think you could get away with if all your coworkers could be counted on to get your back, and if reports of abuse by your victims could be waved off as literally the product of insanity or feeble-mindedness?

Several of the stories about this horrible case have gone straight for the agonized hand-wringing:

The accusations have raised questions about how workers trained and hired to care for some of the most vulnerable people in society could instead treat them with cruelty.

— Joseph Shapiro, NPR Morning Edition (2009-03-18): Abuse At Texas Institutions Is Beyond ‘Fight Club’

AUSTIN – Cellphone videos of Corpus Christi State School employees forcing mentally disabled residents into late-night prize fights have left Texas families and advocates for people with disabilities in search of answers – not just about security but about human nature.

How can one human being treat another in such a wicked way? Experts disagree on the roots of such abuse. It might be a byproduct of the stressful situations people are in. It could also be innate sadism.

— Emily Ramshaw, The Dallas Morning News (2009-03-14): Forced fights at Corpus Christi State School raise disturbing questions

We are also told that maybe it’s a lack of education; maybe there’s something about the impersonal nature of large institutions; maybe it’s all peer pressure. But really, once the hand-wringing about human nature and peer pressure and all the rest is gotten out of the way, one explanation is always put forward, by those who have access to the media, as a matter of unquestionable consensus: obviously, Experts tell us, it’s the lack of training, the poor pay, and the lax supervision of the personnel who are put in the position of de facto prison guards for hundreds of institutionalized people. This is used as an entre into asserting the alleged need for more tax money, more prison guards, more Expert training — and insisting that these state institutions don’t have enough privileges and money from the state government; that they need even more money to hire and pay the very people who have turned their institutions into dangerous hellholes. E.g.:

But they [Experts] concur that the formula at Texas’ 13 institutions for the disabled – young, inexperienced and underpaid workers in charge of the state’s most vulnerable residents – lays the groundwork for disaster.

Left alone, human beings will engage in the most surprising kinds of misconduct and adjust their mentality to fit, said David Crump, a University of Houston Law Center professor who specializes in the psychology of evil behavior. We should expect this unless we take concrete and meaningful steps to prevent it.

Of course, if you’ve read this far, you’ll have no trouble believing that people are capable of all kinds of cruelty. But if you’ve read this far, you’ll also know that this kind of non-explanation is the worst sort of hogwash. People don’t, as a rule, pin and handcuff random little girls on the street; they don’t beat the living hell out of customers at their workplace who cop an attitude; they don’t run into college dorms late at night to intimidate and goad groggy students into fights for the purpose of bloodsport. Nobody but a lunatic does this sort of thing to people who can choose to interact with them or not to interact with them, or in social contexts where they are dealing with equals who have a right to make their own decisions about what’s for their own good and who can expect to be taken seriously if they complain about ill-treatment.

These horrors do happen, and people do them, over and over again, and they are perfectly predictable — but they are perfectly predictable only in a very specific social and political context. The NPR story acts surprised that in government institutions like jails and schools and mental wards — institutions that people are forced into, against their will, when they have been marginalized by their age or their psychiatric labels or by the socio-legal processes of criminalization — the people who, as the legally-designated enforcers of the government institution’s prerogatives, enjoy unaccountable power to restrain and order around the most vulnerable people in society, might abuse that power with this kind of cruelty. But in fact this is only surprising if you forget the fact that the people under their care have been made vulnerable, legally vulnerable, precisely in order to make the institution go on running with or without their consent, and if you forget everything you ever knew about how people act when they enjoy unaccountable power over victims who cannot leave, even if they pose absolutely no physical threat to anybody, and who will not be taken seriously if they should protest. This only looks like a surprise if, in short, you go on imagining that this sort of violence is an abuse of the systems of government institutionalization, rather than part and parcel of what these institutions represent. These things happen over and over again, not at random but specifically in nonconsensual government institutions, in the dedicated facilities of social marginalization and segregation under the auspices of State power. They happen not because of peer pressure or intrinsic sadism but because of power pressure and institutionalized sadism — and we hear about them, in every state of the Union and on every day of the week, one more Outrage after another, but without the dots connected, indeed with the dots carefully left un-connected, because of the enduring, and grotesque, faith that with just enough nonconsensual funding, with just enough careful training and professional dedication, you can somehow make a nonconsensual government institution run the right way, and you can somehow maintain the conditions of a prison camp without the violence that prison guards always exercise. In fact, these institutions are already running the right way, in a manner of speaking — this is Situation Normal. And there is only one thing that will ever change it — abolishing the conditions that nurture and sustain it.

The reality is that what is needed is not more money, or more guards, or better training, or even a culture change. A culture change would be a step forward, but the real solution that is needed is something that goes far deeper: a solution that strikes at the root from which that culture and these conditions grow. What is really needed is a power change, so that psychiatric wards are no longer artificially packed by court order, so that patients can leave and seek help through other means if conditions become unbearable, and so that supposed patients are no longer treated against their will and held down at the mercy of their helper-captors. If you make a hospital into a prison camp, then it should be no surprise when the hospital caregivers start acting like prison camp guards. The only thing to do — the only thing you can do that will not just recreate the same problem in a superficially different form — is to respect the will of patients, to treat violence against them as a real crime worthy of punishment, to repeal the laws that privilege and protect their captors, and to break open the doors and tear off the straitjackets that hold them back from living their lives as human beings, rather than as objects of pity and coercion.

— GT 2008-05-05: Texas psychoprisons

See also:

ALLies on the Airwaves

(From Portland ALLy Shawn Wilbur 2009-02-18.)

From Occupied Cascadia, Kyle Burris recently interviewed Portland ALLies Shawn Wilbur and William Gillis for KBOO-FM’s program Radiozine:

Market Anarchism: Government regulation and the financial crisis.

What roll [sic] did government regulation play in the current financial crisis? Is more regulation what we really need? What would a truly free market look like? And is there hope for radical reform, beyond the failed Marxist model?

KBOO’s Kyle Burris speaks to local anarchist activist William Gillis, and historian Shawn Wilbur, about the theory know as Market Anarchism, or Left Libertarianism. They discuss the roll [sic] government plays in the current economy, and also take a historical look at government’s affect on unions and health care in the US.

More information on the subject can be found at the website Invisible Molotov.

— KBOO.fm (2009-02-17): Market Anarchism: Government regulation and the financial crisis.

Congratulations Shawn and William!

An mp3 of the interview is available for download at the KBOO.fm website.

Phil Sano v. the State in Occupied Portland

For background, see GT 2008-06-13: Law and Orders #7:

Government cops are here to protect you by shouting orders at passing strangers on bicycles, For Their Own Good, and then, if the biker should fail to immediately obey arbitrary commands to stop, bellowed by complete strangers on the street at 9:30 pm, who don’t make any effort to identify or explain themselves, and who are dressed all in black so that you can hardly even see who the hell is hollering at you, they’ll make sure you’re biking safely by tackling you, slamming you against a nearby wall, wrestling you to the ground, and then, when you say No and ask to know what you did wrong, declaring that you’re combative and torturing you with repeated high-voltage electric shocks, before they finally, in a remarkable act of circular practical reasoning, arrest you for resisting arrest.

. . .

Thus, in the latest news from Occupied Cascadia, here’s how Portland cops Erin Smith and Ron Hoesly made sure that Phil Sano, who was suspected of the terrible crime of biking without a headlight, would get home safely: [… by grabbing him off his bike, repeatedly tasering him even though he posed no physical threat, and then justifying it by saying that he had been biking without a headlight and disobeyed an order to stop …].

According to Jonathan Maus at BikePortland.org (2008-06-11), the Gangsters in Blue arrested Sano and laid five charges on him, one of which was a civil citation for not having the headlight, and all the rest of which were charges for crimes that consisted in nothing other than failing to let himself be arrested for something that he couldn’t have been rightfully arrested for to begin with.

— GT 2008-06-13: Law and Orders #7

Today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wendesday) are Phil Sano’s days in court. Supporters in Occupied Portland are welcome to come out in solidarity:

From: revphil
Date: Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 1:50 AM
Subject: the state v revphil

Hi there. Today and Tomorrow Im in court contesting the charge of Resisting Arrest. If you would like to go support me the trial will likely go from today though Wed afternoon. It might be easy to ignore this matter for a variety of reasons, however the the issue affects us all. Even if you never ride a bike you should be concerned with the power cops have over you. The resulting decision may set a precedent for what behavior is expected of police officers and how they interact with us, the public.

Here is a recent story about Revphil’s case:
http://bikeportland.org/2009/02/04/phil-sano-taser-incident-goes-to-trial-next-week/
http://bikeportland.org/2009/02/09/phil-sano-taser-trial-live-updates-from-day-one/
http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2009/02/09/rev_phil_sano_s_taser_trial_i
(I have a sweet pictures in this last one!)

For more specific info about the current way tazers are being used
http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/less-lethal-weapons/Content?oid=951762
http://www.loadedorygun.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=1509

If you are planning on coming to court please be respectful, and remove any hats, tools or contraband before coming to the courthouse.

Tuesday Feb 10th and Wed Feb 11th
Multnomah County Courthouse
1021 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR
Judge You ct 5XX (er on the 5th floor) take a left on top of the stairs.
8:30 am until 5pm

thanks for your support,

reverend phil

See also: