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1  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Who was right, Huxley or Orwell? on: December 06, 2012, 07:56:12 PM
Oh, as for the original topic: DeTocqueville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_deTocqueville) was more right than either of them:


Quote from: Alexis DeTocqueville
WHAT SORT OF DESPOTISM DEMOCRATIC NATIONS HAVE TO FEAR

I HAD remarked during my stay in the United States that a democratic state of society, similar to that of the Americans, might offer singular facilities for the establishment of despotism; and I perceived, upon my return to Europe, how much use had already been made, by most of our rulers, of the notions, the sentiments, and the wants created by this same social condition, for the purpose of extending the circle of their power. This led me to think that the nations of Christendom would perhaps eventually undergo some oppression like that which hung over several of the nations of the ancient world. .

A more accurate examination of the subject, and five years of further meditation, have not diminished my fears, but have changed their object.

No sovereign ever lived in former ages so absolute or so powerful as to undertake to administer by his own agency, and without the assistance of intermediate powers, all the parts of a great empire; none ever attempted to subject all his subjects indiscriminately to strict uniformity of regulation and personally to tutor and direct every member of the community. The notion of such an undertaking never occurred to the human mind; and if any man had conceived it, the want of information, the imperfection of the administrative system, and, above all, the natural obstacles caused by the inequality of conditions would speedily have checked the execution of so vast a design.

When the Roman emperors were at the height of their power, the different nations of the empire still preserved usages and customs of great diversity; although they were subject to the same monarch, most of the provinces were separately administered; they abounded in powerful and active municipalities; and although the whole government of the empire was centered in the hands of the Emperor alone and he always remained, in case of need, the supreme arbiter in all matters, yet the details of social life and private occupations lay for the most part beyond his control. The emperors possessed, it is true, an immense and unchecked power, which allowed them to gratify all their whimsical tastes and to employ for that purpose the whole strength of the state. They frequently abused that power arbitrarily to deprive their subjects of property or of life; their tyranny was extremely onerous to the few, but it did not reach the many; it was confined to some few main objects and neglected the rest; it was violent, but its range was limited.

It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them. I do not question that, in an age of instruction and equality like our own, sovereigns might more easily succeed in collecting all political power into their own hands and might interfere more habitually and decidedly with the circle of private interests than any sovereign of antiquity could ever do. But this same principle of equality which facilitates despotism tempers its rigor. We have seen how the customs of society become more humane and gentle in proportion as men become more equal and alike. When no member of the community has much power or much wealth, tyranny is, as it were, without opportunities and a field of action. As all fortunes are scanty, the passions of men are naturally circumscribed, their imagination limited, their pleasures simple. This universal moderation moderates the sovereign himself and checks within certain limits the inordinate stretch of his desires.

Independently of these reasons, drawn from the nature of the state of society itself, I might add many others arising from causes beyond my subject; but I shall keep within the limits I have laid down.

Democratic governments may become violent and even cruel at certain periods of extreme effervescence or of great danger, but these crises will be rare and brief. When I consider the petty passions of our contemporaries, the mildness of their manners, the extent of their education, the purity of their religion, the gentleness of their morality, their regular and industrious habits, and the restraint which they almost all observe in their vices no less than in their virtues, I have no fear that they will meet with tyrants in their rulers, but rather with guardians.1

I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world; our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression that will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once. They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain.

By this system the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again. A great many persons at the present day are quite contented with this sort of compromise between administrative despotism and the sovereignty of the people; and they think they have done enough for the protection of individual freedom when they have surrendered it to the power of the nation at large. This does not satisfy me: the nature of him I am to obey signifies less to me than the fact of extorted obedience. I do not deny, however, that a constitution of this kind appears to me to be infinitely preferable to one which, after having concentrated all the powers of government, should vest them in the hands of an irresponsible person or body of persons. Of all the forms that democratic despotism could assume, the latter would assuredly be the worst.

When the sovereign is elective, or narrowly watched by a legislature which is really elective and independent, the oppression that he exercises over individuals is sometimes greater, but it is always less degrading; because every man, when he is oppressed and disarmed, may still imagine that, while he yields obedience, it is to himself he yields it, and that it is to one of his own inclinations that all the rest give way. In like manner, I can understand that when the sovereign represents the nation and is dependent upon the people, the rights and the power of which every citizen is deprived serve not only the head of the state, but the state itself; and that private persons derive some return from the sacrifice of their independence which they have made to the public. To create a representation of the people in every centralized country is, therefore, to diminish the evil that extreme centralization may produce, but not to get rid of it.

I admit that, by this means, room is left for the intervention of individuals in the more important affairs; but it is not the less suppressed in the smaller and more privates ones. It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other.

Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions only exhibits servitude at certain intervals and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is in vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.

I add that they will soon become incapable of exercising the great and only privilege which remains to them. The democratic nations that have introduced freedom into their political constitution at the very time when they were augmenting the despotism of their administrative constitution have been led into strange paradoxes. To manage those minor affairs in which good sense is all that is wanted, the people are held to be unequal to the task; but when the government of the country is at stake, the people are invested with immense powers; they are alternately made the play things of their ruler, and his masters, more than kings and less than men. After having exhausted all the different modes of election without finding one to suit their purpose, they are still amazed and still bent on seeking further; as if the evil they notice did not originate in the constitution of the country far more than in that of the electoral body.

It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people.

A constitution republican in its head and ultra-monarchical in all its other parts has always appeared to me to be a short-lived monster. The vices of rulers and the ineptitude of the people would speedily bring about its ruin; and the nation, weary of its representatives and of itself, would create freer institutions or soon return to stretch itself at the feet of a single master.

2  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Who was right, Huxley or Orwell? on: December 06, 2012, 07:37:25 PM
Quote
the mutation is less likely to be happening while in contact with insufficient number of antibodies,
Antibodies != Mutagen...

    It's not about increasing the rate of mutation, it's about changing the selective pressures so that particular mutations become advantageous.  What Agrarian is claiming happens with vaccines is a real phenomenon: it has been observed, for example, in the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  I'm having a lot of trouble buying the claim that this is somehow more likely to happen due to a vaccinated immune response than an unvaccinated one, but I'm not versed enough in biology to judge it with authority.

    I *will* judge the implied claim that this somehow invalidates vaccination entirely: combating a disease with a method that it *may* adapt to is still preferable to allowing it to kill.  Even if a "naturally" formed immunity is superior to a vaccinated immunity, that does no good for the people who don't live long enough to form the "natural" immunity.  All the fuss about how you can't truly eradicate a microbe is evading the real point: smallpox killed people, a LOT of people, for at least 11,000 years.  Today, it's unheard of.

Quote
The National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. decide what is and what is not science or acceptable areas of research in the U.S.; while the Royal Society makes the same determination in the U.K.  Nearly every country has their government and private organizations which decide these things.  This is not a conspiracy theory, it is just the way the system works now.

   The involvement of the State in . . . well, anything. . .  is an abomination.  The word of the "authorities" does not make truth, but, and I can't stress this enough, *NEITHER DOES IT GUARUNTEE LIES*.  It's really easy to fall into argumentum ad hominem when thinking about things that the state has an official position on, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and furthermore I suspect that many of those woking for the NSF and Royal Society are people of good faith trying to do real science, though they be horribly misguided politically.  (Or just politically unaware).  I am by no means telling you to trust those organizations, mind you, only pointing out that distrust has to be tempered with objectivity.
3  General Category / Lounge / Re: A Scanner Darkly on: December 02, 2012, 03:38:47 PM
Read the novel.  Phillip K. Dick was a master.

Oh, and read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" too, while you're at it.  Blade Runner was loosely based on it.
4  General Category / Lounge / Re: So... on: December 02, 2012, 03:34:22 PM
And, of course, the children.     They're always hit the hardest by these things.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo</a>
5  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Loving my new smartphone on: December 02, 2012, 03:15:40 PM
I'm trying to decide between the Samsung and the iPhone 5. Say what you will about apple, but their products have never failed. me. Plus, it's super simple to use an iphone as a portable bitcoin wallet.
Dude, as a fellow anarchist, I can't let you make the mistake of getting an Apple. Androids are the anarchist's smart phone. The blockchain app is great for Android. This is a phone you're likely going to have for several years, don't fuck it up!
Eh. It's called jail breaking yo. A jailbroken iPhone is in my view the best on the market.

Then again, I'm not worried about bitcoin and shit. But I am obviously an anarchist and love my jailbroken iPhone 4s.

Android users don't have to break out of jail to be free.

Actually, some of them still do; some phone manufacturers will lock you up.  I recommend getting any phone with "nexus" in the name: they're fully under your control.  Mind you, anything android is better than an iphone.

Apple has beautiful hardware.  They should drop out of the software game and just make hardware.

My current phone is a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  They sacrificed battery life to make the thing super-thin, and it gets a little hot, but other than that I'm super happy.  I installed an after-market battery with higher capacity (I'm holding it onto the back with duct tape, hehe) and I'm enjoying the device a lot, especially the larger-than-most-smartphones screen.
6  General Category / General Discussion / Re: What state do you reside in? on: November 30, 2012, 02:30:46 PM
I wonder who the other New Mexican is...

We may never know.
7  General Category / General Discussion / Re: what is the website built on? on: November 30, 2012, 02:27:46 PM
1. The blood of the exploited working class.
2. Rock & Roll.
8  General Category / Lounge / Re: We're a bunch of hipsters on: November 10, 2012, 04:37:36 PM
http://www.abcneckties.com/black-gold-college-bow-tie.html
9  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Laissez fair capitalsim on: November 10, 2012, 04:18:13 PM
I tend to insist that *only* laissez-faire is true capitalism.  Anything less is a "mixed economy" of some sort.

At any rate, it's the only economic system that could exist in a truly anarchistic society, as the absence of a state makes state intervention impossible.  Note, of course, that voluntary arrangements of any kind (including communes) could exist WITHIN such a system.
10  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Dune: A Quote on: November 02, 2012, 04:12:55 PM
Quote from: Leto Atreides II
. . .government is a shared myth. When the myth dies, the government dies.

Let's try to keep any Dune discussion as spoiler-free as possible:  MAM is still on the first book.   Smiley


To anyone else who hasn't read the whole series:  DO IT NOW!

Just finished the first book! Starting the second! Did you find the rest?

Not yet.

Quote from: Bene Gesserit Coda
Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit. This is the fine point on which all the legal professions of history have based their job security.

11  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Dune: A Quote on: November 02, 2012, 09:57:20 AM
Quote from: Leto Atreides II
. . .government is a shared myth. When the myth dies, the government dies.

Let's try to keep any Dune discussion as spoiler-free as possible:  MAM is still on the first book.   Smiley


To anyone else who hasn't read the whole series:  DO IT NOW!
12  General Category / Lounge / Re: Dwarf Fortress on: October 30, 2012, 07:50:08 PM
Just now:
Quote from: dwarffortress
The One-humped Camel bites You in the right upper arm, bruising the muscle through the hornbill leather robe!
The One-humped Camel latches on firmly!
...
The One-humped Camel shakes You around by the right upper arm and the severed part sails off in an arc!
The right upper arm is ripped away and remains in The One-humped Camel's grip!
13  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Linux for disobedient anarchists on: October 29, 2012, 04:58:41 PM
Why do you hate windows?
If youre an anarcho capitalist, you have no reason to hate microsoft.
Well i guess if you hate intellectual property laws that is....
In which case, just pirate the damn os..

I can't speak for anyone else, but my anti-Windows position has nothing to do with my politics, and in fact predates my conversion to AC by a few years.  I used to be an enthusiastic XP user.  I first switched away from Windows to a Mac when I needed a new computer and didn't want to deal with Vista after hearing the horror stories.  I switched from Mac to Linux when I didn't want to spend the kind of money it would've cost for my next machine to be a Mac.  Now, whenever I try to use Windows (and even OSX, to a lesser extent) I feel like the interface is fighting me every step of the way, telling me what I ought to be doing rather than doing what I tell it to.  I can never go back.
14  General Category / Lounge / Re: Windows 8 on: October 27, 2012, 07:24:57 PM
Windows has failed for me far too many times. Say what you will about Macs (and I know you will say a lot), but I've only had my macbook pro for about a year and a half, I'm using it the exact same way I used my HP laptop and it doesn't lag like the HP did, doesn't crash, and doesn't feel at all slow.

I was a Mac guy for a few years after I got fed up with Windows.  I'm not a huge fan of OSX, but I'd take it over Windows any day.  What's *really* sexy to me about Macs is the hardware.  Those guys really know how to design a physical interface.  I'm using an Apple keyboard to type this, in fact  Grin

EDIT: I also just realized that two of my three displays are Apple.  Guess which two look the best.

The complaints I have seen were with how it has a tablet type of interface.  Initial reactions are that it will seriously cut productivity.  I haven't looked into it further.  I have no intention of buying it.  

Perhaps I'm too "old fashioned" and not diggin' the change.


The traditional desktop metaphor may be old, but that doesn't mean it's obsolete.  Unfortunately, a lot of  graphical interface designers these days seem to think they need to find the "next big thing" and wind up with some pretty weird stuff.  If I could have a smartphone/tablet with Xfce on it rather than the "tablet type interface", I'd be a happy camper.

15  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Alongside Night on: October 25, 2012, 09:26:34 PM
I could tell it was written to make a point and illustrate an idea, rather than just as a novel.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.  I liked it.
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