Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Are The Far-Right And The Far-Left The Same? NO


I wish I could somehow make that "no" in the headline bigger.

A quick note, certain recent events in my life have left me quite angry and so this is going to be one of those "not holding back" posts. I've been trying lately to write nicer in the hopes that people will be more willing to listen but that proved once again to not work so buckle the fuck up.

Anybody who has ever regularly or semi-regularly read this blog will probably agree with the sentiment that no, the opposite sides of our political spectrum are actually not the same, not "just as bad," not two sides of the same coin, and are not the ends of an improperly-hung horseshoe.

That's not to say that there isn't anything you can find that is similar between these groups.

To be clear, when I say the far-left, I do not mean Bernie Sanders. I mean actual communists, anarchists, anti-fascists, and other leftists who may not take on a label but otherwise believe that capitalism is horrible and people should just be given what they need to live and thrive in a human society advanced enough that there is more than enough food, shelter, clothing, water, and other necessities for everyone. To us, Bernie Sanders is barely left of center. Okay?

Anyhoo, the far-left and the far-right are pretty much only similar in their deviation from the center. Most people in the U.S. start out pretty much as centrists unless their parents spent their whole childhoods pouring Fox News down their throats, which unfortunately happens a lot. I started out as a centrist. You know why? Because I was clueless and had yet to engage in critical thinking about politics and society at age 18 and I thought that "both sides are bad" was a smart and original thought and that being in the middle somehow made me good and special even though probably a good 70 percent of equally politically clueless people have the same exact thoughts.

Yeah. I'm coming for you, centrists. By the way, if you identify as a centrist and live in the U.S., 95% chance you're actually a conservative. If you think Bernie Sanders is far-left? Congrats, you're solidly conservative. You just think you're a centrist because the U.S. Republican party has shifted to the far right and the Democratic party has become center-right, and both want to hide the fact that there's anything further to the left of that because they are both threatened by us.

At best, you're a victim of very effective state propaganda.

Centrists are also often people who like things the way they are. They tend to benefit from things like white supremacy, slavery-supported capitalism, class oppression, patriarchy, and the various other intertwined systems that keep the privileged few happy in their three-bedroom houses with their six-figure incomes, sitting atop the rest of us paying rent or sleeping outside. Why would they want things to change? So they pretend things are pretty much good as they are or maybe just need some tweaking, especially if it makes them more money but sometimes if it alleviates some of their guilt.

Sometimes, centrists become more politically aware or simply sense that something is very wrong with the system we're in, and that is often because they are living in poverty or are oppressed in one or more ways by said system. That is the only similarity between the far-left and the far-right.

The far-right is populated by people who think that they are better than others because of their skin color, gender, and other traits they got by accident of birth, or just rich assholes who got all their money from their rich asshole parents. They either want stricter hierarchies or for someone similar to them, or preferably they themselves, to take total power. Either that or they pretend to think that "free markets" will solve everything and not just end in total corporate control of our lives, which again would benefit them while the rest of us suffer even more.

On the far-left, we have people who want everyone to have actual freedom from white right bro-fucks with way too much money, ego, and hatred for anyone not just like them. We want all people to be taken care of as much as is possible so that we can all be more free to explore our potential and find true happiness. This does not mean government control over our lives. This means humans taking care of humans and the world we live in. This means everyone working together to uplift everybody. Real Sesame Street shit over here.

You see how these are not the same? 

Far-right Trump supporters broke into the Capitol last month in an attempt to install Donald fucking Trump as de-facto dictator. Four of these people died because they had no street medics to help the woman who was shot by police and nobody helped the woman who was trampled by the mob she unfortunately joined. Far-left protesters at most burn down police precincts because they won't stop killing people and vandalize ICE buildings because they're running concentration camps all over U.S. soil. Sometimes these protesters are killed, overwhelmingly by police, and only when they're not saved by our incredible street medics who train and put themselves at risk solely for the purpose of helping people, and they have saved many lives.

Can you spot the differences between these two groups?

Both-sides rhetoric only excuses and enables the behavior of the far-right, whose goal is always to seize more power for themselves and ultimately kill anyone they don't like, including people of color, women who won't submit to them, Jewish people, and and all queer and trans people, the disabled and chronically ill, and plenty of others. This is why the far-right is consistently more violent in ways that actually matter, meaning they assault and kill people all the time. This is not the same as damaging property, which consists of unfeeling objects, or throwing some shit at cops, who can quit their jobs any time they want.

You enable that right-wing violence, centrists. And you suck for that. No amount of accusing us of "black and white thinking" or having problems with people disagreeing with us while you are the one actively engaging in both those things while I'm trying to get your brain to peer into some actual gray areas will change that. You need to examine yourself and figure out why you freak the fuck out any time your assumptions are challenged even the tiniest bit or I'm just going to stop talking to you at all.

Because I am reaching the absolute limits of my patience.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What is Government, and What Should It Be?

It's no secret here that I am not a fan of the U.S. government as it is now, and probably as it's ever been. Clearly, this is something I share in common with many people around the world and across all political spectrums. Pretty much unless you're a registered Democrat with a blue wave in your Twitter handle and/or bio, or you're currently collecting a sweet government salary, benefits, and power as a lawmaker, you probably kind of hate the government.

But what is government? This question started brewing in my noggin a while ago after talking with someone I know who identifies as libertarian but is not just a Republican who likes weed. We were discussing universal healthcare and they expressed that they didn't trust their healthcare to be in the hands of the government. I inquired whether they would prefer that to be in the hands of big corporations, and they said they trusted corporations a bit more than the alternative.

Like many on the left, I started my political journey as a centrist liberal and have been drifting leftward ever since. 2020 may have pushed me all the way into anarchism, which is an ideology that condemns all power hierarchies. So obviously our system of government is a no-go. But I find it easy to slip back into liberal "big government is good actually" thinking. It becomes hard to reconcile my desire for people all over the U.S. to not die of preventable medical issues because they can't pay with my own disdain for our government.

What I really want is public ownership of the healthcare system. But that becomes different from government ownership when the government doesn't represent the people anymore.

The point is, people are mad at the government to the point that many fairly average U.S. residents' automatic reaction to many issues is "government bad." Big government controlling every aspect of our lives is a weird boogeyman that U.S. Republicans love to whip out any time someone proposes helping the poor even though Republicans make up half of that big government. But they're also not wrong - the government does control much of our lives, and the people running it are largely completely out of touch with the average U.S. resident.

So what is government supposed to be? In basic terms, it's supposed to be a group of people coming together to pool their resources to make things better for everybody. It's pooling money to build roads we can all drive on and schools we can send all our kids to and, if we felt like it, pay doctors to treat everybody. That way, people who fall on hard times don't just get fucked or have to rely on charity that may or may not exist when and where they need it.

In those terms, government-run healthcare sounds far preferable to me than private health insurance companies. The reason I would still prefer even the U.S. government running our healthcare over our current system is that a corporation's natural and inevitable highest goal is profit, which means they are always, always motivated to screw you out of care. If they can get away with it, they will. Governments are at least supposed to exist not for profit or some asshole's power but for the people.

Anarchist theory generally says that hierarchies will always lead to abuse. This means that the U.S. system of representative democracy, in which we elect people to give power to in order to make our laws and shit for us, assuming that they follow the will of the people, does not work for anarchists. We see power corrupting people every time and we go "let's stop giving people power over others."

Anarchists instead desire direct democracy. That means everybody votes on every issue and proposal that comes forward. Instead of electing people with enough money to successfully campaign only to have them break all their campaign promises and point fingers, we'd just all cast individual votes on proposals like COVID stimulus payments and Medicare for All. 

What does that look like in a practical sense? There is no simple answer to that. The problem is that with such a huge nation, understanding the issues well enough to vote on them is a full time job. Not everyone wants to be so engaged even if we didn't have to have other jobs. Many anarchists believe such a thing would only be possible in rather small communities and I tend to agree. Will we have to break down human civilization into a series of thousands or millions of small independent towns not governed by one big government entity? Maybe? I still have a lot of anarchist theory to read before I can even begin to tell you what an ideal human society would look like.

But something is clearly very wrong with our current system, and just about everybody seems to sense that. I can't tell you how to fix it, but we can start with some simple questions. What is government, and what do we want it to be? Some slave owners hundreds of years ago said something about "by the people, for the people," but obviously they were full of shit. Still, that is what most of us want out of our democracy. Pooling our resources and working together to make life better for everybody is something that few would say no to. Yet here we have a whole nation full of people who react to the very word "government" like you just said "moist" or "Nickelback."

Anarchists themselves often disagree over whether government is inherently bad. You were probably told at some point in your life that anarchy means no government and therefore total chaos, but that's not correct. It really depends on how you define government. If government requires authority and hierarchy, then anarchism is anti-government. If government can just be people coming together and trying to make sure everybody is taken care of and is as happy and fulfilled as possible, then it's definitely not anti-government.

It's annoying how often things come down to semantics, but this is how we humans are. We can, however, stop to consider that how we think of government might be considerably different than how another person thinks of it. We toss around words like "government" without really thinking of it, but now's as good a time as any. Stop and ask yourself, sincerely, what is government to you? Can government exist in a form that works for you? Would we be better off without it, and how might that look?

To me, the most important question is how can we all best take care of each other so we can all be safe and happy? How can we make a world that uplifts everyone? Okay that's two questions, but you get what I mean. These are the questions that could unite the common people, if anything can.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Having Feelings

So I've been working real hard the past several months on getting myself to let myself FEEL THINGS and did you ever notice how often I start blog posts with "so" oh well fuck you.

Anyway I just watched the Hannah Gadsby special "Nanette" for the 10th time and for the 10th time it made me cry.

The older I get, the more eager I am to protect the young radicals shaping the world right now from the people who hate and fear them. 

Oh, you think you're so tough, threatening 18-year-old women through your Twitter account? Why don't you come say that to my face, to the wrinkles on the bridge of my nose, to my dark circles and bags that I've always had but no longer resent, to my neck fat and my bloodshot 32-year-old eyeballs?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Let's Talk About Cancel Culture AGAIN Oh My God

Lindsey here, and I'm dragging my dissociating corpse out of blog retirement to address this god damn issue again because uh oh! We had an attempted fascist coup against the U.S. government and now people are finally motivated to address the five-ton elephant in the room. And it's not really about "cancel culture." It's about how we navigate a world in which the sudden emergence of the Internet has put a fuck ton of information at our fingertips but cannot by itself tell us what is true and what isn't.

Is cancel culture real? Well, it's a human-made concept, so it's exactly as real as we want it to be.

What is real is that we have an incredibly small number of social media companies, arguably few enough to be counted on one hand, through which we are pouring vast amounts of information and opinion that is filtered through a profit motive. Facebook and Twitter are likely the two biggest.

Let's build some background here. Cancel culture is a term that emerged pre-2017. I can't remember what year it was the first time I heard the term or when I first heard something like "so-and-so is canceled." But I know it was before 2017, because that is the year that mainstream media articles site as when the term "cancel culture" first emerged on Twitter. As per usual, the concept began in Black communities, where all the best new forms of English language begin before they're co-opted and ruined by us white people. 

I first saw people getting "canceled" on Tumblr. There is, by the way, a fascinating phenomenon in which a lot of philosophical discussions and social debates seem to start on Tumblr, with the community arguing over and examining every possible aspect of it before it's pretty much settled (or people just get bored of it) and then years later, that same debate emerges on more mainstream and profitable social media platforms.

Here's where Tumblr landed: There is nothing wrong with "canceling" those with enough money and social power that even if they never worked again, they would be able to live out perfectly comfortable lives. Mel Gibson was and absolutely should have been canceled and the fact that he still somehow has a film career is gross and terrible. Also, it's not actually a crime against humanity to hurt someone's follower count if they say or do something harmful. But there is a line.

That line is nowhere near banning someone like Donald fucking Trump from social media, however. The real place that cancel culture gets out of control is when people start digging through people's social media posts going back several years to find problematic things they said out of ignorance, particularly if they were underage when they did so. The actual problem is young, sometimes underage people with no real power in the world at all being dogpiled and harassed for making a mistake and having to delete their accounts even after apologizing because people tend to just react without checking to see if someone has already learned their lesson.

At some point, where that line should be exactly gets tricky, because of course it does. But that place is, again, nowhere near people who have held the most powerful political office in the entire fucking world.

People like Nikki Haley and other members of congress have no idea what a truly detrimental version of "cancel culture" looks like. I've seen it, as have many other Tumblr users. What's so interesting about Tumblr, though, is that it has become a social media platform where profit is essentially impossible.

One thing I and other users love about Tumblr is that posts from the people you follow show up on your dashboard in chronologically order, the end. On Facebook and Twitter, posts are organized for you by algorithms that are closely-guarded company secrets and are, of course, designed with one key goal in mind: Profit. You see what you see on social media because that's what makes Mark and Jack the most cash money.

Cancel culture is not a threat to you. If you were fired because you attended the attempted coup at the Capitol on January 6, "cancel culture" is not at fault. The real threats are the conspiracy theories that hijacked your brain, the politicians who exploited that, and the society that makes it so losing your job can literally kill you.

But there is also a massive problem with social media today, and that is the fact that a couple of massive corporations are having such a huge impact on human society and have so much control over what information you see and how that information is framed. Two dudes named Mark and Jack have an intense amount of power over the shaping of your entire perception of the world. 

That's fucked up, folks.

As a professional news regurgitator, I can provide real-world examples of this. I write daily political news articles for a side website of the Daily Dot created for fans of one of those social media accounts that pretends to be God. Though I am given a lot of leeway when it comes to commentary and framing, there are strict content rules we have to follow because otherwise we risk being penalized by Facebook. Most of our clicks, meaning our ad money, comes from Facebook. Without our Facebook page, we'd be sunk and I'd be out of a job. 

We have have our reach severely penalized, which in turn is a huge blow to the Daily Dot's profits, and our page threatened with deletion for making jokes about how privileged groups such as men and white people suck. I am not allowed to write "men are trash" in any of my articles and can't even embed a social media post that says this in any of my articles because Facebook's offensive content detector could pick that up. I have even been told that I should not be identifying white people as being white in my articles unless it's absolutely necessary, because pointing out the race we invented might offend white people and Facebook will have our jobs.

The vast majority of my professional stress in this position has been because of this. I have resented Facebook for over two years now because of how much power the platform has over my job and, by extension, my life. I have to stop and consider whether it's okay to point out the race of a white person assaulting a Black person in a nation created by and for white supremacy because some fucking nerd steeped in toxic masculinity got dumped and created a website for ranking women in college by physical attractiveness.

So perhaps you can see why I have zero patience for federal members of congress crying crocodile tears over Parler getting deplatformed because a full 10 percent of the posts on there were calling for the murder of George Soros and their moderators were all VOLUNTEERS.

Here's something you might not know. Yes, there has been a large purge of right-wing accounts on Facebook and Twitter, many of which are by actual nazis, but they're also purging left-wing accounts. Many of the more popular accounts of leftists, communists, and actual anarchists (lol @ people calling the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol anarchists btw) have been temporarily restricted or banned entirely as these two companies work to quash any political discourse they view as being too radical. God and Radicals makes an interesting point that no institution has had so much power over public discourse and speech since the heyday of the Catholic church.

This isn't about "cancel culture." Reducing this issue to hand-wringing because some rich white guys for once are facing consequences for their actions is just embarrassing. This is about the rich white guys who are controlling what information you get and how that information is framed. This is about the fact that any further power we give them to control that will be used against whatever they see as a threat to their profits, whether it's looking bad for giving nazis a platform or allowing people who think their vast power should be reduced and their vast wealth redistributed to the people to spread those sentiments.

And who benefits? That would be whoever Mark and Jack want to benefit. It will be whoever Mark and Jack decide are "moderate" or "reasonable" voices, like the TIME article written by a neoliberal white dude who says that not only should we not allow any further government regulation of these social media companies, we should be thanking Mark and Jack right now.

And even if you are a US "moderate" (but I gotta remind you that you're solidly right-wing by global standards), do you really want literally two guys to have that much power? Because their politics might not always line up with yours. And even if they did, I would hope that you would be morally and intellectually honest enough to see why that's messed up.

Do I think Trump supporters should have a platform to spread their violent and hateful rhetoric? Hell no. But I believe in community deplatforming, or what Republicans love to call "cancel culture." That is a large group decision, also sometimes referred to as democracy. What I don't like is giving all that power that should be in the hands of the people to two dudes named Mark and Jack.

How do we put that power back in the hands of the people? It's not by disallowing Twitter and Facebook from banning people or transferring that power to the hands of a couple white dudes in government. We need to address the larger problem of so much of our civil discourse being controlled and manipulated by these platforms. How do we do that? You know I'm gonna say abolish capitalism.

But to start, we need to have a real conversation about this. We need to confront the fact that we see the world largely through a filter we call an "algorithm." We do not need to thank Jack and Mark for anything, ever.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Gif of the Day


Bears would make a great next dominant species, don't you think?

What is Truth?

Today I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma and it was pretty good and interesting, talked about political polarization and acted like the far-left is just as bad as the far-right so you know I didn't like that a whole lot, but overall worth a watch. The thing that really got my brain gears turning was when one of the social media expert dudes started talking about how if we, as a species, can't have some collective notion of what is true, we're fucked. He said "doomed" actually but you know.

This, of course, was in reference to the issue of fake news and a general loss of confidence among the populace in news media or any information that might come their way, no matter the source. I myself am suspicious of any information coming out of the U.S. government, while others no longer trust scientists and academics.

Is this going to doom us? The guy in the documentary said that we needed to get back to having some collective consensus about truth, but I wonder if that's true or possible. With the internet, there is so much information and it may be impossible for governments to regulate the spread of misinformation. First of all, how do you decide what is misinformation and what is truth?

Something I've learned over the years, in part thanks to social media, is that there is no universal truth, no universal reality. We all assume the sky is blue but it's not to colorblind people, is it? Right now in Oregon the sky is orange. Fuck you.

In order to live through these shitty, shitty times, I think what we really need to do is deconstruct our very idea of "truth" and "fact." I'm pretty sure I've already blogged about reality tunnels. It seems true to me that every person, being a unique human being with a unique brain structure formed out of countless life experiences that are in turn shaped by our unique DNA, parts of which can be changed or activated by experiences, sees the world in a unique way. We don't really know that the person next to us even sees colors in the same way we do.

What social media has done is enable us to smash all of these different realities together. Without understanding that someone's reality can be so different from ours, we can get very upset when they say things that seem to contradict our reality. And it's by no means a cure for internet-fueled outrage, but realizing this has helped me detach myself from social media fights. It's hard to get hijacked by that shit when you sit back and realize that this person's reality has been shaped by such different forces.

Doesn't mean they're not still an asshole. But it helps to understand a little bit how they got there.

One time I tried to explain the idea of reality tunnels to someone who was trying to fight with me online and boy howdy they did not like that AT ALL. Which is understandable. Humans really like the idea of universal truth and fact because it makes things simple and easy. But they're not.

We all want answers to the 5,000 problems facing humanity right now. We all want to know why the world is so fucked. But the only answer I've come up with is that humans are messy little shits flailing about, creating technology that so rapidly outpaced evolution, we don't even know how to make this whole civilization thing we came up with work anymore.

In my more optimistic moments, I think that what we're going through right now is growing pains. It's happened to humans on plenty of occasions, particularly when some new technology was invented that left us forward. It used to be that we'd invent some new metal or weapon and go about killing each other more. Now we have technology that would look like demon magic to those people but we can't stop the whole U.S. west coast from burning down every summer.

We have an old-timey scholar's dream of information at our fingertips and we can't gain consensus on whether the Earth is round or whether throwing children into concentration camps is bad. We no longer know what truth is.

Maybe we just need to let go of the idea altogether. Or at least realize that what seems obvious to one person seems absurd to another. One of the best parts of the documentary, though I was aware of this already, was its demonstration of how one person's search suggestions and Facebook feed can look totally different from another person's based on a shit ton of data factoring in things like shit you've searched for in the past, what images you've looked at the longest, your location, any personal information you've given the tech overlords freely, and on and on and on.

It's as variable as the human brain.

A lot of people still don't get this. It wasn't long ago I was seeing a lot of "omg if you type this and such into a search engine look what it auto-fills" but that auto-fill can be different on the phone of the person next to you. I think people have finally started to get this but that only scratches the surface.

I worry sometimes that social media radicalized me and what that means. It's hard for me to feel like radically wanting everyone to have a healthy and fulfilling life no matter what could be a bad thing, but I don't know, maybe I only think that anarchism is a sound philosophy because of the Twitter users that ended up on my feed because of The Algorithm. Maybe that's ultimately okay for me but it does creep me out a little.

I think humans are naturally optimistic creatures so I understand that we all had dreams of the amazing world we would create thanks to the internet. But really, we probably should have seen this coming. This technology has drastically altered the world in such a short period of time, of course there is upheaval. We just have to hope that we'll figure it out. If we can't, well, then good luck to the next species on Earth that evolves to become sentient or whatever. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Gif of the Day


I really really like this game okay.

Back in Black Bloc

[Content warning: Future tripping, extreme pessimism]

Well that was a summer.

Having anxiety feels a lot like you're spending your entire life bracing yourself. For what? Who knows. But this year I have a better idea, and my tension headaches have been worse. It's like I'm just constantly in a state of waiting for the moment that the world ends. I know it will probably involve fascism, the collapse of capitalism, climate change, and a fuckload of police brutality, but that's all I know.

Again, more than usual, but it's not much.

And at the same time, I have no vision of the future beyond November 3, 2020. I cope with my anxiety in part through methodical planning. Not that I've ever had an exact vision of my future because I've learned time and time again that shit goes awry, but a general road that I figure I will follow for a while. That road now stops at November 3 and gets shorter by the day.

My plan until then? Get ready. I literally just want to try and get into some level of mental and physical "shape" before that day. Part of that, I've decided, needs to be keeping a journal of some kind, so this is what this blog will be now. I don't need to report on any news in my spare time, that's what I do for work.

So for the second half of August I took a vacation from work and I tried to take a vacation from reality as much as I could. I was high for a lot of the day every day for nearly two weeks before I just needed to stop and be sober for a while. I definitely think I have a problem with weed at this point but fuck I mean who in the hell is getting by these days without some kind of crutch? I'm just going to do my best to keep it to confined to weekends (counting Friday nights because I said so) and keep plugging away at this health thing.

It was hard but inevitable to come to the decision to take care of myself rather than continue to constantly feel guilty about not helping more with the local uprisings. I want to be one of those people who is able to go and march every day or nearly every day or even once a week, but I'm just not there. Guilt around that gets all mixed up with general white guilt, knowing that many Black people don't have the luxury of feeling like they can take a vacation from this shit, or feeling like they can stay home and take care of themselves, or afford vacations or even weed. 

But at some point I've got to face facts. The guilt is not motivating me to do more, it's only adding to my piles of shame and stress, making me less able to help. I need to get a handle on this anxiety and my habit of avoiding anything that might make me anxious. Because that's a lot of stuff. Even thinking about trying to figure out how I might be most effective to the cause makes me anxious. Everything makes me anxious.

I've also got to break this awful habit I have of suppressing my emotions. It sounds weird but I do it automatically, without thinking about it, and even actively against my own wishes. It'll happen and I can feel it happening. I can feel whatever emotion I'm experiencing shrink and get shoved down and a lot of time there's a physical sensation in my stomach, a feeling of tightness or even pain, like my stomach is literally knotting up.

Sometimes I feel like I've largely lost the ability to feel anything. Sometimes I'll be smiling and laughing even and I'll think "but I don't feel anything, do I? Is this feeling? Didn't I used to feel so much more?"

Weed is weird because it often makes me feel better, and often seems to allow me to feel more. But the more I take, the more it feels like it's another way to avoid. On the one hand, it seems to create an ability to think on a deeper level than usual, to make all kinds of connections and even determine the nature of the universe and purpose of existence. I've actually got a running theory, all thanks to weed. But at the same time it makes it harder to focus? And I'm pretty sure it messes with my sleep.

So those two weeks were what might have been my last hurrah into just total avoidance of all the problems, pretending things were fine, and doing and eating some things for perhaps the last time. I really don't know anymore. Things could go really, really bad and we might lose electricity and maybe I'll never get to play a video game ever again? 

It seems possible. Don't listen to me on this because I got 2016 wrong but I have this unnerving certainty that Trump is going to win reelection. When that happens, I figure either riots engulf the entire nation or they fizzle out like they always do and things just get worse and worse under the next four years until either shit collapses or we reach 2024 and Trump declines to leave office, leaving us with the choice to either burn shit to the ground or sink quietly into full, open fascism while more and more people disappear.

This is why I can't much stand liberals right now. Liberals promise nothing much better than more of the same, and when you know the same is not sustainable, then all they're doing is promising you gold while handing you a big bowl of shit. No one likes that guy.

This is why I have no faith in the system anymore. I grew up being promised a bright future only to watch that transform into despair and visions of fire. Things have only gotten worse since I was born and the only path I see toward something better is dark and violent and uncertain. I'm scared and I don't know what to do. I feel like we're on a track and we can't get off. Too many people will continue to be afraid to fight. Liberal promises that have never manifested will continue to prove themselves lies.

Is there anyone out there who's not mentally ill anymore? What's that like?

All I have to hang onto anymore is what I will do for the next two months. I will do my best to get as healthy as possible for the day when I am really needed. I know fixing myself is the only logical thing to do, because I can't help others well while I'm so broken. Maybe I shouldn't be putting it in those terms but that's how I feel.

I feel so much. Actually, I feel like the accumulation of all the shit I've tried not to feel over the years will take as many years to dig through, and if I let it all out at once somehow the sheer force of it would cause me to literally disintegrate, maybe even take out part of this apartment building. At the very least the screaming would upset my neighbors.

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Anyway, I might post daily, I might post periodically, and I will at least sometimes post gifs again because that weird thing with the WEBP files seems to have disappeared as mysteriously as it came. I like gifs.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Our Justice System Doesn't Work, Never Has, And Never Will

Or, another way to put it is that it works great for a privileged few while shitting on the rest of us.

The way we approach criminal justice in the U.S., as well as many other nations, is a lot like how we're approaching the so-called "war on terrorism," and they ultimately fail for the same reasons. It doesn't take a lot of research or general thought to realize that bombing the shit out of villages, towns, cities, and entire nations because there might be some "terrorists" there only serves to create more of those who have been labeled as such by the state. If a foreign nation destroyed your home, killed your family members, poisoned your land and water, and generally completely ruined your life, how would you respond?

Why do you think we've gone from Al-Qaeda to ISIS? Organizations like this only get more extreme and violent the more we, you know, bomb the shit out of other people's countries, not seeming to give a single fuck how many civilians die.

The issue of crime is similar. Crime and "terrorism" (when it's committed by people and not by the state) come out of suffering, desperation, poverty, trauma, and anger. All of these things are made worse by violence such as bombings and police brutality.

Attempts to get "tough on crime" in the U.S. has only created more of it. Black men thrown into prison for minor crimes have families who depend on them. Latina women arrested and deported by ICE have families who depend on them. With families and communities torn apart by police and prisons, poverty worsens. Sons and daughters of incarcerated and deported parents turn to gangs, drug dealing, and general crime out of desperation and despair. The trauma of growing up around the violence of both police and desperate, impoverished civilians makes holding a job more difficult and increases their chances of turning to violence themselves.

At best, our justice system segregates people further by race and class, pushing criminal activity into already-impoverished areas and away from the rich, who believe (or pretend to believe) that this is actually a reduction in crime and reward politicians and police for sweeping it under the rug. Meanwhile, poor communities of color suffer more with each passing year, each passing generation.

Those who have pointed out this problem, of course, are met with what I consider to be the core of conservative ideology, which includes neoliberalism. This is the idea that those who suffer deserve it. The poor deserve to be poor. The addicted deserve to be addicted (and die of overdose). Those killed by police deserved it. Those arrested and thrown in jail are automatically guilty simply by the fact that they'd been arrested.

This mass blaming of the victims of poverty, created and fueled by capitalism, allows conservatives and liberals alike to maintain the status quo that funnels more resources away from the poor and into the pockets of the rich every year. The only way to truly reduce and eventually end what we think of as most "crime" is to end poverty. This, however, means ending the wealthy class and abolishing capitalism.

Abolishing or defunding the police has become the line among leftists and even "progressive" liberals, and while the fact that this is even on the table at all suddenly after being unthinkable for so long astounds me, make no mistake - it's not enough. The entire justice system needs to be uprooted and replaced with one that is, well, a real system of justice. This means abolishing prisons, capitalism, and likely changing many aspects of our government structure, if any of it can be saved at all.

Yes, this is going to be difficult and take either a lot of time or a massive and inevitably violent revolution. I have my doubts that those benefitting most from capitalism will ever peacefully relinquish their power, even when threatened with a mass uprising, as they are now. But if you truly don't like crime, poverty, and human suffering and want to reduce it as much as possible, this is the only logical path. Settling for less means settling for pain, death, injustice, and exploitation. And why would you?

If you think it's impossible because something something humans are bad, then I can only assume you're either one of the people benefitting from this system that causes so much unnecessary death and suffering or you hope you will someday. And if that's the case, then I hate you.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Seattle CHOP Demonstrates Exactly Why Our Justice System Must Be Abolished

Welp, it took the stress of both a global pandemic and a national uprising to bring me to a stress level that caused me to finally stop blogging regularly for, what, nine years? Depending on how things go, I might pick it up again or might not. I have mostly given up trying to predict the future and am pretty much taking things week by week, if not day by day.

But I still have many thoughts and will write them down whenever I can squeeze out the energy.

As a life-long Seattle-area resident, I've been watching the events of the area around the Capitol Hill east precinct, the CHAZ or the CHOP or whatever you want to call it, unfold for a couple weeks now. I think. Did this all really start over a month ago? Anyway.

I've watched as Mayor Jenny Durkan tried to undermine the protest zone as a "summer of love" block party while pretending to support its existence and watched Chief of Police Carmen Best lie about extortion, rape, ID checks and other things that never happened in the area. I've watched both use the shootings that have happened in and near the zone to try and justify ending it so the SPD can re-take their precinct.

Shootings in and near the CHOP, two of which have ended in the deaths of Black individuals, have been sensationalized by national news media, in particular the first one. "Fatal shooting in Seattle Autonomous Zone" was at the top of trending headlines on Twitter for days after the first one happened. Floods of right-wing trolls pushed the idea that the zone is some kind of lawless wasteland contained in an area of about six blocks where no one is allowed in or out without special permission of a "warlord" or whatever such racist nonsense they could come up with.

Here's the truth. Yes, there have been a total of four shooting events in or near the CHOP. The victim from one believes the men who shot him were white supremacists of some variety and says they called him the n-word. Based on reports from people on the ground, including volunteer medics and security, strongly suggest the rest were from fights and were possibly gang-related.

The reality is that Seattle has been the home of gang-related gun violence for many years. Gentrification, segregation, and increasing poverty in and around Seattle have worsened this to the point that shootings are a nightly occurrence and have been since long before the CHOP existed. It's just that no one cared because the victims are largely BIPOC and/or poor/homeless. The only time they're brought up is to push increased policing or to distract from police brutality with racist "black on black crime" talking points.

This problem has not improved as the SPD's portion of the city budget has increased by many millions of dollars. That's what makes all those tweets sneering at the shootings in and near the CHOP so darkly absurd. There must be hundreds of tweets from accounts with followers in the double digits at best and American flags in their name claiming that the entire movement behind the CHOP and what it represents is completely invalid because they haven't stopped shootings that were happening before the CHOP existed and will continue after it's gone. Shootings that the police have not been able to stop with hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into their department yearly and decades of pretending to try.

If you're paying attention, all this calls attention to the fact that our system of policing and our larger justice system do not work. At least, they do not work if the goal is to stop or reduce crime.

In the U.S., most to all of us are brought up on messages that the police "fight crime." That's what they're for. They fight crime. Movie after movie shows them putting their lives on the line to bring down criminal organizations dedicated to human misery and saving the day. In a blaze on gunfire, they bring down the evil ones and restore order and justice. White people swallow this message especially easy without any experiences to counter the narrative.

But the reality is completely different. Police largely respond to crime. Yes, there may be examples in which they arrest those who break the law, break up organizations they label criminal, and maybe even get your stolen stuff back. But most of the time, they don't.

In fact, there is mounting evidence and consensus that they facilitate and increase crime.

But let's pause here and go deeper. What is crime? This word has such a big impact on so many lives, yet we rarely think about what it means. Crime is "an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law." Basically, crime is any action or lack of action that breaks the law.

Who make the laws?

In the PR version of America, people vote for representatives who properly represent them and don't manipulate people with ad campaigns, lies, and bigotry to gain power, and they make the laws. So, in essence, the people make the laws.

That's why rapists like Brock Turner get three months in prison when there are multiple direct and credible witnesses to the crime and people who spray paint cop cars face life sentences. That's what you wanted, right?

Further, who decided that putting people in prison is justice? The idea that prisons are rehabilitative is a fucking joke in this country. Most people will readily admit that prisons don't do anything other than keep people who have been deemed "criminal" out of the wider population, and in fact are probably places where people can learn how to become better criminals. It's much more than that, actually - prisons are horrific hell holes where violence abounds and people routinely come out utterly traumatized with criminal records that make it impossible to get housing, jobs, or government assistance, leaving many with zero options other than "crime."

Especially in a nation that literally criminalizes being homeless.

So even when our justice system works as intended, or as we've been told it should work, it does nothing to reduce crime or violence. Rather, we send violent police to use violence to detain and throw people into conditions that would be illegal to keep animals in, with all the trauma and desperation that caused them to do "crime" in the first place, and let them commit violence on each other while being abused by the guards as well.

How is this a solution to violence? What could this possibly due other than increase violence and what we think of as "crime"?

It's incredible how obvious this all becomes by asking a few key, basic questions. The problem is that police were not created to "fight crime" or solve it or anything else. They evolved out of palace guards and slave catchers, literally just people dedicated to protecting the wealth of the wealthy, the property of those privileged enough to own it.

The only way to fight crime is to prevent it. Having police anywhere in Seattle, including in the east precinct on Capitol Hill, never did that. The only way to prevent crime is to ask where it comes from.

Why do people break the social contract currently in place? The answer lies in poverty, trauma, and the gaping chasm between those who make the laws and those who are actually arrested if they break them. Why follow the rules invented by someone else when those people aren't made to follow them or punished if they don't? Why follow the rules of a society that has only ever subjected you to poverty and violence? How absurd is it to ask this of people?

This is why I'm a revolutionary. This is what it means to be radical. The system not only doesn't work as we were told it was supposed to, it was never meant to work that way in the first place. That is how rotton, corrupt, and toxic the system is. The only reasonable option is to chick the whole thing and create something that works for the people, not just the privileged.

Right-wingers who have never been to Seattle or rich white people who have only seen it from their privileged towers act like the CHOP is a much bigger deal than it is. They act like it's everything, ignorant of the fact that autonomous zones like it have popped up multiple times in the city's history and in other cities across the U.S. They are important in the lessons they can teach us if we're ready to learn.

Nobody who was involved in the creation and maintenance of the CHOP ever thought that it would be a magical violence-free zone. That's why we always had the John Brown Gun Club and other volunteers there for security, because violence was expected, at the very least from police and white supremacists who viewed it as a threat. People sneering at the fact that the daily gun violence that has been a part of Seattle for many years didn't stop because of a six-block zone that kicked out the police, ignorant of or ignoring the daily gun violence happening in many, many other cities still entirely controlled by the police says something they didn't intend.

Cops don't fight crime, and "crime" is a manipulative term trotted out to justify maintaining a toxic and unjust system only ever meant to maintain the power of the powerful. Even calling what we have a "justice system" is so intensely ironic that it makes me want to reach through my own skull and rip my brain in half.

Whatever happens to the CHOP, it will always be a success for exposing this to world.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Welcome to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, Again

I just like saying it.

Because of the sheer amount of misinformation flying around and the fact that Donald fucking Trump tweeted about it, I made a rather long Twitter thread outlining everything I know about the major events leading up to it and what's really happening there. Then I turned it into a Medium post. All that took a while so go check it out.

As of Thursday at 5:47 pm PST, the autonomous zone is still free of police and being awesome. SPD has announced their intention to retake the precinct, saying they'll address our demands after. Yeah, right. But there will likely be another battle for the area in the near future. I have doubts that we'll be able to hold it, but then again they'll have to hit us with massive tear gas to clear everyone out, and then they might just have the same situation as before on their hands. So who knows what will happen?

Regardless, what's been done is so important. We've shown what we can do when we come together. We've shown police are neither wanted nor needed and everything is fine without them. They can never erase that and we will never forget.

Revolution is coming.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Gif of the Day

Metaphorical representation of Seattle kicking the SPD out of the east precinct.