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February 22nd, 2013:

Spinny posed a really good question…

…in a comment in this post.

http://www.countingcats.com/?p=13951

He said

I’ve tried. I’ve written to my MP, I’ve commented on the blogs of councillors, I’ve told my local councillors on the rare occasions that they actually appear in public, I’ve discussed it endlessly with coleagues in work and friends in the pub, but to what effect? Nothing changes, no-one who is in a position to change anything is listening. Perhaps my only option is to start lobbing grenades at the powers that be. I can’t see any other way of getting my message across”

A very fair question and it got me thinking.  So here’s my two cents.  Violence is immoral and you can’t build a non-violent society with a gun.  Also it’s impractical as they have all the guns, so;

Recommendation one ~ Tell people the guy interested in voluntary trade with you is not your enemy.  He is not your controller.  He wants to sell you coca-cola or bananas, buy them or don’t.  Those who counterfeit your money, propagandise your kids, take your cash, murder people, kidnap you for doing stuff they don’t like, demand your fealty and lie, lie and lie again whilst taking your cash to enrich themselves, they are the problem.  It is not voluntary trade that harms you, it is coercive violence or the implied threat thereof.  Tell them it is not criticising war that is the problem, it is the almost psychotic way the media ignore this and refuse to even show footage of dead bodies because that would upset the reality TV audience.  The TV won’t show a picture of one dead kid, yet this is the day to day reality.  Talking about this, criticising this, is not the problem.  Ignoring it is the problem.

Tell ‘em “no matter how peaceful, humanitarian and tolerant you are, no matter how well-meaning and honourable your goals – if you ask for a new government law, program or plan, ultimately that program will be paid for with property taken by force from others and the law will be enforced at the point of a gun”

Get the fundamental point about the violent nature of government across at every opportunity.  Advertisers tell us it takes about seven repetitions of a message for people to get it.  Start repeating.

Recommendation two ~ Ostracise people who work for the state.  This is socially powerful.  Explain why.  Say “sorry, but whether you realise it or not, you are part of a system which relies on violence and coercion, and I cannot tolerate this, you are welcome in my house when you get a job which does not involve the threat of violence and you would probably be happier and more fulfilled”

Recommendation three ~ Minimise your contact with the state.  Not easy I know but so far as possible, ignore them.  I’m not saying don’t pay your taxes, you are just inviting violent retribution.  But ignore their edicts so far as you reasonably and practically can so long as this doesn’t hurt anyone or land you in jail.

Recommendation four ~ Don’t vote for an establishment party and don’t listen to their lies.  Accept that you have no control over the current elite and democracy as practiced in the West is a suggestion box for slaves and a little pantomime you are allowed to watch every few years.

Recommendation five ~ Explain to people why the government is going bust and when the crunch comes, they will blame all and sundry (bankers, greedy capitalists, gold hoarders, foreigners, petrol companies, big supermarkets, you name it) but the fault lays squarely at the door of the government stooge on TV that night trying to explain where the money has gone.  Tell them that merely putting a different sociopath in charge will change nothing and that’s why we debate gay marriage and other utter trivia but not whether it’s okay to take most of your cash at gunpoint.  When the end comes you will have credibility. When they can no longer borrow or effectively print and have to massively reduce spending then it begins.

Recommendation six ~ Be a peaceful parent.  If you smack your kids or scream at them, the lesson they learn is that top-down coercive authority is fine and it’s not.  If the model in your home is top-down, implied threat of violence to ensure compliance, don’t be surprised if they grow up to accept the statist model based on the same principle.  Change what you can change.

Recommendation seven ~ Get some food and precious metal.  Revolutions start and violence kicks off when people are hungry.  You might also be wise to think how to protect yourself as calling 999 won’t do it in those times.  The cops will be busy protecting the politicians; you will be left to fend for yourself.  We saw a tiny snapshot of this in the Tottenham riots.  Expect much more in the coming times.

Recommendation eight ~ You have to get your hands on the reins of power to dismantle the apparatus, so I disagree with many voluntaryists and libertarians in this one last issue.  If a libertarian stands, vote for them.  It’s the only way we will ever abolish tax and the state along with it.  Otherwise, even if the major parties are swept away, the same old faces just re-badge and resume business as usual.

Spinny, I hope that helps and know you are not alone.  When you can rouse people, a great many agree with us.  We will need them all to change things.

Long: Aristotle on Emotion, Intellect, and Reason

Very good piece by Roderick Long on Aristotle’s view that Reason is constituted of emotion and intellect working together, as both morality and practicality require.
–J.

D. H. Lawrence once wrote:

“My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do I care about knowledge? All I want is to answer to my blood, direct, without fribbling intervention of mind or moral, or what not.” (Quoted in Brand Blanshard, Reason and Analysis (La Salle: Open Court, 1962), p. 47.)

At the other extreme, the Roman philosopher Seneca argued that we should never make a decision on the basis of anger—or any other emotion, for that matter. In his treatise On Anger, Seneca maintained that if anger leads us to make the decision we would have made anyway on the basis of cool reason, then anger is superfluous; and if anger leads us to make a different decision from the one we would have made on the basis of cool reason, then anger is pernicious.

This disagreement between Lawrence and Seneca conceals an underlying agreement: both writers are assuming an opposition between reason and emotion. The idea of such a bifurcation is challenged by Aristotle. For Aristotle, emotions are part of reason; the rational part of the soul is further divided into the intellectual or commanding part, and the emotional or responsive part. Both parts are rational; and both parts are needed to give us a proper sensitivity to the moral nuances of the situations that confront us. Hence the wise person will be both intellectually rational and emotionally rational. Emotional people whose intellectual side is weak tend to be reluctant to accept reasonable constraints on their behavior; they are too aggressive and self-assertive for civilized society—too “Celtic,” Aristotle thinks. They answer directly to their blood, without fribbling intervention of mind or moral, and much hewing and smiting ensues. But intellectual people whose emotional side is weak are often too willing to accept unreasonable constraints on their behavior; they lack the thumos, the spirited self-assertiveness, to stand up for themselves, and so are likely to sacrifice nobility for expediency, ending up as the passive subjects of a dictatorship like the ancient Persian Empire. According to Aristotle, feeling less anger than the situation calls for is as much a failure of moral perception as feeling more. Only a full development of both the intellectual and the emotional aspects of our reason can yield an integrated personality fit for freedom and social cooperation. (Aristotle notoriously tries to turn all this into a justification for enslaving Celts and Persians; but let us graciously focus our attention on the Maestro’s smart moments, not his dumb ones.)

To see what Aristotle is getting at (in his smart moments), recall the scene in the movie Witness where some Amish farmers, among whom Harrison Ford’s character is hiding out, are being harassed and humiliated by local bullies. The bullies are well aware that the Amish, being pacifists, will not use violence even in self-defense; as one Amish farmer explains to Harrison Ford, “it is our way”—to which Ford responds, “well, it’s not my way,” steps out of the wagon, and gives the bullies a taste of their own medicine, to the immense satisfaction of the audience.

This scene appeals to our emotions; it inclines us toward a rejection of pacifism. Seneca would object that scenes like this are manipulative and dangerous, insofar as they work on our emotional responses rather than offering us a rational argument. But Aristotle might well disagree. No one, he insists, becomes wise or virtuous through rational arguments alone; people’s emotional and affective responses need to be trained and habituated as well. Scenes like the one in Witness may serve to educate our sentiments and hone our capacity for moral judgment, by making salient the ethically relevant features of the situation and prompting a salutary exercise of thumos.

If Aristotle is right, then Seneca is wrong; emotional responses can facilitate our moral perceptions rather than either displacing or merely echoing them. But that does not mean that Lawrence is right; Aristotle is not advising us to place blind trust in our gut reactions. Emotions can be mistaken, just as intellect can; as Aristotle puts it, emotions are often like overeager servants, rushing off to carry out our orders without first making sure they’ve grasped them properly.

–From Dr. Long’s article “Thinking Our Anger,” at

http://c4ss.org/content/17334

Kevin Ayers. RIP.

Bugger! another good man gone.

I have at least 2 other posts going round in my head that I have been meaning to put up for you delectation, but I had to do this one when I heard the news.

So who was Kevin Ayers? I’m sure most of you will never have heard of him, but he was a founding member of Soft Machine, one of Britain’s first Psychedelic bands alongside Pink Floyd. The Floyd became world famous, Soft Machine didn’t. They went from being quirky avant-garde  with lots of vocals to being almost totally  instrumental  Jazz by 1970. Kevin had left by then and continued to plough his own idiosyncratic furrow. He could have been a contender, he knew and worked with all the right names, but ultimately he couldn’t be arsed. Preferring to live the life Libertarian/Libertine in Majorca, Ibiza and the South of France.

Your humble Music Correspondent saw the Floyd support Hendrix, when he was just 15 (me not Hendrix) and naturally checked out where this crazy weird music that was then mainly driven by Syd Barrett’s wacky songs was coming from, and he discovered Caravan and Soft Machine and later Gong and Hawkwind. So when Kevin Ayers Joy Of a Toy came out in 1969, I bought it and loved it. Here’s one of my favourites that set me on the road to Libertarianism, anarchy and self discovery without knowing it…

And for those of you familiar with Robert Wyatt’s singing and phrasing, um who do you think stole what from whom, considering they were in the same band?

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