Hunter S. Thompson’s Breakfast of Champions

the great shark hunt coverI really dig breakfast food and the work of Hunter S. Thompson, so this is kind of a perfect storm for me. The excerpt is part of a letter that was included in his book The Great Shark Hunt.

Breakfast is the only meal of the day that I tend to view with the same kind of traditionalized reverence that most people associate with Lunch and Dinner. I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast…

In Hong Kong, Dallas, or at home—and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed—breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert… Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours, and at least one source of good music… All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.

UnSlut is Now in Bookstores!

December 29, 2015 1 comment

unslut memoirUnSlut Project founder Emily Lindin‘s diary and memoir officially hit bookstores today. Join the fight against the dangerous hypocrisy of “slut” shaming and sexual bullying in our schools, communities, media, and culture.

When Emily Lindin was eleven years old, she was branded a “slut” by the rest of her classmates. For the next few years of her life, she was bullied incessantly at school, after school, and online. At the time, Emily didn’t feel comfortable confiding in her parents or in the other adults in her life. But she did keep a diary.

UnSlut presents that diary, word for word, with split-page commentary to provide context and perspective. This unique diary and memoir sheds light on the important issues of sexual bullying, slut-shaming, and the murky mores of adolescent sexual development. Readers will see themselves in Emily’s story—whether as the bully, the shamed, or the passive bystander. This book also includes advice and commentary from a variety of distinguished experts.

About the author: Emily Lindin is a Harvard graduate, PhD candidate, and suicide prevention activist living in Southern California. The UnSlut Project was inspired by her own experience. It began when Emily, as an adult, chose to publish her own middle school diaries online in response to learning about the suicides of several teen girls who had experienced similar slut-shaming and bullying. Emily had a strong desire to reach out to others who still suffer such abuse. Her diaries have been read by hundreds of thousands of people and have brought much attention to the practice of slut-shaming and the harassment of young women. Now the project expands to include UnSlut as well as a documentary film. Emily has appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows including “The Katie Show” with Katie Couric, and she was recently named one of Glamour magazine’s “Heroes of the Week.”

*Disclaimer, for what it’s worth: I’ve penned a guest post for the UnSlut blog.

Grant Mincy’s Wish for Peace in the New Year

peace signI saw this at antiwar.com and wanted to share an excerpt, but the entire post is worth reading.

War is made possible by systems of power and domination. This is true of the violent war-making regimes of yesterday, and it is still true today. It is important to remember that the most violent among us are caged by an inhumane ideology. Those with a thirst for war are themselves dominated by and stuck within systems of power – be they the politicians, their supportive subjects or violent terror cells. Warmongers wish to dominate, as opposed to participate in, humanity. They are captives in need of liberation.

These systems of power thrive on the obedience of their subjects. Once these institutions are challenged, once the environment that grants them power is changed, their authority is called into question. They become feckless when challenged by humanity.

I am a big believer in humanity. It is important to remember that all races and all creeds labor together, peacefully, globally, everyday. The creative, inclined labor of human beings builds markets, mutual aid, relief, commons regimes, charity and generally decent societies. Human labor crafts peace.

Peace is liberty. When peace is realized every human being will be free to pursue their own interests and develop their capacities into individual and social account. We all deserve such liberty, especially the most vulnerable among us – children.

 

Kevin Carson on Vulgar Libertarian-splaining to the Poor

December 22, 2015 1 comment

C4SS ALL logoHere we go again. More vulgar libertarian drivel. This time it’s from the Future of Freedom Foundation — aimed at the poor with the general disposition of how amazing their lives are because of corporatists. Hardly a shock. Thankfully we have C4SS’s Kevin Carson on the seemingly never ending vulgar libertarian watch.

What is vulgar libertarianism? Well…

Vulgar libertarianism refers to those who treat the existing marketplace as one which closely approximates how a freed market would look.  Kevin Carson quotes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy in his essay Contract Feudalism:

Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term “free market” in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get [a] standard boilerplate article… arguing that the rich can’t get rich at the expense of the poor, because “that’s not how the free market works”— implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they’ll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of “free market principles.”

Libertarians will often condemn the existing aspects of state power and interference in the market but then leap to the defense of those who benefit from the existing order in the same breath.  Conservatives are generally far worse on this front than libertarians but both groups shy from committing anything which smells like class warfare.

Read Kevin’s retort to the FFF garbage in full:

In a video produced by the Future of Freedom Foundation (“The Libertarian Angle: Do Libertarians Really Hate the Poor?“), Jacob Hornberger and Richard Ebeling obviously intend a smashing, unanswerable rejoinder to the left-wing stereotype of right-libertarians as “pot-smoking Republicans” who hate the poor. Sadly, it only reaffirms that stereotype. It’s exactly what left-wing critics of libertarianism have — unfortunately — come to expect. It’s the kind of by-the-numbers “how libertarians want to help the poor” argument that any parodist at The Onion could satirize effortlessly — and probably has.

Every single item in their discussion is on the same general theme: making the rich even richer or otherwise empowering them so they can help the poor. Of course they tip their hat to the existence of some “corporatism” in the Gilded Age, but go on to treat it as a marginal phenomenon in a system that was mostly laissez-faire. Indeed the defining characteristics that made the Gilded Age “laissez-faire” were 1) the lack of welfare for the poor (with the unfortunate exception of Civil War pensions), and 2) the ability of the super-rich to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth.

In a tired replay of Republican “job creators” rhetoric, Ebeling and Hornberger argue that the best way to help the poor is to encourage the rich to amass huge piles of capital so that they can afford to hire lots of poor folks. And if the rich got rich enough they could also afford to give more to charity! One shining example of how the “free market” helped the poor in the Gilded Age — I kid you not — was that some plutocrats donated money to build giant churches where the poor could “worship God in their own ways.”

The same theme is repeated — over and over and over — to the point of nausea, from beginning to end of this interview. Business interests and the rich are the drivers of economic progress and prosperity. If you want to help the poor, let the rich accumulate enough capital to create jobs, and give to charity. Give the capitalists the ability to create full employment by allowing them to pay labor as little as it’s worth! Hornberger and Ebeling focus entirely on all the ways that the interventionist state ostensibly helps the poor by redistributing income downwards in the form of welfare, minimum wages and such, and the unintended consequences that actually hurt the poor.

Individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker once said of Herbert Spencer that “amid his multitudinous illustrations … of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people’s welfare…” The more things change… Entirely missing from this discussion is the primary, upward form of income redistribution from poor to rich, through structural intervention to reduce the bargaining power of labor and increase the monopoly returns on accumulated property — a redistribution which dwarfs, many times over, compensatory downward forms of redistribution through the welfare state. Missing are the fundamental ways the state has been in structural alliance with capital — not just some hand-waving at “crony capitalism” and “corporatism” — since the beginning of capitalism five or six hundred years ago.

Throughout the entire thing, I kept expecting one of them to repeat the old chestnut from George Frederick Baer: “The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for… by the Christian men of property to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the Country.” I’m at a loss as to how this video differs significantly from any garden variety post-WWII “The Wonders of Our Free Enterprise System” propaganda film put out by the National Association of Manufacturers.  There is absolutely nothing in here that would cause any left-wing critic of libertarianism to say anything but “Yep — about what I expected.”

It’s this kind of reflexive apologetic for business interests and the rich on the libertarian right that left-libertarianism arose to counter in the first place.

End Violence Against Sex Workers

It’s December 17th again.

dec 17

Rad Geek on The Self-Confidence Argument for Philosophical Anarchism

RadGeekPointsTheWay

 

Charles W. Johnson via Rad Geek

 

I’m usually stoked when I see Rad Geek in my reader. Charles W. Johnson does’t blog too often, but he’s one of my favorite anarchist intellectuals around.

You might know him from the book Markets Not Capitalism, which was co-autored with Gary Chartier (The Conscience of An Anarchist, Anarchy and Legal Order), Roderick Long (Anarchism and Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country?), Kevin Carson (Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory), and others.

Anyway, here’s the post in its entirety.

Some of you know that I am a philosophical anarchist. This conclusion is controversial: most people think that states can in principle have legitimate political authority over the people in them, and that some states really do. So no state can have legitimate political authority is a conclusion in need of some argument to justify it. I’ve tried looking at the issue a couple of ways in a couple of different places. But those are both arguments that start from within a pretty specific, narrow dialectical context. They’re intended to address a couple of fairly specific claims for state legitimacy (specifically, individualist defenses of minimal state authority, and defenses of state authority based on a claim of explicit or tacit consent from the governed). Maybe a more general argument would be desirable. So here is a new one. It is a general deductive argument with only five premises. All of its inferences are self-evidently valid, and most of the premises are either extremely uncontroversial logical principles, or else simple empirical observations that are easily verified by any competent reader. I call it The Self-Confidence Argument for Philosophical Anarchism.[1] Here is how it goes:

  1. This argument is a valid deductive argument. (Premise.)
  2. If this argument is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true, then its conclusion is true. (Premise.)
  3. Its conclusion is No state could possibly have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  4. If No state could possibly have legitimate political authority is true, then no state could possibly have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  5. All of this argument’s premises are true. (Premise.)
  6. This is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true. (Conj. 1, 5)
  7. Its conclusion is true. (MP 2, 6)
  8. No state could possibly have legitimate political authority is true. (Subst. 3, 7)
  9. ∴ No state could possibly have legitimate political authority. (MP 5, 8)

Q.E.D., and smash the state.

Now, of course, just about every interesting philosophical argument comes along with some bullets that you have to bite. The awkward thing about the Self-Confidence Argument is that if it is sound, then it also seems that you can go through the same steps to show that this argument, The Self-Confidence Argument For The State, is also sound:

  1. This argument is a valid deductive argument. (Premise.)
  2. If this argument is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true, then its conclusion is true. (Premise.)
  3. Its conclusion is Some states have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  4. If Some states have legitimate political authority is true, then some states have legitimate political authority. (Premise.)
  5. All of this argument’s premises are true. (Premise.)
  6. This is a valid deductive argument and all of its premises are true. (Conj. 1, 5)
  7. Its conclusion is true. (MP 2, 6)
  8. Some states have legitimate political authority is true. (Subst. 3, 7)
  9. ∴ Some states have legitimate political authority. (MP 5, 8)

… which admittedly seems a bit awkward.

It’s easy enough to figure out that there has to be something wrong with at least one of these arguments. Their conclusions directly contradict each other, and so couldn’t both be true. But they are formally completely identical; so presumably whatever is wrong with one argument would also be wrong with the other one. But if so, what’s wrong with them? Are they invalid? If so, how? Whichever argument you choose to look at, the argument has only four inferential steps, and all of them use elementary valid rules of inference or rules of replacement. Since each inferential step in the argument is valid, the argument as a whole must be valid. This also, incidentally, provides us with a reason to conclude that premise 1 is true. Premise 2 is a concrete application of a basic logical principle, justified by the concept of deductive validity itself. Sound arguments must have true conclusions; validity just means that, if all the premises of an argument are true, the conclusion cannot possibly be false. Premise 3 is a simple empirical observation; if you’re not sure whether or not it’s true, just check down on line 9 and see. Premise 4 is a completely uncontroversial application of disquotation rules for true sentences. And premise 5 may seem over-confident, perhaps even boastful. But if it’s false, then whichpremise of the argument are you willing to deny? Whichever one you pick, what is it that makes that premise false? On what (non-question-begging) grounds would you say that it is false?

See also.

—Rad Geek

Robby Soave, Reason Magazine, White Privilege, and PCU

November 10, 2015 4 comments

“Yeah, that’s what you say. But it’s how you carry yourself.” –Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson

In 1994 an underrated movie called “PCU” was released. PCU is an acronym for both Port Chester University and Politically Correct University. The movie stars (gag reflex trigger warning) pre-he-magically-grew-new-hair-before-Entourage Jeremy Piven. Easily his best role outside of Guy Ritchie’s 2009 masterpiece film “RocknRolla”. I suppose even Guy Ritchie can polish a turd.

But PCU also has some now-classic comedy heavies like Jon Favreau, David Spade, Jessica Walter (aka Lucile Bluth), and Jake Busey (aka crazy Gary Busey’s kid). Shit, it even co-stars Alex Désert from the band Hepcat (he also co-starred alongside Vince Vaughn and Favreau in Fav’s classic “Swingers”). There’s even a cameo from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (if you don’t know what that is, than I’m not sorry to say you’re a chump, so audit yourself!).

If you haven’t seen PCU, spoiler alert without going into too much detail (a very stoned Favs appears before the very real real Senate Judiciary Committee), the most offensive crew on campus wins over the entire student body in the end by appealing to solidarity for students against the administrators, rather than being pitted against each other. If you’re interested, here’s an amazing trailer/featurette:

It seems even more relevant now, especially with this thus-far-unreal season of South Park. And if you’re not up to speed with PC Principal, you better ask somebody!

But the point is this, offensive speech and even acts – violent and non – have been happening, and will continue to happen on college campuses. The questions, of course, are how to deal with this. The answers are even more elusive. Problems abound. Longstanding, systemic, institutional problems. Which brings us to Reason and Robby Soave.

And let’s be generous for a moment, Robby’s not 100% at fault here. The so-called “libertarian” nonprofit foundation and publication Reason didn’t have to hire him from The Daily Tucker Callerson (which is, at best, a home for conservatarianism). We know from the comments that it’s a total haven for pissed off, xenophobic, thinly veiled imperialists that want low taxes. Then again, so is Reason. Perhaps not the imperialist part, but white people that primarily call themselves libertarians because they want lower taxes. And lower taxes. Still, curious.

Now, of course, the Reasonbots and conservatarian apologists will argue their “Free Minds, Free Markets” slogan. No doubt.

However, the overwhelming majority of the content they publish is either making vulgar arguments (like cheering on the Keystone pipeline) based on an oxymoron they call “free market capitalism,” uninformed arguments due to think tank libertarians generally saying everything yet knowing nothing due to lacking any real world experience (like their coverage of the George Zimmerman trial and criminal justice policy in general), giving good play to The Conservatarian Manifesto and the likes of jokers named Rand Paul, John Stossel, Greg Gutfeld, Instapundit, Ted Cruz, and others, or employing the Robby Soave’s of the world to make vulgar arguments in “favor” of social justice. In other words, they’re an extension of right wing politics masquerading as classical liberalism.

And people wonder why libertarians are despised amongst the general body politic. I avoid using the word libertarian at all costs in public. The term has too much stink on it. I’m not sure if this gets through to everybody inside the bubble in DC or the online libertarian bubble, but liberty is now synonymous with Republican in the eyes of everyone but themselves. That’s a big problem.

I feel it’s also important to note that there are exceptions to the Reason norm, both past (Radley Balko) and present (Elizabeth Nolan Brown). And I’m sure there will be in the future. But that’s largely due to Balko and Brown picking their respective, critically important beats and covering them to the point of mastery (you know, actual research and expert sources) and difference making. They also just happen to be libertarianish types.

But Robby, with his “platform” at Reason (let’s be real, institutional libertarianism is generally a self congratulatory echo chamber) from which to help spread the ideas of freedom and liberty chooses to cover the beat he covers, which is quite irrelevant considering the state-sanctioned atrocities committed daily. Although I’m sure he’ll claim it has something to do with free speech and rights on college campuses or something of the sort, he spends most of his time speaking with the tone and attitude of a hegemonic white male – much like David Spade’s character in PCU, Rand McPherson. Shit, there’s even a resemblance.

rand mcphersonrobertsoave-1630136872
In the film, McPherson leads the stereotypical upper crusty privileged white boy frat. One of his classic quotes from the movie is:

This school used to be a bastion of rich, white elitism. And now, they let homosexuals on the football team, whining minorities run the student government, and you can’t even coerce a woman into having sex without being brought up on charges. What is this world coming to, really?!?

That is, in essence, the perceived disposition of Robby Soave. Not personally. I know neither him nor what he truly thinks about political philosophy, just the fact that he comes from actual bastions of rich white elitism: University of Michigan, The Daily Tucker, and now Reason. Soave actually has this to say in his latest walk-back apology piece, which typically follows the predictable, initial rabble-rabble-let–the-white-man-talk post:

I was not suggesting that racial slurs are a trivial matter—they are incredibly evil, hateful, and sometimes genuinely traumatizing for persons of color. Nor was I suggesting that black people need to “just get over it.” They have every right to publicize their emotional turmoil and demand action. I wish we lived in a world where no one aspired to demean them.

But I suspect the people who shout despicable things at black people on the street have much in common with schoolyard bullies: they are looking for a reaction. And one way to deprive bullies of their power to inflict pain—not just on people of color, but on everyone—is to ignore them.

Another way, I suppose, is to identify the bullies and run them out of town with pitchforks. But when we live in fear of bad words, we give agency to the people who use them.  That’s something for everyone to keep in mind, especially now that Mizzou cops have announced their intention to literally police speech on campus.

My post began with a Snoop quote from HBO’s The Wire. In response to Soave’s tired, excerpted quote, here it is again. “Yeah, that’s what you say. But it’s how you carry yourself.” Point being, if Soave approached the same subject matter and drew the same conclusions in a much more charitable manner, as opposed to being Rand McPherson, the pushback against his bullshit probably wouldn’t be so strong and the stench of libertarianism may subside some.

The only way I can properly relate to Soave in this manner is by proxy. Libertarians are supposed to exercise humility when outside their discipline because of that whole knowledge problem thing they supposedly love and hold so dear. How often they seem to forget. As for myself, being in the performing and recording arts and not exactly an expert at much else, I must summon philosopher Roderick Long’s four-year-old BHL post entitled The Libertarian Three-Step Program.

In short, it’s for libertarians who don’t know how to make a non-vulgar, off-putting argument to the everyday voter (specifically it was about Ron Paul answering a health care question from Wolf Blitzer in “depressingly predictable order,” according to Long, at a CNN GOP debate back in September 2011). And your everyday voter is not even close to being in the GOP or even being GOP-sympathetic. There are more independents and registered Democrats, respectively, than registered Republicans. I think even Reason’s own polling shows that trend.

The parallel here for Soave to Long’s three steps is: demonize the victim, identify potential voluntary solutions, and then finally address the systemic, structural problems. As Long himself notes in his piece, “When you lead with stage one, that’s what people will remember; adding stage three as an afterthought will leave far less trace in people’s thoughts,” and that Paul’s answer “was a highly visible instance of a widespread libertarian problem.” It’s something to seriously consider.

Unfortunately this problem has not been improved upon. It is by and large indicative of the general arrogance that emanates from Reason’s content-Keynesianism (a content-Keynesian is more interested in publishing high quantity than high quality content for the simple, cynical purpose of generating attention and web traffic). Which is to say, the approach that Long opines against of ‘I’m a libertarian so I know it all even though I’m supposed to be operating under a dispersed knowledge problem which implies that I don’t know it all’ being the pervasive attitude.

Pick a discipline in life and become an expert. You’ll end up doing more for liberty than the entire swarm of epistemically closed off libertarian dilettantes and navel gazers, especially since nobody outside of that tiny bubble of insignificance cares. Then again, if your intention truly is to create a pseudo reality designed to self soothe and pull the wool over your own eyes to the extent that you think you’re actually making a dent in the world or being a “very objective, non-nonsense, just-the-facts kind of guy/writer” by posting confirmation bias seeking drivel on the internet… let’s just say ignorance is bliss. And I’m not just talking to Robby Soave & Reason here.

It also sounds dangerously close to one of those safe spaces Soave spends so much time railing against. Irony’s a bitch.

Maybe you become like my younger brother and literally fight the state every day in court, depose and cross examine crooked cops, and get unjustly shackled arms and legs of falsely accused indigent brown and black faces freed from their statist coils. Much respect to the knuckleheads at Popehat for the same reasons.

But whatever is going on within institutionalized libertarianism doesn’t even come close to fighting the state. It’s actually more of an exercise in frivilous vanity and self validation. In fact, those who work at such institutions unknowingly, or perhaps knowingly in some instances, act as agents for the political right. I’d call that aiding and abetting the state, but hey.

Perhaps Kevin Carson said it best in, potentially his greatest, C4SS piece The End of Libertarians:

Frankly, I’m sick of libertarian outreach being sabotaged by the need to apologize for people like this. I’m sick of trying to challenge the perception of libertarianism as the movement of entitled 20-something middle-class white males who think “big business is the last oppressed minority,” and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket because of women and racial minorities — and then going to Mises.org, Lew Rockwell, Cato and Reason and seeing a bottomless cesspool of people saying that very thing.

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