How do you top (or at least match) the greatest punk album ever, How To Clean Everything, that you yourself released in 1993 as your debut to the world? If you’re Propagandhi… easily! Maybe there’s something special in the water up there in Winnipeg, Canada.
Twenty years ago today, the definitive anarchist punk rock band of record released their much-anticipated sophomore follow-up, Less Talk, More Rock (Fat Wreck Chords)! I’ve already written about tunes from the record like “Nation States” (the anti-corporatist-imperialist’s anthem), “Refusing To Be A Man” (a pro-feminist anthem), and of course the title track (a lesson on how to make homophobes uncomfortable).
This album says everything I want to say, but I could never muster the eloquence to pull it off quite like them. So I’ll spare you from talking in circles about how much I love Propagandhi and just end by saying thank you with a favorite excerpt from another cut off the album, “Resisting Tyrannical Government”
Why don’t we plant a mechanic virus and erase the memory
Of the machines that maintain this capitalist dynasty?
And yes, I recognize the irony.
The system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds.
That’s exactly why privileged fucks like me
Should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream.
Yeah, until everyone has everything they need.
Smash the state!
About five months ago I issued a warning to the so-called “liberty movement” (if you haven’t read my initial warning on the subject it might help for timeline’s sake and frame of reference) about the dangers of hitching their wagon to the likes of Robby Soave – just another clown in a litany of say-everything-do-nothing-non-profit-think-tank-no-real-world-experience-conservatarians that encompass the “liberty movement,” the real life Rand McPherson, and epitome of what Kevin Carson rightly dubbed vulgar libertarianism over a decade ago:
This school of libertarianism has inscribed on its banner the reactionary watchword: “Them pore ole bosses need all the help they can get.” For every imaginable policy issue, the good guys and bad guys can be predicted with ease, by simply inverting the slogan of Animal Farm: “Two legs good, four legs baaaad.” In every case, the good guys, the sacrificial victims of the Progressive State, are the rich and powerful. The bad guys are the consumer and the worker, acting to enrich themselves from the public treasury. As one of the most egregious examples of this tendency, consider Ayn Rand’s characterization of big business as an “oppressed minority,” and of the Military-Industrial Complex as a “myth or worse.”
The ideal “free market” society of such people, it seems, is simply actually existing capitalism, minus the regulatory and welfare state: a hyper-thyroidal version of nineteenth century robber baron capitalism, perhaps; or better yet, a society “reformed” by the likes of Pinochet, the Dionysius to whom Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys played Aristotle.
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 the 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.”
My favorite passage on vulgar libertarianism is excerpted from Carson’s year-old biting indictment of the aforementioned movement, entitled “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.
This week, Lyn Ulbricht attended the International Students For Liberty Conference and graced attendees with a presentation on the appeal of her son Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing in the Silk Road trial. Lyn’s presence and tireless advocacy for her son and for the preservation of our rights is a blessing in the face of our unaccountable justice system. Her speech was concise and moving; her demeanor was what you would expect from a strong mother whose son has been sentenced to a double life sentence.
Unfortunately at the same event, on the same day as Lyn’s presentation, there was an unforgivable snub by the Students For Liberty Alumni. Ross was up for an award as an SFL alum himself. However, those responsible for nominating the winner ultimately chose a libertarian writer with a significant social media presence. This was a devastating moment in my weekend activities, and was all I really wanted to talk about the rest of the night. Most people simply shrugged their shoulders — they chalked it up to typical organization culture and politics. But what does it say about the movement when such behavior is glossed over and forgotten about? It is a sign of seriously misplaced priorities.
The winner of the SFL award in question was none other than Robby Soave himself, who’s alleged “excellent work” has helped… nobody. Which brings me back to my opening quote from HBO’s The Wire pertaining to “real” work. Back to Calhoun’s truth to power on the matter:
Ross Ulbricht has taken a stand against the leviathan state. His actions represented the greatest opposition to the Drug War in its history, and they have provided millions with the motivation and incentive for a new and subversive kind of radicalism that captures individuals’ interests directly. It engages rather than explains. Rather than lecturing it meets people face to face as equal partners and as equal opponents to an oppressive government regime. What an insult it is to Ross and to Lyn to ignore this most spontaneous form of activism.
Since Ross’s arrest, Lyn has shown us just how important this kind of imminent spreading of libertarian ideas is. Lyn does not come from a background of political agitation. She is one of many mothers who has had her child taken from her by the U.S government. She is one of many people who has sat helplessly in court proceedings as a judge condemns a man to isolation in order to silence and shudder them away from the rest of the world. Much like the participants of the Silk Road project, Lyn is not interested in political gamesmanship, but in the freeing of unfree people, the liberation of an oppressed populous. She comes to advocate for libertarian positions not because of ideological bias, but because she has seen up close just how easily the system can squash people and file them away without consequence. While we write about agorist theory and its possible implementation, Ross built a multi-million dollar black market that turned theory into a reality. While we snipe at ideological adversaries, Lyn Ulbricht is fighting to her last breath to see her son freed and the unjust conditions of the criminal justice system smashed.
The hypocrisy on display at ISFLC must be confronted. These are the people this movement needs. Ross’s and Lyn’s work deserves better than to be overlooked like it was. We must understand that our ideas really are grounded in the interests of everyday people. This isn’t a chess match or a Twitter argument. It is a real and bloody battle between the people, fighting for their liberty against a system that seeks to destroy it. The snub of Ross and Lyn is of course just over a meaningless award, but it’s symbolic of an illness that plagues large swathes of the libertarian movement.*
There is great understanding among many young libertarians of just how important Ross’s actions, trial, and his mother’s dedication are. Ross himself was involved with Students For Liberty, and he should be honored as one of its most significant alums. We need to foster the spirit of Lyn’s and Ross’s activism. We need to take our philosophy into the streets as they have. Let’s stop honoring popular authors for the numbers of shares their articles get and start focusing on the “boots on the ground” like Ross and Lyn who risk their lives through concrete action. In her speech to conference-goers, Lyn recommended visiting a prison to see what our government in action. That’s where people live out the full experience of state control. What good are words if we don’t recognize the significance of the people who live them?
This is, in a nutshell, why people who would otherwise identify very well with the school of thought that is classical liberalism (including anarchists like myself) actually feel repulsed by about 90% of so-called “libertarians.” As I stated in my initial Soave-smash:
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.
Perhaps the most disgraceful part of the ISFLC debacle, after SFL doling out the award to not Ross Ulbricht, is that Soave actually accepted it instead of flexing some intellectual humility and saying something to the tune of, “Thanks, but I cannot in good conscience accept this award and instead would like to present it to Lyn Ulbricht on Ross’s behalf while he suffers unjust incarceration at the hands of the state.” Although I wasn’t actually there (I was paid to attend ISFLC 2014 as a performing artist), something tells me it didn’t exactly play out that way.
Of course it didn’t, these are “liberty movement” people we’re talking about here, almost all of whom are insecure children playing keyboard commando and seeking validation from the self congratulatory how-dare-anybody-piss-inside-the-echo-chambered-circle-jerk bubble that is the insignificantly small and significantly sycophantic makeup of DC/online libertarianism.
This is further personified by Soave’s Reason colleague Elizabeth Nolan Brown, who I previously praised for doing “real work” on her feminism beat in my initial Robby-rant. I once saw a tweet of hers criticizing a John Stossel column published at Reason. I can’t remember exactly which column (because they’re all so fucking awful), but the point is when I went back to the tweet to grab it’s link for my brother, the tweet had already been deleted.
I have no idea if Brown did this on her own or had her arm twisted by any of her superiors at Reason. But since we’re dealing with a movement more concerned with “plaques for hacks” than anything real, it seems a bit suspect. Reason and people like Soave love them some free speech until it threatens their fragile pseudo-reality. Which brings me to Brown’s tweet during Soave’s big-win-acceptance-speech:
If you go to her actual tweet on Twitter, there is NO pushback whatsoever from anybody. The likes and retweets are visible without going to Twitter. By any objective measurement, journalists like Brown should have done what friends do: deliver the brutally honest truth when they need it most, even at the risk of an open breach. Unfortunately, reality is the enemy of the safe space. The irony is libertarians can’t stand the notion of a safe space, yet prefer living in a bubble that perfectly encapsulates their hypocrisy.
Would something like this have been so horrible from Brown, “Even though Robby Soave is my friend & colleague, Ross Ulbricbht should have won SFL’s 2016 “Alumni for Liberty” award. #ISFLC16″?
But this, ladies and gentlemen, exemplifies your “liberty movement” (sounds more like a bathroom code, which is appropriate given how much shit they flush) whether you like it or not, and I want absolutely zero part of it. Nor should any other self-respecting radical.
The glorification of John Stossel is repugnant enough on it’s own. Never mind the incessant apologists for corporate dominance and the free-market capitalism oxymoron, blanket alliance with conservatives, whitewashing Antonin Scalia’s record into that of a “brilliant” jurist instead of a glorified Tarot Card reading hypocrite, clamoring that Ted Cruz would be better for liberty than Bernie Sanders like it’s some sort of personal vendetta, and the fact that people aspire to be “professional libertarians.” Whatever the fuck that even means. How hard would you laugh if somebody said they wanted to be a professional liberal or conservative?
Instead of disengaging from the futility of electoral politics, focusing on ad hoc coalitions built on an issue-by-issue basis, and true intellectual honesty, you’re left with a scenario best described by my favorite asshole, The Wire’s Detective Jimmy McNulty: “Everybody stays friends, everybody gets paid, and everybody’s got a fucking future!” (Of accomplishing nothing)
*bold emphasis mine
In January three female interns revealed to the Tennessean that then-House Majority Whip Jeremy Durham (Franklin) sent them inappropriate and harassing text messages, even asking for photos in some instances. Fearing retribution, his accusers came forward on condition of anonymity, and the Tennessean verified that the text messages in question were in fact sent by Durham’s phone.
However, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick already knew.
A woman approached House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick about inappropriate text messages and phone calls she said she had received from then-House Majority Whip Jeremy Durham during the summer, McCormick confirmed Thursday.
The meeting, acknowledged publicly by McCormick for the first time this week, happened months before The Tennessean published an investigation focused on three women who said Durham sent them inappropriate text messages.
She was the second of two women to discuss with McCormick behavior by Durham that they considered inappropriate. Although McCormick said he advised the women to take that information to a human resources official, he said he never asked to see the text messages.
Breaking the story in the press prompted House Speaker Beth Harwell to form a special legislative committee, and Attorney General Herbert Slatery continues to investigate. Unfortunately, the investigation still remains unclear. Durham stated that he’s done nothing wrong, doesn’t remember sending the texts, has no intention of resigning, and is seeking reelection.
In an even stranger turn of events, the State Senate recently passed a bill that forces people who sue state employees to pay their legal fees if the plaintiff doesn’t win. Attorney General Slatery issued a statement to the Tennessean following its passage.
The bill ‘levels the playing field’ and says there are consequences when you sue a State employee in his or her individual capacity for leverage, knowing you will be able to recover damages from the State. This seems only fair.
The important distinction here is State employees acting in an official capacity, as opposed to the State itself. However, it’s your right as a citizen to seek redress without fear of retaliation – such as being taxed for losing your lawsuit. Apparently the political class thinks it more important to stoop to intimidation in favor of protectionism.
Although there is no evidence to suggest any correlation between the bill (which is supposed to be aimed at combatting frivolous lawsuits, according to legislators and the AG) and the investigation into Rep. Durham, the timing is extremely poor, if not suspect. Only three State Senators appealed to Governor Bill Haslam to veto the bill.
Dangerous legislative overreaches at all levels of government should be a cause for concern for all citizens. It transcends partisan politics, ideology, and philosophy when basic rights like seeking redress without fear of reprisals are impinged. Citizens aren’t supposed to fear their government; the government should fear its citizens. Who works for whom?
Moreover, the lack of any conclusive investigation into Dunham only contributes to a climate of intimidation by implying that the onus of stopping harassment is solely on the women who were already harassed. In lieu of these events, as well as it being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a team of community activists including the Nashville Riot Grrrls, Nashville Feminist Collective, and Fisk University students decided to stage a protest at the legislature calling for Rep. Durham’s resignation from office.
The group of 12 silently marched the halls, dropping off “Jeremy Durham Resign” signs at his office, stopping at the members of the committee members tasked with investigating Durham’s behavior and finally standing hand-in-hand outside the door of House Speaker Beth Harwell.
“We are not sure why he hasn’t been held accountable,” said Ashley Dixon, 32, one of the protesters.
The women said they were from throughout Davidson County and felt it was an issue important to them after a Tennessean investigation reported on allegations of inappropriate text messages sent by Durham.
Nashville’s local ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV was also on the scene and spoke with the group’s media spokesperson Whitney Washington, who affirmed their position that the entire chain of events “is making this an unsafe work environment for women.” They want Durham to be held accountable for his actions.
Speaking with Whitney Washington myself, she reiterated the need for direct action. “We’re not circulating petitions but encouraging people to call, email, and tweet.” NRG member Lauren Strange posted all of the aforementioned details for members of Durham’s investigative committee in the event’s Facebook page and fired off some tweets of her own.
Rep. Durham was actually on the floor introducing a bill during the protest, but spoke to the Franklin Homepage in its aftermath.
Although I fully support freedom of speech, I’m disappointed that these young liberals would turn a serious matter into political grandstanding and minimize the weight of this important issue for those who have truly been harassed in the workplace,” Durham said. “I realize we live in a politically correct society, but making a false accusation when there was never even a complaint filed is extremely unfair.
Rep. Durham might need a reminder that he’s currently under investigation for verified texts sent to three “young” female interns from his own phone, even if that investigation doesn’t inspire confidence. And as an eyewitness to the protest, there was no “liberal” political grandstanding or partisanship of any kind. The protest was rooted in issues-based activism, unless harassment and intimidation are now partisan issues.
Even if we assume Durham will suddenly buckle under the pressure and resign, it’s highly unlikely that Williamson County appoints a liberal in his stead. So who’s really engaging in political grandstanding? Smart money is always on the embattled politician running for reelection.
The age-old right of crusty white male politicians to harass their female subordinates is under attack. I know. It’s “extremely unfair.”
UPDATE: This afternoon, just over 24 hours after the protest ended, the Tennessean is reporting that the Attorney General’s probe into Durham’s behavior found “inappropriate physical contact.”
House Speaker Beth Harwell banished Rep. Jeremy Durham to a new office building and limited his access to staff after a scathing Tennessee attorney general report found the Franklin Republican engaged in inappropriate physical contact and potentially poses a “continuing risk to unsuspecting women.”
“Based upon the information gathered thus far, Representative Durham’s alleged behavior may pose a continuing risk to unsuspecting women who are employed by or interact with the legislature,” Attorney General Herbert Slatery said in a letter to House officials.
In accordance with the attorney general’s findings, Harwell, R-Nashville, is limiting Durham’s access to certain legislative buildings — including moving his office across the street — and he has been barred from having contact with almost all staff or interns as the investigation continues.
Twenty years ago today the Knoxville, TN based rock outfit Superdrag released their debut full-length album Regretfully Yours on Elektra Records. This is just one of many classic albums to come to market in 1996. Superdrag was known for churning out infectious, melodic vocals and crunchy guitars.
“Sucked Out” is the album’s undisputed hit single, but I find the opening salvo “Slot Machine” (which actually transitions seamlessly into the second track “Pahser”) to be pure brilliance. The song begins with a vamp on a D chord, or a variation of voicings of a D chord, and it’s got you hooked already. There’s very few lyrics but, the vocal melody is extremely catchy. Lots of raw, powerful, in your face rocknroll follows. In fact, these are the only lyrics and they are not repeated:
I don’t know what I’m to say / You can’t hear me anyway / And does it really even matter if we play? / Hey, hey, hey / I don’t know what I’m to do / To get those pleasantries from you / But if you’ll be my Princess Leia, that’s okay / That’s okayeee
What a way to introduce Superdrag to the mainstream commercial audience. It’s like a freight train of energy and you instantly felt the force that was Superdrag — those powerful, crunchy guitars and infectious melodies.
The band went on to release three more albums before disbanding in the mid 2000’s, none of which enjoyed as much commercial success as Regretfully Yours. But I don’t pay too much attention to that sort of thing. I remained a fain. I mean, how could you not “Do The Vampire?”
In the fall of 2007 the orginal lineup got back together for a reuinion tour. Needless to say, the show I caught was obviously amazing. I flew up to New York City to meet up with my former road brother from t h e REMEDY SESSION (Redemption Records), Chris Polito. The Sesh always had lots of Superdrag thumping in the tour van. Actually, the band got to play the NEMO Fest in Boston in 2003 with Superdrag!*
Superdrag released a reunion album in 2009 titled Industry Giants. One of the deep cuts on the record “Aspartame” is everything good art should be, as well as its music video.
So congratulations to Superdrag on twenty years of Regretfully Yours!
*I was not an original member of tRS and was not the bassist in the 2003. The original bassist, and one of my oldest and greatest friends, Lori Marsh was still with the band. I took over in the fall of 2004 thru 2006. Now ten years later the Sesh is back and so is Lori… lookout Nashville!
I don’t know the first thing about the adjunct justice issue. I’m just an artist. But I am all too familiar with Jason Brennan’s temperament when given the least bit of push back. In short, he behaves like an insecure child, accuses you of being angry even though he’s the one who rants and raves like an infant in the midst of a tantrum while demonstrating his lack of intellectual honesty and humility.
At least that’s my experience dealing with the guy in the context of his utterly nonsensical analogy of likening markets to guitar amps. He had every chance to admit, right away, that the analogy had no place in a scholarly analysis of markets when I posted my response.
Instead I had to out-Jason Brennan him in the ensuing comments until he finally admitted that the analogy wasn’t originally intended to be included in the book. Then he went on to say that he still thinks he’s right.
Tangential side note: That’s when he thought I was mad, but as an artist I was merely acting as a mirror to show him his own reflection… because that’s what artists do… they reflect what is unseen when somebody cannot see the forest for the trees… I was actually in pain from all the laughter… needless to say, Brennan was not amused.
Remember, this is the guy who puffs his chest out about how he’s a big bad PhD at big bad Georgetown and well published in big bad respected academic journals (that nobody reads) as well as his numerous books, of which I own three, so everybody should defer to him. When I pointed out that the shoe was on the other foot in this particular instance, since I’m the musician, he cried foul.
By any objective measurement Jason Brennan is pretty brilliant and extremely accomplished (even if his conclusions might not be on occasion), with a great American dream rags to riches story… which makes all of this even more confusing.
I feel it’s also relevant to point out that I’ve been an avid BHL reader since day one, though I must say my enthusiasm has been waning in perpetuity ever since Brennan turned it into his personal petty bully pulpit well over a year ago. He used to post thought provoking philosophical thought experiments and the like. What happened? Why the paradigm shift? Now he’s just a whiny punk. Excuse me, but that’s my job!
I also noticed an interesting correlation between the uptick in Brennan’s frequent vulgarity at BHL and the lack of regular posting from the cream of their blog roster’s crop. I don’t know if it implies any causation at all, but it’s curious… at least to me.
Of course, he and his cohorts think they’re doing excellent work, but that’s what I like to call “plaques for hacks.” Or if I can be blunt, this is the indictment I levied against him and anyone acting as his sycophants, by proxy or otherwise:
you try to land the equivalent of a passive aggressive sucker punch like an insecure child playing keyboard commando and seeking validation from the self congratulatory how-dare-anybody-piss-inside-the-tent echo chambered circle jerk of an epistemically closed off bubble that is the community of online libertarianism
Then I saw a response to Brennan regarding the adjunct debate (since he intends to write a book on the so-called “business ethics” of modern universities and cited first year composition classes as the lone bogeyman data point as “a jobs program for low quality intellectuals”) that managed to capture my sentiments in one beautiful sentence (adjunct debate notwithstanding, it’s way beyond my sphere of expertise):
I just don’t get this. Why would someone want to spend his time this way?
Exactly! Especially when it’s aimed at a person who’s philosophy is, if I may generalize, supposed to be that of a bleeding heart libertarian who values the individual above the coercive institution. But what do I know? I don’t have a PhD in philosophy.
Perhaps the classic Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison best portrays Jason Brennan’s disposition in the character of Eric Gordon, played by actor Bradley Whitford. So let’s finish this post with a refrain of its title: “I choose business ethics.”
I 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 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.