Monday, September 30, 2013

Deconstruction of the Left: Post-Left Anarchism and Post-Post-Left Anarchism

Deconstruction is a technique developed by Jacque Derrida in which someone investigates a literary work or an idea to take it apart, find its contradictions, challenge the universally accepted meaning of things, and finding new meaning within it. To put it simply, it deconstructs preconceived notions and meanings to find new meanings and show how no meaning is fundamentally the right one.

Post-left anarchism is a form of anarchist thought that critiques or "moves beyond" the left. Specifically, it holds critiques of organization, ideology, moralism, work, and revolution, as leftists see it. They instead advocate self-theory, moral nihilism, affinity groups, and immediatism.

Fundamentally, whether intentional or not, and I'm hedging my bets on not for reasons that should become obvious later, post-left anarchism is a deconstruction of leftism. They take apart the leftist theory of revolution, find the contradiction between the liberatory rhetoric of it and putting the revolution in the future rather than now when we need it, and challenging how revolutionary it is. They take apart leftist organization, find the contradiction of freedom and equality of leftist goals and the reality of unequal and unfree goals, and challenging the necessity of organization. They take apart ideology, find the contradiction between the freedom it espouses and how it constrains by forcing people to accept it and act under it, and challenges the need for overarching metatheories rather than individual theories. They take apart moralism, find the contradiction between the leftist goals of freedom and individualism and how morality, especially enforced or universal morality, causes people and attitudes to conform. They take apart work, find a contradiction between the freedom espoused by the left and the confinement and entrapment of work, and challenge how necessary it is to society.

All of these critiques are useful and true. Indeed, deconstruction is a powerful tool for analysis. However, post-left anarchism tends to use esoteric meanings for what they critique. For example, no leftist would define leftism as more than the goals of freedom and equality. Under that definition, despite the post-leftists moving beyond leftism and leaving it, they are leftists. In that sense, they are post-leftist leftists. However, such a critique misses the broader issue: They deconstruct the left, but don't go far enough. If you'll notice, with every example of their deconstruction of the left, I mentioned them taking it apart, finding contradictions, and challenging universally accepted meanings. It is at this point that their deconstruction ends, leaving out arguably the most important part: Finding new meaning within it. Oh, they propose their own type of group, their own theory of revolution, and their own theory on morality, but, fundamentally, those are just the rejection of leftist organization, revolution, and morality, not new meaning found within, or even outside of, those three. Their deconstruction of the left is incomplete. This contradiction, between the deconstruction and lack thereof, is where the esoteric definitions come from. They aren't defining organization by its reductionism, professionalism, substitutionism, and ideology for shits and giggles. They are doing so because that's what they see it as. This stems from, and arguably causes, them not finishing their deconstruction.

But how does one finish the deconstruction they started? We cannot exactly pick up where they left off, after all we aren't them. Rather, we must, in an ultimate meta-act, deconstruct them, thus allowing us to move beyond them, without leaving them. In that way, we become post-post-leftists. You see, their rejection of the left is inconsistent with them having goals that define leftism, stemming from a critique of more marginal aspects of leftism, thus they aren't moving out of the left. Rather, and this is the important part which they missed, they are arguably moving before the left. Anarchism isn't exactly a new ideology. It didn't spring into being when William Godwin or Josiah Warren or Pierre-Joseph Proudhon put it down on paper. Indeed, the anti-authoritarian spirit that defines anarchism has existed in all times and every revolution. This ground level anarchism far proceeds any form of leftism. Indeed, it could be said that leftism grew out of the anti-authoritarian radicalism of the French Revolution, thus making leftism the product of anarchism. In that sense, pre-left would be more accurate. In addition, while that contradiction exists, they do show an accurate understanding of certain strands of leftism, possibly even every strand of leftism but them, but does that mean that's what leftism is? In a way, yes, but, in many ways, not so much, so, in a way, partial-leftist is more accurate.

So they are post-left leftists, pre-leftists, and partial-leftists, while we are all that and post-post-leftists? Well, no. We are all of those, but none of those. Being post-left means having moved outside the left, so they aren't leftists. It's a new theory and mostly based on writers who came about after leftism, so pre-leftist is inaccurate. They may accept part of orthodox leftism, but that makes them no more partially a leftist than accepting anti-statism makes me partially a Tea Partier, so partial-leftist is inaccurate as well. Finally, post-post-leftism doesn't move beyond post-leftism entirely and still is within it, though within the left as well, forming a contradiction, so it isn't very "post" of post-leftism.

But how can we be all those but none of them? Because fuck you, that's why. More seriously, it's because we acknowledge our self-contradictions and don't fight them. All theories and ideologies are self-contradictory. By accepting the self-contradiction, we aren't contradicting ourselves, thus making us more consistent than others. (This contradicts the accepted self-contradiction creating an endless loop of consistency and contradiction.) We are ideologues against ideology, fighting it with our own ideology. We are organized against organizations, content within our organization of ourself, and only ourself. We fight and we wait. The revolution began yesterday and will begin when enough people join us. We are leftists outside the left who reside within the heart of leftism. We are post, post-post, pre, partial, anti, pro, wrong, revolutionary, reformist, and true leftists. We are all these and none of these.

Because fuck you.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Against Apoliticalism

Some people don't care about politics. They want to live their lives without thinking about politics or discussing different systems or even politicians. They may vote, but probably don't. If they vote, they don't put much thought into it or come into it with much knowledge of the politicians. To them, politics don't matter to them, so they shouldn't matter to politics. They want to be a non-agent and not contribute at all. The problem is they couldn't be further from the truth.

The problem is, by not considering politics or participating in politics, they are just as much supporting a system as I am by protesting state power or the introduction of a Walmart, or even rioting, like the anarchists at the WTO in Seattle in the 90s. They are supporting the status quo. They are supporting politicians acting completely without check, unlike the mostly without check they normally act under. They are supporting any ongoing wars continuing. They are supporting sweatshops. They are supporting cops beating up minorities just for the hell of it. They are supporting the suppression of unions. They are supporting unchecked corporate profits.

Doing nothing is one of the worst things you can do. It sends a simple and clear message to those with power: We don't matter. Do what you like, and we won't do anything to stop you. If the politicians and CEOs hear that message from enough people, that's just what they'll do. They won't care what the people want. They'll abuse their power and squabble among themselves using us as their pawns. This is not a world I wish to see. A world where people don't care and those with power take that to heart.

So fight. Fight for something. If you need to, protest, then protest. If you need to riot, then riot. If you need to rebel against your state, then rebel against your state. If all you need to do is write a letter to your representative or make an informed vote, then that is enough, but I fight a greater battle. I fight for freedom. I fight for an end of all oppression and exploitation. I fight for everyone to be able to choose their future. My fight cannot be won in the ballot box. My fight cannot be won with letters. My fight cannot be won even with just peaceful protest. Those in power will never stand for it. As the power slips from their grasp, they will fight, and I will fight back. As we demand our emancipation, they will fight, and I will fight back. If we do nothing, they will still fight, and we will be naught but their slaves. That is why I cannot stand those who are apolitical. Those who sit by and do nothing. Those who do not care.

Property Destruction and Defacement

Is it justified to destroy or deface property? This is an ongoing debate among anarchists. It's important to realize that the side opposed doesn't seek to force the other side to not destroy property. They merely wish to convince them. In general, there are two general arguments over the destruction of property: Tactical arguments and arguments of unintended consequences.

When it comes to tactics, the side against views it as negative propaganda. Their argument is that people who observe anarchists smashing windows and vandalizing walls will be turned off of anarchism causing them to feel that anarchism is a violent and destructive ideology that causes people to do bad things. In addition, it gives fuel to the media's demonization of anarchism. But those who argue that forget, the typical American who would react that way are not the target audience. Of course some people will react that way, but we aren't talking to them when we smash windows and vandalize courthouses. We are speaking to those who already know the police aren't on their side. The people who recognize that corporate power must be destroyed. They are the dispossessed. They are poor people, especially poor minorities. They already know the enemy because they've experienced it. The police have cracked down on them. The corporations have discriminated against them. They see us and they see someone on their side and they want to join us. That is why we do it. That is the propaganda of it.

Now, when it comes to unintended consequences, opponents argue that the broken windows don't hurt the capitalists. Rather, it hurts the workers who have to clean up or the workers who have to pay taxes to clean up, for state buildings. However, the workers who clean up would have to clean something up or they'd get laid off. Plus, most taxes are income taxes which are far higher for the rich who can afford it. Regardless, these criticisms forget something important: This is only that way because of the state and because of capitalism. The best way to help them is to tear those down. We cannot lose sight of the long term because of the short term. We are helping those workers in the long term, even if they are hurt in the short term. In addition, just as the general public aren't the target audience, the workers who clean it up are. They can see how we are fighting against the system with great harm to ourselves for no apparent immediate benefit. That can inspire.

This discussion wouldn't be complete without mentioning the arguments which aren't being discussed. No one, save ancaps, but I'm speaking of anarchists, are arguing there's something inherently wrong with vandalism. If we smash the windows of a Walmart, we haven't done something wrong, unless there's some consequences of that which are wrong. Property isn't people. It isn't violent to smash a window or spray painting a wall. In addition, we (generally) aren't talking about indiscriminate smashing and destruction. We're talking about destroying corporate property. We're talking about lighting trash on fire to reduce the effects of tear gas. We're talking about defacing public buildings. We're not, generally, talking about destroying mom and pop shops. We're not, generally, talking about destroying people's homes. To say otherwise is disengenuous.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Beginnings of a Comprehensive Economic Theory: Struggle as Fundamental

In my last post on building an economic theory, I came to the conclusion that the interactions of people are fundamental to the economy, not individuals themselves. However, are all interactions economic? Of course not. Economics, as a whole, tends to deal with a specific set of actions by people: First, production of goods and services. Second, hiring of workers. Third, the selling of these goods and services. Fourth, the purchase of goods and services. Fifth, the competition between different businesses.

These five actions boil down to three interactions. First, the interaction between the worker and the boss. Second, the interaction between the producer and the consumer. Third, the interaction between competing businesses. These all share one common characteristic: They are a struggle. In the first, the worker struggles for higher pay and less work while the boss struggles for lower pay and more production. In the second, the producer struggles to get more consumers to by more of their product for a higher price while the consumer struggles to buy what he/she will actually want for a lower price. In the third, both businesses struggle for more customers buying more of their stuff. Thus, it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that economics is the study of the struggles in production and distribution.

These three struggles are what are fundamental to the economy and, thus, must be fundamental to any analysis of the economy. All three of them have resources funnelled into them, be it through strikes, union dues, hiring pinkertons, creating anti-union propaganda, marketing to customers, shopping around, or negative ad campaigns. All of them take up time, labor, and resources that could be put into other things, thus all three of the struggles are inefficiencies.

The expression of the struggles can be found in three places: wages, prices, and relative prices among competitors. They show who is "winning" each of the struggles and by how much.


All Cops Are Bastards, so many anarchists say, usually abbreviated as ACAB. It's true, police are a form of oppression and authority, but does it follow from that principle that all cops are bastards? I don't think so. Cops, as with most members of vertical collectivist organizations tend to be indoctrinated into the organizations and truly believe they are doing right. In addition, most people have been socialized from a young age to believe that cops are necessary to preserve peace and order, so many cops have good intentions, even if they are corrupted by the state. So, no, not all cops are bastards.

But is this literal reading of the phrase and acronym what is intended? Not really. It is used to describe our feelings about cops as well as the institution of police. What is meant by all cops are bastards is really all cops are our enemy. This, as far as I can tell, is true. All cops are our enemy. They may be indoctrinated into being our enemy or forced to be, but we must fight them nonetheless.

Platformism, Revisited

Since the last time I wrote on this subject, I have come to reject platformism. Having been more exposed to the intricacies of the post-leftist critique of organization, I have come to understand what they mean and how they define organization differently. They define organization as having three key qualities: An ideology that it follows. An image through which it seeks to expand and grow. Commitment to follow the intricacies of the rules and regulations of the organization and to subjugate themselves to some segment of the organization or the organization itself. Having understood this definition of organization, and rejecting organizations that fit this, I was forced to reevaluate the post-leftist critique of platformism and, as a result, accept the critique and reject platformism.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I added labels to all of my posts and plan on doing so more in the future.

Beginnings of a Comprehensive Economic Theory: The Building Blocks of the Economy

What is the fundamental unit of the economy? Orthodox economic theory, in addition to many heterodox economic theories, accept the premise of classical and neo-classical economics in this aspect: the rational individual is the fundamental unit of the economy. But is it?

If it is, then there is no fundamental units of the economy. Why is that? Because people aren't rational, as a whole, especially not in any economic sense, which often includes pursuing their personal self-interest. People are influenced too much by morals, lack of information, friendship, hate, identity, and social prestige. People will cater to the whims of others rather than their self-interest, and often do so in irrational ways, such as praying for a hurt child instead of taking that child to the hospital or assassinating a famous musician to keep him "pure".

However, there are more problems with this concept of the rational individual being the fundamental building block of the economy. I mean, an individual who goes out into the wild and hunts for food in unclaimed territory is not a part of the economy. What is different about that person from a participant in the economy? Interactions with others.

Does that mean we should refine the fundamental of the economy to irrational individuals who interacts with others? No. No one interacts with others all the time, and it's only when they are interacting with others that they are participating in the economy. The fundamental unit of the economy should be the interactions with others themselves.

In my next post on building a comprehensive economic theory, I'll discuss what are the most important interactions with others and how to classify these interactions, especially the important ones.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Choosing to Suspend Your Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief is where someone accepts obviously untrue things in a story because he/she knows it's a story. An example would be Clark Kent. Everyone mocks how Superman just puts on glasses and no one recognizes him, but everyone accepts it anyway.

But is it a choice? Am I choosing to accept the untruths or am I accepting them subconsciously or on instinct without a choice in the matter? In my experience, it isn't a choice. If something has a compelling story and doesn't infringe on my areas of expertise, suspension of disbelief is natural, happens subconsciously, and happens whether I want it to or not. On the flip side, when something has a bad story, especially egregious breaks from reality, like someone breathing in space with no explanation, or treads upon areas I focus on, such as computers, politics, or philosophy, I can't accept it, no matter how hard I try.

Fundamentally, suspension of disbelief is a form of belief. When it is happening, we are truly believing it, despite what we know. Belief is not a choice. I am not an atheist in regards to the christian god because I choose not to believe, but because I don't find the arguments for it convincing. I don't believe the sky is blue because that's what I choose, but because that's what I see everyday. I don't suspend my disbelief, or fail to, because that's what I choose, but because the show succeeds, or fails, to convince me it's real. For this reason, when writing fiction, you must convince the audience what they're watching, or reading, is true, even if there is magic and elves and talking snakes, because, if you don't, the magic and elves and talking snakes will distract them. However, remember that you can't catch them all. I deal with computers a lot, so someone majorly messing up how computers work immediately loses my suspension of disbelief, while others' suspension of disbelief might be fine. Try and convince the most you can, and be happy with that.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Crime in Anarchy

Combating crime in anarchy might seem oxymoronic, and, in a sense, it is. If we define crime strictly as things that break the law, then it certainly is an oxymoron. However, if we look at the phenomenon of crime more broadly as actions that harm others, then it becomes something that is relevant to anarchism and combating it is an essential part of anarchy.

Broadly speaking, there are two general categories of crime fighting. The first is preventative and the second is reactionary. Anarchists generally focus on the first, though don't forget about the second. States, by contrast, tend to focus on the second, though don't forget about the first.

To prevent crime, anarchists focus on the societal ills that cause it. Generally speaking, crimes are done for four reasons. First, for need. Second, for passion. Third, for maintaining power. Fourth, because of a mental disorder. The first is primarily an economic problem. Anarchists generally see their economic policies as eliminating need, but to go into this further would require its own blog post, so I'll leave it at this, for now. I'll continue having accepted this claim as true, despite not having demonstrated it, since I will in the future and there is not enough space to do so here. However, there are some which aren't economic problems. For example, rape can be, in the loosest sense, a crime of need. This is when someone has a high libido at the moment but no healthy way to express it. That form of a crime of need can be dealt with socially through sexual liberation making sex more commonplace and allowing more healthy avenues of sexual expression. Generally speaking, when it comes to crimes of passion, some can be dealt with and others will exist regardless of what is done about it, be it by state or commune. The ones that can be dealt with generally stem from broad societal problems stemming from oppressive societal institutions. These are stuff like people hanging black men in reconstruction era south. These are things the state is powerless to solve. Solving these require mass social movements from below. Indeed, that is how these are being combated. Mass movements like feminism, gay rights, anti-racism, and other such movements are fighting these oppressive institutions quite successfully, though they have a long way to go. The ones that generally aren't solvable are ones stemming from in the moment rage. This is stuff like a man killing his wife because he just caught her sleeping with another man. For the most part, these cannot be dealt with. However, they can be reduced through preemptive therapy. This is, once more, a social issue. If it is socially acceptable to visit a therapist, or, indeed, not socially acceptable to not visit a therapist, then most will visit a therapist and will have a better handle on their anger. This would reduce the amount of the second form of crimes of passion, though not as impressively as any of the other reduction techniques I have proposed, though that's no justification for the state dealing with that sort of crime since the state doesn't have any tool for preventing that sort of crime of passion unavailable to an anarchist society. Crimes for maintaining power would not be an issue in an anarchist society as in a statist society as no systems of power exist that need maintain themselves. However, as clarification, I should note I'm strictly using the second, not first, definition of crime for this, as with others. This one, in particular, is referring mainly to state or capital action to preserve its power, such as through police brutality or Pinkertons. This is a form of crime that states themselves participate in, so asking a state to fight it would be absurd. Moving on, I've already hinted at the solution to the fourth in the solution to the second. Comprehensive mental healthcare available to all and societally acceptable, with not accessing it not being societally acceptable. This isn't a complete solution, though it is certainly more effective than therapy dealing with crimes of passion. However, those who have a mental disorder which is prone to making those with it a danger to themselves and others would be far less prone to hurting others if such a system were in place.

Now, while the above would drastically reduce crime rates, crime would still happen. After the fact solutions must be put in place. Or do they? Putting someone in prison doesn't make the crime go away. Indeed, it doesn't even discourage people from committing crime. At best, it keeps those who would harm others separate from society, but it also teaches those who commit smaller crimes how to commit worse crimes, and causes people who commit crimes to become disassociated from society preventing an easy return to society which causes a return to crime. Better solutions exist in the Scandinavian countries. They engage in comprehensive rehabilitation where they send criminals that tends to be comfortable and employ many therapists and psychologists as well as teaching the criminals how to return to society. They are far more successful, and far fewer people who go to them commit crimes again. However, I still have reservations with this. For one, I think that forcing them to go is unnecessary. By discontinuing the benefits members of the commune enjoy, such as getting things for free, while giving them materials that would allow them to create what they need to survive, if they do not accept the rehabilitation, thus basically saying that, if they don't want to play nice, they can play by themselves, as well as making rehabilitation a pleasant process, we would encourage people to choose to be rehabilitated, and no coercion or force would be necessary. Then therapists and psychologists could help them through their problems and prepare them for rejoining society. In that way, they would become far less likely to return to the same patterns of crime they fell into before.

Through this two pronged effort. crime would be less of an issue than it is in modern statist societies. The state is not necessary for preventing crime and, indeed, commits crimes regularly to preserve its power.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Platformism is a school of thought within anarchism developed by Nestor Makhno in response to his experiences with the Free Territory in the Russian Civil War and its eventual defeat at the hands of the Bolsheviks. Platformism is a theory that it's built around anarchist organizations that focus on unity. This means that everyone in the organization has the same general theoretical beliefs (so everyone is an anarcho-communist or everyone is a mutualist, though with more specifics than that, rather than combining a bunch of anarcho-communists with a bunch of mutualists), the same general tactics (so everyone is committed to, say, non-violent protests or to syndicalism and a general strike, and not a combination of people committed to the first and people committed to the second), everyone shares a collective responsibility in the struggle (this is the part I least understand the details of), and the groups are organized together through federation as we wish to see after the revolution rather than separate from each other. In addition, they tend to focus on outreach to non-anarchists and spreading the anti-authoritarian ideas as far as possible so that the revolution will have sufficient participants to be able to defeat the state.

Now, there are two general criticisms I can think of surrounding platformism. First, all the talk about "theoretical unity" or "tactical unity" sounds pretty authoritarian, like forcing everyone to believe the same things. However, this criticism ascribes to platformism  methods it just doesn't advocate. It doesn't say we should force people to all believe what we believe. Rather, it says that the anarcho-communists should gather in a group and make it a basic requirement for joining the group that one has to be an anarcho-communist. This is not all that different from, say, not letting leninists join an anarchist group.

Second, this group sounds suspiciously similar to the leninist vanguard. Are you sure that Makhno wasn't just convinced of the effectiveness of the vanguard by being beaten in by the Bolsheviks and became a crypto-leninist? Well, no. Rather, he became convinced that anarchist organizations previously, including ones he was a part of, were ineffective at combatting powerful enough states, including ones lead by leninist vanguards. Thus, anarchists needed to rethink things if they wanted to ever defeat the state. However, rather than borrowing leninist ideals, he decided that two things were necessary: unity and numbers. If we all fought together with the same goals and the same tactics, we'd work together far better allowing us to counter state power more effectively and, if we had lots of people, we'd have more people to fight the state with. You can see this in the two aspects of platformism. The talk about organization is all about unity and togetherness, while the talk about tactics is all about getting as many people as possible to become anarchists.

Those were general critiques from anarchism. There are three additional ones from specific branches of anarchism. First, the synthesist/AWA/panarchist critique, why can't we all just get along and work together? I mean, we all want to abolish the state and capitalism, can't we focus on destroying those and focus on what comes next when it comes to that? I mean, if there are more of us, surely we'll be more effective. This is the argument I find most convincing. However, I still see the platformist's point. If we're all different types of anarchism, we will be less effective because we'll constantly bicker among ourselves. In addition, how motivated would a mutualist be if everyone else was an anarcho-communist? Certainly not as motivated as if everyone else was a mutualist. In addition, if we all agree, in general, on what we want after, we can better convince people now because we'll all be arguing for the same things, so no one will be arguing against what others in the organization are arguing for, so it would hurt our ability to get a lot of people. Thus, unity of theory and tactics, not diversity of them, is better, to the platformist.

Second, a post-left/insurrectionist critique, why do we need to be so organized? It comes back to unity. This time, unity of action. If we organize ourselves, rather than acting individually or without much organization, we can all act together as a united front. This creates a strength in numbers sort of effect. One person facing a police officer will be less effective than ten people facing a police officer. In addition, ten people who don't know what each other are doing and don't have some sort of plan facing a police officer will do worse than five people with a plan (or at least general plans for how to deal with such situations) who move together against the police officer.

Third, another post-left/insurrectionist critique, why do we have to wait until we get a lot of people? Why can't we revolt *now*? Because the state has a lot of manpower and a lot to make that more effective, eg tear gas and advanced weaponry. In addition, oftentimes someone rebelling small scale can turn the ignorant away from anarchism before they learn anything about it, causing them to see it as a violent and brutish ideology because they don't know of the violence, brutality, and oppression of the state that necessitate fighting back. Not only is fighting with more people more effective, fighting before we're ready can keep more people from joining us. That's why we need to educate and promote anarchism, expanding our base, before we do a revolution.

Now, all that being said, I'm not a platformist. Why am I not one, given I've rejected every criticism of it I've presented? Well, while I don't think it is bad, I also don't think it is *necessary*. Quite frankly, I'm not convinced by the arguments that previous anarchic organization is necessarily ineffective at combatting the state. I'm not convinced that the Free Territories were crushed because of how they were organized. Rather, they were crushed because Russia is big and Ukraine is small. The people of Ukraine could've effectively won against the Ukrainian state, but the Russian state had far more people to call upon, so they stood no chance, regardless of how many Ukrainians had joined them. While I do find an appeal in platformism, and I find their arguments for unity persuasive, I also find the synthesist arguments for unifying many forms of anarchism persuasive as well. I would, personally, be more than willing to join up with platformists or sythesists.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Morality and Atheism

What is morality without any god? This is a question that perplexes theists, but atheists (used in this post to cover atheists, agnostics, ignostics, and other non-theists) seem to have it all figured out, but do we? I don't think we do, really. Rather, when it comes to morality, we can be just as sectarian as religious people. Broadly speaking, there are two camps: the moral naturalists, such as Dan Fincke or Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience or Sam Harris exemplified in the Moral Landscape, and the moral skeptics, such as Simon Blackburn or Russell Blackford or J.L. Mackie. Broadly speaking, moral naturalists posit some sort of really existing morality that can be discovered through some sort of naturalistic exploration, such as science while moral skeptics question the fundamental assumptions of morality, including if it is real, if it can be true or false, and/or if it can be discovered. The first two necessitate the third, though the third doesn't necessitate either of the others, and all oppose moral naturalism. The big name proponents of the two thus are from different sorts. The moral naturalists have a tendency toward being scientists, Dan Fincke being the one philosopher of my examples, while the moral skeptics have a tendency toward being philosophers. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a tendency I've noticed. Indeed, among atheists, those who are of a scientific bent and came to atheism from science seem to be largely moral naturalists while those who are of a philosophical bent and came to atheism from philosophy seem to be largely moral skeptics. There are certainly other views within atheism, but those are the two major camps. A good place to see this conflict is this recent reddit post. In it, a theist asks atheists where they get their ethics, and there is a roughly equal divide between people giving moral naturalist responses, such as "There are facts about what is and is not good for the health, happiness, and satisfaction of people. Being aware of these facts allows you to act morally." and people giving moral skeptical responses, such as "There is no absolute morality." Though, I should note, most seemed mostly ignorant of metaethics, while giving metaethical answers that fall within preexisting metaethical camps.

In addition, there is plenty of disagreement from within the camps. For example, Sam Harris derived his ethics from neuroscience while Dan Fincke derived his from categorical norms, such as, say, "truth" or science. However, by far, I find the divisions within the moral skeptical camp to be more interesting. Indeed, while there are differences within moral naturalism, they mostly amount to methodology, aka *how* do we naturalistically derive morals? However, the differences within moral skepticism gets down into deep metaethics. For example, Simon Blackburn is a quasi-realist, aka he believes that moral statements project emotional feelings as if they were real properties, thus, though they can't be true or false, they can be treated as true or false. In contrast, Russell Blackford is an error theorist, aka he believes moral statements *can* be true or false, but all are false. These are far more interesting to consider than whether we should discover true morals through neuroscience or through norms accepted a priori.

As for myself, I fall deep within the moral skeptics camp, aligning myself with the moral nihilistic emotivists within the camp, aka I believe morality doesn't truly exist because all moral statements are an expression of emotion, thus making "good" equivalent to "stuff I like" and, thus, meaningless as a separate concept.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Flash Flood

There have been mass flash flooding in my area. My apartment got flooded, and I've evacuating. I'm safe, for now, but the apartment might be lost for awhile.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


This is a term and concept that most people aren't very aware of. So what is it? It's oppression towards people who are "less able" to do something. This means blind people (less able to see), people without a leg (less able to walk), or people with mental disorders (less able to think normally). The most common form of ableism is the derogatory use of the word "retarded", thus reinforces the negative view of people with mental disorders. Other forms is not accommodating to people in wheelchairs or expecting everyone to be able to read things, not including any braille alternatives. Ableism is a term and concept that needs to see the light of day far more. If possible, please spread the concept as wide as you can.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Use "You're beautiful on the inside": A look at subtle oppression and involuntary support for oppressive entities.

What is meant when one tells someone that they are beautiful on the inside? Generally, it is intended to say "You're a good person on the inside, so your outwards ugliness isn't important." That is, in of itself, a far better than "You're beautiful on the inside", so what is wrong with "You're beautiful on the inside" that isn't about its meaning? Quite simply, it equates "good" with "beautiful." Imagine, for a second, that the scenario is different. Rather than speaking to a ugly person, one is speaking to a black person. Would it be ok for one to say "You're white on the inside," and mean it as "You're a good person on the inside"? No, it wouldn't be. This is, fundamentally, a myth. Beauty does not indicate goodness and goodness doesn't necessitate beauty. When one who believes this myth, be it consciously or subconsciously, ans one encounters a good ugly person, this can be resolved three ways. First by rejecting the goodness of the ugly person. Second, by rejecting the myth itself. Third, by creating an inner beauty. This is fundamentally no different from the attitude of many Southerners in pre-Civil War America that, while black people, in general, are bad, specific black people they care about, like their Nana or favoured servant are exceptions, oftentimes using the same sort of language, calling them white "on the inside".

However, the problems with the phase run deeper. Consider a moment the meaning, "You're a good person on the inside, so you're outward ugliness isn't important." Within this meaning lies the same problem. It sees ugliness as something that's bad, and is overcome only because of the inward goodness. We must not merely remove our language from the myth, but our meaning.

In the language and meaning of the phrase, it supports oppressive myths, though often involuntarily. Oppression isn't always intended, and usually unwanted, yet many still support oppressive institutions in their speech and actions. They don't intend it, but that doesn't reduce the harm. Consider, for a moment, right-libertarian support for wage slavery and capitalism. They aren't intending to support oppression. They don't see the oppression in their actions at all. To them, it isn't oppressive because it is voluntary and contractual. However, this misses the oppression in the inequality. The boss can order around the worker just as the slave owner could order around the slave or the boss could order around the indentured servant. This oppression is not eliminated by making it voluntary.

So, having established the problems with the phrase, what are some alternatives? I mean, I don't deny that some people are helped by the phrase in individual cases, even if the phrase is a part of the societal problems that caused the problems, so we need an alternative to help them. One method would be to tell them that a lack of beauty doesn't make them a bad person and doesn't prevent everyone from seeing the goodness inside of them. Going off of that, one can show how you care for them, but not in spite of their ugliness. Rather, you care about them because of what sort of person they are and their outward looks aren't important to that.

I'm sure there are other methods, and, if you have suggestions, feel free to say so in the comments and describe your alternative.