Friday, May 29, 2015

Debt and taxes

Since I posted last time about Jeremy Hammond, the hacker now serving a ten-year Federal sentence for exposing collusion between the government and Statfor, as to how anti-terrorism laws are being used or misused by the FBI, I noticed this in my FB feed. As Hammond (see that piece) defines himself as an anarcho-communist, I wondered how such a philosophy, if made our politics, might look. Gary "Z." McGee asserts "5 Reasons Why Anarchy Would Be an Improvement in Human Governance." But whereas the likes of Hammond argue that grassroots, anti-capitalist, decentralized systems of cooperation would supplant the top-down coercion which is business as usual, McGee alludes, while not quite defining, a "cosmic law" and the possibility that choices could be not only moral but amoral--yet never immoral, in such a model of how people might get along and thrive. 

He gives #1 as checks and balances. McGee claims 95% of human history (or prehistory) has been Fierce Egalitarian Hierarchy. Food, shelter, protection had to be shared, as the clan had to survive. He wants us know to place first freedom, then health, then a recognition of the interconnection of all. This reminds me of Gary Snyder's Buddhist Anarchism, articulated by him back in the 1960s.  McGee agrees, but the quirk of "amoral" I find noteworthy, as I don't recall this term being used earlier. "The monumental problem with our Statist society is that we are not taught to be as moral or as amoral as we need to be in order to maintain a healthy cosmic, ecological, and social order. In fact, statism purposefully forces whatever the state decrees to be healthy, as healthy, whether or not it is actually healthy according to cosmic law." Maybe that "cosmic" law aligns with Snyder's interbeing?

As I wrote about earlier this week, the "industry of death" decried by Pope Francis and Jimmy Carter recently ties into the #2 point of McGee. He asks: "How does anarchy flip the tables on the authorization and glorification of plunder? It prevents plunder from ever becoming possible because anarchy-based modes of governance are engineered in such a way that groups never get to the point of concentrated centers of power. The monopolization of power never gets to the point to where it becomes corrupt, because of controlled leveling mechanisms such as reverse dominance and wealth expiation. Like Jim Dodge said, 'Anarchy doesn’t mean out of control; it means out of their control.' Whoever 'they' may be: monopolizing corporations, overreaching governments, tyrants." We all wonder, at least those of us less enamored with capitalism and intrusion by entities above us, how the power switch might happen. As David Graeber devoted his big book on debt to revealing, the power of banks to print money, charge interest on it, and keep the masses indebted underlies this injustice.

A bit awkward in McGee's expression, but as the weather reports remind us daily by now, the ecological perspective ties in to #3. "In a system of human governance that is systematically transforming livingry into weaponry, it is the supreme duty of all healthy, moral, compassionate, eco-conscious, indeed anarchist, people to question authority to the nth degree." Similarly, #4 seeks reciprocity as an ethical basis for "expiation of wealth" by an ecologically sustainable distribution.

Finally, he conjures up Thoreau's non-conformity as a reminder of the power of leaders who can rally change. McGee cites Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The hope of a secure livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and spiritual freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist.” Hammond to Chris Hedges spoke the same way, and I happen to be reading John Lydon's "Anger is an Energy" where he tells us that his own enemies have never been human beings, but institutions, in his own struggle.

Very few look to Assange, Manning, Snowden, Hammond, Lydon, or McGee as role-models. We are forcibly taxed for the war machines, the prison complexes, the collusion of lenders and universities, and Obamacare as the safety net for the "benefits" corporations refuse to grant exploited workers. Not to mention the rise of automation, reliance on "contingent" labor, and the reduction of secure jobs. The militarization of the police, the trillions wasted on the security state at home and abroad, the damage to the earth, the uncontrolled levels of population increase and immigration, the refusal to address global warming. All the while, we gush over the latest "outrage" by pro athletes or reality show celebrities. My students keep leashed to their phones, and I wonder if literacy will survive long.

While many claim to inherit the mantle of King, few consider the complexity of pacifism and non-violence as opposed to what Hammond argues, the decision to fight back. Looking at Tibet over my lifetime, as it was taken over not long before my birth, I acknowledge the Dalai Lama's decision not to worsen his homeland by calling for an uprising, but I sympathize with the younger generations who have given over to despair, and self-immolation in the extreme cases, as the Chinese supplant the Tibetans with the Han, with the foreign language, with the prohibition of the native language and customs, and I cannot see how these can survive within the heartland much longer unless as staged folk pageants or monastic museums for tourists who now take the train to Lhasa. All this reminds me of the Nazi plan to establish a Yiddish heritage display when the Reich triumphed, and I remain torn between the ideal of non-violent resistance and the frustration as again, a nation and a tradition face extinction. We might add to this our own global predicament at the hands of multinationals and superpowers. Will we rise up against the one percent, or will we, hoping to become our masters, still bow and cringe? The John Adams quote above shows how our war and our debt together enslave us.

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