“America is a Christian nation”

It is a nation without an official religion. That’s precisely why it’s home to the (unfortunately, in my opinion) least secular society in the free world. The absence of an official religion is why America became a magnet for those members of European sects that actually believed in their theology, as well as becoming a laboratory for new extra-strength forms of (and perhaps variants on) Christian theology, such as Assemblies of God, Church of LDS, Missouri Synod Lutheranism, KJV-only Christians, etc.

It’s about in-group vs. out-group, and it’s also a numbers game. Today, to come up with a Christian majority, you have to include a lot of people who would have been classified as non-Christian in previous generations, including a whole lotta Cafeteria Catholics, Mainline Protestants, etc. But the people most loudly proclaiming the Christian majority are the ones who in the pulpits of their own places of worship most narrowly define what it means to be a true believer (and therefore saved, according to their beliefs).

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Democracy is not Enough – Rip it up and Start Again

Self Certified

ballotThere’ll soon be a white supremacist in the white house. He’ll be advised by an actual Neo-Nazi, while his Chief of Staff provides a connection with the old conservative establishment. Trump’s vice president elect, Mike Pence is a renowned christian extremist, homophobe and biblical literalist. This group of far right demagogues will have control over the most powerful armed forces on the planet and the codes to an arsenal of nuclear weaponry. He’ll roll back on targets set at the wholly inadequate Paris climate talks at a time when climate action is required immediately. He’ll appoint right wing judges to the supreme court who will be able to reverse Roe Vs Wade and lead to restrictions on and in some states outright bans on abortion, threaten same sex marriages and deny rights to trans people. If his plans work out, millions of people will be deported and people of colour will…

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Free culture movement under attack

The free culture movement and the pirate movement are two quite different things. The latter is fair game for ostracism by those who value Rule of Law. Free Culture, however, is not about expropriating things into the public domain but creating things that are born public domain, basically a (largely failed) effort to bring the (IMHO admirable) open source ethic to things other than software.

David Newhoff, in This is no time to be devaluing creators, seems to be trying to conflate the free culture movement with the tragically unfortunate trend of employers who want to pay people in “exposure” or “experience.” That phenomenon harms most if not all workers, creative class or not. The former would benefit more from better labor law protections than from better IP protections.

Another reason a middle level (or middle class) niche in cultural product is difficult to carve out is the “long tail” nature of audience share distribution. So it will probably always be the case that the nightclub acts vastly outnumber the rock stars, but also that the amateurs will always vastly outnumber the nightclub acts. Making assertion of IP rights the main strategy against the unpaid internship phenomenon looks from my outsider perspective like an attempt to guildify the creative professions by erecting entry barriers. I actually have nothing against this approach, as I’m pro-union. But should the high wall be between established professionals and semiprofessionals? Or between semiprofessionals and amateurs? Perhaps the creatives should go full trade unionist and adopt a formal apprentice/journeyperson/master hierarchy. I think paid apprenticeships are the only truly appropriate answer to unpaid internships.

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Intentional economic calculation

The market is remarkably good at allocating resources efficiently. The only problem is that the market magic doesn’t work on criteria of efficiency that aren’t dollar-weighted. I suppose it’s one of those normative vs. positive things. Since (1) it doesn’t seem possible to harness the market mechanism for solving person-weighted optimization problems and (2) I’m not ready to surrender some of my normative commitments (specifically, negative utilitarianism), it appears to me that an effort at intentional economic calculation is necessary, even though it will probably be inherently inferior to the market as an optimization algorithm.

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Quotebag #116

Richard Stallman:
Any speech recognition running on a server that isn’t yours, you can’t trust.
Emmi Bevensee and Kameron Fein
Just because illicit activities are not included in the GDP of a nation does not mean that they are not a part of the national economy or that they are somehow subverting it.
SMART = Surveillance Marketed as Revolutionary Technology
Sometimes, though, I think the ones who make the world better don’t do it for appreciation, but for the sheer pride of solving some puzzle others couldn’t solve. Many sorts of motivation exist, and not all are motivated by the same forces. But I see no reason to believe someone who wasn’t motivated by $50 million/year will suddenly become motivated by $500 million/year, nor do I believe their work will be 10x better than the “punitive” little $50/million paycheck.
In an actual revolutionary situation, presumably, because the workers have guns.
What, too coercive? The NAP is a conservative principle — the violence of the present is affirmed insofar as it is invisible, while the violence necessary to change and progress is viewed with horror.
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Why Anarchists and Voluntaryists Can Never Agree on Anything

Social Anarchist Analysis

If you’re a libertarian of any kind who’s been on the Internet, you’ve no doubt either seen or participated in a long and frustrating debate between the merits of two traditions which have been categorised under the L-word: social anarchism (or just anarchism) and voluntaryism (or anarcho-capitalism).
The former root themselves intellectually in the traditions of the wider anti-authoritarian left, in figures such as Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, and Emma Goldman, rejecting both the state and capitalism as domineering barriers to personal autonomy and social freedom. The latter root themselves in the traditions of the so-called old right, classical liberalism, and Austrian economics, looking to Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises as founding fathers.

99% of the time, at least in my experience, these debates achieve nothing, entail both parties talking past one another, leave everybody fuming at the cornucopia of bad feeling and petty insults, and later make anyone…

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Quotebag #113

We know by now that hard work at poverty wages is not how those with good work ethic develop skills and experience to become wealthy capitalists. On the contrary, huge numbers of people working at poverty wages is how those willing to exploit the desperation of others become wealthy capitalists.
Michael O. Church:
We don’t need to persuade people or speak “truth to power”, because those in power already know what the truth is. We’ll probably have to fight them.
Russell Keith-Magee:
The idea that all the world’s communication is stored in a single company’s database — be it Twitter, Google, or Facebook — scares me no end.
Frank Moraes:
We aren’t a world of nations anymore; we are a world of corporations. We are living in a William Gibson dystopia, but no one is willing to admit it for what it is.
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