Month: June 2017

The Sanders strategy?

A lot of people on the real liberal left have been concerned about Bernie Sanders. The nature of this concern is basically ‘Why the hell is Sanders still going around with the Dems, and why won’t he help start a new major party, with the #DraftBernie movement?’ And some people are feeling like he’s betrayed the movement he inspired.

Now, when it comes to Bernie pushing the crazy Russian narrative, I agree he’s absolutely wrong. And he’s done a couple other things with which I really have to disagree. However, in terms of his strategy, I do have a suggestion for what he might be doing.

See, in his time as an independent senator for Vermont, he has always worked with the Democrats, even though he’s more liberal than they are. They even had him on important committees. And right now, he is still in a position to influence them. So right now, he has leverage over the Dems, and they have leverage over him.

See, by continuing to publicly appear with them, he’s able to threaten them with stopping this if they try to cut his influence in the senate. Likewise, he may fear losing what influence he has, should he actively support the formation of a third party. There is, therefore, a sort of stalemate between them: they definitely need him, and he feels he needs them in order to retain influence in the senate (although he may also sincerely believe they are a lesser evil to the GOP, which may affect his wish to keep helping them).

My suggestion, therefore, is to work on the third party without him, but don’t be surprised if he joins it or even tries to run for president on it, should we succeed in getting the third party to be large enough by 2020.

And, should this theory be wrong, establishing the third party will need to happen without Bernie’s help. So either way, we need to focus on making the third party work.

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‘Whiteness:’ a veiled racist remark

There is a tendency nowadays to speak about ‘whiteness’ as opposed to ‘white people.’ In short, the term is intended to suggest that people of European descent have an inherent culture of supremacy, and to tacitly suggest that these are inherent and essential aspects of being white. After all, ‘whiteness’ certainly sounds like something essential about being white. It is not a phrase like ‘white supremacy’ that adds something to being white. It is just the noun form of the adjective ‘white.’ (As I cannot find out what this process is really called, I shall refer to it as ‘nounification.’ This is unquestionably better than the real term for it anyway).

So why would I label this a racist remark? Well, the thing is, we could do the same thing with anyone: find examples of a culture, ethnicity, or race’s worst exemplars in the past, stereotype them, and apply it to the whole race. But if that race were any but white, we would be called racist for it, so why should there be a difference for white people? Let us try a few here. Keep in mind, these are not accurate portrayals of members of these groups, but stereotypes based on the worst examples among them:

‘Arabness:’ Misogyny, Arab superiority, enslaving Africans (which is still going on today in Libya, and previously the last Arab slave port in Africa did not close until 1946!), imperialism (the islamic empires which sought to conquer North Africa, Asia, and Europe).

‘Blackness:’ Gangs, drugs, and deadbeat dads. Bad grammar (arguably, ‘ebonics’ is actually a dialect of English with its own rules of grammar – but we are trying to look at everything in the most negative light possible here).

‘Chineseness:’ Imperialism and genocide (Khan, for example). Chinese superiority. Suppression of individuality.

‘Hispanicness:’ Drugs, selling out one’s principles for corruption for a few pesos, laziness.

Of course, I do not agree with any of these definitions. However, they are formed by using the same method as the notion of ‘whiteness:’ in each case, we take the worst things done by members of the race/ethnicity, and somehow suggest that this is essential to that ethnicity.

We should, of course, condemn bad things done by any group, white or not, in the past and today. But we should also not suggest that all members of the group are responsible. Indeed, many of the ‘ills’ ascribed to white people were actually ended by white people. White Americans fought to end slavery, both politically and on the battlefield. The UK is the only empire in history to voluntarily put an end to itself. The civil rights movement rightly focused on the black protestors, but was supported by many white people, and succeeded because white politicians were convinced to support it.

Treating a group as a monolith is always a mistake. Trying to suggest that the essential quality of that group is something negative is worse.

 

Cardinality, infinity, and Cantor’s alephs

As a change, I’m going to try to write a blog in which I bring a mathematical concept to light, in a manner that will hopefully be accessible to everyone. What we will see is that there are different sizes of infinity. This peculiar discovery was made by Cantor, who is responsible for much of the rigor in modern mathematics.

For the sake of this blog, we just need a few mathematical concepts. First, a set. Things in a set are called elements of the set. In fact, precisely defining sets is a more complicated process than one might think, but we can just use the intuitive notion of sets that most people have.

Next, cardinality. This just means the size of a set. For sets with only finitely many elements (aka finite sets), it is very easy to understand cardinality: just count the number of elements. But what about for infinite sets?

To deal with these, we need the notion of a function. A function f from set A to set B is a mathematical device which takes each element of A and assigns it some element of B. Functions can assign the same element of B to multiple elements of A.

If a function f assigns a different element of B to each different element of A, then it is called one-to-one (often abbreviated 1-1). If every element of B gets assigned to at least one element of A, then f is called onto. And if f is both 1-1 and onto, it is called a bijection. Cantor defined two sets to have the same cardinality if there is a bijection between them. Obviously, for finite sets, two sets are the same size if and only if there is a bijection between them. So this makes sense for infinite sets as well.

What is odd is that it turns out there are infinite sets which have different cardinalities, meaning that there is no bijection between them!

To see this, we will use Cantor’s original proof method, sometimes called diagonalization, for reasons that we won’t go into here. Let’s take some set X. Let’s also define a set C whose elements are 0 and 1. Now let P be the set of all functions from X to C. In other words, an element of P is just some way to assign a 0 or a 1 to every element of X. It is pretty easy to see that P must be infinite whenever X is infinite, since P is at least as big as X (for each element x in X, we can define the function which assigns a 1 to x and a 0 to everything else, for example).

Suppose there were a bijection f from X to P. Then we could use this bijection to label each element of P by a unique element of x. We could therefore write the elements of P as px, to denote which element of X is associated with that function.

Now, what we want to do is to make a new function from X to C, which will not be equal to any of these px functions. If we can do this, then our function f is not actually onto P, which would be a contradiction, and hence f cannot exist. Here is how Cantor figured out to do this:

We want to make a new function p from X to C. To do this, we need to find a way to assign a 0 or a 1 to each element of X. We do so by the following rules: if px assigns a 0 to X, we make p assign a 1 to X. If px assigns a 1 to X, we make p assign a 0 to X.

This function p cannot be the same as any of the px functions, therefore, because p and px assign different values to x. That means p is in P, but f does not assign any element of X to p. And this means there cannot be any bijection f from X to P!

This means that not only are there multiple ‘sizes’ of infinity, there is actually no ‘largest’ infinity either. Cantor called these different infinites ‘alephs’ and labeled them with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (called ‘aleph’), together with subscripts to show to which cardinality he was referring. It turns out that there are a lot of interesting facts about these alephs – for example, the continuum hypothesis which turns out to be true in some forms of set theory and false in others! But those require a lot more technical detail than I want to get into here.

Worst. Blog. Ever.

Yeah. I’m about to post the least-popular blog of ALL TIME. Because I know my entire base is going to hate it.

Let me preface this by saying that I despite Hillary Clinton. I want to take every opportunity to attack her. Anything she does wrong, I want to take it, and tear into her, and never, ever let it go, until the Clinton legacy has been wiped from the face of the earth.

But, I can’t get upset, or even oppose, this ‘prison slavery’ thing. And here is why. Please, look at the rational thinking, before you decide I’m a terrible person who is no better than the Southerners who tried to secede so they could practice slavery.

Reason 1: community service

See, people who aren’t in prison are still sentenced to community service. And I know what some will say: ‘Well, you get to choose how you fulfill that service!’ Okay. But really, there are only a few choices. And we could give those choices to people in prison who are required to work. ‘You have five choices: which do you want?’ We could ask them that.

Reason 2: who pays for prison?

Why should law-abiding tax-payers pay for people to be imprisoned?

I recognize that letting anyone make a profit off prison labour is dangerous. So no, nobody should get to do that. But demanding that prisoners be worked so that their imprisonment is not a burden on society… I cannot, in principle, oppose that. Even while I realize that in practice, it can lead to abuses.

Reason 3: Slavery is unconstitutional… for law-abiding citizens

From the start, the constitutional protections are for law-abiding citizens only. The constitution guarantees a person will not be confined against their will, for example. But we imprison people. So, when people point out the anti-slavery amendment, my response is sure, for law-abiding people, regardless of skin tone, but what about the law-breakers?

Think about it: imprisonment would be called kidnapping, if not applied to those whom we consider law-breakers and ‘evil.’ Nobody would go along with it. In fact, one could argue that by imprisoning someone, we are interfering with their right to ‘liberty and happiness,’ because we are certainly imposing on the former, possibly the latter. The point is that punishments are things that violate the rights of the innocent. Period. End of story. We ban cruel and unusual punishments, sure. Saying ‘You must work’ is not cruel and unusual. In fact, pretty much everyone has to work to survive. Ergo, I have no objection to telling a prisoner ‘You work or you don’t get food.’ Because that is how it is for literally every other person (as long as the work required is not beyond their bodily strength).

The fact is, that making prisoners work for food is actually less a change for them (vs. ordinary people), than telling them where they have to live and sleep! We tell everyone they have to work for food, after all, and most people have only a few choices in that regard!

What is ‘cruel and unusual’ is telling an unconvicted person they have to pay for the survival of a convicted criminal. Why the fuck should my labour go to supporting the survival of Jack Murderer?

Reason 4: the new Jim Crow

I know that a book as been written, ‘The New Jim Crow,’ talking about how prison labour is a new slavery for black people. And I’m not trying to specifically refute these claims. However, the fact remains that the problem revealed herein is not that prisoners are worked, but that 1. black people make up a disproportionate number of those workers, and 2. Prisoners being worked are used to give a profit to corporations. In other words, this problem would remain, whether blacks, whites, or an equal proportion, were being imprisoned. And it would remain as long as the profits were being passed on to corporations. The racial element is a result of biased application of the criminal justice system, which is bad (more on this perhaps later), but not an objection to the fundamental idea of prison labour.

So yes, let’s apply laws equally, regardless of race. And let’s stop making a profit for corporations off prison labour. Instead, let’s pay for prison via prison labour, and send people to prison based on legal violations, not skin colour.

Reason 5: no benefit to prisoners

Well, maybe, maybe not. I would argue that getting to get out of their cells is a benefit. I would argue that interacting with others is a benefit. I would argue that getting to perform beneficent acts for society is a benefit, and could even teach these prisoners something about living in society productively when they are released. It could even teach them a marketable skill, and help them avoid future crime.

In other words, the prisoners aren’t necessarily entirely without personal benefit, even if they do not get paid.

The Upshot:

Look, I’d love to bash Clinton for ‘owning slaves,’ as has been popular on Twitter. I really would. I’d love to bash that shithead for every transgression known to mankind. I fucking hate Hillary. She epitomizes all that is wrong in the world.

But I can’t fault her for using prison labour. I want to. I really want to. But I can’t. She is an horrible human being, but prison labour is actually a rare good idea. I’m afraid that on this point, like on ‘gun control,’ I must take a position that disagrees with most of my fellow liberals.

 

Postmodernism and activism instead of education

James Lindsay (@Goddoesnt on twitter) has raised the point that critical studies departments have replaced education with activism. This is just a quick note to point out that this is really the inevitable conclusion of the postmodernist belief system.

Postmodernist generally hold to the following points, even if they do not entirely phrase them this way:

  1. There are no objective facts. So narratives (theories) are neither true nor false.
  2. The only function a narrative performs is to confer power on one group or another.

Given these two assumptions, they cannot function academically in the traditional sense. Scholarly work is by definition impossible, according to postmodernism. But what remains possible is to craft narratives in an attempt to gain power.

In other words, critical studies is about convincing other people of pure fictions in order to gain power. Since no narrative is true or false, a critical theorist feels no constraint to make a narrative that fits reality, but is able to concoct any theory they want, with the goal of achieving power.

The most common of these, of course, is to claim that one is a member of a ‘marginalized’ group, which must therefore be ‘protected,’ or, to put it another way, to demand privileges over and above what other people receive. But however it is done, the fact remains that the connection between critical studies and activism is a completely natural one.

We should reject the notion that critical studies have anything to do with scholarly or academic work, and get such departments shut down in respectable universities. I would say they belong in the same category as astrology schools, but this is unfair to the astrologists, because the latter at least believe in objective reality.

Flynn, Russia, Syria, and the Deep State: pt 2

In a previous blog, I talked about why General Flynn may have been forced out by the Deep State. But now, I want to detail how the Deep State really benefits from both the Syrian conflict, and the Cold War 2 with Russia. And the long-term game behind why they had to get rid of Flynn.

First off, the Syrian pipeline is well known. I am not going to talk about that. We all know that Assad is unwilling to commit to giving a pipeline to the United States, so the US is willing to do anything to unseat Assad, or paint him in a negative light, in order to get that pipeline. In doing so, they are driving Assad to side with Russia, and potentially make the pipeline more beneficial to Russia, of course, but again, that is not what I want to analyse here specifically.

What I want to look at is less about the Syrian conflict itself, and more about why the Deep State could not stand Flynn’s proposed Syrian solution at all.

Yes, Flynn wanted to cooperate with Russia to end the ISIS threat in Syria. Ending this threat might cripple ISIS forever as a global threat. And this would be a wonderful advancement for America, the Syrian people, and the Russians. So it would make sense to cooperate with the Syrians and Russians to end this threat, right?

Well… yes, to the average American. And yes, to the average Syrian. And probably to the average Russian. The truth is that the average American, Russian, and Syrian, probably have a common desire to achieve peace. But of course, as I mentioned, the US oil compnies want the pipeline in Syria, and Assad might block that, so yes, they have to demand that Assad be overthrown for… reasons. Reasons that make little sense, but that are probably concocted by Assad’s enemies, like use of poison gas (which the US agreed to send so it could be used to frame Assad…).

Okay, so oil companies want Assad defeated, thinking that we could then take over from Al Qaeda or ISIS. But what else is wrong with the attempt to team up with Russia to defeat these terrorists?

Simple answer: trying to team up with RussiaTHAT is the deeper reason that Flynn had to go. Because right now, the Deep State is pushing a Cold War with Russia again – regardless of whether this would benefit the average American, Russian, or world citizen..

See, Cold Wars are great for three groups of people.

  1. Weapon contractors, who get to sell weapons to the military because ‘the military must be ready, in case the war goes hot!’ And if the weapons are, uh, defective in some way, then new weapons have to be sold! Also, weapon designers need money in order to do research and development, because we don’t want our enemies to get ahead of us, right? So we need basically unlimited funds for R&D, because… who knows what we might find?
  2. US Intelligence Community, who need a threat against whom they can find intelligence After all, if there’s no Cold War, or no independent threat, why on earth should we fund the CIA, NSA, DSA, and 14 other intelligence agencies, who weren’t able to prevent 9/11 (although they were able to ask that INS approve student visas for the attackers).
  3. The political military leaders, who want a budget for the military, which is dependent upon having some enemy towards whom the military must be ready, ideally without having to actually do anything.

Now, Russia nicely fit the bill… until they collapsed when the Soviets collapsed. Suddenly, the military contractors found themselves without a need to develop and provide new weapons. And the IC found that they were rather useless, now that they were not facing down the Soviet intelligence agencies. And the political military found that they, too, had no more threat for which to prepare.

Now, for a while, the Deep State was a bit lost, but they were able to pull two rabbits out of a hat: they got Bush to invade Iraq, and they got Clinton, the neoliberal qua neoliberals, elected, both in 1991. Then Bush 2 came along, who was also willing to go along with their goals…

And suddenly, they got lucky. I’m not one of those people who thinks 9/11 was an inside job. No, I think the Deep State took advantage of a ‘fortunate’ opportunity, to push the usefulness of the IC, along with the need for military contractors and the military budget, on the American public. And even if it were an inside job, the same conclusions apply.

The point is, for several years, the Deep State had Iraq and Afghanistan. But then, eventually, all good things come to an end (or at least burn themselves mostly out) – and how would the Deep State keep getting money? So, the Deep State kept pushing for continuing occupations – but that couldn’t last forever, right?

Well, they are trying. They are still trying. Pushing destabilizations here and there, like in Libya. But the Deep State realized that they needed another Cold War. Because ISIS is getting their ass kicked by a bunch of Yazidi women. America is realizing that ISIS, though a real threat, are not actually hard to defeat, and especially that, if a group of passionate women who had been made into sex slaves and raped by ISIS could now be defeating ISIS by filling the terrorists full of lead, that maybe the world’s most powerful nation could crush them like an ant. If you really think America would have a problem defeating ISIS, when the YPJ are stomping their asses at literally every opportunity, you are probably the sort of person who has no concept of military capabilities and strategy.

So the Deep State focused on a new target. A target that was a nation which had, three decades ago, been a lucrative source for them. A target which was now led by a man who had worked once for the Soviets. And their thought was… let’s tell the Americans that Russia is evil, and we need to oppose them diplomatically and be ready to go to war with them at any moment!

It is the perfect psyop. After all, the US does not depend on Russia – which also refuses to kowtow to the Rothschild world banking system (and maybe the Rothschilds are also encouraging the west to oppose Russia for this reason). And historically, Russia was a ‘threat’ as recently as three decades ago, so for those who are older than millenials, there is a sort of childhood fear of Russians into which they can tap.

Now, here comes Flynn. As I said before, this man is a soldier, first and foremost, and not a politician. This is something I can absolutely respect, even if I disagree with his political positions. He saw a military threat to the United States and to freedom, ISIS, and he saw a potential useful ally, Russia. So, why not try to team up with them to crush a common threat? To a soldier, this is a ‘no shit Sherlock’ kind of idea.

But to the Deep State, the ‘why not’ has an easy answer – because, never mind how much the Deep State hates Assad and his independence, in the broader picture, if we can work with Russia in literally any way, how in the hell can the Deep State keep pushing their ‘Russia is the epitome of evil’ narrative? It’s hard to maintain ‘These guys are the most evil dudes on the planet, but, let’s fight alongside them,’ when you’re trying to psyop the public into a cold war state of mind.

So, Flynn was forced out, not just because he did not line up with the Deep State on Syria as such, but because he was (unintentionally) showing the American people the great lie that we’re being sold about Russia. He was showing us that Russia is a potential ally against terrorism and islamism, even if they have their flaws, and the Deep State cannot allow that, because it contradicts every effort they have made to sell us the ‘new cold war’ narrative. Never mind Syria itself, allying with Russia in any capacity, even in the name of the good of the United States and for preserving freedom in the world, is anathema to the Deep State and the establishment.

Putin’s government has many failures. So does our own. It’s time that we take allies against islamic theocratic militarism from any source that we have. Let us call upon Washington to reject the Deep State and to form a partnership with Russia against terrorism, and make Flynn’s dream a reality.