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Democracy, truth, fallibilism, and the tech overlords

Democracy, truth, fallibilism, and the tech overlords

In a recent conversation a friend of mine offered the following: “There would be no need to vote on anything if we knew the truth.” That statement has such profound implications that I will only scratch the surface of it here.

First, democracy presupposes that none of us knows the truth. We have our experience, our analyses, our logic and our intuitions, but we don’t have the truth with a capital “T.” We may reliably report our names to bank tellers. This is a social and legal designation, a definition backed by a birth certificate, driver’s license, and other official documents. Even here we are obliged to provide evidence of the truth of our identity to the teller.

But whether it is wise to subsidize electric cars, legalize gambling, or go to war are issues that are far beyond simple social and legal designations. Our information on such topics is always incomplete, conflicting and quite possibly unreliable. We have difficulty verifying through personal observation much of what we are told. And, we are prone to errors of logic and to misinterpretations.

For these reasons we often turn to experts to do our thinking for us. But they all suffer from the same disadvantages as we do and one additional one: Some are paid to say what they say. It is therefore in the cacophony of debate and consultation that we try to arrive at an approximation of the truth although according to the fallibilist view, we can never be sure that we are even close to the truth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Else You Can Do

What Else You Can Do

You’ve been radically misled to believe that the only thing, or the most important thing, or one of the super important things you can do is vote. Voting in a functioning democracy would be a fairly important thing to do, but wouldn’t somehow eliminate the thousands of important things that would also need doing. Voting in a broken democracy is a mildly important thing to do, for the reasons you know by heart, but also for this reason: Seeing so many people so eager to do something alerts everyone else to the fact that you give a damn.

“I’ve been waiting two years to do something!” This remark, common on Tuesday, must sound joyous to many ears. But if you study history and notice that change comes primarily from organizing, educating, protesting, marching, disrupting, disobeying, and creating things anew, and if you’ve spent the past many years trying to get more people to do those things, then all the “All I can do is vote, oh helpless me” comments may have you pulling your hair out.

There are circumstances in which you can do very little. We are moving in that direction. But we are not there. We are still able to speak, write, assemble, and agitate — and vote. I have to think that more of us would do more if we recognized the gravity of the situation. The planet’s climate can no longer be saved, but the agony can be slowed and eased. Nuclear apocalypse is closer than ever before, but can be averted. Fascism can be undone, but not without actions that extend far beyond voting.

I’m not against elections.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How do we keep getting dragged into this electoral spectator sport?

How do we keep getting dragged into this electoral spectator sport?

Ah, elections…

Little more than a bare-knuckle boxing match. If you were to suddenly catch a glimpse of such a fight, you would see real blood, real punches, swollen lips, black eyes, and a final knockout.

It looks like a real spontaneous fight. But the match was planned, set up, with rules and parameters.

That’s an election. Except that it is shoved in all of our faces, while they lie and tell us it wasn’t a planned fight.

Not interested in seeing the blood and gore? Not interested in watching two people beat each other to a pulp? Well, you can turn off the boxing match, but good luck avoiding election coverage.

There wouldn’t be anything riding on the match if we weren’t all convinced to place bets on it. Now it matters. We’ve put down our wagers, we’ve added skin to the game, and now we care.

Some of what we have riding on the election is psychological. We have staked out a position, and right or wrong, and we want our side to win.

Somehow we think the majority will vindicate out beleifs, and make us feel more right… even if the last election did the opposite.

Ironically, an online poll shows that just 51% of Americans have faith in democracy. The slimmest majority… all that is required to maintain power over the minority.

Not discussed enough is the actual money industries have riding on the elections. Which contractors will be enriched with federal dollars? The military contractors? Those peddling carbon credits?

Will more money go to ICE or the EPA? Will workers be hired for federal prisons, or the IRS?

But these are all manufactured issues.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No, Voting Doesn’t Mean You “Support the System”

No, Voting Doesn’t Mean You “Support the System”

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Listen to Ryan McMaken’s commentary on the Radio Rothbard podcast.

I admit it. I voted

In my home state of Colorado, all voting is by mailed paper ballots. That means, if you’re a registered voter, the county clerk sends you a ballot every election.

And then — at least in my case — it sits there on a table near my desk.

One is supposed to fill it out and then mail it back. Or drop it off in one of the mailbox-like boxes scattered around the city.

Sometimes I do it.

This time around, as the ballot sat there on the table, I kept thinking about the proposed tax increases I could vote “yes” or “no” on.

Like many states in the Western half of the United States, this state makes frequent use of ballot initiatives and referenda in elections. Voters are asked to vote up or down any number of regulations and taxes which the policymakers will be more than happy to implement if they can muster a “yes” from the majority of voters.

I’m certainly not willing to stand in line at a polling place, and I don’t care about getting an “I Voted!” sticker. But I had to admit the opportunity cost of sending in the ballot was really quite low. So, as I am not a big fan of new taxes, I filled out the ballot according to my whims, and sent it in.

Does Voting Mean You Support the Regime?

Nothing about this little anecdote would strike most people as remarkable in any way.

Since at least the nineteenth century, though, there has been a debate over whether or not voting somehow means the voter has agreed to submit to — or even support — whatever the state does.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nobody to Vote For

Nobody to Vote For

When I say there is nobody to vote for, I don’t just mean the familiar complaint that the candidates may be different shades of evil but are all too evil to support, that the earth’s climate does not recover one iota because some even worse policy has been averted, that sadistic bombings and humanitarian bombings actually look identical. I do mean all of that. But I also mean that candidates are campaigning as and being presented as nothing, as empty figures with no positions on anything.

What is the most common foreign policy position on the websites of Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress? Quick! It’s not hard! You got it? You’re wrong. It was a trick question. Most of their websites do not admit to the existence of 96% of humanity in any way shape or form — although one can infer that the world must exist, because so many of them express such deep love for veterans.

Numerous resources claim to fill the gap, but like private weather profiteers regurgitating federal data, they mostly just pick out bits of the almost nothing coming from the candidates and re-package it as Useful Voter Information. The Campus Election Engagement Project has nothing on Virginia’s Fifth District Congressional race, and on the Virginia race for U.S. Senate it has next to nothing.  In a nod to the existence of the earth, it tells us the candidates’ positions on the Iran nuclear agreement, plus three questions on the environment. But the fact that one of the two candidates’ whole schtick is hatred of immigrants, glorification of racism, and fascistic devotion to Trump doesn’t come up in the predictable policy questions. Nor does the duplicity of the other guy’s constant support for presidential war-making, while claiming to oppose it, make the cut.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Whole System Is Rigged

The Whole System Is Rigged

From elections to media to the markets, it’s all controlled

As the dog days of summer wind down, it’s hard not to notice how the climate is suffering brutally right now across many areas of the globe.

Crop failures have hit hard across Europe. Australia is under an intense drought. Warm water representing ‘archived heat’ has penetrated deep into the arctic.  Coral reefs are dying through mass bleachings. The stocks of ocean fisheries are in deep trouble. Insect and bird populations remain in a state of collapse.

It couldn’t be any more clear that our society’s demands for ever-more “growth” are taking an increasingly dangerous toll. “Growth” is now the enemy of life on the planet; yet there are precious few leaders willing to admit as much.

What we need is less pressure on vital ecological systems and precious remaining resources. But good luck finding a politician willing to admit that.

Though a refreshing exception is French environmental minister Nicolas Hulot who dramatically resigned his position last week, on live television, declaring “I don’t want to lie to myself anymore.”  His view is that the government is not addressing the major environmental issues properly and he didn’t want his presence to give the false appearance that it was.  Kudos to Nicolas, though I’m not sure that losing such a rare principled person in government is a step in the right direction.

Operating On Blind Faith

Most politicians appear to think that there are no big issues out there ecologically-speaking. Of course, very few of them spend any time outside or understand where their food even comes from. Most subsist on the blind faith that our planet will somehow always bounce back from the abuses we inflict on it, despite reams of mounting evidence that it’s hitting a mulitplying number of breaking and tipping points.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Technocrats Rule: Democracy Is OK as Long as the People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Technocrats Rule: Democracy Is OK as Long as the People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike.

We are in a very peculiar ideological and political place in which Democracy (oh sainted Democracy) is a very good thing, unless the voters reject the technocrat class’s leadership. Then the velvet gloves come off. From the perspective of the elites and their technocrat apparatchiks, elections have only one purpose: to rubberstamp their leadership.

As a general rule, this is easily managed by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and bribes to the cartels and insider fiefdoms who pony up most of the cash.

This is why incumbents win the vast majority of elections. Once in power, they issue the bribes and payoffs needed to guarantee funding next election cycle.

The occasional incumbent who is voted out of office made one of two mistakes:

1. He/she showed a very troubling bit of independence from the technocrat status quo, so a more orthodox candidate is selected to eliminate him/her.

2. The incumbent forgot to put on a charade of “listening to my constituency” etc.

If restive voters can’t be bamboozled into passively supporting the technocrat status quo with the usual propaganda, divide and conquer is the preferred strategy. Only voting for the technocrat class (of any party, it doesn’t really matter) will save us from the evil Other: Deplorables, socialists, commies, fascists, etc.

In extreme cases where the masses confound the status quo by voting against the technocrat class (i.e. against globalization, financialization, Empire), then the elites/technocrats will punish them with austerity or a managed recession.The technocrat’s core ideology boils down to this:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mere Anarchy is Loosed Upon the World

Mere Anarchy is Loosed Upon the World

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised at the vehemence of some of the replies to my recent guest post, “An Open Letter to West Virginians”.  Some of my fellow TBP´ers took strong exception to the military draft, voting, the political parties, and the existing world in general.

The intention of my article was to cause West Virginians to reflect before falling for the cynical and dishonest Democratic Party tactic of using sock puppet veterans as candidates, in a vile attempt to deflect attention from their true, treasonous program.  I used as an example the campaign of one Richard Ojeda in, of course, West Virginia.

I did not intend to support a military draft, applaud the senseless wars we are involved in, to praise our two main parties, or exalt the usefulness of voting under current conditions.  I surely did not mean to express support for the world as it is.  Anybody who has followed my comments should understand my basic positions on all of these points.

That said, let me reiterate my views on all of these things so you have a better idea of where I stand.

Military draft.  Like it or not, the “draft”, i.e., compulsory military service, is one of the bedrock obligations of a citizen and it has been since the Roman Empire.  In our particular case, service in the military dates back to medieval times in England when every man was required to serve according to their station.  Nobles had to provide a certain number of armed men for a certain number of days a year, knights had to maintain a horse, weapons and armor, and yeomen had to furnish themselves with weapons and train on a regular basis.  In many cases the yeomen were required to furnish themselves with the English longbow and practice regularly – this requirement won the battle of Agincourt for the English king.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Self-Governance in an Unreasonable Age

Self-Governance in an Unreasonable Age

Part IV: A Conclave of Reptiles

Once again, the country descends into the fetid morass of double-talk, obfuscation, and contemptible cacophony known as election season. Right on cue, every slithering incumbent and mucilaginous political rookie is crisscrossing his/her/its respective area of operations in the hope of bamboozling the required number of dolts into scratching an “X” in their favor. It is a perfectly ridiculous exercise, founded in fanciful expectations, false hopes, and dreams of remembered greatness.

This biennial exercise in national self-delusion will take place across a vast, arid political landscape bereft of any cooling breeze of intelligent debate and denied even the barest sprinkling of intellectual honesty to settle the duplicitous dust of what passes for political discourse in this ghost of a country. Instead, the voting populace will get its usual entrée of verbal offal dressed up with the emotional condiments of their choice. Then, the farce will come to its emotional apogee on election day (oh, blessed day) when the electorate will once again squeeze out a collective turd that looks pretty much identical to the deuce they dropped two and four years earlier. The product of this national bowel movement will smell the same and you wouldn’t want to step in it, but at least it’s out of the system for a few months. At least until the sibilant whisperings of our reptilian ruling class begin to tickle our ears once again…, and again…, and again. Welcome to scatological Ground Hog Day on the Potomac.

The Definition of Insanity

As usual, the voters will return some ridiculous percentage of Senators and Representatives back to the very Congress, which they ostensibly hold in utter contempt.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The All-Important Doorman

The All-Important Doorman

The All-Important Doorman

Picture this: A tribal leader from a distant country visits the US. He’s brought to a large apartment building in New York City. When he gets out of the car, he looks up at the great building and is quite impressed. A uniformed doorman exits the foyer and comes out on the sidewalk. The tribesman sees the gold braiding and brass buttons of his coat and immediately decides that this is a very important person. Again he looks up at the building and says to the doorman, “This is a very great home you have. You must be very important indeed.”

Of course, if we were present, we might chuckle at the tribesman’s naiveté. The owners of such a great building would never greet people at the entrance. They leave such trivial tasks to hired servants, whilst they run the real business without ever needing any direct contact with visitors as they enter the building. And, in addition, doormen come and go – they are, after all, disposable. The owners – those who control what happens in the building – retain their positions over the long term… and may remain anonymous, if they so choose.

We find this simple concept easy enough to understand, and yet we chronically have difficulty in understanding that, in most countries, the president, or prime minister, is not by any means the man who makes the big decisions in the running of the country.

We assume that, because we were allowed to vote for our leader, he must actually be our leader. But, as Mark Twain has at times been credited as saying, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Ticking a box is no longer an option’: David van Reybrouck on elections, imagination and Brexit.

‘Ticking a box is no longer an option’: David van Reybrouck on elections, imagination and Brexit.

David van Reybrouck lives in Brussels, is a pre-historic archaeologist, but works mostly as a literary writer, and as a non-fiction writer.  He’s probably best known for his book ‘Congo: the epic history of a people’, for appearing in the film ‘Tomorrow’ (‘Demain’), and for his more recent book ‘Against Elections: the case for democracy’, which is a brilliant read.  We met up via Skype, and talked imagination, Brexit, and reimagining how we make decisions together.

I wonder if you had any thoughts on in what ways the current way that we practice democracy in the West diminishes our imagination, maybe particularly in relation to our ability to imagine something other than business as usual?

You could say that the procedures we use today to do democracy have drastically narrowed down the scope of what is politically imaginable.  To me, although I’m interested in politics, it’s become quite a bit of a boring game, really.  It’s all about winning elections, trying to build a coalition, trying to run a government, or be against the government that is in power.  The bickering that is going on is not very rich.  The strategies that are being used for political gain and political loss are less interesting than watching the Tour De France on a boring day.

Political journalism very often has come down to a form of sports journalism, really.  Like, who has made what manoeuvre and what will it bring to him or to her.  The political game as it is being played these days is a pretty boring one, and a pretty predictable one, yes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dear Spain, Mainstream Media: A Majority of Catalans Want Independence (Stop Saying Otherwise)

Even though 92% of voters in the Catalonia election voted for independence, mainstream media keeps repeating the lie that a majority in Catalonia were against independence. Here’s the real math.

Mainstream Media Lies

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal repeated this frequently stated lie “A majority of Catalonia’s 7.5 million inhabitants don’t support independence, recent polls show.”

Today, ABC news repeated the stale news we have heard so many times before: “Until this crisis erupted, polls showed about 70 per cent of Catalans wanted to vote in an independence referendum. But only 41 per cent were actually in favour of cutting ties with Spain.”

These media outlets all parrot each other. Lies get repeated over and over and over. The Guardian and countless other places made the statement. No one bothers to link to or even cite the date of the “recent poll”.

I believe the allegedly “recent” poll was taken in July. Regardless, it was superseded by a more recent poll.

Most Recent Poll

The most recent poll was taken October 1. The results are as posted above. Counting ballots confiscated by Madrid, the real turnout was 57%.

Some may dispute the number of confiscated ballots. Don’t blame me, blame Madrid. If Madrid did not confiscate ballots and prevent people from voting, that reporting issue would not be in play.

It’s a certainty those confiscated ballots were overwhelmingly in favor of independence. In addition to the confiscated ballots, many who wanted to vote were forced away by Madrid police.

Its likely that yes had an outright majority from the 770,000 stolen votes alone. Add in other suppressed votes and its a certainty yes had an outright majority.

Dear mainstream media, the majority of Catalonia wanted independence. Please stop your lies.

Ohio Communities Face ‘Voter Suppression’ in Push to Rein in Oil and Gas Development

Ohio Communities Face ‘Voter Suppression’ in Push to Rein in Oil and Gas Development

We’re losing our ability to legislate and be a check and balance on the government,” Tish O’Dell of the Ohio Community Rights Network told DeSmog on September 15.

O’Dell had just learned that yet another local ballot measure — this one in Bowling Green, Ohio — was facing a possible legal challenge. “The Bowling Green initiative is the only one that made it through all the administrative hurdles to get on [the ballot],” O’Dell said.

It is the latest in a flurry of anti-fossil fuel ballot initiatives across Ohio which have gained the required number of signatures but likely won’t appear on ballots come election day. This year, initiatives in Youngstown, Medina County, and Athens County have all been taken off the ballot.

Fracking Backlash

These ballot initiatives are a response to the surge in activity related to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and pipeline development in Ohio and would establish new county charters or amendments to city charters that elevate the communities’ governing authority over legal privileges enjoyed by the industry.

Since 2015, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, non-elected local boards of elections, and the Ohio Supreme Court have struck a total of 10 proposed county charters from Ohio ballots. Initiatives have been removed for Athens (2015, 2016, and 2017), Fulton (2015), Medina (2015, 2016, 2017), Meigs (2015, 2016), and Portage (2016) counties.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Ron Paul: Vote All You Want, the Secret Government Won’t Change

In a recent episode of his web show, the Liberty Report, Ron Paul discussed the Department of Homeland Security’s decision last month to take a more active role in U.S. elections. Secretary Jeh Johnson said he was “considering whether elections should be classified as ‘critical infrastructure,’ affording them the same kinds of enhanced protections that the banking system and the electrical grid receive,” POLITICO reported.

The potential move came on the heels of the notorious DNC leak in July, which exposed intentions within the Democratic Party to manipulate the primary race against Senator Bernie Sanders. Politicians and the media quickly blamed the hack on Russia, failing to cite conclusive proof of their allegations yet spawning the narrative that the Kremlin and other foreign threats could compromise U.S. elections.

On his show, Paul took issue with the notion that the Department of Homeland Security, an agency riddled with incompetence and failed objectives — case in point, the TSA — is capable of securing U.S. elections.

Speaking on DHS’s decision to become more involved in the process following the DNC hack, Ron Paul offered a scathing indictment of the federal organization, arguing it will capitalize on troubling events to seize power:

They may have false flags and they may do a lot of things, but no matter how an emergency comes up, they’re going to make use of it. And the use of it isn’t to say ‘Hey, how are we going to protect the American people?’ 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Brad Friedman: Why To Be Suspicious Of Every Election

Brad Friedman: Why To Be Suspicious Of Every Election

Electronic voting machines have opened up Pandora’s box 

Long an ‘exporter of democracy’ to the rest of the world, there is ample evidence that the United States lacks even the most rudimentary, basic protections necessary to preserve voting integrity within its own borders.

Some of the evidence is circumstantial, some is statistical, and some is pretty direct and clear-cut. Taken together, a pattern that emerges strongly suggesting that ever since voting machines, electronic voting machines were introduced in the United States, we’ve had a string of suspect election results that frankly are not consistent with a free and fair voting outcome.

This week, we’re joined by Brad Friedman, election integrity analyst to understand better the systems and practices currently in place to collect and tally votes in America. As we gear up to elect our next president, it’s clear that numerous concerns exist about the state of ‘free and fair’ voting in our country:

Trust is different than ‘verifiable’. Trust, frankly, has no place in elections. There is no reason to ever trust anybody. We need to be able to verify all of this.

There are basically two different types of electronic voting systems that are currently used today.

One is the touchscreen system that people know about. They’ve seen those votes flipping and so forth. Those machines are, in fact, 100 percent unverifiable — period. I’ve asked the companies that make the systems many times, if they have any evidence whatsoever that any vote ever cast on one of those machines during an election, for any candidate or initiative on the ballot, if any of those votes have ever been recorded as per the voter’s intent, any evidence whatsoever. They have none — they are 100 percent unverifiable. Thankfully, many states are getting rid of those and they’re moving to paper ballots.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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