Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quote of the Week

Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace

                                     -Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Capitalist "Libertarianism"

    I was thinking a few days ago about the capitalist libertarian idea that people should be free to acquire as much power as possible in the economic sphere as they can get. They view the idea that society should be able to place some sort of restriction on this accumulation of power as a horrible threat to liberty and freedom. But that got me wondering, for what reason do they not also apply this logic to politics? Is it not a grave injustice for society to restrict someone from obtaining large amounts of personal political power for the same reason?

     After all, are there many differences? Political power has to be preserved by force if threatened. But then so does economic power. Try having a monopoly on economic power without an army and police and see how long that lasts. Isn't competition going to assure that our political dictators are just as optimum as our economic dictators are? Some may object that a very ruthless person could become a political dictator, and this is different for the way that economic markets work. But what does the market reward more, a business who pays its employees well and doesn't pollute or one that ships its labor off to the 3rd world and dumps its pollutants in the water supply? Sounds pretty ruthless to me...

     Anyway, just a thought. Perhaps this is all irrelevant since it's pretty obvious that economic power equals political power in this world, so arguing for arbitrarily high levels of either is really arguing for both.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Quote of the Week

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me

                                                               -Emo Philips

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What have you been reading?

     Yesterday Sportin' Life over at It Ain't Necessarily So tagged me for a book questionnaire thing that's been going around the blogosphere for the past week or so. So here we go.

  • One Book That Changed Your Life

  • I feel somewhat unoriginal for listing the same book as SL here, but I also think that Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States was a book that really enriched my life. It wasn't that it made my outlook on life radically different, but simply that it helped me shape my ideas into a coherent and complete worldview. It also whet my appetite for the history of those like me, namely human beings, which seem all too neglected in traditional history lessons. For those unfamiliar with the book, I had a review of it this past May.

  • One Book That You Have Read More Than Once

  • With what I consider to be my political awakening happening only a year and half or so ago, I've been very busy in my spare time reading about new ideas and events and still have so many books on my plate that I couldn't imagine reading one of them twice. Now the first serious nonfiction book I ever read was Bertrand Russel's Why I Am Not a Christian. That was around the age of 15 or so, and I do remember reading select chapters of that book twice. The book meant a lot to me as I was reading it at a time when I didn't know anyone else who called themselves an atheist.

  • One Book You'd Want On A Desert Island

  • Obviously the most important book would be one that would help with survival, but this depends greatly on the exact nature of this desert island. For example, if there is only a mile or two of water between me and civilization, I might want a book on raft-making rather than a book telling me how to have safe sex with a cactus. So let's just assume that my basic needs are taken care of. Then I would have to say that by far I would want to have Peskin and Schroeder's An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory. This is because if I didn't read this book then I would be hopelessly behind the rest of the class when I returned to school.

  • A Book That Made You Excited

  • The book that probably got me worked up the most may have been Robert Reich's Reason: Why Liberals Will Win The Battle for America. I read this book at the beginning of my political awakening but perhaps a good few months before I left the mainstream. It was after I had voted for Bush's re-election. It's a good book, and exposes good progressive ideals alongside criticizing the goals and views of those he calls the Radcons. However, ultimately, the book is very much about outrage at the current situation and not about solutions. This is of course because the solutions, I believe, exist outside the range of mainstream options he's willing to consider. The solution is certainly not to play the political see-saw and elect Democrats into office.

  • One Book That You Wish Had Been Written

  • Tough question. I'd say either How the CNT/FAI won the Spanish Civil War and Changed the World or How I Lost My Leg in a Bear Attack by Paris Hilton.

  • One Book That Wracked You With Sobs

  • I've never actually cried while reading a book, although I am susceptible to emotional endings in movies. The last book that I had a somewhat strong emotional response to would be Rudolf Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism. While it's really a book of ideas, the clarity and style of the author's writing can trigger emotional responses in the reader, although the responses are more inspirational than sob-inducing.

  • One Book That You Wish Had Never Been Written

  • Oh I don't know, one of the big holy books? Although ignorance and a life devoid of meaning are much more the driving factors behind religion than a book is.

  • One Book That You're Currently Reading

  • While I haven't actually started it yet, the next book I will be reading will be Antony Beevor's The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939.

  • One Book You've Been Meaning To Read

  • After finishing the book just mentioned, I also have sitting on my bookshelf the books A Homage To Catalonia by Orwell and The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936 by Murray Bookchin. I've recently become very fascinated with the events leading up to and surrounding the Spanish Civil War.

  • Now Tag Five Bloggers

  • Five? It seems that everyone is cheating and isn't doing all five, so I won't either. I tag SH, Mookie, and breakerslion.