Walking the walk

It is said that, just before the Sino-Soviet split, Nikita Khrushchev had a tense meeting with Zhou Enlai at which he told the latter that he now understood the problem. “I am the son of coal miners,” he said. “You are the descendant of feudal mandarins. We have nothing in common.” “Perhaps we do,” murmured his Chinese antagonist. “What?” blustered Khrushchev. “We are,” responded Zhou, “both traitors to our class.”

Hitchens, Christopher, Arguably, Atlantic Books 2011.

I find this anecdote likely too cute to have played out exactly like this and I am naturally cynical about such things. Besides no black and white footage of this exchange seems to be available on YouTube, furthering my skepticism. (Unlike the Kitchen Debate some years later). Like the biblical Thomas I am, these days, less inclined to accept things on faith and hearsay alone.

kitchen debates

As an aside. Can you imagine Donald Trump getting all up in Vladimir Putin’s face. And then poking him with the finger. I can’t. I amuse myself by imagining Vladimir grabbing Donald by the lapels and then hip throwing him in a slow motion arc before bouncing his head on the concrete. Ippon! (Based purely on relative CQC skills, not to be read as an endorsement of Vladimir Putin or for that matter, Richard Nixon)

Those espousing ideology (and inflicting this ideology on others) often don’t live the ideology themselves. We all know examples of this sort of hypocrisy. The socialist politician that lives in a mansion. The Neo-marxist professor who goes home to his upper middle class home in a nice leafy green suburb. The Union bosses having lunch at the Ritz-Carlton. The preacher with the Gulfstream(s) in the hanger.

A strange condition of the human condition is that the duality of our ‘leaders’ is not only accepted but also defended (or at least completely ignored) by their adherents (often with insane zealotry). A social throwback perhaps ingrained in our natural proclivity towards tribalism in which all fealty was sworn to the chief.

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The exception to this case is the Capitalist. Which in a world of sanctimonious bullshit seems weirdly refreshing. You will rarely (if ever) find someone espousing Capitalism as the one true path, living in a shack next to an open sewer. I also think you will likely find the capitalist has less disciples willing to rush to his defence.

Although unlikely in my life time, I am hopeful, that one day, humanity will cast off both our appreciation of -isms and the yoke of having to be ‘led’ by someone, either through an autocrat or via ‘democracy’.

One day they will (also) say Joey was a head of his time. I’d like point out that is is untrue and that Joey was, for the most part, just thinking about getting head.

Government gofundme

I’m not sure I feel one way or the other about Steven Crowder. If coerced, I would venture that he’s likely too belligerent for me. But that’s the space he’s chosen to occupy in his ideological war. I find a lot of conservative commentators very intense and combative… and their message (which might be very reasonable) gets lost because they’ve been preaching to the choir for so long they’ve forgotten moderates are sensitive to pitch and super weary of the ‘crazy-eyes’. If you come across as particularly unyielding or rabid, you risk pushing people back the other way or in the very least remaining steadfast in their support for the status-quo, which is a pity because there are some really good ideas in… well everything that opposes socialism and neo-Marxism. Its mainly for this reason, ie because the left seems so utterly unhinged at the moment, that people are looking across the divide for something a little more reasoned and logical. Be the exemplar. Not the crass, boor that trades insults on twitter. (that is not aimed at anyone in particular) Stay on topic, be polite. You’ll do better. I believe in swings and round abouts. Politics is cyclical and I don’t think the left will stay insane forever. Eventually they’ll start sounding more reasonable again and be more inclined to disavow their fanatical fringes… just like the right (eh… now… mostly) disavows its kooky, crazy fringe. Make hay while the sun shines and use this opportunity to market some of the better stuff.

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Anyways, I mention Steven Crowder because I saw this. Which I really love. I’m not sure if this a meme though (it might be). In any event it appeals to my libertarian tendencies. Libertianism occupies a position right of center because of its abhorrence of taxes and big government. In other words everything socialism needs to survive. It also has, unfortunately, very few true adherents, because it is so very different from the current model used by ‘western’ civilization and is argued fiercely as an academic exercise at best. People tend not be able to imagine a world where libraries and roads are not funded by some sort of centralized omnipotent source that controls allocation. Which surely is quite an indictment of humanity? Surely our greatest achievement is our ability to cooperate among ourselves to achieve things greater than any one person could? Maybe I am just insanely naive? We seem content to foist the responsibility of resource management onto a ruling class of politicians and bureaucrats who treat our money as something to be used frivolously and as inefficiently as possible.

In any event this post is not about that (before Joey disappears down the rabbit hole reappears later this afternoon with a slightly frazzled look and a ten thousand word tirade)

Imagine trying to Gofundme a war. Or any foreign policy interventionist stuff really. I wonder how that would work out? It would have to be a very ‘righteous’ war, none of this vague WMD stuff. Maybe initially, with some good PR work you could get it off the ground. But people are fickle, especially when they don’t see results. Six trillion dollars later (WAY more in real terms than the Marshal plan spent to rebuild Europe) there seems to be a serious disconnect between cost and benefit. Maybe that’s just me…

This is what amuses me today. So thank you Steven Crowder. Even if I do find you a little suspicious 🙂

Dick move

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While I love Thomas Sowell. I want to edit this quote. ‘most of what they saved up’ and ‘rather than to their heirs?’. That seems more inclusive. Pretty sure girls can save as well.

In any event. No. I can’t explain why this is. It seems like a total ‘Dick move’, double taxation and just… did I say ‘Dick move’ already? Well lets just underscore that for effect.

Its likely because the dead just lie there. And take it. Instead of rising up to feast on the living in a vengeful night of… well…  vengeance.

My strategies to counter this eventuality are two pronged (I mean taxation as opposed to the zombie apocalypse)

  1. Don’t ever die. Or
  2. Don’t have anything the government can take from me at the point of my demise.

Both of which are quite tricksy.

Or we could you know… vote. And change bad laws. I have more faith in the not dying part of my strategy.

Adulting

Being a grown up and taking on the responsibilities that come with age is something I’ve taken up only under extreme duress. And so I sometimes refer to myself as ‘adulting’ because… well… to be completely honest it’s my little ‘fuck you’ to the seriousness that comes with the passing of the decades and a homage to a time where things were simpler and WAY more fun.

Having said that I am both inclined to both agree and disagree with this statement. (In a lip service kinda way) Usually depending on how well I slept. Which when you have a toddler is usually poorly. Ergo my ability to take life seriously is directly proportional to the number of hours that I have been removed from it in a state of mini death.

Besides is the apocalypse necessarily a bad thing? Sure we’ve attributed a lot of negative connotations to the word… but really, think of the benefits. No more taxes, Star Wars movies or Network News. Ok sure there might be the religiosity of the chaff being separated from the wheat and thrown into the eternal fire (personally I have my doubts) but besides that potential niggle I see mostly upside.

When does someone become an adult anyway? I don’t necessarily remember there being a formal event or ceremony? Some have recently argued this is one of the big problematic features in the world today… a lack of ritualistic event where we are bequeathed responsibility and the moniker of adult and leave our childhood behind us. A point in time where we are yoked to the cart of life as it were.

I’m tend to channel Admiral Akbar on this…

I’m not advocating a complete lack of responsibility or a surrender to the whims of chaos…. but I do tend to think we are a sum of our experiences, a progression as it were and this notion that we need to have a cut off date where we start ‘taking things seriously’ is a little silly. We still are that kid on the monkey bars. Just older.

Besides intimating that I am somehow ‘less’ because I refer to myself occasionally as ‘adulting’… fuck you guy, let’s get this straight, by your narrow definition and metric of what is deemed proper? I’m glad you’re around to pass judgement on acceptable terminology. I am also glad that I am around to disappoint you!

That’s the thing about Freedom. You can be straight, gay or identify as a tuna-fish if you want. As long as you’re responsible right?

High noon equivalency

I tend to favour Western Philosophy. Likely for the reason that I’ve just been exposed to more of it. Thats not to say I don’t ‘culturally appropriate’ concepts from Taoism or Buddhism, or any other -ism that I like and find compatible with my Joey-OS… its just that when it comes down to fundamentals it tends to be predominantly Greek in origin.

The internet these days feels a lot like the domain of madmen and gunslingers where civil discourse seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Venture a political opinion or engage in satire anywhere and you’ll soon find yourself being called out onto Main street to settle things with six shooters.

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‘All I said was Jordan Peterson* makes some good points’. ‘Shut up you fucken Nazi’.

Unfortunately these bouts happens figuratively, with mean spirited insults traded in a public sphere with ideologues lining up behind their champions with ancillary barbs. I think people would be kinder to each other if a difference of opinion could actually lead to duels to the death on some dusty, rutted thoroughfare. That way all the assholes (on both sides of the divide) would be dead… and we could move on with constructive debate and dialogue. (the dream)

*I use Jordan Peterson as an example because he seems to be quite loathed (at the moment) But really you can substitute Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris or Christina Hoff Sommers in there (to name but a few who I think get unfairly mailgned for thinking out loud)

Whatever happened to the Socratic Method?

The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

If Plato, debate and conversation isn’t really your thing, how about some good old fashioned Eastern philosophy. Specifically the concept of Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang (literally dark and bright) is a concept of interdependence and interconnectedness of concepts that while seemingly contradictory are deeply necessary for the functioning of the natural world. Yin and yang should be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. 

Whatever you believe to be true (the light), without some darkness (opposing ideas) to balance you out, you are not whole. Seek some of it out. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with the ideas that you find in opposition to your own, but appreciate that they exist, and that they exist for a reason.

In all honesty I haven’t always been civil to people. (I’m trying to be better about that) And I’ve definitely tweeted and posted stupid stuff that would (these days) lead to a rabid mob with pitchforks descending on my domicile. But how great is it that we can change our minds and evolve our ideas as we grow and experience? All of us want to be judged by the sum of our whole surely? And we would balk at our entire being getting categorized and judged by single tweet or quote. I know I would. So why do we do it to others?

downloadI don’t like quoting from the Bible. So instead I’ll quote Brodie from Mallrats. ‘Touch not, lest ye be touched’.

I think those are pretty good words to live by. And (as an added bonus) has good synergy with libertarianism (which I love).

Herewith endeth my rant.

 

The Gadsden Flag

The Gadsden Flag is named after its designer, Christopher Gadsden (1724 – 1805), a merchant, politician and general who created the flag during the American Revolution in 1775.

The flag is rectangular with a yellow field. A stylised Timber Rattlesnake occupies the centre of the flag with the text ‘DONT TREAD ON ME’ positioned underneath.

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The Timber Rattlesnake was prolific in the American north east at the time but has since been mostly extirpated. Its symbolism in representing the original thirteen Colonies was originally conceptualised by Benjamin Franklin. A year earlier Franklin had published a drawing of a snake, cut into eight sections, with New England represented by the head and the all following segments labeled as one of the colonies following their order along the coastline with South Carolina as the tail.

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Underneath the snake was written ‘Join or Die’. Franklin appreciated the Rattlesnake and felt that it could be a good choice for the embodiment the American spirit. While originally intended as an appeal to unite the colonies during the French-Indian wars, the symbolism gained traction with the colonists as a uniquely American creature exemplifying American principles.

Paul Revere added Benjamin Franklin’s drawing to the name plate of Isaiah Thomas’s newspaper, The Massachusetts Spy where it was pitted against a British Dragon.

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The quote above the snake is taken from the play, ‘Cato, a Tragedy’, written Joseph Addison in 1712. It is based on the last days of Cato the younger, a Roman stoic who best known his incorruptibility and his resistance to the tyranny of Julius Caesar. ‘Do Thou great Liberty inspire our souls, And make our lives in thy possession happy – Or our deaths glorious in thy just defence’.

The Continental Navy was established in 1775. The navy flew the Liberty Tree Flag which depicts a pine tree on a white field with the words ‘Appeal to Heaven’ written underneath. In order to assist these Navy ships in ship-to-ship actions as well as conduct amphibious attacks, the Second Continental Congress authorised five companies of Marines to be mustered to accompany the Navy ships.

The first Marines to be enlisted came from the City of Philadelphia. They supposedly carried drums depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles and used the motto ‘Don’t tread on me’. Christopher Gadsden represented South Carolina at this Congress. Before the departure of the first naval mission, the new appointed commander, Commodore Esek Hopkins, received a yellow rattlesnake flag from Christopher Gadsden to serve as the personal standard of his flagship.

More recently the Gadsden Flag has reappeared, being claimed by conservative organisations and various libertarian groups as a banner representing their particular dogma.

MJ. I really like the concepts of libertarianism and if I was under duress to identify with a particular ideology I would likely tick the libertarianism box. Having said that, I don’t really understand this desire to build a club, create a secret handshake or indeed appropriate a historical flag to represent a group of people. I suppose I can broadly appreciate the marketing value of a ‘cool’ flag and the group psychology involved, I’m just weary of the identity echo chamber, group-think and getting wrapped up in libertarianism the brand. Also yellow just isn’t my colour. But just because I have no interest promoting my political beliefs by draping the Gadsden across my living room wall doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Each to their own. I more of a… 

‘Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself’ – Robert Greene.

kinda guy. The history, however, is fascinating. 

The price of Civilisation

Taxes

‘TAXES ARE WHAT WE PAY FOR A CIVILIZED SOCIETY’

This is a quote most often ascribed to the US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. It is inscribed above the entrance to the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service.

Personally I am inclined to agree with the economist Don Boudreaux,

‘Clearly taxes are something we pay because we are not civilized’