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WikiLeaks: Australia Has 'Obligation' to Protect Julian Assange, Lawyer Says | 01 Aug 2018 | Julian Assange is "homesick for Australia" and will need to be protected by the Malcolm Turnbull government if he is expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy, his lawyer has said. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Assange's welcome at the London embassy--where he has lived under political asylum since 2012--is coming to an end... Jennifer Robinson, Assange's legal representative in London, told Australian media Wednesday that the situation had become "untenable." She suggested that Australia should offer aid.

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Notes from underground: Dostoyevsky’s anarchism

Anarchist News - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:29

via autonomies

“What is hell?” And I am reasoning thus: “The suffering that comes from the consciousness that one is no longer able to love.”

Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

 

“It is life, life that matters, life alone – the continuous and everlasting process of discovering it – and not the discovery itself.”

Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

 

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in a letter speaking of his The Brothers Karamazov, declares that his principal aim in writing the novel, a civic duty no less, is the defeat of “anarchism”.

How can we then suggest to speak of Dostoyevsky’s anarchism? And yet we dare to do so, navigating our way through the extremes of the underground and the modern social conformity of the many, of the nihilists and decadent aristocrats, of the social reformers and a Church oblivious to the kingdom of heaven. Our journey’s end is to be found in the many voices of Dostoyevsky’s world, in a polyphony that cannot be silenced without impoverishing that world. Among these many voices, we find the braying of mules, the tortured crying of children, the virtue of women and friends, the dissonance of idiots and the enthusiasm of those who have experienced, however fleetingly, the immensity and self-sufficient beauty and goodness of life. What binds all of these disparate voices together, and only this power or force can do so, is love. And it is Dostoyevsky’s boundless love of life that we will risk to call his anarchism.

Notes from underground

With maladroit artistry, we re-imagine Dostoyevsky’s underground …

We are so unused to living that we no longer know or feel “real life”. Any memory of it has been erased. We have really gone so far as to think of real life as immediate, consumable pleasure, mediated only by money, and we are all agreed, for our part, that it is better simulated through images, something to be experienced in the sleep of representation, in obligatory “spectacles of happiness”. And what is it we sometimes scratch about for, what do we cry for, what do we beg for? More of the same: images to numb ourselves by … or perhaps, in sleep, in passing, we admit that we ourselves don’t know, and that if whims we have, they are so uncertain, or threatening, that they can be either dismissed or treated. And it would be worse for us if our stupid whims were indulged. … After all, we don’t even know where “real life” is lived nowadays, or what it is, what name it goes by. Leave us to ourselves, without our images, without our seductive “entertainment”, and at once we get into a muddle and lose our way – we don’t know whose side to be on or where to give our allegiance, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise, except to what eases our way against what stands against our satisfaction. We even find it difficult to be human beings, men with real flesh and blood, creatures of singular desires; we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrace, and are always striving to be some unprecedented kind of individual, while we are evermore the same, an always potentially superfluous someone who exists only through work and consuming. We are born dead, and moreover we have ceased to be the sons of living parents; and we become more and more contented with our condition. We are acquiring a taste for it. We have invented a method of being born from a general mould, a uniform idea to which all submit, willingly. But that’s enough; I shall write no more from the underground …

The underground from which Dostoyevsky writes his notes is not a place of refuge for subversion and rebellion, somehow hardened against the siren songs of rational civilisation. It is instead the mirror image of a society that has reduced women and men to calculable and manageable agents of rational self-interest. The underground is the “space” of resentment against the illusions of civilisation, while also the product of civilisation, the “place” to where human desire is abandoned and where it consumes itself in impotent and feverish self-reflection.

In fact, the underground is no place at all; it is rather the inverted image of policed society.

Modern civilisation is the triumph of instrumental rationality, of a rationality limited to the evaluation of means for the attainment of mensurable ends, of the rational necessity of acting for a “common good” defined scientifically and socially engineered politically.

But “can man’s interests be correctly calculated? Are there not some which not only have not been classified, but are incapable of classification?”

“After all, gentlemen”, writes the man from the underground to the civilised, “as far as I know you deduce the whole range of human satisfactions as averages from statistical figures and scientifico-economic formulas. You recognise things like wealth, freedom, comfort, prosperity, and so on as good, so that a man who deliberately and openly went against that tabulation would in your opinion, and of course in mine also, be an obscurantist or else completely mad, wouldn’t he? But there is one very puzzling thing: how does it come about that all the statisticians and experts and lovers of humanity, when they enumerate the good things of life, always omit one particular one? They don’t even take it into account as they ought, and the whole calculation depends on it. After all, it would not do much harm to accept this as a good and add it to the list. But the snag lies in this; that this strange benefit won’t suit any classification or fit into any list.”

What good is this that resists classification, analysis, control? What good is such that it must be excluded from the horizon of “civilisation”, failing which all that it stands upon crumbles?

There is security in order, a peaceful sleep induced by the daydream that all can be vanquished by the knowledgeable mastery and elimination of its causes. And as all that is or occurs has antecedent and knowable causes, then a scientific intervention in the chains of events can redirect matters in self-interested directions. But either such a vision is sophistry, or it announces the end of humankind.

“If, for example, it can one day be worked out and proved to me that I have on some occasion cocked a snook at somebody simply because I could not help it, and that I was obliged to make the gesture in that particular way, then what freedom remains to me, especially if I am learned and have taken a science course somewhere? After all, in that case I can calculate my life for thirty years in advance; in short, if things turn out in this way, there won’t be anything left for us to do; all the same, we shall need to understand. But in general we ought always to be telling ourselves that, inevitably, at certain times and in certain circumstances nature will not consult us; that we must take her as she is and not as we fancy her to be, and if we really are progressing at great speed towards the tables and almanacs and … even the test-tube, there’s no help for it, we must accept even the test-tube!”

And yet if the “underground” teaches anything, it is that reason, though a good thing, “satisfies only man’s intellectual faculties”. And what is thereby ignored is volition. This is a word that means much more than “will” for Dostoyevsky: “it is a manifestation of the whole of life, I mean the whole of human life including both reason and speculation.” It is what we are tempted to call our being-in-the-world, a being that is multiple, changing, driven by desires and marked by contingency. Dostoyevsky’s triumphal reason is the effort to distill our singularities into programmed patterns of domesticated behaviour for a supposed quantifiable, universal good. But the result is two monsters, sick, isolated and yet bound to each other: a hollowed out marionette of “enlightened progress” and a resentful narcissist condemned to waver between powerless moral indignation and cynical moral turpitude.

Both expressions of the modern individual are ill. The first is so because it is stripped of desire and will, submitted to a grand social calculus, governed by technicians and techniques of “well-being”, but thereby only “benefiting” in the development of “a many-sided sensitivity to sensation”. But what kind of “development” is this, when each is at the mercy of every and any seduction? In its most extreme form, we may even come to find vile “pleasure in blood”.

[Gloss: “The lengths to which man – already constricted in all his amusements, in all his faculties – will go to confine the scope of his existence out of unworthy prejudice is quite incredible. One cannot comprehend, for example, what possesses the man who makes a crime out of murder to impose such limits on all his delights; he has deprived himself of a hundred pleasures each more delicious than the last by having the audacity to adopt the odious fantasy of that prejudice; and what the devil does it matter to Nature whether there are one, ten, twenty, five hundred more or fewer men in the world?” – Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom]

Progress culminates in these “last” or “little” women and men, the worker-consumer ants devoured by a political-social machine that in fact no one fully masters; even more so today, when each one of us is called upon to manage her/his own life as capital to be constantly improved upon, so as to render oneself ever more profitable-exploitable.

For Dostoyevsky, the moral hubris that feeds the machine is the concept of progress, the idea that a final, absolute good is attainable.

And for those who wish to desert the vessel of progress, there is the underground, inhabited by those hateful of their own “civilised” sensitivities. They are however incapable of walking away or against them, for they share in the same exacerbated sensitivity and suffer the same atrophy of will and desire that subjects the adepts of progress. If those in the underground “must be kept in check”, it is not because they are active and creative dissidents, eager to ridicule and tear down, at first opportunity, the crystal palace of progress, but because beneath the socially engineered happiness, they stand as testimony to the illusion of that happiness, or of the price that is paid for it: a humanity atomised and deprived of all autonomous singularity, of any capacity to act and to create, and morally indifferent to what is different. “Yes, a man of the nineteenth century ought, indeed is morally bound, to be essentially without character”.

A “man of character, a man who acts, is essentially limited”, Dostoyevsky tells us. The civilised and underground “man” both fail on this count, though for different reasons. Progress uproots all limits, but then only to place them in the hands of a “rational” State. The underground is the depository of the failure of progress, the rubbish heap of pasts reduced to ruins and of futures yet unimagined, a present that can only therefore project itself, the same, forever. The underground man is thus left to wallow in infirm and helpless self-consciousness, in a passive nihilism.

Dostoyevsky is often superficially described as a Christian moralist. He denounces modern civilisation for its secularism, for its refusal to see that human beings are far from good, for its failure to grasp, or its denial of, the fact that we relish destruction as much as creation. Even supposing the realisation of the promise that all our needs shall be met, we are ungrateful, and we will no sooner be seduced by promises of earthly Edens, as we will abandon them.

This picture though is too simple and its language remains imprisoned in a moral vocabulary that Dostoyevsky himself sought to question. Men and women have never acted solely in accordance with their self-interests, and this with knowledge and foresight. And where does our “self-interest” lie? Such advantage is but an “appointed road”, relative to social and political regimes, and against which acts of transgression appear as “perverse and difficult”. And yet, transgress we do and herein lies the good that escapes all classifications of utility and progress, while necessarily underlying them, as well as having the power to undo them. If there is “something that is dearer to almost every man than his own very best interests”, it is not evil as such, but free desire, creativity, the true good “distinguished precisely by [its] upsetting all our classifications and always destroying the systems established by lovers of humanity for the happiness of mankind.” While this good “interferes with everything”, is capable of violating everything, it is also that which builds, constructs. But let no construction stand as if uncreated, for that is the beginning of true evil, the sacrifice of life for an all too human ideal.

“… a man, whoever he is, always and everywhere likes to act as he chooses, and not at all according to the dictates of reason and self-interest; it is indeed possible, and sometimes positively imperative …, to act directly contrary to one’s own best interests. One’s own free and unfettered volition, one’s own caprice, however wild, one’s own fancy, inflamed sometimes to the point of madness – that is the one best and greatest good, which is never taken into consideration because it will not fit into any classification, and the omission of which always sends all systems and theories to the devil. … What a man needs is simply and solely independent volition, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.”

[Gloss: If we consider the “will”, “volition”, the “individual” – all Dostoyevsky’s terms – as stand-ins for the whole of human life – as Dostoyevsky also says -, then we may better understand what is at stake here through the concept of singularity. The human good defies classification, knowledge, yet it is that upon which all knowledge is based, and all consequent or subsequent orders of power. But then it lies in the good to undo knowledge and power, to suspend, break away, overthrow. The good, freedom, singularity, are all what philosophers once called transcendental; they ground all orders of knowledge and power without being identical to any of them and without themselves being grounded. This an-archy at the heart of existence Hannah Arendt described as the capacity for beginnings which human beings secrete into nature, creating art, history and politics. “If the creation of man coincides with the creation of a beginning in the universe (and what else does this mean but the creation of freedom?), then the birth of individual men, being new beginnings, re-affirms the original character of man in such a way that origin can never become entirely a thing of the past; the very fact of the memorable continuity of these beginnings in the sequence of generations guarantees a history which can never end because it is the history of beings whose essence is beginning.” (Hannah Arendt, Understanding and Politics) It is this that Dostoyevsky calls the good, and it is this that both the “underground man” and the “man of progress” lack. Their imaginations can go no further than the repetition of the violent present, and there is but one word for this: horror.]

“Outside” the underground

Dostoyevsky’s mirroring and self-reflecting reality – civilisation-underground – is no longer ours. Capitalism has abandoned all illusions of being a rationally organised society, aspiring to generalised human well-being. It is neither objectively so, nor does it pretend to be so ideologically, except for the few, and in many instances, through ever more exacerbated forms of nationalism. Spectacle commodity capitalism can only seduce with the promise of money and consumer acquisition. And since the latter has little or nothing to do with the purchase of what is useful, capitalism can only offer up more of the same, useless goods; goods, however, which flatter an increasingly one dimensional narcissistic consciousness. And as the many will always be excluded, to varying degrees, from the possibility of consumer bliss, the proliferation of spectacular commodities is necessarily accompanied by an increased militarisation of social life, both within and across national borders.

Within a state of permanent crises, catastrophes and exceptions, all talk of planned and engineered happiness for all becomes impossible, and anyway, no one believes it any longer. The self-mutilating cynicism of Dostoyevsky’s underground man is now in the foreground; indeed, today, the underground has ceased to exist.

What then remains of Dostoyevsky’s still tortured search for freedom, for a life beyond the civilisation-underground polarity? In his fiction, he imagined at least two, but ill-fated, possibilities: the sincere but deluded, and ultimately violent, social reformer, determined to re-organise society such that all are materially content, as judged by the reformer, and the underground man turned criminal, who in a moment of decisive indecision, acts by murdering those who are perceived to be useless – Raskolnikov’s ironic tragedy -, or who by an overwhelming will to will, chooses without regard for anything and in total indifference to whether s/he lives or dies – Kirilov’s self-annihilating nihilism. Both examples fail because they continue to carry with them the weight of civilisation-the underground; indeed, the burden is such, that they never in fact escape at all.

But why try to escape? Why attempt to live differently? If our world abounds with examples of those who endeavour to escape, only to find themselves in the same place (all of those who move, forcefully or willingly, for a “better life”), and though it may even count a few who are content, the horror stubbornly persists and grows, consequently and inevitably, even if only momentarily for some, piercing through the seamless images of happiness (and the police-military are present precisely to guarantee that these will only be moments). A call reaches us on such occasions, a call that we may ignore, turn a deaf ear to, shout out, insult, or not. In the latter instance, a moral shift occurs, an indignant awakening that loosens the chains fixing our desires and imagination, and that may give birth to resistance, rebellion.

“One picture, only one more, because it’s so curious, so characteristic, and I have only just read it in some collection of Russian antiquities. I’ve forgotten the name. I must look it up. It was in the darkest days of serfdom at the beginning of the century, and long live the Liberator of the People! There was in those days a general of aristocratic connections, the owner of great estates, one of those men—somewhat exceptional, I believe, even then—who, retiring from the service into a life of leisure, are convinced that they’ve earned absolute power over the lives of their subjects. There were such men then. So our general, settled on his property of two thousand souls, lives in pomp, and domineers over his poor neighbors as though they were dependents and buffoons. He has kennels of hundreds of hounds and nearly a hundred dog-boys—all mounted, and in uniform. One day a serf-boy, a little child of eight, threw a stone in play and hurt the paw of the general’s favorite hound. ‘Why is my favorite dog lame?’ He is told that the boy threw a stone that hurt the dog’s paw. ‘So you did it.’The general looked the child up and down. ‘Take him.’ He was taken—taken from his mother and kept shut up all night. Early that morning the general comes out on horseback, with the hounds, his dependents, dog-boys, and huntsmen, all mounted around him in full hunting parade. The servants are summoned for their edification, and in front of them all stands the mother of the child. The child is brought from the lock-up. It’s a gloomy, cold, foggy autumn day, a capital day for hunting. The general orders the child to be undressed; the child is stripped naked. He shivers, numb with terror, not daring to cry…. ‘Make him run,’ commands the general. ‘Run! run!’ shout the dog-boys. The boy runs…. ‘At him!’ yells the general, and he sets the whole pack of hounds on the child. The hounds catch him, and tear him to pieces before his mother’s eyes!… I believe the general was afterwards declared incapable of administering his estates. Well—what did he deserve? To be shot? To be shot for the satisfaction of our moral feelings? Speak, Alyosha!”

“To be shot,” murmured Alyosha, lifting his eyes to Ivan with a pale, twisted smile.

“Bravo!” cried Ivan, delighted. “If even you say so…. You’re a pretty monk! So there is a little devil sitting in your heart, Alyosha Karamazov!”

“What I said was absurd, but—”

“That’s just the point, that ‘but’!” cried Ivan. “Let me tell you, novice, that the absurd is only too necessary on earth. The world stands on absurdities, and perhaps nothing would have come to pass in it without them. We know what we know!”

“What do you know?”

“I understand nothing,” Ivan went on, as though in delirium. “I don’t want to understand anything now. I want to stick to the fact. I made up my mind long ago not to understand. If I try to understand anything, I shall be false to the fact, and I have determined to stick to the fact.”

The exchange is between Ivan and Alexei/Alyosha Karamazov. For Ivan, an atheist, the senseless torture of children is the greatest testimony to the absence of a just God and the absurdity of human existence. Alyosha, a novice monk, distraught by the horror of Ivan’s picture, momentarily falls by admitting that vengeance is the only possible response, to then step back in horror from what he has said. For Dostoyevsky, violence, and violent revolution as espoused by political vanguards, against injustice, would only engender the same reality, or worse. If “resistance” is possible, it must be found along a different path.

Prince Myshkin, Dostoyevsky’s “idiot”, quoting someone whom he calls an “old believer”, says, “He who has no firm ground beneath his feet, has no God”. He writes similarly in the The Devils/The Possessed, that “he who has no people, has no God”. It is tempting to interpret these passages as expressions of Dostoyevsky’s russophilia and Russian religious orthodoxy, but to do so shuts out the resonances of something deeper.

Jesus is recorded to have said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (Mathew 5:13) This is Dostoyevsky’s question as well, perhaps in part narrowly addressed to his fellow Russians, or to those pained by the loss of “Russian spirituality”. The question however cannot but escape from any parochial national limits and it is ultimately to “modern man” that he addresses it.

Jesus’ own answer is the following: “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.”

If we read this passage as referring to Jesus’ disciples as those who give life to the earth, then to lose “their taste” is to stray from their mission of spreading the teachings of the new covenant; a covenant expressible in a single commandment: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

[Gloss: Raskolnikov had a fearful dream. He dreamt he was back in his childhood in the little town of his birth. He was a child about seven years old, walking into the country with his father on the evening of a holiday. It was a grey and heavy day, the country was exactly as he remembered it; indeed he recalled it far more vividly in his dream than he had done in memory. The little town stood on a level flat as bare as the hand, not even a willow near it; only in the far distance, a copse lay, a dark blur on the very edge of the horizon. A few paces beyond the last market garden stood a tavern, a big tavern, which had always aroused in him a feeling of aversion, even of fear, when he walked by it with his father. There was always a crowd there, always shouting, laughter and abuse, hideous hoarse singing and often fighting. Drunken and horrible-looking figures were hanging about the tavern. He used to cling close to his father, trembling all over when he met them. Near the tavern the road became a dusty track, the dust of which was always black. It was a winding road, and about a hundred paces further on, it turned to the right to the graveyard. In the middle of the graveyard stood a stone church with a green cupola where he used to go to mass two or three times a year with his father and mother, when a service was held in memory of his grandmother, who had long been dead, and whom he had never seen. On these occasions they used to take on a white dish tied up in a table napkin a special sort of rice pudding with raisins stuck in it in the shape of a cross. He loved that church, the old-fashioned, unadorned ikons and the old priest with the shaking head. Near his grandmother’s grave, which was marked by a stone, was the little grave of his younger brother who had died at six months old. He did not remember him at all, but he had been told about his little brother, and whenever he visited the graveyard he used religiously and reverently to cross himself and to bow down and kiss the little grave. And now he dreamt that he was walking with his father past the tavern on the way to the graveyard; he was holding his father’s hand and looking with dread at the tavern. A peculiar circumstance attracted his attention: there seemed to be some kind of festivity going on, there were crowds of gaily dressed townspeople, peasant women, their husbands, and riff-raff of all sorts, all singing and all more or less drunk. Near the entrance of the tavern stood a cart, but a strange cart. It was one of those big carts usually drawn by heavy cart-horses and laden with casks of wine or other heavy goods. He always liked looking at those great cart-horses, with their long manes, thick legs, and slow even pace, drawing along a perfect mountain with no appearance of effort, as though it were easier going with a load than without it. But now, strange to say, in the shafts of such a cart he saw a thin little sorrel beast, one of those peasants’ nags which he had often seen straining their utmost under a heavy load of wood or hay, especially when the wheels were stuck in the mud or in a rut. And the peasants would beat them so cruelly, sometimes even about the nose and eyes, and he felt so sorry, so sorry for them that he almost cried, and his mother always used to take him away from the window. All of a sudden there was a great uproar of shouting, singing and the balalaïka, and from the tavern a number of big and very drunken peasants came out, wearing red and blue shirts and coats thrown over their shoulders.

“Get in, get in!” shouted one of them, a young thick-necked peasant with a fleshy face red as a carrot. “I’ll take you all, get in!”

But at once there was an outbreak of laughter and exclamations in the crowd.

“Take us all with a beast like that!”

“Why, Mikolka, are you crazy to put a nag like that in such a cart?”

“And this mare is twenty if she is a day, mates!”

“Get in, I’ll take you all,” Mikolka shouted again, leaping first into the cart, seizing the reins and standing straight up in front. “The bay has gone with Matvey,” he shouted from the cart—“and this brute, mates, is just breaking my heart, I feel as if I could kill her. She’s just eating her head off. Get in, I tell you! I’ll make her gallop! She’ll gallop!” and he picked up the whip, preparing himself with relish to flog the little mare.

“Get in! Come along!” The crowd laughed. “D’you hear, she’ll gallop!”

“Gallop indeed! She has not had a gallop in her for the last ten years!”

“She’ll jog along!”

“Don’t you mind her, mates, bring a whip each of you, get ready!”

“All right! Give it to her!”

They all clambered into Mikolka’s cart, laughing and making jokes. Six men got in and there was still room for more. They hauled in a fat, rosy-cheeked woman. She was dressed in red cotton, in a pointed, beaded headdress and thick leather shoes; she was cracking nuts and laughing. The crowd round them was laughing too and indeed, how could they help laughing? That wretched nag was to drag all the cartload of them at a gallop! Two young fellows in the cart were just getting whips ready to help Mikolka. With the cry of “now,” the mare tugged with all her might, but far from galloping, could scarcely move forward; she struggled with her legs, gasping and shrinking from the blows of the three whips which were showered upon her like hail. The laughter in the cart and in the crowd was redoubled, but Mikolka flew into a rage and furiously thrashed the mare, as though he supposed she really could gallop.

“Let me get in, too, mates,” shouted a young man in the crowd whose appetite was aroused.

“Get in, all get in,” cried Mikolka, “she will draw you all. I’ll beat her to death!” And he thrashed and thrashed at the mare, beside himself with fury.

“Father, father,” he cried, “father, what are they doing? Father, they are beating the poor horse!”

“Come along, come along!” said his father. “They are drunken and foolish, they are in fun; come away, don’t look!” and he tried to draw him away, but he tore himself away from his hand, and, beside himself with horror, ran to the horse. The poor beast was in a bad way. She was gasping, standing still, then tugging again and almost falling.

“Beat her to death,” cried Mikolka, “it’s come to that. I’ll do for her!”

“What are you about, are you a Christian, you devil?” shouted an old man in the crowd.

“Did anyone ever see the like? A wretched nag like that pulling such a cartload,” said another.

“You’ll kill her,” shouted the third.

“Don’t meddle! It’s my property, I’ll do what I choose. Get in, more of you! Get in, all of you! I will have her go at a gallop!…”

All at once laughter broke into a roar and covered everything: the mare, roused by the shower of blows, began feebly kicking. Even the old man could not help smiling. To think of a wretched little beast like that trying to kick!

Two lads in the crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to beat her about the ribs. One ran each side.

“Hit her in the face, in the eyes, in the eyes,” cried Mikolka.

“Give us a song, mates,” shouted someone in the cart and everyone in the cart joined in a riotous song, jingling a tambourine and whistling. The woman went on cracking nuts and laughing.

… He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt choking, his tears were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut with the whip across the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his hands and screaming, he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with the grey beard, who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman seized him by the hand and would have taken him away, but he tore himself from her and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the last gasp, but began kicking once more.

“I’ll teach you to kick,” Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down the whip, bent forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a long, thick shaft, he took hold of one end with both hands and with an effort brandished it over the mare.

“He’ll crush her,” was shouted round him. “He’ll kill her!”

“It’s my property,” shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down with a swinging blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud.

“Thrash her, thrash her! Why have you stopped?” shouted voices in the crowd.

And Mikolka swung the shaft a second time and it fell a second time on the spine of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches, but lurched forward and tugged forward with all her force, tugged first on one side and then on the other, trying to move the cart. But the six whips were attacking her in all directions, and the shaft was raised again and fell upon her a third time, then a fourth, with heavy measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could not kill her at one blow.

“She’s a tough one,” was shouted in the crowd.

“She’ll fall in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of her,” said an admiring spectator in the crowd.

“Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off,” shouted a third.

“I’ll show you! Stand off,” Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw down the shaft, stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron crowbar. “Look out,” he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a stunning blow at the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered, sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow on her back and she fell on the ground like a log.

“Finish her off,” shouted Mikolka and he leapt beside himself, out of the cart. Several young men, also flushed with drink, seized anything they could come across—whips, sticks, poles, and ran to the dying mare. Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random blows with the crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long breath and died.

“You butchered her,” someone shouted in the crowd.

“Why wouldn’t she gallop then?”

“My property!” shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the bar in his hands. He stood as though regretting that he had nothing more to beat.

“No mistake about it, you are not a Christian,” many voices were shouting in the crowd.

But the poor boy, beside himself, made his way, screaming, through the crowd to the sorrel nag, put his arms round her bleeding dead head and kissed it, kissed the eyes and kissed the lips…. Then he jumped up and flew in a frenzy with his little fists out at Mikolka. At that instant his father, who had been running after him, snatched him up and carried him out of the crowd.

“Come along, come! Let us go home,” he said to him.

“Father! Why did they… kill… the poor horse!” he sobbed, but his voice broke and the words came in shrieks from his panting chest.

“They are drunk…. They are brutal… it’s not our business!” said his father. He put his arms round his father but he felt choked, choked. He tried to draw a breath, to cry out—and woke up.

He waked up, gasping for breath, his hair soaked with perspiration, and stood up in terror.

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment]

[Gloss: “I think… that love encompasses the experience of the possible transition from the pure randomness of chance to a state that has universal value. Starting out from something that is simply an encounter, a trifle, you learn that you can experience the world on the basis of difference and not only in terms of identity. And you can even be tested and suffer in the process. In today’s world, it is generally thought that individuals only pursue their own self-interest. Love is an antidote to that. Provided it isn’t conceived only as an exchange of mutual favours, or isn’t calculated way in advance as a profitable investment, love really is a unique trust placed in chance. It takes us into key areas of the experience of what is difference and, essentially, leads to the idea that you can experience the world from the perspective of difference. In this respect it has universal implications: it is an individual experience of potential universality, and is thus central to philosophy, as Plato was the first to intuit.” – Alain Badiou, In Praise of Love]

All of Dostoyevsky’s characters are lost to love. If he believes that life without suffering is impossible (and the illusion of social reformers lies in the belief that pain and suffering can be legislated away – [Gloss: “I’m trying to say what I think brotherhood really is. It begins — it begins in shared pain.” – Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed]) and that there is redemption in humility and confession of evil, it is not because some institutionalised church authority tells him so; if this were all the moved Dostoyevsky’s, then he would be an obscene fool. No, what sustains Dostoyevsky’s faith, and what makes the horror of injustice bearable and forgiveness meaningful, is love. Without it, then all that would in fact remain to us is cynicism or suicide.

In the figure of the Grand Inquisitor confronted by Jesus, who has returned once more, of the novel The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky opposes to the Church’s government of needs, Jesus’ silent and lawless freedom. For the Grand Inquisitor, Jesus’ silence and anarchy left his disciples and those desirous of following them, with nothing. The example of his life was impossible, and thus the Church was given no choice but to render the impossible, impossible. The Church offered not freedom, but bread and security. Against the fear of the uncertainties of life, the Church promised the fulfillment of needs. And before the possibility of the latter, and if a choice must be made, as it was, freedom will be forgotten, condemned even, for relative comfort. To this, Jesus cannot argue with words (unlike the underground man) – for what common ground exists between them to be able to argue? – but only with deeds, with a freedom testified to in the flesh. And because to act freely (and recall, that for the underground man, to act is to be stupid, or we may add, a child or an idiot) is impossible, the Church, the sovereign of needs, must act against Jesus: the Grand Inquisitor orders him to be burned at the stake.

In what he calls a reservation, Dostoyevsky’s underground man points to what Dostoyevsky may have thought as the only possibility of living freely:

“I agree that man is pre-eminently a creative animal, predestined to strive consciously for an object and to engage in engineering–that is, incessantly and eternally to make new roads, wherever they may lead. But the reason why he wants sometimes to go off at a tangent may just be that he is predestined to make the road, and perhaps, too, that however stupid the “direct” practical man may be, the thought sometimes will occur to him that the road almost always does lead somewhere, and that the destination it leads to is less important than the process of making it, and that the chief thing is to save the well-conducted child from despising engineering, and so giving way to the fatal idleness, which, as we all know, is the mother of all the vices. Man likes to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? Tell me that! But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that he loves chaos and destruction (there can be no disputing that he does sometimes love it) because he is instinctively afraid of attaining his object and completing the edifice he is constructing? Who knows, perhaps he only loves that edifice from a distance, and is by no means in love with it at close quarters; perhaps he only loves building it and does not want to live in it, but will leave it, when completed, for the use of les animaux domestiques – such as the ants, the sheep, and so on. Now the ants have quite a different taste. They have a marvellous edifice of that pattern which endures for ever – the ant-heap.

With the ant-heap the respectable race of ants began and with the ant-heap they will probably end, which does the greatest credit to their perseverance and good sense. But man is a frivolous and incongruous creature, and perhaps, like a chess player, loves the process of the game, not the end of it. And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, gentlemen, but is the beginning of death. Anyway, man has always been afraid of this mathematical certainty, and I am afraid of it now. Granted that man does nothing but seek that mathematical certainty, he traverses oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, but to succeed, really to find it, dreads, I assure you. He feels that when he has found it there will be nothing for him to look for. When workmen have finished their work they do at least receive their pay, they go to the tavern, then they are taken to the police-station–and there is occupation for a week. But where can man go? Anyway, one can observe a certain awkwardness about him when he has attained such objects. He loves the process of attaining, but does not quite like to have attained, and that, of course, is very absurd. In fact, man is a comical creature; there seems to be a kind of jest in it all. But yet mathematical certainty is after all, something insufferable. Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.”

To live not as a means to an end (the logic of instrumentalisation), nor as an end in oneself (the logic of sacralisation), but as a means without end, always in the midst of a becoming without beginning or end. This is what we are desirous to call anarchy.

John Gielgud as the The Grand Inquisitor (a production for the Open University – BBC, 1975)

Tags: dostoyevskyliteraturecategory: Essays
Categories: News

New by Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes!

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:25

New by Michael Rectenwald, Springtime for Snowflakes! | 01 Aug 2018 | Springtime for Snowflakes: 'Social Justice' and Its Postmodern Parentage is a daring and candid memoir. NYU Professor Michael Rectenwald - the notorious @AntiPCNYUProf - illuminates the obscurity of postmodern theory to track down the ideas and beliefs that spawned the contemporary social justice creed and movement.

Categories: News

Call-in for Sean Swain: Get Him Out of Solitary

It's Goin Down - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:21

The post Call-in for Sean Swain: Get Him Out of Solitary appeared first on It's Going Down.

Call-in campaign for long time anarchist prisoner, Sean Swain. To read more about Sean and his case, go here

Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain has come under fire by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The ODRC has increased Sean’s security level from 3 to 5b, an increase that has sent him to solitary confinement, led to him being handcuffed during visits, and further removed him from any possibility for parole.

Additionally, the ODRC is threatening to put Sean on interstate compact, a system that ships subversive prisoners around the country, places heavy restrictions on communication, and interns them in the black hole of the interstate compact system.

We’re calling for any who feel compelled by Sean’s plight to call ODRC director Gary Mohr and demand that Sean’s appeal to the current disciplinary hearing be granted and that Sean’s security level be lowered. (A script for the call can be found below.)

Thank you all. Your solidarity means so much.

-Some friends of Sean Swain

CALL:

Director Gary Mohr

614-387-0588

drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us

melissa.adkins@odrc.state.oh.us (Administrative Assistant for Mohr)

CALL-IN SCRIPT

I am calling on behalf of Sean Swain, inmate #243-205. I am a friend of Sean. I am calling to request the ODRC grant Mr. Swain’s appeal regarding his most recent disciplinary record, drop the charges, and lower his security level from 5b to 2. Mr. Swain is not a physical security risk, and there is no reason to keep him at such a high security rating where he will be unable to get the programming he needs to be eligible for rehabilitation and parole. Thank you for your consideration.

Categories: News

The Common Ground Between Anarchists and Maoists

Anarchist News - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:21

via gods and radicals

The World Cup ended, after we incessantly politicized athletes and the countries those teams were representing. There was something suspiciously convenient about remembering French colonialism now, but forgetting FIFA’s corruption and oppression. This way we can stay glued to the T.V. without losing any “woke points”.

Brazil’s uprising against FIFA in 2013 and 2014 is not a thing of the past. The pretexts that turned social movements into terrorist organizations are to this day responsible for the criminalization of political activism. This resulted in 23 political prisoners with sentences between 5 and 13 years, some still being prosecuted now. People have died, and many more lost their homes. But what we talk about is how cheering for Mexico is an anti-Trump statement, and that the German team is somehow related (symbolically) to Merkel’s refugee policy.

We are witnessing the facade of U.S. American style Democracy crumbing down, revealing the Fascism of an Imperialized State that mass incarcerates and kills poor people of color, trans people, and women. Moreover, a State that uses a corporation to distract the masses with nationalistic sports, while it criminalizes political dissent.

Brazilian Anarchists and Maoists are both being criminalized for dissent that could undermine the government’s ability to function. The OATL (Anarchist Organization of Land and Liberty) and the MEPR (Popular Revolutionary Student Movement) have recently been denominated initiators of violent protest acts in 2013.

“OATL and MEPR members planned to launch Molotov cocktails and other flaming objects at the police during marches against the world cup” – (Folha de São Paulo, July 17th 2018)

Even with all our ideological differences; particularly in relation to the idolatrous use of leadership, and the interest in rebuilding a state that will sustain the dictatorship of the proletariat; we agree that the state we live in now, and its electoral system, must be overthrown. The re-centralization of economic and structural power in a communist government is not at all attractive to us anarchists. And we see that, although efficient in the short run, the personality cult of leaders is not only contradictory to our principles of horizontality. It is also unsustainable, since up to now revolutions have died with their leaders.

photo 4

“Elections are a farce – don’t vote – long live the rural and anti imperialist democratic revolution! MEPR.”

Our common ground is the idea that the dichotomy between left and right in the electoral field is reformist / reactionary rather than revolutionary, since it seeks representation in, and consequently validation of, the system. Even the most far-left candidates like Guilherme Boulos (PSOL), with his rhetoric of defending the poor with policies against real estate speculation and so on, aim at rebuilding the faith of the Brazilian people in the system. This only slows down the revolution. We know that the candidate will not win, if he wins he will not do what he says, and if he tries to do what he says he will be impeached, imprisoned, or killed (as we have seen so many times before).

The strategy of using the partisan platform supported by the U.S. American Style Democracy to spread revolutionary ideas is like fucking for virginity, validating in the process the very thing we are trying to invalidate. The immediate needs of the people who most need this revolution can not be satiated with crumbs. It is our responsibility as militants to not create dependence on the very Government we aim to overthrow, and strive to meet these immediate needs as a community; a Movement.

“There is only the concern of throwing crumbs at the gaping mouth of hunger, perhaps so that they leave us alone …” (Maria Lacerda de Moura)

From 11 to 15 July, pedagogy students from all over Brazil met at União dos Palmares, Alagoas, to discuss methods of combating State attacks against education, and the rights of the people inside and outside the academic sphere in our country.

This was the 38th ENEPe (National Meeting of Students of Pedagogy), and its 1st Marxist-Leninist-Maoist edition.

dsc2418

The realization of this groundbreaking event in the history of ENEPe was not possible without overcoming serious obstacles. There was a rupture between leftist students, resulting in two different events being held: this one organized by ExNEPe (National Executive of Students of Pedagogy) with predominant presence of the MEPR, and another event with predominant presence of MEPe (Student Movement of Pedagogy) and student movements linked to UNE (National Union of Students).

This ideological divergence among “leftist” students is based on partisanship. The MEPR claims political independence, a vote boycott, and a complete rejection of financial dependence on, or campaigning for, political parties. In addition, they also aim to keep this event open to students from other academic fields and to non-students.

For many, the boycott of the vote means a breach for the right to strengthen, or even a right in disguise (like blaming 3rd party voters for Trump). Those of the MEPe, who were not on board with MEPR rhetoric, not only made their own event at another date and place, but also sabotaged the initiative and promotion of their peers’ event. Posters promoting the 38th ENEPe in União dos Palmares were removed or damaged in some way throughout the country.

36933408_10156584863642372_4301165432024334336_o

The vast majority of the approximately 400 people present had to overcome multiple financial and bureaucratic obstacles, as well as the sabotage of other students, to attend the event that week. Therefore, the presence of each one, from each region, held the weight of dedication to militancy, and the enthusiasm of a youth with faith in the revolution.

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Delegations from each region, sleeping quarters.

On the last day of the meeting, the MFP (Popular Women’s Movement) presented itself as a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, embracing the cause of women who are students, teachers, workers and peasants, and stating that the landowning (bourgois) woman is an enemy. The Movement aims to combat unpaid domestic work, the servitude of maids to their bourgeois employers, and the idea that there is some innate difference between men and women.

We must also overcome the monogamy of traditional families, because it was born with the concept of private property to ensure the transfer of assets by inheritance. They also affirmed that there is no rape culture, there is the Patriarchy and Capitalism. Therefore, one does not destroy rape culture with laws, one destroys capitalist patriarchy with a revolution. The problem is not the man, it is the State. And above all, the purpose of the organization is “to awaken revolutionary fury in women.”

The event showed beautifully how Popular Culture is resistance. A typical Alagoan dance performance opened a series of cultural presentations of each delegation present. It became clear that “each Brazilian region is a Country”, as one of the students observed. It was exciting to witness how extreme diversity can mean full union and solidarity. Several dances, songs, stories, and languages were presented, highlighting how the hegemony violently invisibilizes valuable cultural expressions in Brazil (we are much more than just Rio and São Paulo).

On Saturday, July 14th, participants were divided into three groups, one of them destined to the historical site of Quilombo dos Palmares. This is the most famous settlement of runaway enslaved Africans in resistance to Portuguese and Dutch occupation. The trip in the yellow school bus was a celebration, everyone alternated between singing tacky songs and chanting political slogans. In Serra da Barriga, in the region of Zumbi dos Palmares (the a most famous abolitionist leader of the Quilombo), we rattled on the dirt road, up and down mountains of low vegetation, with occasional coconut trees being greeted by vultures.

photo

It was inevitable to feel the power of that land, even though it is now structured somewhat like a theme park. Each step seemed to lift a centuries-old combative memory, as if it were dust that instead of obfuscating, made our political purpose even clearer. The sight from above the mountain almost placed us in the bodies of the men and women who settled there 400 years ago, and in the strategic awareness of being able to see enemies from afar without being seen.

At the end of the visit, many of us swam in the small pastel green lagoon where Quilombolas “fed their souls”.

photo copy

When we returned to the university in União dos Palmares, we attended presentations of works, some of which would later be awarded. One of them addressed the importance of sex education in schools for students between 11 and 15 years of age. The interests of the children revolved around the themes of masturbation, puberty and menstruation. The presenter showed that sex is still a taboo between teachers and principals. When we see how common it is for 13 to 15 year old girls to become pregnant, the importance of overcoming this taboo and addressing this issue is revealed as undeniably urgent.

The importance of history was emphasized when we recognized that Brazil has a memory problem. A presentation on the Araguaia Guerrilla discussed the perpetuation of violence, decades after the battle, when the crimes of the resistance are judicially equated with those of the oppressors. She also brought up the subject of female particularities when it comes to the practice of torture during the Brazilian “dictatorship” (Military regime of 1964-1985), and the question of using the term “dictatorship” as it is used by the bourgeois democracy to defend its contemporary dictatorial policies.

In general, there was a lot of repetition of terms such as “postmodernist,” “opportunistic,” “immobilist,” and scientific Marxism, without refined definitions and contextualizations. This alienated certain students who did not identify as Marxist, and gave little opening for participants to disagree. Even the final votes were bizarrely homogeneous, perhaps not only because there was consensus, but also because going against the group would be intimidating.

For the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie, inaccessibility is the charm. With them there is no dialogue, there is combat. Fighting the idea that “a lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” (Goebbels) also means recognizing that there are different perspectives on reality, and not just a truth that belongs to scientific socialists. Occasional failures to recognize this have resulted in certain unfortunate affirmations, such as one on the mysticism of “primitive” communities, and superficial and unnecessary approaches towards dialectical materialism.

Even so, it was stated that the science we see today in the academy serves the Capital. Scientific knowledge of the people, be it indigenous, black or peasant, is appropriated by the ruling class and patented. We have to bring science back to the people, by preserving traditional indigenous education, for example. To one of the speakers, the “Indigenous problem” is a class problem, not a white supremacy problem; It is a struggle for land and survival. It would be interesting to have more Indigenous and Quilombola groups in the coming events, so much so that it was decided that the theme of the 23rd FoNEPe (National Forum of Pedagogical Entities) will be “education that serves indigenous, peasant and Quilombola communities”, next year in Juazeiro, Bahia.

At the end, the farewells were warm, since during the week we cultivated great affection for each other. There was room for self-criticism and growth, and the socio-political potential of the event is undeniable. We are all excited about the next ENEPe (39th) that will take place in Guarulhos, São Paulo, with the theme “defending the public school against privatization.”

Mirna Wabi-Sabi Tags: brazilmaoismcategory: International
Categories: News

How to Still Be Chill Without a Refrigerator

The Organic Prepper - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:19

Looking for a fun way to spend this hot summer week? I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that spending it without a working refrigerator … Read the rest

The post How to Still Be Chill Without a Refrigerator appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

Categories: News

Newly Elected President of Mexico, Lopez Obrador, Vows to Ban Fracking

deSmog - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:19
Read time: 2 mins

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won the election to become Mexico's President on July 1, stated in a press conference that he will ban the horizontal drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) upon assuming the office.

The announcement would be a devastating blow to the oil and gas industry, which had its eyes set on drilling in Mexico's northern frontier in an area known as the Burgos Basin. The Burgos is a southern extension of the Eagle Ford Shale, a prolific field situated in Texas. 

Tags: frackinghydraulic fracturingshale gaspemexpetroleos mexicanosburgos basinEagle Ford Shaleshale oilMexicoAndrés Manuel López Obrador
Categories: News

Twin wildfires threaten 10,000 northern California homes

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:13

Twin wildfires threaten 10,000 northern California homes --The so-called Carr Fire that has burned more than 880 homes and killed six people has become the ninth most destructive wildfire in California history. | 31 July 2018 | Twin wildfires [Direct Energy Weapons-engendered destruction?] tearing through vineyards and brushy hills threatened some 10,000 homes on Tuesday in Northern California -- yet another front in the battle against the flames that have ravaged some of the state's most scenic areas. The two fires straddling Mendocino and Lake counties had burned seven homes along 116 square miles (300 sq km) of rural land. Fire crews were able to slow the spread of one of the blazes into populated areas and instead the fire pushed into the Mendocino National Forest.

Categories: News

One Year Later: Santiago Maldonado Presente!

Anarchist News - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:11

The presence of an absence
Translated from the bulletin "La Oveja Negra" n.56, July 2018, (Rosario, Argentina)

Just short of the anniversary of that 1st of August in which they took Santiago, it's important that the commemoration be accompanied by revolutionary memory and the extension of the social conflict. Santiago was a sensitive person, a rebel, his writings and raps speak so strongly that the wind doesn't carry them. They agitate and move us, against the pope, the presidents, the megaprojects and against the existing order, with humor, with certainty.
They tried to make Santiago disappear two times: firstly the armed forces and later others, hiding his struggle, his life, his ideas.
For Santiago, the anarchist who stood in solidarity with the prisoners for the sackings in Bariloche, who fought in the assemblies and the barricades of Chiloé, who cut the route 40 for the liberation of Facundo, TN1 they organized church masses and they inserted him into electoral discourses. They tried to reduce him to a victim: of the gendermes, of Bullrich,TN2 of Macri, or even of the mapuches themselves as the officialist slant pushed. Meanwhile, his comrades in struggle were pursued by the police and branded as infiltrators in the mobilizations, which still continues today.
"It's notable, that the repression suffered dialy by the mapuche communities in the south, imprisonment of Facundo Jones
Huala, and above all, the profound social content of the Autonomous Mapuche Movement of Puelmapu, is in the same or worse grade of obscurity and misinterpretation as before the disappearance of Brujo." We said this last year, and it hasn't done anything more but get worse since then.
Recently, we are being witness to a new campaign of lies in which they try to establish the mapuche as those who fooled and abandoned Santiago, at the same time as they lied to the family. Santiago was not fooled in Cushamen, he knew what he was doing and not doing. Those that don't know anything are the killers and their accessories who think that with force and lies they can stop the struggle and the solidarity. For that reason they publish phone-taps made on Sergio Maldonado and on Ariel Garzi, who has already come out to say that those transcriptions are in part false. These phone-taps are one more part of the permanent mafioso message of the State, not only to the mapuche, but to the whole social movement. Like when they planted the dead body of Santiago, they want to sow the example of what can happen to us when we disobey, when we fight for a different reality. Just like on the other side of the the wire, it is sought to break apart the groups that tender support to the territorial recuperations, to isolate the communities in conflict, their authorities, spokespersons and combatants.
Like a year ago, like always, the State, it's Justice and its jails can't give any other response but violence, against all those who confront their terrorism and their world of death and misery.

TN1: Facundo Jones Huala, incarcerated mapuche activist and tribal leader
TN2: Patricia Bullrich, Argentine Minister of Security

The God of Business

O God! Who is in the heavens of your empire.
You that are the guardian of the safes, you that sleeps among the bricks of gold, silver, titanium and copper!
You that are sheltered from the earthly crisis when there is hunger, collective hysteria, natural and artificial disasters!
You that sees it all and knows it all!!
You that can judge the mortals, say who may enter and who may not, who may rejoice in happiness and who shall grovel in the dirt, putrid and precarious!!!
You, king of kings, we defy, under that varnished cross of deforestation for the civilization and modernity!
Your temples will be occupied by the barbarians and will be pockets of resistance, flames in the darkness with protective sparks, the force and the energy must accompany us in the paths of life which we have chosen in order to confront adverse situations and the obstacles which present themselves through the length and width of the course of the trails....
life is for living and enjoying, not to watch as it passes by, it's not disney, it's not big brother, it's no bestselling novel...
it's simply unique above all...

Vote For Me

Why do we insist that you vote?
Because we want to subject you in the present so that in the future you will continue being subjected.
We think that by blocking your mind and alienating you with our projects in health, education, work, security, comfort and technology, we will secure the bank, the social status and the power that we so dearly covet.
We believe in the social hierarchy and that we must order and you must obey, because like so a fatherland for every man and woman is achieved.
Someone must govern and it's for this reason that we're here, if not everything would be in chaos and freedom would reign, everyone would do what they wanted and we would not exist.
We also believe that with the money collected from the slavery that we want to impose we can control every corner of the planet Earth, reinforce the surveillance with security cameras at every step that you take, more police, military, armies and terror.
To make more jails and jobs in order to torture, silence and isolate those who don't adapt to the rules of the game.

Fire to the ballots, democracy, the parliament, to the Nazional Constitution!!!
Neither votes nor boots.
Nobody represents you but yourself!
No bosses, no leaders.

Texts by Santiago Maldonado
Extracted from his zine "Vagabun2 de la Idea", Mendoza, 2015

Argsesina*

Here in Argsesina 2016,
A mediocre country as you see.
To the right or in reverse, what is it that you see?
Everyone thinks that that had it good before.
Now appears the corruption, the unemployment, the inflation and the intoxication.
Look at the TV, everyone's distracted by the dollars that appear hidden in mansions, in convents.
This money was already robbed from me, from you and from our forerunners. Nature demands revenge!
The extractivism increases their profits.
Some businessmen have their their bellies swelled.
Others malnourished, preoccupied with a balance.
What is it that's happening?
In this world in trance, some are dying and others have hope in democracy.
Everything is already said. If you give yourself they will fuck you.
The people buy the discourse of progress, what do they understand by this?
That the yuta (shaman priestess) comes and she breaks your bones.
Or that they fool you in a church, on bended knee with the wooden cross. And if the priest wants he'll get sex from you.
That's what it is, that's progress.
The profit Pablo communicated his utterances.
And there's many witnesses of so many sacrifices, as if now they don't sacrifice you in your workplace.
Don't be foolish, open your eyes and your ears.
Progress is your enemy!
They contaminate a sea with dead salmon.
They destroy a mountain for a thermoelectric dam.
This is progress. It demolishes everything, it doesn't care at all, if you're a girl or an old lady.
It destroys life within seconds.
That which takes years to grow, can disappear in an instant.
That they dynamite a mountain for a mega-mine.
Or also that they make a highway to accelerate the commodities.
It's the magic of capitalism. Mickey Mouse with his cynicism. Rockefeller dancing in the abyss.
Likewise the struggle continues, in this era and right now.
Later in the church they speak to you of prophesy.
That everything is being fulfilled according to what the messiah foretold. Here and now, the struggle continues!
I'm beginning to distrust in what was premeditated, dictated so that now we put the blame on the devil.
Do you understand what I mean?

Lyrics of the song Argsesina, from the rap duo Santa Blasfemia of which Santiago Maldonado formed a part.

*Argesina is a conglomeration of the words 'Argentina' and 'Asesina' (Killer)

Tags: Santiago MaldonadoArgentinaMapuchecategory: International
Categories: News

Yosemite Valley to remain closed until at least Sunday, August 5

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 16:27

Yosemite Valley to remain closed until at least Sunday, August 5 | 31 July 2018 | The National Park Service has announced that parts of Yosemite National Park will remain closed until at least Sunday, August 5. The closure began July 25 because choking smoke from the Ferguson Fire had filled the iconic Yosemite Valley, creating unhealthy conditions. Firefighting operations had also limited access to Highway 41/Wawona Road. On Tuesday, park officials also announced that they had added the Hetch Hetchy Valley to the list of areas closed to the public.

Categories: News

Living in Community, from Co-housing to Manufactured Home Parks

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 16:24
Link: Co-op Power Hour: Living in Community, from Co-housing to Manufactured Home Parks

We live in a time when housing is a defining asset. It is the main source of wealth for many people, but it was also part of the cause of the major economic crisis of our era.

Especially here in Colorado, housing costs have risen far faster than most people’s incomes. Here and elsewhere, people have been turning to cooperative models as a way to turn the tide—or even survive. On this show, we look at two innovative strategies for a more sustainable future of housing.

We hear from Karin Hoskin, executive director of the Co-housing Association of the United States, who lives in one of Boulder County’s several co-housing communities.

Along with her we’re joined by Paul Bradley, President of ROC USA and a recent inductee in the Cooperative Hall of Fame for his work enabling residents of manufactured home communities to be owners of the land under their homes.

Listen to the podcast at KGNU News

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

NYU Professor: We're on the Verge of 'Completely Losing Our Culture'

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:53

NYU Professor: We're on the Verge of 'Completely Losing Our Culture' | 01 Aug 2018 | NYU professor [and CLG Founder] Michael Rectenwald warns that western civilization is under siege from Maoist totalitarians and that we are on the verge of "completely losing our culture." In a blistering Facebook post, Rectenwald provided perhaps the most succinct summary of the threat facing the West ever written. "We're undergoing a Maoist-like Cultural Revolution -- with the power of the corporate mass media, corporate social media, the academy, most of corporate America, the deep state, the shadow government, and most of the legal apparatuses behind it." ...Rectenwald has faced the consequences for his forthright views before, being placed on paid leave [from NYU] back in October 2016 for starting a secret Twitter account in which he argued against safe spaces, trigger warnings and the policing of Halloween costumes.

Categories: News

How Facebook and Surveillance Capitalism Empower Authoritarianism

Truth Out - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:44

“Black Elevation.” “Mindful Being.” “Resisters.” “Aztlan Warriors.” Those are the names of some of the accounts removed from Facebook and Instagram Tuesday after Facebook uncovered a plot to covertly influence the midterm elections. The tech giant said 32 fake accounts and Facebook pages were involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” This announcement comes just days after the company suffered the biggest loss in stock market history: about $119 billion in a single day. This is just the latest in a string of controversies surrounding Facebook’s unprecedented influence on democracy in the United States and around the world, from its pivotal role in an explosion of hate speech inciting violence against Rohingya Muslims in Burma to its use by leaders such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in suppressing dissent. Facebook has 2.2 billion users worldwide, and that number is growing. We speak with Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. He is a professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia.

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post How Facebook and Surveillance Capitalism Empower Authoritarianism appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Where next for the New Economy movement?

Grassroots Economic Survival - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:35
Link: Where next for the New Economy movement?

In late May of 2018, the Buffalo city council agreed to a strategic plan that gives residents on Buffalo’s East Side a meaningful voice in how their neighborhood will be developed. The council transferred up to 20 vacant lots to the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that will manage the property and keep housing prices affordable for those who need it most. They also agreed to give nearby homeowners the option to buy other vacant parcels.

This victory was the result of years of community organizing by local residents who were determined to take action in the face of the gentrification of their neighborhood. The long-term goal is “development without displacement,” attracting new jobs and building new housing but not at the expense of the existing residents who call the Fruit Belt home.

The Fruit Belt Community Land Trust is just one of thousands of stories of people who are organizing to build what many call “economic alternatives.” But lots of people working on these “alternatives” in the US “new economy movement” reject that framing because they aren’t interested in staying in the margins. Instead, their goal is to transform the system, not create a niche alternative for a small number of people. The new economy wants to be theeconomy, but how?

Read the rest at openDemocracy

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Trump calls on Sessions to end Russia probe 'right now'

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:28

Trump calls on Sessions to end Russia probe 'right now' | 01 Aug 2018 | President Trump on Wednesday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the Russia investigation, a significant escalation of his attacks against the long-running probe that has dogged his presidency. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further," Trump tweeted. The president also accused special counsel Robert Mueller of being "totally conflicted," adding that "his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA."

Categories: News

The Jeff Sessions Injustice League

Truth Out - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:13

The post The Jeff Sessions Injustice League appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Standing Rock Medic Bus Is Now a Traveling Decolonized Pharmacy

Truth Out - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:07

There was something familiar and comforting about the bus. A crowd of people painted green vines and flowers on the exterior as it sat parked in a field near Frank’s Landing during the Indigenous Environmental Network’s annual Protecting Mother Earth Conference, held earlier this month.

This bus was indeed an old friend. It has a lot of history helping indigenous people; it served as a kitchen and then a treatment center for the Medic + Healer Council at the Standing Rock water protector camps. Now it’s been transformed into a bus for the Canoe Journey Herbalists, who are currently accompanying the approximately two-week-long annual Native American traditional canoe gathering along the Pacific coast of Washington and Canada. The journey is expected to culminate in a final stop in Puyallup, Washington, on July 28. Over 100 canoes from more than 70 tribes registered to participate this year.

Midwife Rhonda Grantham of the Cowlitz tribe is one of the herbalists accompanying the journey.

Although Grantham and other healers with the Canoe Journey Herbalists are prepared to tend to the sore muscles and throats as well as sunburned and mosquito-bitten skin of canoe pullers, their mission is far greater.

“This is about decolonizing herbalism,” Grantham said.

The Canoe Journey Herbalists includes other skilled healers volunteering their time and efforts in creating a mobile herbal healing bus to serve canoe pullers along the canoe journey route. The bus has housed this kind of work before.

The bus that herbalists will use to serve patients was originally used by Standing Rock water protectors. It was donated by volunteer groups Rising Tide North America and the Beehive Design Collective, said Linda Black Elk of the Catawba Nation. Black Elk is an instructor in ethnobotany at Standing Rock Tribal College and member of the Standing Rock Medic + Healer Council.

The Canoe Journey Herbalists are modeling their efforts off of the Standing Rock Medic and Healers Council. Members of the the council learned a great deal about people’s needs during their time at the Standing Rock camp.

Rhonda Grantham of the Cowlitz tribe is co-founder of the Canoe Journey Herbalists.Mary Annette Pember / YES! Magazine

“Rather than going to the first aid tent for peroxide and antibiotic cream, many people came to us. They were aching for a deeper healing. We found we could help people with simple things like a foot bath or herbal salves,” Grantham recalled.

Modern herbalism often uses high-potency oils or tinctures that are handled like pharmaceuticals and delivered in microdoses. These practices may be overseen by individuals with a range of training — from vocational apprenticeships to degrees and professional certifications.

“We’ve forgotten about the power of a cup of herbal tea made from gentle plants we’ve grown or gathered ourselves,” she said.

The herbalists are indigenous-centered and -led and intend to teach people how to harvest plants sustainably as well as the importance of sharing both the plants themselves and the knowledge of their use.

“The dynamic of the herb world is being appropriated by White herbalists who have land on which to harvest and money to pay for classes and conferences on herbalism,” Grantham noted.

Bundles of donated cedar are stored in the sink of the Canoe Journey Herbalist bus.Mary Annette Pember / YES! Magazine

Interest in herbalism and alternative healing has skyrocketed globally. According to a 2013 report from the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicinal products and supplements for some part of primary health care. In 2016, Americans spent $30.2 billion on complementary health approaches, such as herbal supplements, according to the NIH.

These supplements are pricey for those who want access to them, with fees both for the herbs and for the herbalist consultation. Anecdotally, a bottle of milk thistle used for liver health can cost around $45 while a visit to an herbal consultant might cost upward of $95.

Grantham also has concerns about the commercialization of herbalism leading to unsustainable harvesting practices. “Once herbs become commercialized, we see people acting like locusts when they harvest, leaving nothing for those who come after them,” she said.

Overcollection of medicinal plants is a global problem, according to the World Conservation Union. About 15,000 medicinal plant species may be threatened with extinction from overharvesting.

“I understand that people want to learn and be a part of this indigenous way of knowing, of gaining knowledge of plant medicines, but the true way to be gifted ancestral and plant wisdom is at the feet of our elders and in being of service to the community,” Grantham said.

Canoe Journey Herbalists offer non-Native herbalists the opportunity to volunteer their services along the canoe route and to donate plants to the project.

“We have a lot of caring allies who understand that White privilege has allowed them to acquire wealth. We give them a space here to be of service rather than taking, buying, and appropriating,” she said.

Herbal medicines created by the Canoe Journey Herbalists with pullers during the Intertribal Canoe Journey.Mary Annette Pember / YES! Magazine

Canoe Journey Herbalists aren’t marketing their medicines. “We aren’t making blends that are going to be put in pretty bottles with fancy labels. Our medicines are created in community and are gifted to the community,” Grantham added.

This spirit of community sharing and healing is reflected by the theme for this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey, “Honoring Our Medicine.”

“We put our canoes in the water and travel and connect with one another as our ancestors did so long ago. During this weeklong gathering, we will celebrate and honor the water that sustains us,” Puyallup tribal chairman Bill Sterud said in a written statement.

The canoe journeys are contemporary revivals of an ancient tradition among Northwest tribes. Families traveled from one homeland to another, connecting and feasting with other communities. The journeys were revitalized in 1989 during the Paddle to Seattle festival.

“Our elders have taught us that water is a powerful medicine — a life-giving force that sustains, heals, and protects us,” Sterud added.

Grantham’s goal is to help Native and non-Native people establish a connection with land and plants.

“Caring for our own families, gardens, plants, and communities helps us reestablish connection and sense of caretaking of the land rather than just harvesting plants out of existence,” she said.

“We’ve forgotten that we are all healers. We don’t have to go to school or memorize names in Latin; we all have access to plants and can comfort ourselves with our plant ancestors,” Grantham added. “Just as the Intertribal Canoe Journey has revitalized our culture, we hope that plant medicine will be one more pathway to connection and community healing.”

The post Standing Rock Medic Bus Is Now a Traveling Decolonized Pharmacy appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

A “Just Transition” From Coal: Stepping Up Efforts in a Difficult Battle

Truth Out - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 15:00

When Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants closed in 2012, residents cheered the reduction in pollution and began envisioning what they’d like to see become of the sites. In such a major city, the loss of taxes paid by the company was not a significant issue.

It’s a different story in places like downstate Illinois, where coal plants are at risk of closing in coming years in communities that depend on the jobs and tax revenue they generate.

That’s why the nonprofit Just Transition Fund and its partners around the country are trying to help communities and governments prepare for what experts say is the inevitable closing of more coal plants, and coal mines.

In September, the Just Transition Fund will hold its first meeting focused specifically on the transition away from coal in the Midwest, with a particular focus on working with organized labor. The group’s executive director and co-founder Heidi Binko said the fund will also be expanding its focus on Illinois, where theEcoJustice Collaborative has been working with mining communities on transition plans for years.

Along with more than half a dozen coal-fired power plants that could close in coming years, downstate Illinois is home to many coal-field communities where mines were long the mainstay of the economy and local identity. While Illinois coal remains relatively profitable compared to coal in Appalachia and other areas, mine employment is a fraction of what it was in its heyday and existing mines won’t operate forever.

“We launched the fund in 2015 knowing that [dropping coal employment] would just become more and more of a problem,” Binko said. “When you think about coal mining regions, Appalachia was the region first and hardest hit; they’ve been dealing with transition for a decade. The Powder River Basin is likely to see the effects next, followed by the Illinois Basin.”

In April, the Just Transition Fund received a $1 million grant from Google for its general operations and to create a guide for communities facing transition away from coal. The Just Transition Fund works with communities facing both mine and power plant closures.

“When you think about coal communities in transition, there are three fundamental questions communities have to deal with,” said Binko. “What do you do with the former site, what do you do with the jobs that are lost, and what do you do with erosion of the tax base?”

Replacing Lost Revenue

While jobs may get more attention, Binko said the loss of tax revenue is usually the most pressing issue when both mines and power plants close.

“The underlying problem is the same — erosion of the tax base,” said Binko. “In both cases jobs are lost, but the significant economic impact is erosion of the tax base. In some places that could mean the community will lose 80 percent of its revenue.”

In New York, a 2015 state law makes state “gap funding” available to help replace the taxes a closed power plant would have paid. The $45 million fund was created thanks to activism around the closing of the Huntley plant near Buffalo.

Sandy Buchanan is executive director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which carried out a financial analysis for the New York alliance pushing for the gap funding law.

She pointed to the government funds allocated to help communities affected by the closure of military bases. While coal plants are privately owned and run, she said the government should play a similar role in helping those communities survive a closure.

“Especially if you have a big plant in a small town, [a plant closure] can cause serious harm to the school system, the police force, anyone who gets public funding,” Buchanan said. “So it’s really important to have a strategy for local governments to get funding into their coffers to plan for this transition.”

The IEEFA also created a report and strategy regarding the Navajo Generating Station in the Arizona. The plant is slated for closure, which will mean cleaner air but a major loss of jobs and tax revenue for the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Buchanan noted that companies often ask the government for “bailouts,” as critics call them, to keep plants running. This has been the case around the Navajo Generating Station as well as with Dynegy in Illinois, FirstEnergy in Ohio and other instances.

“Well, how about instead of bailing out the coal plant, bring in federal money to support the budget of Navajo and Hopi, allow them time to plan for the future,” said Buchanan. “That’s much less expensive than a federal bailout of a coal plant which would mainly go to the pockets of Peabody” — the mining company which is the sole supplier of coal for the Navajo Generating Station.

A Difficult Struggle

While government funding for struggling communities might be the ideal solution, it is hard to count on. Buchanan said that in Ohio, where many coal plants have closed, state leaders have not done much to address the issue.

“There’s been very little, you could say zero state government effort to help these communities out,” Buchanan said. “It really looks to me like the leadership needs to come from the communities themselves, because they’re not going to get help from [state capitol] Columbus.”

The Just Transition Fund offers grants to help communities bolster their existing economies and try to develop new ones. While the effort is modest compared to the scale of the challenge, the grants can help existing retailers or other business owners grow, in ways that theoretically create more tax revenue and jobs.

Debbie Phillips served in the Ohio legislature for four terms, seeing first-hand how constituents struggled with the decline of the coal-based economy. Now she is CEO of Rural Action, an advocacy group that works with the Just Transition Fund.

Phillips noted that while residents might like to see new industries, retail developments or other economic drivers come to town, it is hard to lure investors to rural areas. She called on government, donors or financial institutions to create incentives or investment funds that prioritize investment in communities with plant or mine closures.

But even when new types of investment spring up, she added, it is hard to replace the types of jobs that coal provided.

“This is a region that has multi-generational poverty,” she said, “where the kind of job they could have had working for a coal company is one with decent pay and benefits,” but jobs in other industries likely don’t compare.

“It’s a long road to diversify an economy that’s been dependent on coal; none of these are quick fixes.”

During her time in the legislature, Phillips toured an AEP hydropower plant where a generator was being refurbished. She noted that such work could be done by former coal plant employees.

“The people who work in that plant absolutely love it,” Phillips remembered. “It’s so much cleaner than working in a coal plant. If we are mindful of the way we do these transitions, and if the power companies are willing to work with the workers and local communities, there can be transitions that make sense, using the skills they developed in a way that’s good for them and good for our energy supply. But unfortunately our energy policy in Ohio is fairly fragmented, and doesn’t lend itself to a thoughtful transition.”

Seeking Alternatives

While coal plant workers might have skills that are transferable to clean energy, coal mine employees might be able to get temporary employment in the cleanup of closed coal mines.

“We’re funding reports right now that look at potential for [mine] reclamation as an economic development strategy,” said Binko. “When you’re talking about reclamation of former mine sites, it is often the exact same skill set — moving dirt essentially, the use of big machinery.”

For both coal mines and power plants, federal and state regulations generally mandate that the sites are cleaned up to certain standards. But after the cleanup, local residents, community organizations, and even elected officials often have relatively little power in deciding what comes next.

Sites are typically privately owned, and while the legacy or new owner is bound by remediation, zoning, and other requirements, it’s difficult for the public or the government to tell the owner what to do with the site.

After coal plants closed in Chicago, the Delta Institute — a grantee of the Just Transition Fund — worked closely with residents, city officials, designers and other stakeholders to come up with proposed plans for the two sites. Residents envisioned green space, renewable energy production, retail, a community kitchen and other options.

But six years later, it is unclear what will happen to one of the sites — a city bus barn has been discussed; and the other site was purchased by a developer proposing a major logistics center, an idea local leaders strongly oppose.

Meanwhile, residents north of Chicago in Waukegan, Illinois have been spearheading their own process regarding what they’d like to see on the site of a coal plant that they feel will close. But city leaders have been largely reluctant to engage with the effort, and the company that owns the plant, NRG, says the plant will keep operating.

The Means as an End

Three decades ago, Cynthia Winland worked with communities in Michigan that were struggling with the decimation of the auto industry. Today she is a fellow with the Just Transition Fund and consultant for the Delta Institute working on coal transitions. She said that even if residents’ visions never come to pass, there is much value in the process of deciding what they’d like to see on the site of a power plant or mine.

“To think about land use and what they want to be in the future and what does success look like to them,” she said. “What kind of assets are available to them, even if they aren’t available now, what would they want to do [in the future]? For people to articulate what they want, they may not be able to achieve it on that particular site, but it may be able to guide other things.”

In May, the Delta Institute released a guide for communities with coal plant closings, with questions and strategies related to land reuse, stakeholder engagement, environmental cleanup, government resources and more.

The Delta Institute, Just Transition Fund and others use an “asset-based approach” meant to help communities identify their strong points and potential for growth.

“It’s important to note that what a just transition looks like is different in different places,” Binko said. One area might look to sustainable farming or eco-tourism, while another would emphasize clean energy.

“It’s never one silver bullet; one of our grantees likes to say it’s a number of silver BBs,” said Binko. “They want to transition away from being dependent on one thing for a long time. You don’t want to just replace one mono-economy with another.”

The post A “Just Transition” From Coal: Stepping Up Efforts in a Difficult Battle appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens - report

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:55

Assange may finally leave Ecuadorian embassy in London as health worsens - report | 01 Aug 2018 | Julian Assange, who has spent more than 2,230 days in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is expected to leave the building soon with his health deteriorating, sources say. This latest information about the WikiLeaks founder, who was already expected to leave the embassy "in the coming weeks," was broken Wednesday by Bloomberg which cited "two people with knowledge of the matter." The news agency reported that the whistleblower's health "has declined recently."

Categories: News

If You Take a Charitable Tax Deduction, You Should Actually Give to Charity

Truth Out - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:51

In every community, there are nonprofit charities that serve real needs: local food pantries, programs addressing the opioid crisis, the Red Cross chapters that come to our aid after a storm. Charities provide vital services to the people and places they serve.

These organizations lean heavily on volunteers, fundraisers, and donors. And most ordinary donors give without consideration of a tax break — people give their time, treasure, and talent without keeping score.

For many ultra-wealthy donors, however, charity can be motivated not just by generosity, but also by tax avoidance.

A case in point is the surge of donor-advised funds, or DAFs, created in recent years by wealthy donors. We studied these accounts in “Warehousing Wealth,” a new report for the Institute for Policy Studies.

A DAF is like a mini-foundation, a holding account for giving — but with substantially greater benefits and conveniences for the donors.

When donors contribute to a DAF, they take a tax deduction — often a big one. But those funds can then sit in the DAF for years, even generations, before they’re granted out to charities working to meet real social needs.

Originally created by community foundations, DAFs have been recently adopted by for-profit Wall Street firms like Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, and Charles Schwab.

These firms created charitable DAFs to serve their wealthy clients’ philanthropic goals, while happily charging fees to keep funds under management. They have no legal incentive to see funds move in a timely way to active charities, so corporate-affiliated DAFs have been growing exponentially in recent years.

A decade ago, the biggest donation recipients in the United States were the United Way, the Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society. Today, it’s the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. In fact, six of the ten largest charity recipients are DAFs.

Donations to DAFs grew by 66 percent over the past five years, compared to just 15 percent for charitable giving by individual donors. Donations to Fidelity Charitable grew over 400 percent over seven years, to nearly $7 billion last year.

Our tax code provides incentives for people to give to charity through the charitable tax deduction. The ultra-wealthy are the biggest beneficiaries of this deduction, which comes at a cost to the rest of us.

For every dollar a millionaire gives to charity, the public subsidizes 37 to 57 cents of that donation through diminished tax revenue. By giving to their own selected charities, millionaires are paying less for public services like infrastructure, national defense, veteran care, and parks.

So there’s a natural public interest in making sure DAF donations at least move quickly to active charities. But there’s no legal requirement for DAFs to pay out quickly — or ever.

DAFs also open up loopholes for donors and private foundations to get around tax restrictions, and have little transparency and accountability.

Simple reforms could prevent these abuses.

Lawmakers could require the distribution of DAF donations within a fixed number of years. They could delay the tax deduction until funds are paid out to a public charity.

They could also ban DAFs from giving to private foundations, and vice versa — closing loopholes that further delay giving to active charities. And they could bring greater scrutiny to gifts of appreciated assets.

We don’t want to discourage charitable giving, but the current system poses significant risks to nonprofits, the people they serve, and taxpayers. As a society, we can’t condone hoarding wealth at a time of urgent social needs.

The post If You Take a Charitable Tax Deduction, You Should Actually Give to Charity appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

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