As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako – who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.
—  Aaron Swartz’s Politics by Matt Stoller.
When organizations do and don't take abuse seriously

At this point, most schools and organizations know that they are supposed to take abuse seriously. Most of them have abuse policies. Most of them have orientations that talk about the abuse policies. Often, they do all of these things without actually thinking the abuse is a real possibility within their organization, and without being sincerely prepared to deal with it.

An organization that actually takes abuse seriously will not spend the entire training talking about how seriously they take abuse. They will not emphasize “these rules protect you from false allegations”. They will not emphasize internal punishments and discipline committees. 

They will spend most of the training time talking about abuse itself, how to prevent it, and how to report it.

They talk about practical things like:

  • What you’re not allowed to do to other people
  • What other people aren’t allowed to do to you
  • How to tell when you’re crossing a line
  • How to tell when someone else is crossing a line
  • When and how to report things
  • That you should call the police if you have reason to suspect that a crime has been committed, and that you should report to your supervisor *after* you call the police.

They will also be able to give examples (in a way that protects the privacy of the people involved.) Eg: “A few years ago, a camper told me that a counselor touched him in the shower. I called the police and then told my supervisor.”) If an organization has existed for a long time and says that they have never had a serious abuse incident, that’s a sign that something is wrong with their procedure for detecting and reporting abuse. Abuse is not rare, and no abuse prevention program is 100% effective.

Organizations that take abuse seriously do not expect to handle everything internally. They will tell you that if it seems that a crime has been committed, that you should call the police *before* you report it internally. Non-criminal forms of misconduct can be handled internally; crimes should not be. When crimes are investigated only internally, organizations cover things up.

An organization that takes abuse seriously will care more about protecting people than protecting its image or identity as a safe place where abuse doesn’t happen.


Ecosocialist Conference Supporting Organizations

The Expansion of the UN



Your map about countries joining the United Nations has an error. The Republic of China (known as Taiwan) was part of the UN since 1945. This was switched to the People’s Republic of China in 1971. Two separate governments have considered themselves ‘China’ since 1949/1950 as a result of the Chinese Civil War. So technically PRC should go gray in 1949/1950, and then PRC goes blue/ROC goes gray in 1971.

hey-youngbutt said:

Hi! I'm writing a book about a group of four who deal with events and matters that are too dangerous for police, but I can't think of a good name for the agency they belong to. (That's literally what I've called it, the Agency.) Any tips on how to think of a good name for it?

HA HA I AM SO BAD AT NAMING THINGS LIKE THIS for real I’ve spent months trying to name a particular group and I’m not happy with it still. Here’s some things I’ve looked into:

  • Past Organizations/Secret Societies. The Templars are a favorite in fiction, but there’s plenty more out there. If your organization is hush-hush, this may be the way to go, but be careful! Some names and groups may be well-known in fiction already, or overused. Another danger is that a perfectly innocent sounding name might have been used by shitty assholes and is forever tainted, so do some digging.
  • Acronyms. If your group has a government-link or some official status, there’s no reason why you can’t go the FBI route and find a catchy acronym that’ll match with their general function.
  • Private Sector Company Names. They can have a name that doesn’t say what they do, but has (or takes on) a connotation to it. Think Blackwater - it doesn’t indicate what the company does, but it has (or gained) a sinister ring to it nonetheless.
  • Don’t Go Name Overload. Sometimes simple is better. If you have too many groups using too many names, you’ll lose the reader and hopelessly obscure what these groups are known for. If you do want to go for that technical ring, it’s not uncommon for groups to gain nicknames that clarify what they are (or just make fun of them), like just calling the FBI ‘the feds.’*

I hope you have better luck than I have!

Agent Black

(*’The feds’ can apply to a number of federal authorities, but I hope you see what I mean.)

Watch on

Yves Morieux: As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify (by TED)

A good destillation on how organizations should battle the increasing complexity.

So you wanna write about people who work in or deal with an organization, or want to create a fictional organization from the ground up?  Here are some things to know and keep in mind when doing so that people frequently overlook.

This article could also be subtitled “Why what happened in Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t necessarily mean the end of SHIELD” or “Why Agents of SHIELD will survive CA:WS.”  :P

Equaldex Launches New LGBT Organizations Feature

Equaldex, the crowdsourced LGBT rights knowledge base, introduced a new feature making it easier to find the LGBT organizations making a difference in each country and region.

The new LGBT organizations feature provides a database of organizations across the globe. Organizations are listed on each country page on Equaldex (example: LGBT rights in Israel) allowing users to find the organizations who are fighting for LGBT rights, or providing resources for LGBT people in that region.

Equaldex now offers a feature to browse all LGBT organizations, as well as a timeline of LGBT organization was founded. 

Organizations are also listed on Equaldex’s timeline of LGBT rights on each year’s page (example: 1990 in LGBT rights).

Equaldex’s organizations database is still growing. If your favourite organization is missing, please suggest it!

Almost every day I meet people who wonders why their organizations doesn’t work as well as they should when it comes to productivity, quality performance or innovation. Not seldom the lack of creative people is perceived to be the problem. Sometimes it is the lack of knowledge or not having the enough intelligent or talented employees.

But is that analysis really correct?

Maybe it is the other way round? If we think about it, employees have never been as informed and educated as they are today. Neither are they more stupid, at least if we believe in the Flynn effect, which states that IQ is gradually and substantially rising over time.

Furthermore we seems to believe that just because the employees are more X, where X can be e g educated, skilled, knowledgeable talented, creative or maybe intelligent, the organization will also be more X. Or at least a raised X will have some positive effect on the organization. 

But what if it was exactly the opposite and the organizational capabilities would benefit from people who where less X?

Mats Alvesson and André Spicer suggests that we at least should have a more nuanced view of how we think knowledge and smartness relates to organizational performance in their recently published a paper by the name "A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations" in Journal of Management Studies.

Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive reasoning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and ‘safe’ terrain. It can provide a sense of certainty that allows organizations to function smoothly. This can save the organization and its members from the frictions provoked by doubt and reflection. Functional stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening organizational order. It can also motivate people, help them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable forms of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes can further reinforce functional stupidity. However, functional stupidity can also have negative consequences such as trapping individuals and organizations into problematic patterns of thinking, which engender the conditions for individual and organizational dissonance. These negative outcomes may prompt individual and collective reflexivity in a way that can undermine functional stupidity.

For a more easy overview and comment on the issue read article in Financial Times.