brainpolice

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Check Your Definition

Stills from a video I threw together recently, based on a post by Brainpolice that I shared some time ago. As this is a remix, feel free to use the image files from the zip file below to remix into your own work. You could also download the video file from Vimeo and add a music or voice track if you wanted. Just be sure to credit Brainpolice and myself. I would also appreciate a message if you do make something out of this as I’d be interested in seeing it.

Download: Check-Your-Definition.zip


youtube

Brain Police - Jacuzzi Suzy LIVE @ Eistnaflug 2011

I mostly just find memetics annoying now. Is there some arbitrary date in time in which everyone decided that the internet is just for trolling, being inane for the sake of it with memes, and a culture of snark? You try to have a serious exchange with people and the internet culture swoops in and ruins it. You log on to social networking and just see that for some the internet is just an excuse to not take anything seriously - or to be a narcissist and then use non-seriousness and snark as a shield (narcissism with a “I know I’m being a narcissist” wink). Especially on the part of people in their teens and 20’s (*shakes fist like old man even though he’s 30).
—  Alex Strekal
Objects Are Morally Neutral

BrainPolice:

I’ve always been a stickler for the notion that objects are morally neutral. This notion usually comes to play in debates about gun prohibition, to counter people essentially claiming that guns are causal determinant for violence in and of themselves, but of course they truly aren’t causal determinants, only instrumental means. A gun can be used to murder someone or to defend someone from an attempted murderer. In either case, the moral neutrality of objects has implications more far reaching than the issue of gun control. For example, there is the idea among some people that money is the root of all evil, but money is only a means and object that one can use for a plethora of purposes, both good and bad.

In the case of both the gun prohibitionist and the “anti-monetarist”, an object is claimed to be intrinsically and absolutely evil merely because sometimes certain people may use them towards negative ends, and the abolition of the object is proposed as a solution. The problem is that no such intrinsic value exists in such objects, and morality judges actions, not tools. There is nothing about such tools in and of themselves that can be rationally assigned with moral properties. What matters from the perspective of morality are the actions that people engage in while using such objects. While the nature of an object may certainly be to facilitate a particular end, it is only the end in question and the way in which the object is used that can be morally judged, not the object itself.

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Anarchism As Scepticism

BrainPolice:

  • The government is necessary.
  • The government is legitimate.
  • Democracy is representative of the people.
  • Democracy is the best form of government.
  • Majority rule is legitimate.
  • Checks and balances actually function.
  • Voting is meaningful or even an obligation.
  • We have a meaningful choice between political parties and candidates.
  • Governments form as a result of the social contract.
  • The good of society.
  • The rule of law.
  • Law provides order.
  • Only the government can provide certain services.
  • Society must be modelled or planned.
  • Without a pre-existing design, there cannot be a society.

What do all of these things have in common? They are political myths, incoherent abstractions, and apologetic devices. Before a political discussion even takes place, generally most of this is simply assumed. But why do we have to assume legitimacy in order to have a discussion or debate in the realm of politics? Are these not assumptions that must be proven to begin with? A claim of authority isn’t something that is legitimate before any argumentation takes place, it must be proven like any other positive claim. Unfortunately in the bulk of political discourse such positive claims are simply assumed and calling them into question is like sticking monkey wrench into the conversation. Why is it taboo to question these assumptions and concepts?

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Democracy is slavery because the minority, most importantly the individual, is forced into an association with and subjected to the decision-making power of the majority that they did not explicitly consent to. I define slavery quite simply as involuntary servitude and forced association, a state of affairs in which one or more individuals imposes decision-making from above upon one or more individuals against their explicit consent. Under democracy, whatever positive obligations that the majority wishes to impose on the minority must be lived up to regaurdless of the consent of the minority. The majority exercises decision-making power over social and economic life of others. Certainly a man is no less a slave if they have a multitude of masters rather then one master. While in monarchy the individual has one ruler or is the subject of a tiny familial or noble aristocracy, in democracy the individual has more of a plurality of rulers. The majority exercises shared or quotal rulership over the subjected individual. Democracy increases the amount of rulers. It could conversely be said that it reduces the amount of subjects as compared to monarchy, but this does not solve anything and the subjects are only reduced by the creation of more rulers.
—  BrainPolice. Democracy Is Slavery
Definitions
  • Constitutionalism:The belief that a piece of paper drafted and signed by a tiny aristocracy of men is a legitimate perpetual contract that makes the government voluntary on the part of those within a society that did not sign the document and limits the powers of governmental agents for all of eternity.
  • Minarchism:The belief that there can be a government limited to the protection of rights without violating rights in and of itself; the belief that all goods and services should be provided by the free market yet somehow the principle magically doesn't apply to the defence and arbitration industry.
  • Democracy:The belief that the government is controlled by the people simply because every few years they get to punch a hole in a piece of paper with the names of a few rich and powerful men on it.
  • Nationalism:The belief that imaginary lines on a map constitute real and meaningful property boundaries; the belief that territories have human traits or personalities of their own; the belief that immigration is the spawn of satan.
  • Objectivism:The belief that the initiation of force is wrong yet somehow it is permissible to arbitrarily invade Iran and Venezuela because "we" have oil interests there; the belief that only romanticism is real art; the belief that you can eliminate taxation and still have a "government".
  • Political Libertarianism:The belief that the state is inefficient and immoral yet for some strange reason the state is the only viable means by which we can bring about liberty; the belief that democracy is tyrannical yet we must use it to our advantage.
  • Paleoconservatism:The belief that conservatism was hijacked by leftists and communists and that the "true conservatives" are those who support protectionism and white nationalism; the belief that you're more conservative than those creepy neocons yet somehow you support just about as powerful of a government as they do.
  • Christianity:The belief that the path to salvation lies with devotion of one's life to a Jewish zombie hippie who is his own father.
  • Satanism (Laveyan):The belief in the writings of a former carnie con artist who haphazardly threw together the ideas of Ayn Rand and Aleister Crowley, incoherent ramblings on the Enochian key and rhetoric to draw in rebellious teenagers.
  • Zionism:The belief that because your people were nearly liquidated once, you have an inherent right to liquidate others and forcibly remove them from their own territory.
  • Religion:The belief that fairy tales from centuries or millennia ago passed down through shaky oral tradition and written down by fallible men are actually absolutely true and codes to live one's life by.
  • Collectivism:The strange belief that groups have a mind of their own yet their component parts don't.
  • Altruism:The belief that self-destructive servitude for the sake of others is the greatest virtue; the belief that everyone should mutually be slaves to each other.
  • Epistemological Subjectivism:The belief that all truth claims can be reduced to mere personal opinion or preference, yet somehow this view isn't a mere opinion in and of itself.
  • Epistemological Nihilism:The belief that there is no such thing as truth, yet somehow it is true that there is no such thing as truth.
  • Statism:The belief that it is not only moral but necessary for a particular group of individuals to do that which is openly acknowledged as being immoral and not necessary for everyone else to do; moral hypocrisy at the institutional level.
  • Primitivism:The strange belief that living in a cave or mud-brick hut or as a hermit in the woods is preferable to modern industrial society; the romanticisation of long gone tribal and hunter-gatherer societies (in which life was nasty, brutish and short) as peaceful and prosperous utopias.
  • Welfarism:The belief that the poor can be helped by giving them back a tiny chunk of what was originally stolen from them and keeping them in a state of dependancy on the government; the bribery of the lower classes.
  • Inflationism:The belief that all problems can be solved by simply printing up more money, despite overwhelming evidence that the arbitrary creation of new money creates problems in and of itself.
  • Monetarism:The belief held by a bunch of Chicago School economists who think that they are free market proponents but really are quasi-Keynesians.
  • Anarcho-Syndicalism:The belief that corporations are evil yet somehow corporate-dominated government chartered and cartelised unions are the path towards a free and stateless society.
  • Hobbesianism:The belief that a highly pessimistic view of human nature that entails war of all against all justifies absolute control by the state, despite the fact that the state is made up of *gasp* human beings.
  • Radical Environmentalism:The belief that the planet itself has intrinsic value and that human beings are inherently evil parasites on the face of the planet; the modern religion of nature-worship.
  • Globalism:The strange belief that large-scale conflict and war would end if only we put all political power in the hands of a singular oligarchical institution with control over everyone in the entire world.
  • Marxism:The belief that some crazy rich German guy has predicted an inevitable egalitarian future and has mapped out the path towards the liberation of all poor and working people through the work of a benevolent dictatorship.
  • Racism:The strange belief that a particular roll of the genetic dice entitles and requires one to completely separate themselves from others with another particular roll of the genetic dice; the collectivism of bubble-headed bigots.
The Myth of the Social Contract

BrainPolice:

One of the most erroneous political ideas is the notion of the social contract. The idea is that the legitimacy of a government is based on a social contract between the people and the government. In America, the constitution is supposed to be our social contract. But since no such “social contract” has ever been an actual voluntary contract among “the people”, it cannot be said to have any genuine authority under any common sense standards of justice. None of us ever signed the document (and even when it was drafted, it was only signed by a tiny aristocracy of people). Rather, we are assumed to have implicitly “consented” to it merely for being born within the territory. This strikes me as incredibly unjust. A true contract requires explicit consent. However, the standard view of the social contract is that everyone implicitly agrees to it by simply living under a given government.

The idea of a contract that I never signed that binds me to the authority of the state from birth, is akin to slavery from birth. I never signed no stinking contract. How is it that I am bound by this document for merely being born within the territory? How is it that I am obligated to serve a particular band of men for merely being born within the territory? How can a document be self-enforcing? It cannot, it must be created and enforced by flesh and blood individual men. How can the law rule all on its own? It cannot. The rule of law is a concept meant to, or that at least functions to even without such intent, disguise what is really the rule of men. The state cannot be contractual. If such an institution truly is contractual, it ceases to be a state in any rational definition of the word.

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Positive "Rights"

BrainPolice:

The idea of positive rights is that people have a “right” to be given particular benefits, material resources or services by others. They represent claims of a right to receive positive benefits from other people, in the absence of any actual “debt” incurred. They require people to take certain actions with regard to each other. The contemporary notion of a right to healthcare, a right to education and a right to income equality are common manifestations of this.

It is empirically impossible to consistently apply or enforce positive rights to all people. Imagine that every single person has a positive obligation to provide food, clothing, income security, healthcare, and education for each other. Not only does the scarcity of resources make this hopelessly utopian, but it is simply physically impossible for each person to exercise their quotal share of control over everyone else. There is no realistic way for everyone to keep continual tabs on each other as to ensure that they fulfil their alleged positive obligations to serve each other. Therefore, the attempt to enforce positive rights will always in practise impose a burden on one group to the benefit of another. Positive rights cannot realistically be applied equally. Of course, wether they are attempted to be enforced or not, there will always be some degree of inequality in terms of the material resources people possess, and hence people’s alleged positive rights will always be quantitatively imbalanced. Any attempt to set it up so that everyone has an absolutely equal quantity, as well as quality, of goods and services will be in vein.

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The concept of individual liberty, consistently applied, would seem to have pluralistic implications. For it leaves room for anyone to act as they please within the context of voluntary interpersonal relations, and by its very nature a society consists of a plurality of different types of people with a plurality of traits and preferences. Individualism, when applied to an entire society of people, recognises the high degree of diversity among individuals, that each individual is fundamentally different from the other in some way. On the other hand, collectivism and the fallacy of holism that is often present in sociological analysis views a society as if it were a singular autonomous individual or as if it is unanimous, hence failing to recognise the inherently plural nature of human interpersonal relations. The abstractions of group identities obscures the individual and the diversity within a given group and creates false dichotomies that pits each respective group against the other.
—  BrainPolice, The Plurality Of Liberty
Democracy is Impossible

BrainPolice:

There are many good arguments against democracy. The most standard of these arguments is primarily an ethical one: that it is unjust for a majority to be able to vote away the rights of a minority. For if democracy is defined in terms of majoritarianism, it must be dismissed as being inherently incompatible with a universal application of rights to all human beings, since it implies that any larger amount of people can legitimately force their will on any smaller amount of people. This makes democracy nothing but might makes right, cloaked in egalitarian rhetoric. The ethically and logically consistent position would be that if it is wrong for an individual to do X (such as murder), then it is wrong for a group to do X. However, I intend to take a bit of a different approach to arguing against democracy here.

The ideal of political democracy is that of a government controlled by the people as a whole. The idea is that by expanding access to the governmental apparatus to everyone, wether that be through voting or through eligibility for holding political office, we will get rid of exploitation of men by men. This is supposed get rid of the special privileges in society, converting everyone into more or less a state of “equality under the law”. But this idea is ridiculous. The government is not actually directly controlled by the people. Ownership by the government, in practice, amounts to ownership by an oligarchy, for the people do not in fact directly control the government. The people who actually constitute our government, in practise, are the politicians, bureaucrats, policemen and soldiers. Another related class of people are a small band of private interests who ally with the government for special privileges in exchange for political support. Combined, those are the real, albeit unjust, owners of “public property”, which is stolen from “the people” in reality (including workers and the poor in general).

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vimeo

Check Your Definition


Note: Based on a blog post by Brainpolice that I shared some time ago.

An analysis of various -isms that goes beyond the superficial and examines their true meanings. Basically any -ism of importance that is logically inconsistent has been called out for what it really is.

I put this together with the intention of keeping the design of the video as minimal as possible, with colourful contrasts and dynamic animations in keeping with a modern flat style. The colour used for each definition may not accurately represent the colour that identify certain -isms. The title I chose for the video is an obvious play on the “check your privilege” phrase that gets thrown around.

Anarchism and Atheism, Theism and Statism

BrainPolice:

Anarchism and atheism are both defined in negative terms. As general paradigms they do not actually advocate any particular belief or system of organisation. They represent the lack of a belief. Atheism is a lack of belief in deities and religions, while anarchism is a lack of belief in governments and political groups. The literal meanings of the words are “without gods” and “without rulers”. Both reject the alleged need for these things to exist and go even further in denying that they even exist as anything but concepts inside of people’s heads.

While it may be objected that there is a difference between the two in that atheists deny the existence of gods, while anarchists do not deny the existence of governments, rational anarchists in fact do deny the existence of governments insofar as they are conceived of as anything but an aggregation of particular individual human beings. Anarchists are fully aware that the state is not an individual entity in itself so much as a particular organisation made up of certain people. It could be said that the anarchist is not interested in abolishing the state so much as abolishing people’s belief in the state as a sovereign individual entity and the need for such an entity. For the state is fundamentally based on the ideological support of the populace, albeit in a passive and brainwashed manner. The state cannot be abolished in a meaningful or permanent way without a change in the ideas of people.

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The Rational and Individualist Case Against Racism

BrainPolice:

I’d like to state upfront that I am not an egalitarian, which is to say that I am fully aware of the fact that people are inherently unequal with respect to their mental and physical capabilities as individuals, and I despise the politically correct way in which racial questions are often treated in public discourse. I do not support affirmative action or any attempts to force people of different racial groups to associate with each other. However, I intend to make a decent criticism and refutation of the ideology of racism itself as well as its goals.

Like all forms of collectivism, racism treats entire groups of people as if they were individual entities in themselves. But only individuals exist, think and act. Responsibility cannot reasonably be assigned uniformly to entire races or abstract concepts. In the same way that the entire caucasian race cannot be blamed for any particular blunders done by certain white people in the past, the entire negroid race cannot be blamed for any particular blunders that certain black people may engage in presently. The notion of ancestral guilt is morally bankrupt, for it assigns moral responsibility to certain individuals who took no part in the thing in question for merely being descended from those who may have engaged in the thing in question. The notion of collective guilt is morally bankrupt, for it assigns moral responsibility to everyone within a given group for the actions of particular individuals within that group.

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I Hate Conservatism

BrainPolice:

In the most classical definition of the word, conservatism has always stood for a defence of the status quo. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the so-called “liberal” parties were more or less interested in revolutionary change into the future and opposition to political power, while the so-called “conservative” parties were a reactionary movement that was interested in maintaining the privileges of the existing political classes and elites of the times. In those days, this meant a defence of things such as monarchy, land privileges and the union of church and state. Hardly an admirable political position. The thing to be conserved by conservatives in those days was political power and the privileges that came with it to particular private individuals.

As a historical view, conservatism has a tendency to romanticise the past. In particular, anything from colonial America to feudal Europe to the 1950s is painted in as positive light as possible to the level of absurdity. Conservatives tend to paint colonial America as a haven of freedom. Yet, not to sound cliche, but this is only remotely true if you were rich, white and male. If you were a native American, a slave or the average worker your conditions were fairly horrid. This is of course not an indictment against freedom, because freedom was denied to such people in the first place. In either case, the conservative idea of “turning back the clock” represents a desire to do something that is impossible. While the starry-eyed progressive and social darwinist notions of perpetual or gradual progress into the future may be silly, the idea of returning to a past utopia is equally absurd.

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How The State Thrives, How The State Falls

BrainPolice:

How the State Thrives

How does the state maintain itself? It is true that to some extent all states initially derive from conquest through devices such as war and land theft. However, once a state has been established, and once many generations have passed, it need not rely on such overt violence in order to maintain its rule. Instead, it relies on the mechanisms of propaganda, of buying out intellectuals and aristocrats within the public, and by providing bread and circuses. Ultimately, the most powerful factor keeping a state in place, once one has been established, is the compliance of the populace, driven fundamentally by ideology. For ideology is a far more dangerous weapon then any guns or bombs. The only thing truly keeping the state in place is the people’s ideological support for it and the state’s exploitation of any ideologies that they may adhere to.

This does not mean that everyone consents to the government. Indeed, people may have gripes with much of the various things that the government does. However, what keeps the state in place is ultimately people’s passive resignation to its existence and their ideological acceptance of the notion that there is a need for one in the first place. They may strongly disagree with many policies of the government, but they have simply been born into the system and have been given the impression since birth that the government is good, necessary and inevitable, and that the only alternative to its rule would be absolute chaos and destruction. For ideological support for the state is fundamentally based on the Hobbesian notion that human beings are inherently evil and conflicting when left to their own devices, and therefore they need to be ruled in order for their allegedly inherently chaotic natures to be kept in check.

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An Apolitical Approach To Libertarianism

BrainPolice:

In the discussion and debate that goes on among libertarians, it is disputed as to wether or not libertarians should vote and participate in party politics. Some see voting as the only practical option, some think that there should be a multi-pronged approach that includes voting, some are die-hard supporters of the Republican politician Ron Paul, some are adamantly opposed to the Libertarian Party, some think that voting is immoral and some think that voting is impractical and strategically counterproductive or suicidal.

In a fundamental sense, however, perhaps in this context libertarians could be broken up into two basic camps: political libertarians and apolitical libertarians or anti-political libertarians. Quite simply, it breaks down to a matter of those who support some kind of active participation in the political process, as well as engage in it themselves, and those who do not support such activity. It is important to realise, however, that this dichotomy does not entirely mirror the divide between libertarian minarchists and anarchists, for there are some anarchists who fall on the political side and there are some minarchists who surprisingly fall more on the apolitical side. Even free market anarchists do not have a particularly unanimous consensus among themselves on the question of voting and participation in the political process. And opinions among libertarians on figures such as Ron Paul may vary from the highly enthusiastic to the downright hostile.

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