monopoly of force

Hunk HCs

★ He’s completely deaf, so he has hearing aids and is Really good at reading lips

★ He also uses ASL and Lance learned it in secret to surprise him and Hunk cried

★ Has a huge fear of spiders

★ Lance found him in their dorm once screaming and throwing random shoes at the wall

★ Makes so many sarcastic comments under his breath he gives Pidge a run for their money

★ Is judging you anytime of the day

★ He got into puns because of his mom 

  • It helps him remember her while he’s up in space

★ Watched chopped on a daily basis and screamed s o m u c h

★ Once made a self sustaining tornado to help Lance prank Iverson

★ He had a dog named Sunny back on Earth

★ Can roast anyone if the piss him off enough

  • He did it once and Lance still hasn’t recovered

★ Anyone who has ever said something bad about Lance is on his shit-list for life

★ Has watched every Bill Nye episode in existence

★ Is insanely good at monopoly

★ Was forced to watch his younger sister attempt to flip a gallon of milk  

★ His hair was actually pretty long before he got the Garrison

  • He used his headband as a hair tie

★ Knows all the gossip at any given time

  • People just trust him like that

★ My beautiful trans son

★ Realizes that anyone color coded characters with Red and Blue end up together and is just waiting for Keith and Lance to continue the tradition

★ Will not get 5 ft within an Ouija Board

  • He’s watched too many movies to take his chances with that shit

★ Meditates because he’s done with Lance’s tomfoolery

  • “Just take deep breaths and try not to lock him in a closet Hunk”

Hunk, shortly after Lance does something stupid: Mm

  • Lance: whAT DOES THAT MEAN

Hunk, through tears: I am one with the force the force is with me, I am one with the force the force is with me, I am o–

★ Had plenty of secret admirers at any given school he went to

★ Took apart his tv once and somehow made it better?

★ Tiana is his favorite Disney princess

When something bad happens to someone he strongly dislikes: Oh no, how could this have happened…..I do hope they recover…..

★ Favorite musical is 22 Chump Street

  • He felt soooo bad for Justin

★ Duct tape has saved his life on many occasions

★ He has really bad anxiety and to cope he messes with random objects


★ Could be found harmonizing with his siblings

  • He finds out Keith can sing and demands a jam session

★ He has two moms sorry I don’t make the rules

  • Also has 2 sisters and a brother

★ Can out bench press Zarkon

★ Started learning Altean with pidge because why not

★ Licked Shiro’s arm in the name of Science™

★ Master of all languages

  • Okay not all but it’s Enough

★ Had the opportunity to earn an associates degree in Engineering while in High School

★ Texted with punctuation back on earth and lance was,,,,,Disgusted

  • He just wants to make sure no one misunderstands him

★ Learns the lyrics to “Two-Player Game” from Be More Chill with Lance

★ He has a forest near his house that he always goes in

★ Was in Color Guard before he went to the Garrison

  • He’s reached the Max Flexibilty

Not an Issue: Free exchange of goods and services between consenting parties.

A very big Issue: Corporate entities controlling a massive, centralized government which is able to extract funds from individuals under the threat of force in order to grow larger, threaten more people, and control the lives of individuals more easily. 

EDIT! I have one addition!
This same massive government then provides tax breaks and even subsidies to the very corporate entities controlling this monopoly of force, effectively putting any forms of competition at a huge disadvantage and further solidifying their own corporate power. 

Some MLB headcanons for the soul

-Adrien absolutely loves monopoly
-Nino has no idea why but every time he goes over to the Agreste mansion Adrien gets out his Monopoly board?
-He gets used to it
-Eventually his dates with Alya become monopoly dates because he’s so used to it and it reminds him of people who love him.

(A lot more under the cut)

-Alix and Jalil almost never talk to each other.
-Jalil is always busy poring over history
-Alix is too busy skating to give a shit
-Jalil craves her attention, as when she was a little kid, he always used to play with her when their father was busy
-Alix pushes him away on purpose because she hates his stupid sympathy
-And their relationship kinda sucks

-Kim’s mother pressures him to do well in school
-His father is an alcoholic
-He spends most of his nights laying in his bed feeling blank because he has little love
-Max and Alix help him feel so much better.
-Max helps him with the work he doesn’t understand so that his mother isn’t angry
-Alix constantly argues with Kim’s dad to save Kim from being yelled at, even if it means getting bruised eyes (it’s not like her brother will care anyway, right?)

-Nathanael’s mum is Madam Bustier, but he doesn’t tell anybody
-He still has his abusive father’s last name, even if that man is behind bars
-He and his mother have the best relationship
-They’re open to each other with everything
-And when his mum is upset about her past, he draws her pictures and paints for her

-Chloe pretends she only keeps Sabrina around for minion purposes, but the truth is, Sabrina reminds her of her mother.
-She loves Sabrina for that
-She also prefers dating girls, rather than guys, and uses’ Adrikins’ as a cover up
-She blames her dad on their missing family member

-Rose and Juleka have been low-key dating since forever
-Its not even a secret anymore everybody knows even Lila
-They are the cutest everyone loves them
-Rose’s family adores Juleka

-Alya’s little sisters (the twins) think Nino is the best
-He always brings over his mum’s homemade dinners when he’s spending the night there
-Alya thinks hes the best too
-She also thinks his dad is the best, because he’s super nice
-Nino and Alya like to act really mushy in front of the twins because they think its gross
-’Alya we love your boyfriend but can you please stop leaving lipstick kisses on his cheeks’

-Mylene loves singers like Taylor Swift and Alessia Cara
-Ivan loves MCR and Bring me the Horizon
-They’re always asking Nino to smash their favourites together
-They make surprisingly good mixes?
-Nino is happy to do it because they sound so good

-Every year around July, the whole class gets together at Nathanel’s place (Mme Bustier is happy to do it, these guys are like her second kids, their house is actually really big anyway)
-Everyone goes
-Everyone is accepted and gets along
-Even Chloe and Marinette (bc im a sucker for soft Chloe)
They do normal kid things they dont usually get to do because of family problems
-Kim is free of his parents
-Alix has no brother watching her constantly
-Adrien has people that love him
-Chloe has no high expectations
-Marinette supplies food and whatever
-Adrien supplies monopoly 
-He forces everyone to play
-They pretend to hate it
-But really
-They absolutely love it
-Because they’re surrounded by loving people and everything they’ve ever wanted. 

Monopoly On Force

A term and concept you may often encounter in discussions with anarchists, libertarians, and other similar sorts is “the monopoly on force,” IE: “the state possesses a monopoly on force in a given geographic region.” However, I think the full depth of this concept is not always understood, or is taken for granted, and so I wanted to write a short piece on it and what that means for folks who oppose the state, as I see it.

In the United States, the legal system is divided in two parts, and I don’t mean this in the way SVU opens but rather its divided into criminal law and civil law. Under the latter, we’re dealing with one party who alleges wrongdoing by the other and pursues a legal action for redress of injury, either in the form of obligation to do something (usually pay out damages) or stop doing something that is damaging the plaintiff, or a combination of both. In these cases, you have it termed “The Case of Plaintiff vs. Accused” loosely speaking. Civil cases have a lower burden of proof, generally, and also lack the presumption of innocence, for various reasons.

However, this is not so in a criminal case, a fact many people don’t entirely understand. In a criminal case, the plaintiff is not the supposed victim of a crime. If someone stabs you, you could sue them for damages in a civil case. However, the criminal case, the plaintiff is not the alleged victim of a crime. Indeed, the case isn’t even really about them at all. Instead, it is nominally about ‘society,’ at least in trappings. The state is pursuing the charges that are violation of its criminal statues and laws, not restitution on behalf of an alleged victim.

This is why, in the United States, criminal cases are “The People of the State of X vs. Accused” or “People of the United States vs Accused,” generally speaking, often shortened to just “State vs. Accused,” or “United States vs. Accused.” Nominally speaking, the state is supposed to be acting as the representative and advocate of society itself. In Commonwealth countries, this takes the form instead of the “Crown vs. Accused,” where the Crown is seen as the advocate of the people. As stated, the alleged victim is actually not party to the case, except in terms of being potentially a witness called to testify. This is why the penalties levied on a guilty party involve the state, not the alleged victim; fines go to the state, not them, and the state may take custody of the person and lock them away and deny their freedom.

This is, supposedly, part of the concept that the state is acting as a representative of the people. However, this is a lie. In reality, the state does not (and indeed cannot) act as a representative of the whole of the people, for various reasons that go beyond this short bit. Suffice to say, the state is pursuing its own interests, which may nominally line up with what some may consider to be the interests of society, but that is not the primary driving goal. Instead, what the state is exercising is its monopoly on force, which really is what the criminal law boils down to. If Person A stabs Person B, the criminal trial is not actually about getting justice or restitution for Person B, it’s about enforcing the legal statue that the state has.

This is because the state claims the absolute authority over the use of force in its claimed jurisdiction. By exercising force inside that jurisdiction in a way not in compliance with the state, it thus is asserting a right to punish you. This extends also to self defense, in which the state passes judgment on if you were legitimate in your use of force, because it has to sanction all uses of force in a given area for them to be seen as valid.

What this means is, of course, that the state is asserting actual ownership and control of you, as a person, because they are the ones that can dictate the actual disposition of your body and if your use of it was legitimate. In this way, the existence of a state violates the rights of the individual in ways beyond the more commonly discussed fact of taxation being theft.

I want to make it clear that when I “generalize” all police officers, I am aware that I am doing so. With every critical post of the police I make, there’s always those supporters of police who come out of the woodwork and tell me to stop “grouping all cops in with the few bad apples, because that’s not fair.” You know what really isn’t fair? The fact that there is an entire group of people who have a monopoly on force. The fact that that this same group of people, when caught doing things like say, executing innocent human beings, are disproportionally treated as if they are above the law. When I say I am anti-cop, I mean that I do not support the system that they are an integral part of. Though you may know some friendly neighborhood cop who’s a “good guy™”, it does not excuse the fact that they have consented to participate in immoral actions. No, not all of them are murderers, but all of them participate in theft in the form of fines being imposed (e.g traffic tickets), all of them participate in jailing innocent human beings by arresting them under the pretense of unjust laws (e.g. the war on drugs), etc. The very nature of what our justice system has allowed and forced police to do is a crime against humanity and by choosing that as a profession, every single cop has consented to partake in immoral action. That is what I mean when I say all cops are bastards.

Why I Am A Socialist - Part 3: Because Marx Was Right

This one is for anyone curious about what Marx was actually on about (as opposed to the caricatures of his thought that abound), and for those who know already but could do with a bit of a recap/consolidation.

All Marxists are socialists, but not all socialists are Marxists. There are really two definitions of what it means to call yourself a Marxist. On the one hand, you may be affiliated with an orthodox Marxist-Leninist communist party such as are still active in most European countries, and which preach Bolshevik-style armed revolution by the working class. More commonly today, people who call themselves Marxists are socialists who find much of their philosophical inspiration in the political economy of Karl Marx. I am a Marxist of this kind. I think Marx was right about most of the essentials, and that he remains the most important socialist writer, his work being the best theoretical tool available to anyone trying to understand capitalism and move beyond it.

Marx was, above all, a theorist of capitalism, not of socialism. What differentiates Marx from the vast majority of economic writers after him is that he actually took the time to develop a theory of how capitalism itself works. As the economist Yanis Varoufakis (now the Greek Finance Minister) points out, the economics profession after Marx became obsessed with developing ‘scientific’, physics-based mathematical models that became increasingly divorced from the day-to-day reality of capitalism and the social relations which undergird it. For the post-Marxian economic intellectuals, market exchange, free labour markets and ownership of productive assets were not the defining features of a specific economic model called ‘capitalism’, but were instead what define economies per se; the study of anything outside of the basic economic coordinates of capitalism was no longer considered properly economic study. ‘Once we got into that framework of thinking about the economy’ says Varoufakis, ‘capitalism became invisible.’ Marx, of course, did not think capitalism was synonymous with ‘economy’. The theory of capitalism Marx espoused treated it as a very specific constellation of social relations and historical forces which could and should be subject to scrutiny and critique; in insisting upon the necessity of critique, in fact, he was far more loyal to the scientific method than the economists who sought to make of economics a natural science.

Marx’s analysis of capitalism begins with a question: what does it mean to be a capitalist? Capitalist activity is the making of profit; if you are not making profit, you are not a capitalist. Profit is what is left over after you have paid all of the costs associated with producing whatever it is that you sell. If I began a business and only recovered my costs, I would cease my economic activity very quickly, since what is left over after costs are covered must at least cover my own living. This is the absolute lower limit of profit required for a capitalist to continue production; he must be able fund his own consumption from it. It the market, of course, capitalists compete with one another for profits; the real lower limit is the average rate of profit, the rate beneath which one starts to become less competitive, and above which an advantage is gained against one’s competitors. The law that a good chunk of profits must be reinvested productively in order to grow the business and remain competetive (and avoid sinking beneath the average rate of profit), is the iron law of capitalism; it acts upon the capitalist themselves without mercy. Reinvestment, rapid growth and perpetual accumulation are the conditions of economic life upon which capitalism cannot budge, upon which it can make no compromise.

The above explains why profit must be produced, but what does Marx say about how it is produced? Much of mainstream or marginalist pro-capitalist (bourgeoise) economics says that profit is produced in the act of exchange; the seller produces or buys at a particular monetary cost (m) and sells at a larger monetary value (M). The difference between the two is profit, and it is gained in the act of exchange. The intuitive appeal of this construction requires a bit of critical scrutiny to see through. Imagine you decide to build a kitchen table and sell it at a profit. You will incur a number of costs in making the table: timber, tools, nails, perhaps glue, polish and so on. Let’s say these cost you £50 in total. You spend two days making the table and sell it for £100. You now hold in your hand £100 instead of the £50 you had before; where did this additional £50 come from? The question may seem wrong-headed since it is obvious that it came from the wallet of the person who bought the table. But the additional £100 which has made its way from the buyer’s wallet into your hands has been given in exchange for something of equal value, the table, so the buyer does not make a monetary gain. The table itself is the ‘more’ in this equation; it is the thing which did not exist before but which does exist now. All of the money involved already existed. Nothing in the world is ‘increased’ in the movement of banknotes, or even in the ‘movement’ of the table from your workshop to the buyer’s house. What has changed is that there is now a table in the world that wasn’t there before. Exchange did not produce that table, you did, with your labour. Labour, says Marx, is the source of profit.

Marx’s basic point is that profit, and in fact all new wealth and value, is created in the sphere of production, not exchange. This is in many ways staggeringly obvious; production is literally the sphere in which things are made, after all. But in stating that labour is the source of profit, Marx is making the more precise and contentious claim that profit originates with labour and is then expropriated from it by capitalists.

Here is Marx’s version of events: a capitalist begins production by purchasing tools, raw materials and machinery, and then hires workers to use those productive elements to produce a commodity. The combined cost of the non-human and human elements of production is the initial outlay of capital; it is what the capitalist must spend in order to make more money. If the capitalist were simply to re-sell the tools, raw materials and machinery (what Marx calls constant capital) he just bought, he would probably get exactly what he paid for them, maybe a bit less. The only way for him to get more money is for him to employ labour in creating something new. The production of a commodity by labour permits the transmission of the value of the constant capital (tools/machinery etc) into a new commodity, thus preserving their value. But if this was all that labour did, the commodities produced would have no more value than the tools and machinery themselves, leaving the capitalist without profit. Labour, says Marx, produces additional value in the course of production and transmits this value to the commodity on top of the value of the constant capital used up in the process. It is labour which causes a car to be worth more than the sum of the components that comprise it. It is labour which brings a car into existence where before there were only parts.

But what about wages? Sure, labour adds to the value of the constant capital by transforming it into something else, but doesn’t the capitalist repay this in full in the form of wages? He couldn’t even if he wanted to. If the capitalist did indeed repay this debt in full, he would again be bereft of profit. The capitalist is bound by the necessity of making a living and by the iron law of competetive reivestment to pay the worker some fraction of the value of what the worker has produced. This fraction may be small or large, but it can never be as much of the full value gained in the sale of the commodity. This process of employing labour to produce value and then paying them some fraction of it is what Marx called exploitation. Exploitation is not just ‘bad treatment’ of workers, it is the specific manner in which, in the capitalist mode of production, the necessary work of making profits is accomplished. The value which the workers produce above and beyond the value of their own wages is called the surplus, and it is the surplus which the capitalist appropriates, both to fund his own conspicuous consumption and to reinvest towards engagement in the competetive market.

Once we recognise that this is how profits, i.e., the surplus, are produced, we might well ask how things came to be this way, and whether they must be so. Marx’s theory of how capitalism came about is part of his larger theory of history, which is called historical materialism. Historical materialism states that history moves through a series of epochs defined by two basic sets of circumstances. The first is the level of technological, scientific and organisational progress attained at any given moment; Marx calls these accumulated social competencies the forces of production. The second is the basic manner in which social life, and in particular work, is organised throughout society. This includes the question of who works and who does not, who rules or controls the monopoly of violent force known as the state, how work is divided up into different tasks and dispersed throughout the population, and how the fruits of that work are divided up and consumed. All of these different social connections between people Marx calls the relations of production. At any given historical juncture, a given interaction between the forces and relations of production will be predominant. In feudal times, for example, the forces of production had not progressed past the stage of medium-scale collaborative agriculture, and the relations of production involved the yeoman peasantry working half the week on their own land and half the week on the land of the feudal lord.

So, how does one historical moment give way to the next? Marx says that history lurches forward into new epochs when a tension emerges between the forces and the relations of production that eventually becomes too much for the system to bear. As technology and scientific progress marches forward, it becomes ever more difficult, and indeed more economically irrational, for society to hold on to the old relations of production. How, for example, could feudalism have possibly survived the industrial revolution? The revolution in economic life which that era portended was simply incompatible with the social relations of feudalism, based as they were on inferior forces of production and the social relations suitable to those forces. The social relations of capitalism could not possibly have come about without the development of the productive forces to the point at which those relations were capable of becoming generalised, that is, more or less ubiquitous throughout society. What this meant in practice was the large-scale migration of labour from the country to the city, from the farmlands of feudalism to the urban centres of industrial production. Economic and social life was completely transformed in this messy, uneven and violent process, a process which began to establish as ‘normal’ the social relations of contemporary capitalism.

What are the social relations of capitalism, that is, its relations of production? When Marx uses the word capital, also the title of his most famous work, he does not use it in the modern sense of ‘wealth’ or ‘productive assets’. For Marx, capital is itself a social relation, the relation upon which the economic system of capitalism depends. This relation is the relation between the working class and the capitalist class; in a very literal sense, Marx argues that this relation is capitalism. The difference between workers and capitalists, this difference being the essence of their relation, is that capitalists own the means of production, whereas workers do not. The means of production are factories, farms, power plants, mines, oil derricks, tools, machinery and even intellectual property, basically everything which facilitates the production and reproduction of our material lives. In feudalism, workers owned their own means of production (farmland, cattle, tools etc) and were able to reproduce themselves by their use. While they were forced by the feudal relations of production to work part of the week for the consumption of the feudal lord rather than for their own, they could in theory have provided for themselves using nothing but their own property.

In capitalism, workers do not own any means of production, and are therefore utterly reliant upon capitalists to be able to engage in the kind of productive activity that ensures that the supermarket shelves are full, that clothes are made, cars manufactured and so on. The movement from feudalism to capitalism thus entailed the separation of the working class from their means of production, because it is only once labour becomes ‘free’ labour, that is, labour ‘unburdened’ of all productive property, that capitalist social relations may be generalised. After all, who would bother working for a capitalist for a fraction of the value that he produces if he could provide for himself using his own productive property and keep the surplus for a rainy day? The very existence of capitalism is predicated upon the separation of society into two distinct classes, one that owns productive assets and one that does not. The class that does own is always a tiny fraction of the size of the class that does not; if this were not so then capitalist production could not begin, since each capitalist needs a plentiful supply of ‘free’ labour to employ. Since the minority capitalist class appropriates the full surplus, it makes sure to provide itself with a far greater power of consumption than is permitted for the majority of workers. The result is enormous inequality of wealth under capitalism, a circumstance which contributes to the always-brewing crises that plague capitalist production, and well as the resentment of the working class.

Crisis, says Marx, is of a piece with capitalism. Capitalism as a system is exceptionally fragile because it relies for its existence upon a constant circulation of capital through a number of different stages and forms. Marx’s explanation of this circulation process is clunky and long-winded (newcomers to Marx can do no better than reading David Harvey’s A Companion to Marx’s Capital, vol 2 for an insight into how this all works), but suffice it to say that there are innumerable opportunities for the circulation of capital to become blocked, slowed down, redirected and choked off outright. The result is the kind of crisis that we saw in 2007/08 when an increasingly financialised and deregulated flow of capital found itself crippled in its capacity to do its one and only job: to move. Only under capitalism is it possible for there to be such a thing as ‘surplus liquidity’, when banks and rich individuals have so much money that they cannot find enough profitable ways to spend it. Money sits in bank accounts contributing nothing to society even as wages plummet, government budgets are cut leaving the weakest among us without support, and a million useful jobs in our cities and towns go undone. It is hardly an exaggeration to call such an irrational system, so stubbornly insistent on repeating its mistakes, pathological.

Marx’s view was that capitalism’s tendency to fall into crisis meant that it would only be a matter of time before the whole edifice crumbled under the weight of its own contradictions. The ‘death’ of capitalism is predicted by historical materialism in its most simple form since, like every other system, it cannot indefinitely resist being forced to adapt to the tension between its forces and relations of production. Marx’s specific formulation of this inevitable shift towards a post-capitalist society is called, unpoetically, the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Capital, that being the initial outlay of productive elements the capitalist puts into production, consists of two parts: non-human elements (tools, buildings, energy, machinery etc) called constant capital and human elements (labour) called variable capital. The commodities which these elements produce when combined thus ‘contain’ a certain proportion of constant to variable capital, of value contributed by non-human and by human elements. A hand-crafted chair, for example, contains a greater proportion of human to non-human input than a chair produced on an assembly line with a minimum of human labour. As capitalist competition intensifies, the need for individual capitalists to invest in labour-saving technologies increases, with the result that commodities are increasingly produced with less and less input from human labour.

The dimunation of the human contribution to the final product has a number of effects, some good, some bad. Workers are laid off from increasingly automated jobs, destroying whole communities and ways of life, but at the same time prices generally decrease as the amount of labour embodied in commodities gradually declines. The most dangerous effect however, argues Marx, is that as the human component of production declines, so too does the capacity for capitalists to make a profit. At first glance this seems highly counter-intuitive; how can better, faster, cheaper production result in less profits? Recall that, for Marx, profit is the difference between what the capitalist pays out for constant and variable capital, and the final price that the commodity fetches. This difference is what the capitalist does not pay to workers; it is the difference between the value the workers produce and what they are paid in wages. In the absence of workers to exploit, the capitalist loses his capacity to stretch open a gap between his costs and his revenues. This is precisely what happened to the Japanese manufacturing industry in the late 1980’s. The tremendous economic boom Japan had been enjoying from the fruits of robotizing car manufacture backfired as the profit margin began, almost inexplicably, to decline. The Japanese car manufacturers had not been reading their Marx, and had displaced human labour, the source of profit, from the production equation.

It is a difficult concept to get one’s head around. We are so entranced by the disarmingly obvious fact that automisation means more wealth and productivity with less effort, that we fail to detatch the idea of the creation of wealth from the realisation of profits. In a society in which automisation steadily increased but in which the economy was not run on the basis of profit-making, the increased resulting increases in productivity would be an unambiguous good. Under capitalism, however, such innovations can also beget crises. The last few decades have seen the incredibly destructive growth of ‘outsourcing’ in the developed nations, whereby capital moves overseas to take advantage of cheaper labour than can be aquired in the home market. Outsourcing is not carried out by unscrupulous capitalists who could just as easily remain in their countries of origin; they are suffering real crises of profitability that can only be assuaged by moving to where the costs are lower. Outsourcing reveals an important contradiction within capitalist production; at a certain point it becomes more profitable for a company to go to where labour can be more eggregiously exploited than to invest in further labour-saving technology at home. What this means is that it has become impossible for capital to profitably employ human labour without dramatically reducing wages. What happens when the developing world catches up with the developed and wages level out globally? Capital, Marx’s theory suggests, will have nowhere left to run.

But isn’t it still a bit of a mystery why labour is the sole source of profit, and why increasing labour productivity by investing in labour saving machinery, while profitable for the individual capitalist in the short term, ultimately stymies profitability for capitalism as a whole?

Recall the example of car manufacture; labour is literally responsible for the transformation of the various parts into a finished product that can be sold at a higher price that that fetched by the sum of the parts. But what if robots build the car with a bare minimum of human maintainance and supervision? A robot is just a more complex version of any mechanism or tool which helps to get a job done; it increases the productivity of human labour by decreasing the amount of labour required to produce each unit of a good or service. Robots do not ‘labour’ any more than cogs or steam pistons do. But the real reason why robots do not in themselves create profit is that robots have no control over what they cost; the previous owner or manufacturer of the robot sells it at a price dictated by the market. This price will never exceed the value which the robot is capable of transmitting to the final product without the help of human labour. If you have a robot that can produce £100 worth of car parts per hour without any human input, you would not sell it for anything less than the value of those car parts over the lifetime of the robot; if you did, you would take a loss by not keeping the robot and selling the car parts yourself. Nobody would ever sell the goose that lays the golden eggs. Capitalists do not buy elements of constant capital such as robots, tools and raw materials in the hope that these elements will magically create additional value; they buy them in the knowledge that they will need to use human labour to furnish them with the additional value required to turn a profit.

Labour is utterly unique as a commodity, to the point where many commentators do not think it is correct to call it a commodity at all. What makes labour unique is that it has some measure of conscious control over its own price. Labour unions, for example, are extremely effective at pushing wages up, or at least preventing them from declining. Conversely, in times of economic hardship when capitalists refuse to hire workers to do useful work because profits are too low (another sign of a pathological system), desperate workers may agree to work for less than they need to survive or than is considered a dignified social minimum. No other commodity can impact its price by its own volition because no other commodity has meaningful volition. It is this volition which paves the way for exploitation, and thus profit; workers can decide to accept payment in wages (the ‘price’ of labour) lower than the value which they produce. It is only because labour is capable of acting in this way that capitalists are able to procure more in revenues than they incur in costs. The closer society gets to removing labour entirely from the equation, the closer we get to entirely robotised economy in which all inputs to production simply reproduce or transmit the value inherent in them, the cost of which the capitalist will have already incurred prior to the commencement of production (making profit impossible).

This kind of crisis tendency in capitalism is generally known as overproduction, in that the productivity of human labour is so rapidly accelerated that the very wellspring of profit is cut off at its source. But the notion of a fully robotised economy points towards an parallel model of crisis developed by certain Marxist thinkers (and broadly accepted by non-laissez-faire bourgoise economists like John Maynard Keynes) known as underconsumption. Consider an economy in which robots do all the work. Human beings who do not work are not paid wages, and human beings with no wages cannot purchase any of the goods and services produced by the robotised economy. In such a circumstance, it is blidingly clear that there can be no profit, since there is no circulation of money. A fully robotised economy will resemble the de facto communism of Star Trek, wherein the invention of the ‘replicator’ makes human labour in the production of the necessities of daily life unnecessary. When human beings can produce everything they need for free, they do not work for capitalists, and capitalism comes to end. In a fully robotised economy in which workers no longer earn wages, goods and services will have to be distributed throughout the population by some alternative means than the market, and production itself will have to be directed by signals other than market prices. Production would have to be planned, ideally on a democratic model, such that use-values, the useful attributes of goods and services, were directly distributed to a population who no longer had to work for their survival (and whose survival was not dependent on their work).

We are a long way off a fully robotised economy, of course, but with every displacement of labour from production we edge closer to it. As we do, we see portents of an inevitable future in which human beings, no longer profitably employable and thus no longer being paid wages, cannot afford to purchase the goods which the economy produces. Economists call this the problem of effective demand, wherein workers who have been subject to unemployment and wage repression in the name of increasing productivity find themselves unable to purchase sufficient quantities of goods and services to keep the economy healthy (in Marxian terms: to keep capital moving and evading its contradictions). Eventually, this will reach a point at which we have to move beyond capitalism and embrace a system in which production is carried out not for profit and the circulation of capital but directly in order to meet people’s needs and desires. In recent decades the gaping chasm of effective demand as been plugged up with credit, creating demand out of thin air by bringing consumption forward in time. The result, inevitably, has been the sharpening rather than the alleviation of the problem of effective demand, as the distorted, ponzi-like bubbles that easy credit creates burst and the ‘real’ economy, with its tendencies towards overproduction and underconsumption, asserts itself with a vengeance.

What does all this mean for the average person under capitalism? What is the experience of capitalism like for the vast majority of us who work for a living? Marx uses a specific term for the negative psyhcological and spiritual effects which labouring under a capitalist system have on people: alienation. Alienation is the disquieting sense we have, often subconsciously, that we are not the authors of our own actions under capitalism, and that we are not working under the direction of our own autonomy, in our own interests, or under our own self-management.

We have an ultimate boss, the capitalist, who grows very rich off our labour, and we are given directions in our daily work by managers who are also paid more than us. We have very little, if any, opportunity to self-manage under normal capitalist relations of production; we feel the stark difference between how it feels to be given orders and how it feels to direct our own work in a useful and self-fulfilling way when we pursue our hobbies, work towards realising our passions and engage in voluntary collaborative projects. It cannot escape our attention that the former kind of work, alienated and top-down, is by far the more prevalent in our lives. It also cannot escape our attention that the products we produce in our capitalist jobs are not products that we have chosen to produce, and that we have no say in what happens to them once we have produced them. We are encouraged to think only of doing an acceptable job and receiving our wage, which may or may not be enough for us to live on, and to do our best not to think about how degrading, unsatisfying, boring or even socially harmful the work we are doing is. This contributes to a widespread sense of meaninglessness in people’s lives which, systematically repressed by the ideological forces amassed in support of capitalism (which forever police our psychological lives), often erupt in anti-social and, at moments of great economic pressure, subversive or revolutionary outbursts.

Historically, what has prevented revolutionary upheavals from occuring more regularly or systematically have been two major forces. The first is rising wages, which until the last few decades have occurred in the capitalist mode of production. In order to submit to a social order in which a tiny elite siphon off most of a rapidly growing pile of wealth, people have to see their own incomes increasing, at least insofar as they can see an improvement in their own standards of living over their parents and grandparents. In the developed world this is no longer always the case, and in many regions of the U.S. and Europe young people are struggling to attain even the standards of living of their parents. In the countries worst hit by the global recession, standards of material well-being have been significantly reduced, something relatively new to capitalism that is in danger of becoming the norm. The people of Greece have just elected a party made up primarily of Marxists to try and escape the ill-effects that capitalism is having on their lives. If people do not see their incomes rising, it will become increasingly difficult for the capitalist class to justify the economic system, based upon the exploitation of labour, which currently permits their class to exist.

The second force which keeps people in their place under capitalism Marx called commodity fetishism. Commodity fetishism is a constellation of ubiquitous illusions thrown up by the structure of capitalist production itself. These illusions include the fetishisation of paper and digital money, which appears to have value in and of itself, the obscuring of the source of profits in the exploitation of human labour, the apparent transformation of human labour power into a commodity itself, the commodification of all parts of social life, including those things which were once considered consummate public goods, the ‘spectacle’ of modern life, in which all things are reduced to mere images, fragmented and distracting, the dislocation of all positive meaning into the act of consumption and the resulting degradation of social life, the confusion of utility or use value with monetary or exchange value, and all manner of ideological sleights of hand used to justify the privalege, power, wealth and social status of the capitalist class. All of these illusions begin to unravel at their weakest links during crises. It becomes far more difficult for commodity fetishism to function properly when wages are stagnant or declining, or when the real productive economy reasserts itself in the face of fictional capital and credit, or when that lurking sense of alienation reaches a fever pitch among the dispossesed, discontented and disenchanted of the world.

For Marx, capitalism is cannot be sustained forever. It is difficult beast to slay, but at some point the right mixture of internal contradictions and external agitation will force it to give way to something else. Marx said very little about what socialism or communism would be like, other than that it would not be capitalism. It is for the rest of us, clearly, to discover what a post-capitalist global order is to be like. I will try to explore some of the most compelling visions of a socialist political and economic system in the next entry to this series of posts. The important thing is that if, as I do, you agree with Marx, then you agree that we have no option but to imagine the alternative to capitalism, and this means an alternative to to the market, to fetishism and to the exploitation and alienation of human life and labour.

An open letter to Tumblr about Net Neutrality

To Whom it May Concern (which is basically everybody),

As a regular Tumblr user, I was disappointed to see Tumblr’s open support of so-called “Net Neutrality.” I find it terribly ironic that a company which is able to exist solely because of the current state of internet freedom, supports regulation that would essentially hand over internet liberty to the federal government. “Save the Internet”? From what, exactly? Conditions that allowed your company to flourish? How…unselfish of you.

In the spirit of liberty, I celebrate everyone’s right to openly express any opinion, regardless of how much I might disagree with it. That being said, I’d like to exercise my right to free speech by pointing out that your support of “Net Neutrality” is either misguided or intentionally misleading. 

1.  Net Neutrality is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Supporters of so-called “Net Neutrality” will tell you that the government needs to have the power to regulate how ISPs prioritize their connection speeds to ensure that they don’t favor one internet user over another. But here’s what they never tell you: It’s a fictitious problem. It only exists theoretically. This, of course, is nothing new. The government is famous for concocting problems that it can only “solve” by assuming more control. Understand, I’m not suggesting that ISPs don’t prioritize connection speeds. They do. But often this is a good thing, not a bad thing. An internet company should be able to prioritize, say, Netflix over It only makes sense.

But here’s the rub: it is natural for the free to self-adjust, but history has shown that it is decidedly unnatural for the Federal Government to do so.  If suddenly becomes an international success, and consumers suddenly demand faster access, they get to vote with their pocketbooks and only the service providers who adjust will succeed. Ten years ago, nobody could have imagined the success that a company like Netflix would have streaming HD movies on demand.  At first, the service was clunky and slow, but now that consumers have demanded the content, ISPs have adjusted and Netflix movies and shows can be streamed without interruption.  The Federal Government is not capable of that kind of rapid adjustment.

2.  Net Neutrality will ultimately lead to censorship.

The only developed countries in the world that do not a have free and open internet are countries where the government will simply not allow it to be free. The internet is censored in China. The internet is censored in Cuba. The internet is censored all over the Middle East. This is something that we in America have never had to fear because the government lacked the legal authority to censor, but by deeming the internet a “public utility,” that’s exactly what would happen. Why would we want to voluntarily give the power to censor to government?

Right now, internet content is free and open and controlled by no one (generally speaking). People can exchange information freely precisely because of the fact that the government doesn’t control it. Users aren’t required to have licenses to post things deemed controversial by those in power. I know, I know…you might think that it’s far fetched to suggest that the federal government would suddenly start blocking certain users from saying certain things online. That’s tinfoil hat stuff. but the truth is, it’s already happening. The FCC censors what can and can’t be said or shown on over-the-air television, radio and satellite mediums because these have been deemed “public utilities.” Why are we so confident that this won’t happen to the internet – with this administration or when a new one comes to power?

Furthermore, in the past, this hasn’t just applied to obscene content, it has applied to political speech as well:

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

In other words, every political view shared by every broadcaster had to be monitored and approved by government. This isn’t liberty. On the contrary. Fortunately this terrible law that censored broadcasters has been repealed. Look, if you think the government won’t attempt to regulate political speech (or punish certain behavior or try to control certain behavior) on the internet by fines, selective licensing, or other coercive measures, you’re being short-sighted and utterly naive.

3.  Net Neutrality will usher in internet taxes.

There are some that claim that this isn’t true because taxes aren’t mandated in the FCC regulations, but read the fine print. By changing the classification of the internet, the federal government opens up the possibility of state and local utility taxes, which is, of course, another way of saying that local and state governments will tax the internet (because that’s what governments do. If they can tax it, they will). Here’s one analysis from the Progressive Policy Institute:

By regulating broadband service under Title II…broadband would likely become burdened with a host of new state and local taxes and fees, the kind we pay on our monthly home and/or wireless phone bills. These taxes and fees are normally passed on to consumers; when they rise, consumers end up paying more. Expect the same with broadband.
According to Litan and Singer, these new state and local fees will increase by $15 billion, impacting consumers to varying degrees. The average American household with a fixed broadband connection would pay in the range of an additional $51 to $83 per year, and those with one smartphone or other wireless broadband device (tablet) would pay $72 more annually.

But local taxes aren’t the only ones that will show up on the average consumer’s bill. The FCC has long required fees of all of the entities it regulates in order to support its so-called “Universal Service Fund.” Allow Wikipedia to explain:

The Universal Service Fund (USF) is a system of telecommunications subsidies and fees managed by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intended to promote universal access to telecommunications services in the United States. The FCC established the fund in 1997 in compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The fund reported a total of $8.33 billion in disbursements in 2013, divided among its four programs. The fund is supported by charging telecommunications companies a fee which is set quarterly. As of the fourth quarter of 2014, the rate is 16.1% of a telecom company’s interstate end-user revenues.

So they won’t tax you, per se. They’ll just charge you fees. Sound familiar?  That’s exactly what happened with Obamacare. They might not call it a “tax,” but make no mistake, getting several billion dollars into Uncle Sam’s pockets is one of the primary reasons for Net Neutrality, not fairness (however that’s defined). New taxes will come if the FCC’s plan comes to fruition. It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.

4. There is no reasonable argument for Net Neutrality.

I’ve seen memes. I’ve seen Facebook posts. I’ve read progressive articles. I’ve listened to progressive politicians. And when it comes to Net Neutrality, they all have the same argument: “We need to #SaveTheInternet from the evil cable companies.” It’s the same tactic that has been used to push through countless other liberty-killing bureaucracies, laws, taxes and regulations: a fear and hatred of corporations. But this is an argument based on emotion and personal bias rather than reason, history, principle or fact.

First of all, as has already been stated, there is no problem. Internet users in America have the ability to blog about whatever they’d like, watch Netflix almost immediately – even on their phones, listen to religious broadcasts, participate in things that some might find offensive, share controversial ideas, criticize government and, yes, even rail against evil corporations. No one is censored. No one is threatened (legally). No one has their rights violated. There is no problem. The government shouldn’t be going around solving problems that don’t exist.

Second, as anyone who is vaguely familiar with economics would surmise, even if a cable company did begin to throttle particular users and allocate resources for reasons other than traffic demand, they would begin losing customers to competitors and the problem would be immediately fixed. That’s how the free market works. It can adjust to market forces and demand instantaneously. The government? Not so much.

Third, not only is there no problem, but the competition in the free marketplace has been an undeniable success. In 1994, there were dial-up modems that supplied internet at a laughable (by today’s standards) 28.8 kbit/s. Now, gigabit connections are available in many communities nationwide. That means that our internet is 35,000 times faster now than it was just two decades ago. No government agency made that happen. The free market did.

Fourth, you may not like them, but corporations do not have the power that government does. Corporations can’t put you in jail. Corporations can’t coerce you. Corporations can’t tax you. Corporations can’t pass regulations that infringe upon your rights in any way. Government, however, can do all of these things. It has the monopoly on force.  If you think dealing with Comcast or ATT is bad, you should be petrified of dealing with the Federal Government.

5. Net Neutrality will create yet another way for corporations to get in bed with politicians.

Everyone claims to hate crony-capitalism, but when we have a real chance to curb corporate influence on government, we rarely take it. In fact, often laws, taxes, regulations and spending projects are initiated, not because they are needed, but because a corporation with powerful lobbyists pays off, bribes, or blackmails politicians to get them passed because they know it will benefit them in some way. And giving the government the power to grant (or not grant) internet licenses will likely cause this problem to increase exponentially.

You might slyly ask why many large ISP companies would be in favor of such a law if it truly will regulate them, raise taxes, take away liberty, usher in unprecedented amounts of red tape and raise the price of virtually everything related to the internet. The answer: The elimination of competition. Why is Amazon in favor of the proposed internet tax that they’ll have to pay? Is it because Amazon is so noble that it is just chomping at the bit to build more roads and bridges? Hardly. It’s because Amazon knows that its smaller competition couldn’t possibly afford to compete with its deep pockets and they would eventually go out of business. It’s not all cupcakes and rainbows when the government and corporations mix. I regularly hear people of all political stripes decry the cozy relationship that corporations have with politicians, and rightly so. So why would we want to encourage it?

6. Net Neutrality takes away liberty.

You may hate corporations. More specifically, you may hate cable companies and ISPs. That’s super. Good for you. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t (or shouldn’t) have the right to run their businesses as they see fit. Please understand, if they violate the Constitutional rights of someone, then they should face consequences. No question about it. But apart from that, they, like everyone else, should be allowed to conduct business without the thumb of government on them.

The vast majority of the time, people enter into contracts with ISPs for their internet service. These contracts generally outline the pricing structure, define the terms of service and often lock a user in for a limited time. But notice, the ISPs don’t come to anyone’s house, hold a gun to their head and force them to sign anything. These people enter into binding contracts of their own free will. And, a person who enters into a binding contract is obligated to abide by the terms of that contract, plain and simple. If they don’t have to abide by them, then what’s the point of the contract? And if the two entities agree that an ISP has the right to allocate bandwidth, then the ISP has the right to allocate bandwidth. No need for government intervention.

There are some who would argue that as long as communication companies receive special privileges, tax breaks and, in some cases, subsidies from the government, they need to be regulated. I could not agree more. This is why we need to eliminate these special considerations for all companies, regardless of the type of business they conduct. Just as all people should have exactly the same rights, companies should be treated exactly the same by all governing bodies.

Furthermore, I personally want my ISP to be able to be able to allocate bandwidth as it sees fit. I would expect that a large telecommunications company would know the most efficient way to serve its customers, including me. Think about it, supporters of these regulations are demanding that it be illegal for me to enter into a private contract with a company that might prioritize bandwidth. Even if I want to. Again, this isn’t liberty. It should never be illegal for two consenting entities to enter into contracts with one another. But it seems that it has become impossible for most people to separate the things they don’t like from the things that they believe should be illegal.

7.   Net Neutrality is nothing but a usurpation of power.

For some reason, there is a belief among millions of Americans that, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, the federal government generally has the best interest of the American people at heart. I’m not sure how this belief system got started, but it is astounding how prevalent it is. But at best, the government is made up of imperfect people who want to get reelected. At worst (which is unfortunately the most common state) it is made of up of power-hungry bureaucrats hell-bent on gaining control of every aspect of our lives. Liberty (or even pragmatism) is rarely, if ever, the goal. Power is. And they’ll bribe, lie, get in bed with corporations, backstab and blackmail to get it. Whatever gets the job done.

Again, I ask you not to be naive. It kills the statists in Washington that the government doesn’t control our internet communication. After all, one of the planks of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto is to centralize the means of communication in the hands of the state. That’s precisely what this is. No, I’m not suggesting that supporters of this law sleep with copies of Communist Manifesto under their pillows at night, but this belief that the government is good and that the private sector is bad is instinctual to statists. It’s something they all have in common, by definition. Perhaps every American politician until the end of time will be noble and honorable and Net Neutrality will never be used in a sinister way at all. But maybe it will. Why would we risk it?

8.  Net Neutrality should be abhorrent to Liberals and Conservatives (and everyone else too!)

Up to this point, most of the vocal opposition to Net Neutrality has come from conservatives and libertarians. However, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when anyone who called themselves a “liberal” would be automatically and unequivocally opposed to any proposal that might give government the power to regulate speech or any other form of communication. Those days are gone. Liberals, those who once supported liberty in all forms, especially in regards to speech, are now eager to grant virtually unlimited regulatory power to a small panel of unelected bureaucrats, all under the guise of keeping the internet “neutral” – a term that seems more closely to resemble the Newspeak of George Orwell’s 1984 than something heard in The United States of America.

Tumblr, I implore you to reexamine your views on Net Neutrality. Or, at least admit that there might be a few reasonable arguments against it. You have thousands and thousands of users with political views all over the map. Please don’t continue to alienate those with whom you disagree by publicly taking sides on such a controversial issue.

anonymous asked:

can i ask what you mean about renly's littlefinger-esque manipulativeness? i always thought renly seemed, like, averagely manipulative by kl standards. although maybe he would have grown up sneaky

Hi anon! Excellent question. I think the sizable Renly fandom has completely misread his character, especially as he compares to Stannis (a juxtaposition GRRM makes explicit, over and over again). D&D would seem to be among that fandom, given how straight they play that scene between Brienne and Pod in which Renly is eulogized as a “good man.” I literally had to pause, stand up, and walk around for a while to clear my head after that. 

Renly Baratheon was not a good man. He was callous, arrogant, dangerously superficial, and staggeringly selfish; had he taken the Iron Throne, he would’ve made a terrible king. 

Compare how Renly and Stannis react to discovering (separately, before A Game of Thrones starts) that Cersei’s children were fathered by Jaime. Both realize that going to Robert without ironclad proof would produce disastrous results; neither wants to make an enemy of Tywin without the authority of the Iron Throne behind them. 

What does Stannis do? He tells Jon Arryn, knowing that Robert will believe the man who started a rebellion rather than sacrifice him to Aerys’ madness, but also knowing that a thoroughly decent good-government type like the Hand will be able to rebuild the Robert’s Rebellion coalition around toppling the Lannisters, and keep the basic functionality and legitimacy of royal authority humming in the meantime. 

What does Renly do? He tells Mace Tyrell, an amoral power-hungry schemer (and another widely misunderstood character; he’s much cannier than he appears, and indeed uses his buffoonish reputation to his advantage), and the two of them plot to swap out corrosive Casterly Rock corruption for corrosive Highgarden corruption. When the initial plan (replace Cersei with Margaery) falls apart upon Robert’s death, Renly neatly steps into the figurehead role, and promptly declares the end of hereditary succession and the dawning of the era of pure rule by force. 

Oh, but before that, he sees an opportunity to divert Tywin’s wrath away from him and toward the Starks, encouraging Ned to cement his authority as Lord Protector by seizing Cersei and her children and holding them hostage to ensure Tywin’s compliance. We can argue whether this is a good idea (I don’t think it is), but the point is that Renly is using Ned as a shield against the Lannisters while he prepares his own coup. Littlefinger, as it happens, tries to manipulate Ned into the exact same scenario, with the stated goal of exposing Joffrey’s heritage once Stannis has been eliminated…and seating Renly on the Iron Throne. While I don’t necessarily believe Renly and Littlefinger ever joined forces (although the fact that Littlefinger so easily draws the Tyrells into both the Lannister camp and the plot to kill Joffrey following Renly’s death is certainly suggestive), it’s morally telling that they improvise near-identically in the wake of Robert’s showdown with the boar. 

Or examine their contributions to the Small Council debate over whether or not to assassinate Daenerys. Pycelle, for all his venality and corruption, frames the question in utilitarian terms, arguing that it’s better to kill Dany now than let thousands die later in Rhaego’s invasion. I can disagree vehemently with that argument (and despise the man making it) while respecting it as a serious and considered position. But Renly and Littlefinger are so fucking casual about ordering the murder of a pregnant barely-teenager who has never done them harm; Renly breezily comments it should’ve been done years ago, and Littlefinger takes the opportunity to make yet another crude sexual comment. Why would anyone trust either of these preening adolescent assholes with power?

GRRM links the two most explicitly, however, in their contempt for Shireen, ASOIAF’s purest cinnamon roll. Here’s Littlefinger:

“A trade envoy from Lys once observed to me that Lord Stannis must love his daughter very well, since he’d erected hundreds of statues of her all along the walls of Dragonstone. ‘My lord,’ I had to tell him, ‘those are gargoyles.’” He chuckled.

And here’s Renly:

“If truth be told, I ofttimes wonder how Stannis ever got that ugly daughter of his.”

She’s your niece, Renly. Fuck you.

The exact phrase I used to describe both Renly and Littlefinger was “manipulative cruelty,” with emphasis on the latter. Renly does not give a damn about his brothers, even though Robert gave him Storm’s End when he didn’t have to, even though young Stannis would rather have starved to death than let Mace turn his kid brother over to the Mad King. Renly does not give a damn about the long-term devastation his “might makes right” model of governance would unleash; as racefortheironthrone points out, if Renly’s sons and grandsons can’t muster the same near-monopoly on force, then Renly has condemned Westeros to a Hobbesian nightmare of all against all. Renly does not give a damn about anything other than the pomp, circumstance, and ego-stroking that comes with the crown. 

And neither does Littlefinger, really; he’s much shallower and more impulse-driven than his devious-chessmaster reputation would suggest. He can’t keep himself from boasting about his (half-true) sexual history with the Tully girls, nearly destroys himself by unnecessarily framing Tyrion for the second assassination attempt on Bran, only survives the Lords Declarant with a remarkably clumsy and obvious mummer’s farce involving Lyn Corbray, and doesn’t seem to realize that he’s teaching Sansa exactly how to bring him down. Basically, GRRM has to work overtime to save Littlefinger from himself. To paraphrase Tywin: anyone who has to keep declaring themselves the smartest man in the room isn’t actually the smartest man in the room. Similarly, Renly maintains the impeccable appearance of the perfect king, but with none of the substance.

The Return of the Mercenary

“The use of mercenaries in warfare has a very long history—much longer, in fact, than the almost-exclusive deployment of national militaries to wage wars. Before the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended Europe’s Thirty Years’ War and marked the rise of the modern state system, medieval powers from kings to popes routinely hired private fighters to do battle for them. As state governments sought a monopoly on the use of force within their territories in the 17th century, however, they moved to stamp out violence by non-state actors, including mercenaries, driving the industry underground.

America’s reliance on private military companies in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade hasn’t just expanded the industry; it’s also started to change the conduct of international relations.”

Read more here

Jim Cooper, a former LAPD officer turned sociologist, has observed that the overwhelming majority of those who end up getting beaten or otherwise brutalized by police turn out to be innocent of any crime. ‘Cops don’t beat up burglars,’ he writes. The reason, he explained, is simple: the one thing most guaranteed to provoke a violent reaction from the police is a challenge to their right to, as he puts it, ‘define the situation.’ That is, to say 'no, this isn’t a possible crime situation, this is a citizen-who-pays-your-salary-walking-his-dog situation, so shove off,’ let alone the invariably disastrous, 'wait, why are you handcuffing that guy? He didn’t do anything!’ It’s 'talking back’ above all that inspires beat-downs, and that means challenging whatever administrative rubric has been applied by the officer’s discretionary judgment. The police truncheon is precisely the point where the state’s bureaucratic imperative for imposing simple administrative schema and its monopoly on coercive force come together.
—  David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. 

@alphyneweek Day 5 Week 6

Serious family business… Over a game of Monopoly! I seriously cannot force them to get upset at each other. ;_:

Uhm, also sorry about two things - one is that  this prompt is made really lazily, because I didn’t really had the time to draw today. The second is that It’s pretty late. But other than that, I hope You’re pleased with the results!

Also, be sure to check it out on my twitter, over here!

A former LAPD officer turned sociologist (Cooper 1991) observed that the overwhelming majority of those beaten by police turn out not to be guilty of any crime. “Cops don’t beat up burglars”, he observed. The reason, he explained, is simple: the one thing most guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to “define the situation.” If what I’ve been saying is true this is just what we’d expect. The police truncheon is precisely the point where the state’s bureaucratic imperative for imposing simple administrative schema, and its monopoly of coercive force, come together. It only makes sense then that bureaucratic violence should consist first and foremost of attacks on those who insist on alternative schemas or interpretations. At the same time, if one accepts Piaget’s famous definition of mature intelligence as the ability to coordinate between multiple perspectives (or possible perspectives) one can see, here, precisely how bureaucratic power, at the moment it turns to violence, becomes literally a form of infantile stupidity.
—  David Graeber, Dead Zones of the Imagination
A former LAPD officer turned sociologist (Cooper 1991) observed that the overwhelming majority of those beaten by police turn out not to be guilty of any crime. “Cops don’t beat up burglars”, he observed. The reason, he explained, is simple: the one thing most guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to “define the situation.” If what I’ve been saying is true this is just what we’d expect. The police truncheon is precisely the point where the state’s bureaucratic imperative for imposing simple administrative schema, and its monopoly of coercive force, come together. It only makes sense then that bureaucratic violence should consist first and foremost of attacks on those who insist on alternative schemas or interpretations. At the same time, if one accepts Piaget’s famous definition of mature intelligence as the ability to coordinate between multiple perspectives (or possible perspectives) one can see, here, precisely how bureaucratic power, at the moment it turns to violence, becomes literally a form of infantile stupidity.
—  David Graeber, Dead Zones of the Imagination