Archive for anarchism

Distributed Democracy

I’ve been looking into buying some bitcoins and have been navigating the vagaries of identity confirmation. The market I’ve heard the most about is Mt.Gox. Getting money to the exchange is done through Dwolla. They require a copy of a photo id. Mt.Gox also has a verification process which requires a photo id and a proof of residence.

The proof of residence is a utility bill or a voter registration. Say for instance you’re a student who rents. You could not be able to trade. I’ve been thinking of an alternative. A person creates an account online and requests a code to be sent to them via mail. Once that code is entered back into the system, it verifies a person’s address.

This same process could be combined with the voter registration process to provide an electronic component to civic interactions. Rather than everyone voting on every bill, people would still specify proxies for most of their decisions. The process could be more dynamic, however, and with more granularity in expertise. Rather than a single politician making decisions about a broad spectrum, votes on issues could be divided up and proxied to different people.

Another application could be in conjunction with a housing site. It could be used to verify that a particular account controls a particular address.

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Prettying The Site

I’ve been working on prettying up technoanarchy.org. I moved the plan to docbook and generate the site with XSLT. What I like the best though is the new header:


The Technoanarchist Plan To End Poverty

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Running For Office

I’ve been thinking about the uninformed politician problem and what the Technoanarchist position on that would be.

Technoanarchy is the use of technology to create direct democracy, so the natural piece of software for a Technoanarchist politician would gather votes from the people directly affected by a particular policy and simply pass on their preferences.

The voting system would run on Mímis, so all votes would be public and any political organization that wanted to double check the votes could.

Everyday people won’t care enough to spend all their time voting on random stuff — they’ll have better things to do. So, issues could be assigned topics and then people could assign their vote to various lobbies.

I could release a document saying that if I didn’t vote on a bill categorized as environmental policy personally then my vote should be castable by the World Wildlife Fund. Lobbying organizations, wield actual political power rather than exerting indirect influence.

There will still be people with political power. Finagling can still take place. There might even still be professional politicians — individuals who are respected enough for their balanced perspective that others directly assign them their untaken votes. Our current system is just a subset case.

Politician

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The Last President

I have a new life goal. I want to run for President on the Anarchist ticket in 2024. I’ll lose, but the campaign will fuel an interest in the party that gets a Senator elected from Montana. In 2028, I run again and win on the platform of being the Last President of the United States. Over the first four years I’ll dismantle the judicial and penal systems and replace them with distributed systems. During my second term, we do away with the military, taxation, and finally each person becomes their own sovereign entity in a complete democracy.

U.S. Presidential Seal

I’m not the last President because all the problems magically go away, I’m the last President because we figure out a way to deal with the logistics of running a society without concentrating so much power in the hands of any one individual.

My dad did his Masters research on the effectiveness of in-patient versus out-patient programs in psychotherapeutic outcomes. He found that the best way to treat someone is to do so within the environment where they will be living and maintaining the change they are trying to make in their lives. Even people who are serious about making a change have to be able to practice.

In 1986, he was serving as the director of Child and Family services for Bristol Regional Medical Center when he found out that our State Representative was a part of a plan to build a new psychiatric hospital and the contract was going to a friend of the politician. I have a picture of him standing on the site where they are breaking ground for the new hospital announcing his campaign to oust the corrupt Representative.

He won. On a campaign popularized by signs hand spray painted on particle board and speeches standing on the bed of his pickup truck, he managed to generate the momentum to take on what was considered to be an unassailable opponent.

ToDo: Get a copy of that picture and stick it here.

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A Cooking Cooperative

I went to an anarchist potluck this evening. Among the things we discussed were the problem with restaurants and trying to build communities.

Afterwards, Kristen and I went to see the Protomen and while shaking my booty, I came up with an idea to work on those two problems.

  1. Open a grocery store.
  2. Right next to it, open a restaurant.
  3. Create a website for collecting recipes.
  4. Create another a site where people state foods they would like to eat and days on which they are free to eat them.
  5. Through some sort of mediation and voting process, tables and dishes are chosen for restaurant reservations.
  6. The one or two people at a table who haven’t cooked for the longest time meet to cook.
  7. They get whatever groceries they need from the grocery store.
  8. They cook the food and eat the meal with the other people that grouped online.
  9. Preference reservations to favor locality and people that fulfill their obligations.

Let’s say the restaurant seats 60 people at 15 tables. That mean, what, 40-50 meals a night? That’d allow quite a bit of variety in meals and would mean for me the consumer that I get quite a bit of choice in what I eat each night.

It would take the community members in the area of the restaurant and regularly sit them down together for a meal. I like the idea of a church as a place where people come together for peaceable community building, and this might serve some of those functions in a secular way. Instead of getting to know the community in one big group as a congregation, you get to know them in depth four or five at a time over tasty food.

It would also encourage people to sit down and eat rather than sucking down dinner in front of the TV. TV is the spawn of the devil. Well, perhaps not that extreme, but least it’s second cousin. I think almost anything that shifts the boob tube to real person ratio in people’s lives is probably a good thing.

So far as resource allocation, many of the implements of cooking could be shared. The biggest thing would be the actual food. It comes straight from the grocery store, so it would be fresh. Items could be prorated depending on the quantity used if there were refrigerators available for storage. You could charge a minimum of 50% of store price for getting something from the store to incentivize using already opened things. If things were done properly, it seems like food waste could be reduced beyond even what happens in normal households where food goes bad all the time.

The mean reservations, and thereby your diet, is in a computer system. Eventually you could have algorithms that help people stick to diet plans that they are interested in or that makes dietary suggestions.

Another thing that this would do is let amateur chefs strut their stuff. Some people will be really good at cooking and there will be a demand to eat with them when they’re going to cook. Even a minor notoriety such as that seems like it would be entertaining for someone learning the art of food.

Maybe after I redo the world wide web, open a bar and a bank, I’ll have spare time and I’ll do a restaurant / grocery store. ☺

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Feminism = Anarchy?

My funtime reading book for the last few days has been Carol Gilligan‘s In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Gilligan is writing to address a bias toward masculinity in developmental psychology.

I heard of her work through my interest in Perry and Kohlberg, who both did extensive long-term studies tracking people over a number of years and analyzing patterns in how they changed. Neither of them, however, tracked any women.

Her thesis is relatively straightforward: the way that male gender identity is formed is primed toward separation and individuation. The ideal of manhood is critically centered around the capacity to remain strong and stand apart. Female gender identity is much more idealized in terms of relationships and community. Regardless of the origin of these biases in genetics and socialization, developmental models derived solely with men as a reference point are incomplete.

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Boundaries To Goodness

I’ve been reading Dune for the last week or so. The book is such a strange juxtaposition. On the one hand the last two books are, in my ever humble opinion, an extended metaphor for a passionless life lived by rote rather than in active awareness:

Leto builds an empire that lasts thousands of years and creates a lasting peace across the galaxy. Of this peace, he says:

“What am I eliminating? The bourgeois infatuation with peaceful conservation of the past. This is a binding force, a thing which holds humankind into one vulnerable unit in spite of illusionary separations… I demonstrate the terrible danger of a gliding, passionless mediocrity, a movement without ambitions of aims. I show you that entire civilizations can do this thing. I give you eons of life which slips gently toward death without fuss or stirring, without even asking ‘Why?’ I show you the false-happiness and the shadow-catastrophe called Leto, the God Emperor. Now, will you learn the real happiness?”

It’s strange to me that Herbert, in writing a massive statement on the individual’s capacity to be present, has all of his heroes ruling through a superiority borne of a massive breeding program.

I’ve been scanning The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama today as well. A wise and compassionate person whose capacity is borne of simply being the most recent of ten thousand incarnations of some noble spirit.

It pisses me off, honestly. Imagine that someone watches Hatrobot’s Trichinosis:

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The Form Of The Revolution

I’ve been thinking about anarchism for the last couple months. Thoreau captures my basic thought with the quote:

“That government is best which governs not at all” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

My interest is primarily the second part of that statement: “when men are prepared for it.”

This is essentially the question I asked about TI’s Whatever You Like: why do some people, like Singer not eat at restaurants so they can give their money to the poor while other people pay thousands of dollars for jeweled teeth?

How do those people come to be so different?

A life where no one tries to coerce me into doing something with the threat of jail or unemployment or violence sounds pretty nice. One where I wake up in the morning and think to myself “what would I like to do today?” and then I do that.

A world full of Singers (or Ghandis or Dali Lamas or whatever) could be that way. They’d probably like some general rules like traffic lights to avoid accidents, but these are people though who, when given absolute freedom, would still do the right thing. Some mornings they would wake up and want to do things to help the less fortunate simply because they’re moral people and the suffering of others bothers them.

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Getting Out Of Grad School

Brother B sent me a link to a quirky comic, Jim Monroe and Marc Ngui‘s Time Management for Anarchists that helped me give me the last 5% of certainty I needed to know that getting out of graduate school is the right decision for me.

The ideas are pretty close to my own in many ways, but there is one section in particular that was pretty much dead-on for the question of what to do about grad school:



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