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Ethics of Shoplifting From Self-Checkout Kiosks With Xenogothic

From the rap sheet that nearly got me fired. I thought I made a very good case!

"Tonight's livestreamed disquisition will be on the ethics of shoplifting from self-checkout kiosks. Hint: I'm in favor. But I often feel guilty, so I need to think this through clearly and explicitly. Then we will be joined by @Xenogothic, a denizen of "acc twitter" and "cave twitter" and the batshit blogosphere. I believe Xenogothic is kind of an anti-leftist leftist type, kind of like me maybe, but I'm not really sure. Only one way to find out... Xenogothic's blog is at https://xenogothic.com

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You can be neutral on a moving train

There's a popular idea that one can't avoid taking some political position because having no position is to support the status quo. In the words of Howard Zinn, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." For a while, I agreed with this, but I don't think I believe it anymore. The lack of a position on some political question only defaults to the status quo if you presume there's a meaningful choice between the status quo and some preferable alternative. This presumption of a choice, and some agency over effectuating one's choice, now appears to me wrong, with respect to many of the supposedly most important political questions.

The compulsion to take positions is arguably one of the more malignant aspects of the status quo, perhaps even a basis for its worst injustices. If you think choice and agency in political affairs is negligible, then deliberating and expressing one's choice has the same political valence as declining to do so — but declining saves a lot of time, energy, and mental health, all of which can be spent on the immanent politics of one's shared life with others. If most people stopped paying attention to politics, and had no opinions, overall social welfare would be improved relative to the status quo. A popular lament is that voters are not sufficiently informed, but as far as I can tell, huge masses of people are now irreconcilably passionate about too many problems, precisely because they have too much information and education relative to their processing power. Once upon a time, ignoring macro-politics was seen as immature, uneducated ignorance and passivity, but perhaps it will increasingly become a mark of educated sagacity and radical honesty.

A Talk on "Immediate Collective Liberation"

This is the audio from a talk I gave to Plan C London on January 19, 2016. You can find the slides for this talk at the following links: PDF or HTML.

#3 - Adriana

Adriana is a mental health worker based in London. She is a member of Plan C (http://www.weareplanc.org/).

Notes

How our ideas and speech can cut off liberation dynamics; the sociology of sorting in activist circles (00:07)

Why we don't gossip or criticize other political groups, the futility of objections in favor of looking for new weapons, relationships (00:11)

Adriana's experiences in mental health, NHS, CBT, etc. The power of meditation (fuck the haters). (00:15)

Just because you're high-functioning doesn't mean your mentally well; how we've lowered the standard for what counts as healthy life; capitalism at best is like "choose your own mental illness." (00:16)

Financial success is just profitable mental illness (00:18)

How we're blackmailed into saying our lives are good (00:19)

Learning how to become well together might just be the most viable program of revolutionary politics available. (00:23)

Mental health is not hippie shit. (00:25)

The need for immediate tools to deal with where the economic system enters our bodies; cognitive-behavioral therapy. (00:27)

Focusing on your own mental health isn't selfish. It transforms relationships and institutions; charisma and the ability to embody and effect a new type of being. (00:30)

People think "being radical" means saying and doing things within radical circles, but around most people at most times we are boring, lazy, and moderate. On revolutionizing everyday life. (00:44)

To spread revolution you have to let go of your fucking agenda once in a while. (00:48)

Political groups don't have to read Marx; just find the thing that makes everyone joyous and creative. (00:56)

Why we don't recruit, Plan C. (1:08)

Adriana's thoughts on the next steps; allow large groups of people to radicalize themselves in totally different ways and then aggregate and organize them. Note and record your own moments where you feel really good, show them, understand them, and ask: what is your version of this? (1:15)

Revolutionary organizations should be technologies of immediate liberation; they should be direct action on your being. Also true friendships and romantic relationships, but we still have to learn how to do it because we don't really know yet (although we all pretend we do); making revolution means figuring how this works. (1:27)

How much should we let ourselves be depressed? In kindness do we maybe flatter each others' depression? Should we be more aggressive, with each other and ourselves, in helping each other? How we balance these things in Plan C. (1:40)

Political problems around mental health that most people don't want to talk about; mental health's contagiousness; why I think one's own mental health should be non-negotiable; some people can't "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" but actually some people can somewhat, especially with external triggers and collective supports, and why it's maybe fucked up to suggest people can't pull themselves up. (1:49)

The wellness industry is fucked up, but to dismiss wellness throws the baby out with the bathwater; true wellness is radical because it spreads. (2:06)

What I mean when I say I'm a revolutionary. (2:09)

Even if nobody listens to this it was a success because Adriana enjoyed it and we feel pumped and connected. (2:13)

#2 - Jonathan Havercroft

Dr. Jonathan Havercroft is Associate Professor of International Political Theory at the University of Southampton. He has published work on the historical development and transformation of state sovereignty, 17th century and 20th century political philosophy, space weaponization and security, global dimensions of indigenous politics and hermeneutics. He is currently working on the ethical dimensions of international norms, theories of political affect, and the role of agreement in democratic theory and practice. His book Captives of Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press, 2011) looks at the historical origins of state sovereignty, critiques its philosophical assumptions and offers a way to move contemporary critiques of sovereignty beyond their current impasse.

Notes

How I'm trying to achieve absolute disalienation and why Jonathan thinks I'm crazy; living in the UK vs. the US; childhood; why it's good to have goals even if you know you can't achieve them; Caitlyn Jenner; bathroom gender laws; is the news worth reading?; how and why my dad used to get in fights and hitchhike but I never did; the tv show Cops and cultural change since the 1990s; the rise of after school activities as social control; whether I should want to have kids and Jonathan refusing to give me advice; how to live in the most revolutionary way; the problem of charismatic power and cults; the life of Wittgenstein; left-wing stupidities; Michael Oakeshott; why Jonathan thinks I'm going to become a conservative; gambling, etc.

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